Italian Citizenship by Descent – Jus Sanguinis

Introduction to Jus Sanguinis and Italian Citizenship

Jus sanguinis is a Latin term that means “right of blood.” In the context of Italian nationality law, jus sanguinis refers to the principle that individuals can acquire Italian citizenship by descent from an Italian ancestor. Italy is one of several countries that follow the principle of jus sanguinis, which means that if you have Italian ancestry, you may be eligible for Italian citizenship.

Requirements for Italian Citizenship by Descent

To be eligible for Italian citizenship by descent, you need to meet certain requirements. First, you need to have an Italian ancestor who was alive and an Italian citizen at the time of your birth. This can be your parent, grandparent, or even a great-grandparent.

Second, you need to be able to prove your Italian ancestry through birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other official documents. This can sometimes be a challenging process, especially if your ancestor was born a long time ago, but there are resources available to help you with this.

Changes in Italian Citizenship by Descent Law

The Italian law on citizenship through jus sanguinis has undergone a few changes over the years, so it is important to determine which law applies to your case. The law that is currently in effect is the one that entered into force on August 15, 1992.

Restrictions and Requirements for Italian Citizenship by Descent

For example, if you are seeking citizenship through a great-grandparent, you must demonstrate that none of the ancestors in the chain of transmission ever renounced their Italian citizenship. Additionally, the transmission of Italian citizenship cannot have been interrupted by the acquisition of foreign citizenship prior to the birth of the person seeking citizenship.

It is important to note that if your ancestor became a citizen of another country before your parent/grandparent’s birth, you may not be eligible for Italian citizenship. This can complicate the process of obtaining Italian citizenship through jus sanguinis, but it is still possible in some cases.

Another important requirement is that the person seeking citizenship through jus sanguinis must not have renounced their right to Italian citizenship. This can happen if an ancestor naturalized in another country and renounced their Italian citizenship, or if a person obtained citizenship in another country and renounced their Italian citizenship in the process.

The Application Process for Italian Citizenship by Descent

If you are eligible for Italian citizenship by descent, you will need to go through a formal application process. This can be done at an Italian embassy or consulate, or through the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs if you are living outside of Italy.

Dual Citizenship and Its Advantages

One important thing to note is that Italy recognizes dual citizenship, which means that if you are already a citizen of another country, you can still become an Italian citizen without giving up your existing citizenship. This can be a major advantage for people who want to maintain ties to both countries.

Backlog of Applications

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest among people of Italian descent in obtaining Italian citizenship. This has led to a backlog of applications, and the process can sometimes take several years. However, if you are eligible, it is definitely worth considering, as it can open up many new opportunities for you and your family.

Renouncing Italian citizenship

Renunciation of citizenship is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly, as it can have significant consequences, including the loss of certain rights and privileges. In general, Italian citizens who renounce their citizenship are no longer considered Italian citizens. As such, they lose all the rights and privileges of Italian citizenship.

In order to renounce Italian citizenship, you must be at least 18 years old and have another citizenship or be eligible to obtain one. You must also have resided in another country for at least 12 months, or for a longer period if required by the country in which you reside.

The process for renouncing Italian citizenship varies depending on your situation. If you are living in Italy, you must submit your request to the local civil registry office. If you are living outside of Italy, you can submit your request to the Italian embassy or consulate in your country of residence.

It is important to note that renouncing Italian citizenship can have significant consequences, particularly if you have family ties or property in Italy. For example, if you renounce your Italian citizenship, you may lose the right to own property in Italy or inherit property from Italian relatives. You may also lose access to Italian healthcare and other social services. Additionally, individuals who renounce their Italian citizenship may be subject to certain financial obligations, such as the payment of outstanding taxes to the Italian government.

Finally …

Jus sanguinis offers Italian descendants a relatively simple way to gain Italian citizenship. However, it’s essential to consider the long-term consequences of becoming a citizen.

Partnering with a specialist lawyer can assist individuals in navigating the complicated legal and administrative procedures associated with jus sanguinis. With over 55 years of experience in supporting foreign nationals to obtain Italian citizenship, De Tullio Law Firm is here to help. Please contact us if you require assistance or wish to discuss your situation.

You may also like to read about applying for an elective residence visa. We also have a series of info videos that you may like to watch.


Hague Convention: China signs Apostille Convention

China’s decision to join the Hague Convention is a major step towards facilitating international economic and trade activities.

On March 8, 2022, China signed the Hague Convention of October 5, 1961, commonly known as the “Apostille Convention,” which eliminates the need for the legalization of foreign public documents. The Convention will officially take effect in China on November 7th, 2023.

