An Australian minister had to step down after his mother registered him as an Italian citizen. How is that possible?

While a country may want leaders who pledge exclusive allegiance to their state, can a leader not know to be a dual national? Can anyone be an Italian national without knowing?

The short answer is yes.

Italy – along with several other countries – regards every descendant of its emigrants as Italian nationals. A descendant may not know or remember about being an Italian national. In any case, she can claim an Italian passport.

What happened to the Australian Minister?

Most probably, he was born to a parent who is an Italian citizen.  He never claimed his citizenship in any way. Still, he is a dual national. There is not even a need for his mother to register his Italian citizenship. In fact, that is not even allowed by Italian law, when a son is above age.

Well, mister Canavan, the Australian Minister, may not want his Italian passport. On the contrary, he is probably not keen on being a dual national, rather a single citizen of Australia. That seems to be a requirement for his appointment as a Minister in a country that still appears to look with suspicion to dual nationals. This is tricky for a country like Australia whose population is made almost completely of people originating somewhere else and immigrated to the country.

Can that happen to you?

You may not run for office as an Australian minister but, yes: you may be an Italian national without knowing it. That is a result of the law operating automatically: Italian law – as it happens in several other countries – regards every descendant of its citizens as Italian nationals, no matter where they are born.

Italy is possibly more special than other countries as its citizenship law is strictly based on Roman law and the concept of status civitatis: it’s a bundle of powers, rights, and duties that sticks to the person and passes to the offspring through numberless generations. That is so until one person in the line decides to give it up. From that moment on, the person will not be able to pass the citizenship status to future children.

But what does that mean to you?

Is dual nationality an advantage, or a problem, for the Australian Minister?

Consider your family tree: is there some great (grand) mother or father of Italian origin? If you find any such person in your direct line, from your mother or your father, you could actually be an Italian national – and you may not even know it!

It can be both: it’s up to you whether to experience dual nationality as a resource or a problem.

Here is how you make the right decision about it in 3 easy steps

#1. Check if you actually are an Italian national

Easy enough. Check your family tree: is there some great (grand) mother or father of Italian origin? That’s important, but not everything.

How do you know for certain whether you are an Italian national?

You should check whether that Italian ancestor renounced her (his) Italian citizenship before their child was born. You don’t know? You may check the national registrar for immigration and citizenship in your country. In each country, there is a list of immigrants who became naturalized citizens. If your ancestor’s name is not there, gimme five! Your chances just jumped to 90% to be an Italian national.

How to reach 100% certainty? Check the papers.

Family memory may help and so the photos, letters and old papers. But nothing beats the public records. That is the ultimate proof of how your (great) grandparents passed their Italian citizenship to you.

#2. Your call: choose!

Do you want to operate your rights as an Italian citizen?

To wake up your dormant Italian citizenship you just need to register it to the nearest Italian consulate.

Check their website and their information on citizenship:

  • Download the form

  • attach the required records which prove your direct descent from your ancestor

  • bring them to the consulate

You will be registered as an Italian abroad, just like me: I am Italian and live in Sweden. The Consulate will give you your passport and you can use your rights just as me and anybody else born from Italian parents in Italy.

Not sure about which records you need?

Just ask for my free SMART&EASY LIST to be 100% certain of your dual nationality!

# 3. Quit

But what if having dual citizenship can make you risk your job?

You don’t need to be a Minister to bump into any disadvantage of being a dual national. Some countries firmly believe in “one person, one country.” There is no real allegiance to more than one country.

For example, a US citizen who is automatically an Italian citizen by birthright does not risk losing her (or his) citizenship. Dual citizenship is explicitly admitted in US law in this case. However, dual citizenship may disqualify her from accessing classified information or restricted areas, for security grounds connected with a US citizen’s professional roles or functions.

So you may want to get rid of your dormant Italian citizenship. How can you do that?

You can do it easily. Just contact the nearest Italian Consulate. They will give you an appointment and you will be enabled to make a formal statement to renounce your Italian citizenship.

RECAP: Wake it up or kill it!

Once you know it’s there, you may ignore it.

Being an Italian dual national can open you to a new world of opportunities, literally. You can go back to your roots in Italy as a fully recognized citizen and even access all European countries with unparalleled privileges. However, being a dual citizen may hamper your career or interests in your country.

There are things you can do about your dormant Italian citizenship: embrace or get rid of it.

You can ACTIVATE your rights as a dual citizen: claim your Italian passport, your full rights to stay in wonderful Italy and do any legal activity there. That will include full rights to stay in Europe, work, study, or just enjoy an international life.

Or you can renounce your dual citizenship for a career in public security, if necessary. You may recover your Italian citizenship later in life by moving your residence to the country for one year.

Are you going to look into your family tree and see if there’s a dormant Italian there?

If you think that dual citizenship might be something for you, you must look into it with OPEN eyes. As you see, it hides advantages or even risks for your career.

Take your first step here and tell me: do you suspect there is an Italian in your family tree?

How do you go about your dormant Italian citizenship?

Leave your comment.

As a THANK YOU GIFT, I will send you immediately a precious tool:

My free SMART&EASY LIST to be 100% certain of your dual nationality

That’s the fool-proof list of documents my team and I worked out over 20+ years and use every day to double-check our client’s right to Italian citizenship. Based on those documents, you can immediately apply.

What if any of those documents are missing or the records on it do not match with each other?  Just call me and I will help you find the right solution!

So it’s your turn…

are you serious about finding out if you are an Italian national?

Are you ready to discover this new side of your identity?

Let me hear from you with your comment on this page

Keep in touch!

You can receive updates from me, offers and free quality information on dual citizenship and make the most out of your rights in Europe. Please subscribe here.

You may also be interested in:

Typos and errors crowd your family records? Run them through the ERRORS DETECTOR & SOLVER!

Dual citizenship: do I have to give up my passport?

Free your family from bureaucracy in 5 steps! Italian visa for family members