Strategy for Collecting Required Records

ItalianGal/ Gathering Documents and Records/ 19 comments

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.



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  3. Do you know if my Great Grandfather AND Grandfather were born in Italy and immigrated, but your Grandfather naturalized before marriage can I claim citizenship through my Great-Grandfather?

  4. Hi Joseph, if your grandfather took the steps to naturalize, meaning he signed an oath, he effectively broke the chain. Anyone born in his line after that is not eligible. There is one exception though. If he naturalized while he was still a minor (21 or 18 depending on the year) then you may still be eligible.

    1. Hi ItalianGirl,

      I know this is a long time ago that I started this thread, but if the spelling of his name was changed, and NOT legally do I have any grounds to go on that he was not legally naturalized?

  5. Hi Joseph,When I visited the town in Sicily where my grandfather was born out of wedlock I obtained a copy of his birth certificate..Unfortunately, the two handwritten entries that recorded his birth in two separate books misspelled his given last name.The older of the two books listed the last name as Ronca,whoever was the copiest mistakenly listed the last name as Roma,which is the name he went by his whole life. The copy of the birth certificate which I posses reads Vegeslao Ronca,the names listed in the older registry.Further complicating the situation,he was placed with a foster family in the same province,some distance away from where he was born where there were many Albanians who had intermarried with the local population.There he was referred to as Visilacco Roma, the name he went by for the rest of his life.It is this name which appears on his naturalization papers as well as the papers I posses when he served in the Italian military as a young man before coming to the U.S.I am discouraged by the complexity of the situation,fearing that I will never get Italian citizenship before I die (I’m almost 76). Any suggestions of how I might untangle this mess?Frank

  6. Hi Frank….Did you get your situation resolved? If not, I might have some suggestions. Michael

  7. This blog is extremely helpful– thank you for all the information you’ve compiled. Question (and it’s similar to the one above):

    Great grandfather came from Naples. He was still listed as an “alien” in World War 1 draft records, which is AFTER my grandfather was born in 1916. I believe great grandfather naturalized later on, when other kids were born. (Waiting for naturalization records for 4 months now). My grandfather was the oldest. Will the naturalization AFTER grandfather’s birth disqualify us grandchildren from applying? Thanks

  8. Hello! I have just started this process and believe I am eligible through my maternal great grandfather. I was able to access his original Certificate of Citizenship from a file my mother had on hand. My only question/concern is the renouncing of italian citizenship.. how does one know? I found another Naturalized certificate (matching the certificate I have) on But nowhere on it does it state he renounced his italian citizenship. Please offer some insight. Your blog has been helpful and inspiring throughout the initial process I have started!

    1. If he naturalized, then he renounced his Italian citizenship. If your grandfather/grandmother was born before the date of the naturalization, you qualify. If your grandfather/grandmother was born after the date of naturalization, then unfortunately the chain is broken.

  9. Hey great read! Very informative. How do I get my grandparents birthday certificate and marriage certificate?

  10. Hello. I need your assistance to obtain Dual Italian Citizenship. Jure Sanguinis: I believe have gathered all the documents needed for Miami Consulate except for my Grandparent’s Marriage Certificate (married in USA). Nobody alive who knows the exact date or location and my cousins and I have no which location if also in San Francisco or Catholic Church. A search of the public records from City Hall of San Francisco found no marriage records public record from 1930 through 1941 when my Grandfather died in an accident. What do I do since I cannot locate this requested document? Michele Delfino (later Michael Delfino in 1940 Census) who was born in Italy and died in San Francisco, California marrying my Grandmother from San Francisco Irene Marciano (born Columbia Marciano). I am believing I qualify from Paternal Grandfather-Father-myself. Category 3: and I have the No Record of existence from NARA and USCIS for Naturalization. Also confused since some others said they only needed to translate their own personal Birth Certificate and no other forms? I understand we are getting an Apostille for all certificates (Birth,Death,Marriage) for both my Grandparents, my parents, and myself? 954 817-0384 Any assistance is greatly appreciated! Mille Grazie!!!

  11. Hello

    My younger brother has already attained his dual citizenship after a long detailed process. Now, it is my turn to focus on the same. All the records he had to accumulate of our great-grandfather’s, grandfather’s, and father’s birth, marriage, death certificates, and all other documents needed are in place in our hometown of Anzano, di Puglia. Am I accurate assuming that the only documents needed for my Italian citizenship now are my own personal birth, marriage, divorce, and minor children birth records? NY Consulate will apply.

    Thank you for any assistance

  12. Hi,

    Thank you for documenting your journey to dual citizenship. I’m starting on a similar journey. All four of my grandparents were from Italy and settled in Chicago.
    I have a question concerning when to get the Apostilles. Can the Italian translations be done concurrent with sending off for the apostilles or does the translation need to be with the document when the apostille is applied to original?

    Thank you for your help,

    1. Hi Francesca, they can be done concurrently. You can scan or make a copy of the original to send to the translator and then send the original to get apostilled. The apostille is just international verification that the original, certified document is legitimate and doesn’t really have anything to do with the translation, which the consulate requires.

  13. Hi, I believe I can obtain all the necessary records easily except for my paternal grandmother’s birth certificate (born 1901). The relevant NYC agency states that prior to 1910 about 25% of births simply were not reported. I do have the marriage certificate number (NYC), and it is my paternal grandfather who was born in Italy (1890s) and never naturalized here but instead was a permanent resident until he died (my father was born here and 20 years before his father died). Would I have to get a letter from a US agency stating that no birth certificate for this grandparent was ever issued? And if so, would it be the NYC agency that now holds the records from this period that do exist? I was able to find her social security number as well as their marriage certificate number. Thanks!

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