Benefits of Joining the Apostille Convention

This move simplifies the process of authenticating public documents, saving time and costs for businesses and individuals doing business in the region, and promoting transnational work. In presenting the “Instrument of Accession” to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Chinese Ambassador Tan Jian confirmed China’s accession to the Convention. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning, the Convention will facilitate the international economy, trade, and transnational work.

Legalization of Documents

Sometimes, documents need legalizing when using them in a country other than the one in which they originated. The authentication process checks the authenticity of the document’s origin from the party or parties who appear to be its authors.

Legalization involves officially attesting to the legal quality of the person who affixed their signature on deeds, certificates, copies, and extracts, as well as the authenticity of the signature itself.

The Process of Legalization

The competent organs, central or peripheral, of the competent Ministry, or other organs and authorities delegated by the same, are responsible for legalizing signatures on deeds and documents formed in the State and to be valid abroad before foreign authorities.

For acts and documents formed abroad by foreign authorities and to be valid in the State, diplomatic or consular missions abroad legalize signatures. Legalization is carried out by comparison with a sample signature deposited by the public official with the competent body.

After this “internal” phase, most foreign legal systems, including China’s current system, require the document to undergo further control by the authority of the country itself. This “external” legalization is usually performed by the foreign consular representation in the country where the document originates.

Simplification of Document Authentication Process

Currently, a notary public must notarize foreign documents such as power of attorney or administrative resolutions, and the relevant Public Prosecutor’s Office must verify them. After that, the Chinese embassy or consulate in the issuing country will authenticate them.

However, the Apostille Convention, an international treaty, simplifies the process of authenticating public documents for use in foreign countries by abolishing the need for legalization.

What is the Apostille Convention?

The Hague Conference on Private International Law adopted the Apostille Convention in 1961, and it has been ratified by more than 120 countries and regions, including the USA, the UK, Hong Kong and Macau.

With the Apostille Convention, a public document issued in one contracting country can be certified for legal use in any other contracting country by obtaining an apostille from a competent authority designated by the issuing country.

An apostille is a simplified process of certifying the signature of the notarizing or authenticating public official. It eliminates the need for further certification or legalization by consular officials or embassies, saving time and costs for those who must use foreign public documents for legal purposes.

The simplified procedure applies to all public acts and notarized private writings originating in a contracting state and intended for use on the territory of another contracting state. The Apostille consists of a standardized stamp or sticker affixed at the bottom of the document, certifying the veracity of the signature of the public official (notary public).

Impact on Cross-border Document Circulation

China’s accession to the Apostille Convention is expected to have a significant impact on cross-border document circulation.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning has announced that they will reduce the time needed to complete document authentication for use abroad from about 20 working days to only a few days.

This represents a significant improvement in the speed and efficiency of the process, which will benefit companies operating internationally, whether SMEs or multinational corporations.

Limitations of the Hague Convention

It is important to note that the Apostille Convention does not cover all types of documents. It applies to administrative documents such as birth, marriage, and death certificates; documents from an authority or official attached to a court, tribunal, or commission; extracts from trade and other records; patents; notarial deeds; and school, university, and other academic degrees issued by public agencies.

The Apostille Convention generally does not apply to diplomatic or consular documents, as well as certain administrative documents relating to commercial or customs transactions. This means that some customs documents for China will still require the legalization procedure.

Objections from Contracting States

Other contracting states to the Apostille Convention will have a six-month period to object to China’s accession. However, if a contracting state opposes China’s accession, the convention will not apply between China and that particular state, but China can still accede to the treaty. Therefore, it may not be possible to use the procedure for obtaining an apostille in China for documents from certain countries, although they are contracting parties to the Apostille Convention, and vice versa.

Finally …

If you need support with an apostille for Italy, please get in touch with us. While you are waiting for formalisation of an apostille, we are able to check the validity of signatures. We can provide a provisional confirmation that these appear genuine.

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice throughout Italy. We are specialists in cross border property, inheritance and family law.


You may also be interested in Power of Attorney

Italian Tax code (Codice Fiscale) – A Short Guide

What is an Italian tax code (codice fiscale)?

The Italian tax code or codice fiscale is an alphanumeric 16 character code generated on the basis of your personal information. 

An Italian tax code is similar to a National Insurance number in the UK or Social Security number in the USA. It uniquely identifies individuals for Italian tax and administrative purposes.

