Strategy for Collecting Required Records
I wrote about the records required by the Italian consulate to prove your Italian citizenship here. As a part of my journey in collecting the necessary records through 6 different states and talking with others who have gone through the process, I’ve learned some valuable tips, tricks and strategies I wanted to share.
- One of the first documents you should collect is a certified copy of the naturalization record for your Italian relative. This is one of the key records for proving your eligibility and you don’t want to go through the time and expense of collecting all of your other documents only to find out you aren’t eligible. The census record is not enough as they are often not accurate. Plus, some have reported long delays in getting this document from the USCIS.
- The next set of records you should consider collecting are those that provide missing information you were not able to find in your research. For example, I did not know my great grandmother’s maiden name. I was able to find it through my grandfather’s birth certificate.
- As soon as you have your Italian relative’s birth name and the date and town in Italy where the event took place, it’s a good idea to go ahead and request the records from Italy. A couple of sites that may help you with this (especially if you don’t speak Italian) can be found here and here.
- When you know the name of the town where the event took place, most of the time it is better to go to the local city or county vital records or clerk’s office where the event took place rather than the state. It is often much less expensive and the local office is more likely to return your check if they cannot find the record. On a related note, write separate checks for each record you are requesting in case they cannot find one of the records. I’ve gone through the state when I didn’t know the town where the event took place, when it was the only way I could get a long form or when it was the only option (such as with the state of Hawaii).
- Speaking of the long form, the Italian consulate requires the records be in long form. They will not accept short form records. Long form records have more information but mainly they include the city and not just the county where the event took place. One state I requested records from (New Mexico) only issues short forms unless you provide documentation verifying a long form is required.
- Prior to submitting your request for vital records through the city, county or state, find out what the Apostille process for that state is. This can usually be found through the state’s Secretary of State site. In some states you can get the Apostille at the same time you request the vital record. In addition, you want to make sure you know if there is something specific you need to request from the Vital Records office to make sure the record can be apostilled.
- When requesting the records, make sure you follow the instructions on the respective Vital Records or Clerk’s office website and provide everything they request. For example, many offices request you fill out an application and send a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE). Some require you also submit a copy of your ID and other proof.
- If you don’t have all of the information they are requesting, this is often okay as they will do a search if you have ball park information (for example, a date range). Also, if your relative’s name can be spelled differently, include that in the request. For example, my relative’s last name starts with a “De” but on one record it was misspelled to start with a “Di”. As a result, the office could not find the record the first time around.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call or email the Vital Records or Clerk’s office. I spoke with personnel in quite a few offices and found everyone I talked with to be accessible, friendly and helpful.