Having a codice fiscale is a mandatory requirement for a wide range of activities in Italy. These include signing a property purchase, tenancy contract or inheriting Italian assets.

In addition, you will need a codice fiscale in order to open a bank account or apply for a mortgage. Obtaining utilities, insurance policies and of course, filing tax returns and payment also require your codice fiscale.

If you need help concerning an Italian tax code you can book a Free Call with one of our Lawyers.

How do I get an Italian tax code?

From abroad

If you live abroad, you can apply for an Italian tax code at the relevant Italian consular office in your country of residence.

Need Your Codice Fiscale Because You're Buying an Italian Property?

Don't miss out on your FREE copy of our full guide on Buying a Property in Italy

Download now

In Italy

If you are an EU citizen living in Italy, you can apply for an Italian tax code at any office of the Agenzia delle Entrate (Italian Revenue Agency). You will need to fill in an application form and provide an identification document (identity card or passport).

If you are a non-EU citizen applying for entry into the Country either for employment purposes or to live with family, you can obtain your Italian Tax code at your local “Sportello Unico per l’immigrazione” (Immigration office). Or, you can apply at a “Questura” (Police headquarters) if you need the issuance or the renewal of a residence permit.

Non-EU citizens must also prove that they have the right to stay, even temporarily, in Italy.

For more information regarding Italian tax codes, you can visit the Official Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance website

What do the codice fiscale characters mean?

Here is an example of a codice fiscale for Mary-Ann Duggan, born 10th February, 1975 in Melbourne, Australia.


Where the letters in your surname and given name(s) permit, the consonants form the first six characters of the tax code. When you apply for a codice fiscale make sure your given name(s) and surname match your passport. For example, if your name is Mary-Ann Duggan but, your passport shows your name as Mary A Duggan, your application for your Italian tax code should match the information in your passport.

Date of birth

In a codice fiscale, birth information starts with the year. 75 indicates 1975 in our example for Mary-Ann Duggan. B indicates February. This is Mary-Ann’s birth month. Each month has an assigned letter:

Mary-Ann Duggan was born on the 10th. The code that appears is 50. This is because for males, dates run from 01 through 31 to indicate birth day. Whereas for females, 40 is added to calendar days. This therefore becomes 50 in Mary-Ann’s codice fiscale.

The sequence regarding the place of birth indicates where an individual was born. For Italian nationals, each Italian municipality / comune has its own code. For foreign nationals, this will be their country code.

Generally, a foreign country is identified by a sequence starting with “Z”. In Mary-Ann Duggan’s case, Z700 indicates Australia. There is only one code per country. In other words, if you are from Australia, whether you were born in Cairns or Perth, there is only one single identity code for Australia.

The last letter in the codice fiscale is a control value. The Italian tax system generates this value based on a calculation of all the characters contained in a codice fiscale.

When you apply for your tax code, avoid common mistakes

Birth date format

Whereas in Italy for date of birth, we use day/month/year, in some countries, such as the USA, this information is usually month/day/year. Using the wrong format generates an incorrect tax code. This is an issue, since Italian databases will reject the registration of information requiring tax code and identification of date of birth. Often, this issue only becomes apparent at completion or closing of a property purchase. This can delay closing while you apply for a corrected tax code.

Wrong name

As previously mentioned, the name in the tax code must match your ID – passport for example.

Maiden names

Maiden names are the most common error we see when it comes to females applying for an Italian tax code. This mistake can have consequences if you need to use notarial services, for example, when purchasing an Italian property. The notary may not be able to complete the purchase if your name does not match your ID.

Another common error can occur with maiden names. Italian females may use their spouse’s family name, however for legal purposes, they retain their maiden name after entering into marriage or a civil partnership.

Non-Italian females generally change their name when they marry and update their passports and other ID to reflect their married name. Again, the tax code must match the information in your passport.


We understand that Italian tax code matters can be confusing and difficult to navigate. If you have any questions about what action you should take or if you need help concerning an Italian tax code, please get in touch with us.


You may also be interested in another one of our articles:  How Do UK Nationals Obtain Permanent Italian Residency?

You may also like to watch our info videos.

Italian Budget Law 2023. Property-Related Measures.

Italian Budget Law 2023

The Italian Senate approved Italian Budget Law 2023 on 29th December, 2022. The Budget Law came into effect on 1st January, 2023.

In this article, we outline the main budget and bonus measures pertaining to Italian property.

Superbonus: anti-seismic renovations and energy efficiency improvements

During the COVID pandemic in 2020, the Italian government launched its Decreto Rilancio. This decree introduced the Superbonus 110%. It aimed to kick-start the Italian economy by incentivising property owners, tenants, those with usufruct or comodato d’uso to carry out anti-seismic renovations and energy efficiency improvements on Italian properties. Examples of work that qualify for the Superbonus include installation of photovoltaic systems and electric vehicle charging stations inside a property.

Qualifying renovation work attracts a tax credit of up to 110% of installation expenses. You can offset this tax credit against your tax liability in 5 equal instalments, or pass on the costs to the contractor or, alternatively, you can sell the costs to a financial institution.

Legislative Decree Aiuti quater, which will soon become law, reduces the Superbonus for 2023 from 110% to 90% and extends the possibility of applying the discount to invoices or assigning the tax credit – in 10 instalments instead of 5.

In addition, the Legislative Decree Aiuti quater also sees the Superbonus continuing into 2024 and 2025. However, tax credits will decrease from 90% to 75% for 2024 and then to 65% in 2025.

That said, Italian Budget Law 2023 grants the possibility to remain at the full 110% version of the Superbonus for condominiums which submitted a CILA (Comunicazione di Inizio Asseverata) before 31st December 2022. The full 110% Superbonus also remains available for single-family properties provided at least 30% of renovation work was completed by 30th September, 2022 and that all work is finished by 31st March 2023.

Green Home Bonus for New Property Purchases from Builders

Italian Budget Law 2023 provides for a deduction of 50% on VAT for purchases of energy-efficient homes (Class A and B).

Purchases must be made by Dec. 31, 2023 – directly from the builder.

Italian Budget Law 2023. First Time Buyer Bonus

 All deeds of sale signed in 2023 for first homes purchased by those aged under 36 can benefit from tax relief.

– Those property purchases not subject to VAT, are exempt from registration, mortgage and land registry taxes.

– For property purchases subject to VAT, in addition to exemptions from registration, mortgage and land registry taxes, a tax credit of the amount equal to VAT paid to the vendor is also available. 

Mortgage Rate Switches

Italian Budget Law 2023 reintroduces a measure relating to mortgages. This allows people to switch from a variable to fixed rate mortgage. This is particularly relevant given current increases in interest rates.

Borrowers who have a variable rate mortgage of less than €200.000 (threshold amount) and a current ISEE[1] not exceeding €35.000 can renegotiate their mortgage terms from variable to fixed.

This facility also extends to the previously mentioned first time buyers under the age of 36.

Furniture Bonus for Property Renovations

Italian Budget Law 2023 sees an extension to the furniture bonus. This provides a 50% deduction on purchases of furniture and household appliances, provided purchases are in the context of a general renovation of a property.

The minimum expenditure for furniture and appliances in order to claim the bonus is €8,000. To qualify, the furniture must be new, not second hand. Furniture that qualifies for relief includes cabinets, chests of drawers, desks, bookcases, chairs, sofas, armchairs. However, curtains, doors and any flooring work are excluded.

The bonus is also available for the purchase of appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, electric heating appliances, etc., provided the appliances meet basic energy-saving requirements. Class A for ovens, Class E for washing machines, dryers and dishwashers, Class F for refrigerators and freezers.

Architectural Barriers – Accessibility And Mobility Bonus

Italian Budget Law 2023 also confirms the extension of the accessibility bonus until 2025. This measure consists of a 75% tax deduction for work to remove obstacles to mobility. The bonus is applicable for any work that makes a property accessible and usable to people with disabilities or reduced mobility. All eligible work must be documented. You can choose to offset this tax credit against your tax liability in 5 equal instalments, or, alternatively, you can sell the costs to a financial institution.

Italian Budget Law 2023. IMU Exemptions 2023

The Single Municipal Tax (IMU – Imposta Municipale Unica) is a compulsory tax on Italian property. The 2023 Budget Law continues to exempt properties used as primary residences from IMU, provided they are classed as NON-luxury in the land registry category. That is, properties other than those in categories A/1, A/8 and A/9. Also exempted are their outbuildings, up to a maximum of three, each belonging to cadastral category C/2, C/6 and C/7.

As of January 1st 2023, properties that are squatted are exempt from paying IMU. This exemption is only valid for the months of the year in which the building is squatted, and the exemption is not automatic. You must first make a report to the competent judicial authority, following which, you can make an application for exemption to the municipality in which the squatted property is located.

Simplified tax liabilty settlements and waivers

The Italian Budget Law 2023 introduces a simplified settlement on tax demands, assessment notices and pending tax disputes. It also provides for a so-called ‘special’ regularisation for formal breaches and other irregularities concerning certain tax periods.

In addition, Italian Budget Law 2023 makes provision for tax liability waivers. These write-offs are valid on amounts of up to €1,000, subject to specific conditions. Under other circumstances, there is provision for facilitated settlement of tax liabilities for certain tax periods. This aims to reduce penalty and interest payments as well as provide the taxpayer with the option to pay tax liabilities in instalments.

Finally …

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice throughout Italy. We are specialists in cross border property, inheritance and family law.

If you would like further information about Italian property and tax matters, we are here to help. For more in-depth information about anything mentioned in this article, please get in touch with us.

You may also be interested in Buying property in Italy. You may also like to watch some of our info videos on Italian property, succession and family law.

[1] The ISEE, or Indicator of Equivalent Economic Situation, is the main tool for accessing certain bonuses or subsidised social benefits. It is basically the economic “identity card” of the household, i.e., of all the people reported on the so-called “family status” who are found to be cohabiting at a given dwelling.


Posta Elettronica Certificata (PEC)

What is a PEC?

PEC stands for posta elettronica certificata. It is essentially a certified email, which has a legal value, like a digital version of a registered letter (lettera raccomandata).

Posta elettronica certificata guarantees legal certainty of the sender’s identity as well as the date and time the email was sent.
A PEC also guarantees that the recipient receives the email and its contents. When the recipient opens and reads your PEC email, you will receive notifications.

Why is a posta elettronica certificata address useful?

PEC is widely used in Italy to send official documents to public administration organisations and private companies. In fact, it is mandatory for Italian companies, public administration organisations and professionals such as lawyers, notaries and accountants to have a PEC address. You can check an organisation’s or professional’s PEC address here.

Although there is no obligation to have one, a PEC email is useful if you have an urgent matter, particularly if you are abroad. The recipient will receive  your PEC email almost immediately. You will therefore get a faster response.

Get All Our FREE Guides for Foreigners Planning to Buy, Sell or Live in Italy

Our PDF guides give you all the knowledge you need to move your Italian dream forward with confidence

Download now

Certain Italian public administration bodies must respond to correspondence within thirty days of receiving it. Whereas it might take several days for a recipeint to receive a registered letter, sending a PEC email will speed up the process yet, it has the same legal value as a registered letter.

In Italy you can use a PEC for a wide variety of official matters such as, requesting official appointments, information or documents. You can also send legal contracts and invoices.

How do you get a posta elettronica certificata address?

To send PEC email, you need to set up a PEC account. Italian providers include LegalMail, ArubaPEC, Postecert,, Libero.

To obtain a PEC address, you will need to visit your chosen provider’s website and follow the instructions to open your PEC account. This consists of inputting your personal information and uploading a copy of your identity document. Sometimes you will need to add your Italian tax code (codice fiscale). You then choose an address such as and a password – just like any other email account.

Costs start from a few Euros a year for a basic PEC account, which usually includes limited storage. The more services you require, for instance you might want additional storage, the more you will pay.

Finally …

If you need help setting up a PEC address, we are here to help. For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice. We offer services in all the major fields of Italian law

Get in touch at


You may also be interested in Insider Tips for Buying A Property in Italy

Resident in Italy for tax purposes?

One or more of the following conditions makes you resident in Italy for tax purposes

According to the provisions of Article 2 (2) of the Italian tax code, Testo Unico delle Imposte sui Redditi (TUIR), if you spend more than 183 days per fiscal year in Italy, the Italian tax authorities will consider you resident in Italy for tax purposes.

If you meet one of the following conditions, you qualify as a resident for Italian tax purposes:

– you have registered at your local town hall’s (comune) registry office;

– you have your domicile in Italy, i.e. your principal centre of business, economic and social interests, e.g. your family, as defined by paragraph 1 of Art. 43 of the Civil Code;

– you have your residence in Italy, i.e. your habitual abode, as defined by the paragraph 2 of Art. 43 of the Civil Code.

The requirements indicated by TUIR are stand-alone: the occurrence of one of the above conditions is sufficient for the Italian tax authorities to consider you resident in Italy for tax purposes.

Get All Our FREE Guides for Foreigners Planning to Buy, Sell or Live in Italy

Our PDF guides give you all the knowledge you need to move your Italian dream forward with confidence

Download now

Registration at your local comune confirms your residence for tax purposes in Italy

If you spend more than 3 months in Italy you must register at your local comune.

Your registration with a comune presumes your residence in Italy for tax purposes.

At the end of your stay in Italy, you should de-register from your comune.

Double Taxation Agreements for residents of two countries

Double taxation agreements (DTA) protect a government’s rights to collect tax and protect against attempts to avoid or evade tax. DTA contain provisions for the exchange of information between national taxation authorities. There are more than 3,000 DTA world-wide.

If you can prove you are resident in two countries, you may have recourse to the application of Article 4 of the relevant DTA in order to resolve any conflict of dual residence for tax purposes. You can find more information about DTA here.

The onus is on the taxpayer to provide documented evidence of tax residence outside Italy

You will need to request a certificate of tax residence under the relevant DTA. It is also important to keep records such as travel documents and receipts. These help evidence how long you were physically present in Italy in any given fiscal year.

Finally …

For over 55 years, De Tullio Law Firm has been providing international clients with independent legal advice. If you need support with your Italian and cross border tax matters, we are here to help.

You may also be interested in Elective residence Visa Italy: general information

Italian Law of Filiation: A Family Law Case Study

Italian law of filiation: the legal rights of children born in and out of wedlock

De Tullio Law Firm provided legal expertise regarding the Italian law of filiation at the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

The parties involved in the case about paternity and inheritance rights emigrated to Australia from Italy in the 1960s. Before ruling on the case, the court needed to understand the Italian law of filiation.

Case Background

In this case study, although we have disguised names and circumstances, we outline the main aspects of the Italian law of filiation that The Supreme Court of Western Australia took into consideration when assessing whether or not Giovanna Rossi, the plaintiff, was a legitimate child of the late Giuseppe Rossi and was therefore entitled to claim a share of her father’s inheritance.

The plaintiff

The plaintiff, Giovanna, issued proceedings in the Supreme Court of Western Australia regarding inheritance of her father’s estate. Following his divorce from Giovanna’s mother, Mr. Rossi re-married and had other children.

Giovanna was born in 1950. Her father and mother were not married at the time. They did however get married a couple of years after Giovanna’s birth.

In Italy, at the time of Giovanna’s birth, it was illegal for fathers to recognise any children born out of wedlock. Giovanna’s birth certificate therefore gives her mother’s maiden name, Bianchi.

However, Giovanna’s birth certificate contains a note stipulating that Giovanna is the legitimate daughter of Mr. Giuseppe Rossi. The birth certificate annotation follows the marriage of Mr. Giuseppe Rossi and Ms. Sofia Bianchi in 1953.

The defendants

The defendants in this case are Giovanna’s half-siblings. They are the children from Mr. Giuseppe Rossi’s second marriage. The defendants dispute Giovanna’s legal rights as an heir and beneficiary to Mr. Rossi’s estate because Giovanna was an “illegitimate” child. They maintain that the subsequent marriage between Mr. Rossi and Ms. Bianchi did not automatically give Giovanna the status of a legitimate child.

What rights does the Italian law of filiation provide?

Firstly, the Italian law of filiation has abolished the old distinction between children born in and out of wedlock.

Constitutional law has driven important changes to legislation regarding filiation with the aim of guaranteeing equality. The consequence of this legislative process has been to stipulate a single status for all children.

Reform of Italian filiation law

Filiation law reform, Riforma della filiazione, modified the Italian Civil Code – in particular, Italian Law no. 219 of 10 December 2012.  This law states that illegitimate children – since reforms in 1975 to Italian family law, known as, “natural children” – must not be subject to any discrimination because of the circumstances of their birth.

All children are equal in the eyes of the Italian law

Both legitimate and natural children therefore have the same status: figlio. All children have equal rights and parents have a responsibility toward their offspring. A child has the right to receive care, education, assistance in case of need and a share of any inheritance.

In other words, the Italian Civil Code, as well as other Italian legislation referring to the relationships between parent and child, only permits the use of the word “child” (figlio/figlia). There is no longer any distinction such as, il/legitimate, natural or adopted.

The provision of a uniform status of filiation means that all children have the same rights to receive care, education, assistance in case of need and a share of any inheritance and parents are responsible for providing these rights. In addition, the express intention of Law 219 of 2012 extends parental responsibilities to parents’ relatives.

2012 filiation reforms are retroactive

The Filiation Reform (Law 201/2012) is applicable to all people, not only those born after a certain date. This means that the abolition of the distinction between legitimate and natural/illegitimate children is retroactive. In other words, it is applicable to parent-child relationships prior to the Law 219/2012 entering into force on 1st January 2013.

A major effect of the abolition of the distinction between natural children and legitimate children is that natural children have gained an equal right to succeed to their parents. They are entitled not only to inherit a share of their “natural” parents’ estate but also to inherit from other relatives of their parents.

How was Italian law different before reforms?

Prior to reforms, there was a huge difference between the status of legitimate and illegitimate children in Italy. Illegitimate children had none of the legal rights afforded to legitimate children.

When Giovanna was born in the 1950s, there were only two ways to legitimate children born out of wedlock and give them the status of figlio. Either the parents could marry after the birth or, the father could make a formal  statement to a notary, declaring that he was the father of the child.

Legittimato quale figlio

Giovanna’s birth certificate contains the phrase “legittimata quale figlia”. This means that following the marriage of her natural parents, Giovanna acquired the status of child. She went from the condition of being illegitimate to a condition where she was recognised as having the status of a legitimate child with all the accompanying rights of being a child.

This was in accordance with applicable Civil Code and legislation in force at that time. Also, as previously mentioned, following reforms to the Italian law of filiation, there is no longer any distinction in Italy between children born in or out of wedlock.

Case outcome

According to the Italian Law, Giovanna Rossi does have the status of a legitimate child of Mr. Giuseppe Rossi, both under current applicable Italian law, as well as under legislation applicable at the time of Mr. Rossi’s marriage to Ms. Bianchi.

The event of a marriage between her natural parents gave Giovanna the status of child and, legitimated her as a child of Giuseppe Rossi and Sofia Bianchi in accordance with legislation in force since February 1955.

The Italian Family Law reform of 2012 abolished any distinction between legitimate children and natural/illegitimate children.

The Supreme Court of Western Australia therefore judged that Giovanna was indeed the late Mr. Rossi’s legitimate child and, as such, was entitled to receive a portion of his estate as her inheritance.

Finally …

At De Tullio Law Firm we provide legal advice and support in all fields of Italian law. Our particular specialties are Italian and cross border property, inheritance and family matters. If we can be of assistance, please get in touch.

You may also be interested in Partition of Property among Family Members.
You may also like to watch our info videos on the subject of Italian inheritance law.

Divorce in Italy: How is property divided?

How is property divided in a divorce in Italy?

This article explores Italian matrimonial regimes, or marital property systems, and how property is divided in a divorce in Italy.

Matrimonial regimes in Italy

“Regime patrimoniale dei coniugi” in Italian.

Because matrimonial regimes regulate financial affairs between couples, matrimonial regimes may become a significant aspect in a divorce settlement. This is particularly relevant if one or both spouses are not Italian nationals and own immovable assets such as real estate in Italy.

In Italy there are two main matrimonial regimes: the community of assets “comunione dei beni” and separation of assets “separazione dei beni”.

Community of assets

This regime means spouses own all purchases they make during the course of their marriage in common.

The community of assets regime excludes certain personal items from common ownership. These include assets that spouses owned prior to marriage and gifts or inheritance assets the couple acquires during the marriage.

Get Your FREE Guide to Planning Your Inheritance in Italy

Our PDF guide explains the ins and outs of preparing your inheritance under Italian law

Download now

The main aspect of the community of assets regime is that even if the other spouse was absent at the time of the purchase, both spouses own an equal share of the purchase. Of course, there are exceptions. Each case is different and requires examination.

Separation of assets

If the couple, prior to or during the marriage, adopted a separation of assets regime, each spouse is the sole owner of any purchase they make.

The only commonly owned assets will be those the couple specifically purchases together.

In order for a separation of assets matrimonial regime to be legally valid, a couple needs to put a written agreement in place.

If a marriage is subject to Italian law, couples can draw up an agreement when they marry or at a later stage.

Foreign couples may make an agreement when they purchase a property in Italy – should they wish the asset to be in the name of only one spouse.

Default position

Italy has a Civil Law system, whereby codified statutes predominate. Italian family law provides that a community of assets is the default matrimonial regime.

For foreign nationals, although a marriage is subject to the spouses’ national law, the Italian law may still be relevant. In particular when it comes to purchasing and owning property in Italy.

About 80 countries have Common Law systems which defer to country laws of the property’s location. Therefore, your national law may defer to Italian law when it comes to property purchases and matrimonial regimes.

What is the matrimonial regime applicable to your assets in Italy?

As previously mentioned, unless spouses make a written agreement, the default regime applicable to purchases during the marriage is the community of assets.

To legally adopt a separation of assets matrimonial regime, spouses must make a notarised deed.

Unless you have a notarised deed, doubts and issues can arise during divorce proceedings. In this case the default community of assets regime would apply.

A separation of assets clause in a deed of sale for a property signed by only one spouse is not sufficient to determine a matrimonial regime from a legal point of view.

Without a notarised deed regarding your matrimonial regime, if only one spouse signed a property deed of sale, Italian law will still consider the property as belonging to both spouses.

Generally speaking, a community of assets regime does not impact inherited or gifted properties. These remain in the name of the sole spouse who inherited them. However, there may be exceptions depending on the exact wording of any gift deed or will.

Finally …

Division of Italian assets between spouses in the event of divorce in italy depends on matrimonial regimes. It is important to understand if you own the property in common with your spouse. If you need assistance or would like to discuss your personal situation. please get in touch with us.


You may also be interested in How to protect inheritance from divorce.

You may also like to watch our info videos.

How To Protect An Italian Inheritance from Divorce

How to protect an inheritance from divorce and/or separation

Separation and divorce are two of the most painful events in life. The decision to legally end a relationship can set off a long and difficult process. The upheavals and emotional challenges can be enormous. On top of this, complex legal and financial issues with short and long term implications need careful management. One aspect to consider when deciding to separate and/or divorce is how to protect an Italian inheritance.

An Italian inheritance might comprise property, movable and immovable assets and savings. Italian inheritance law specifically guarantees inheritance to so-called, “forced heirs”.

A consultation with a lawyer can provide an idea of the likely legal and financial outcomes of your situation. Generally, lawyers will provide a free initial consultation for this purpose. It is therefore worth seeking professional advice at an early stage.

Get Your FREE Guide to Planning Your Inheritance in Italy

Our PDF guide explains the ins and outs of preparing your inheritance under Italian law

Download now

While separation and divorce is a family crisis, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of how to protect an Italian inheritance in order to safeguard and guarantee children’s rights.

Indeed, children have the right to support from both their parents. Italian Constitution and Article 147 of the Italian Civil Code states that children have this right until they reach the age of 18.

Matrimonial regimes

In May 2015, Italy introduced the so-called, ‘quickie divorce law’. This cut the amount of time it can take to get a divorce from three years to as little as six months.

There can be important consequences on estate-related issues in divorce and/or separation. These can vary according to the matrimonial financial regime the couple chose at the time of, or during, their marriage.

Couples in Italy may choose between a matrimonial regime of either community of assets, comunione dei beni, or separation of assets, separazione dei beni.

If couples do not have a notarised deed stipulating they have chosen a separazione dei beni regime, Italian law takes the view that the matrimonial regime in place is the default comunione dei beni matrimonial regime.

Expat couples married elsewhere but resident in Italy are regarded as being married according to the comunione dei beni regime. This means a couple jointly owns all assets they acquire during their marriage. In the event of a divorce, each spouse will therefore receive an equal share of these assets.

However, there are exceptions. For instance, if a partner acquired a property prior to the marriage, or received a property after the marriage as a gift or an inheritance, this would not necessarily be split equally in the case of a divorce. It is therefore important to understand your matrimonial regime and check property deeds to see who actually owns what.

Finally …

Division of Italian assets between spouses in the event of divorce or separation depends on matrimonial regimes. It is important to understand if you own the property in common with your spouse. If you need assistance or would like to discuss your personal situation. please get in touch with us.

You may also like to watch our info videos.

Italian Inheritance Tax

Do beneficiaries need to pay tax on Italian inheritance?

This is a question we are often asked at De Tullio Law Firm. The answer is yes. Beneficiaries need to pay Italian inheritance tax.

Who calculates Italian inheritance tax?

Get Your FREE Guide to Planning Your Inheritance in Italy

Our PDF guide explains the ins and outs of preparing your inheritance under Italian law

Download now

When you become the beneficiary of an inheritance you may have to submit a statement of succession, “Dichiarazione di successione”  to the Italian tax authorities, “Agenzia delle Entrate”.

Firstly a succession procedure needs to be opened. Once this has happened, you can file the statement of succession. Although it is not always the case, the opening of a succession procedure usually coincides with a testator’s death. Your filing with the tax authorities should take place within 12 months of the succession procedure opening.

Once they receive the statement of succession, the tax authorities will calculate the amount of tax due on your inheritance.

It is worth noting however, that there is no obligation to file a statement of succession if the estate does not comprise any real estate. Likewise, if assets are valued at less than Euro 100,000 and the beneficiaries are a spouse, children and/or other direct heirs.

What is taxable?

In effect, Italian inheritance tax applies to the entire net value of the deceased’s estate. This therefore includes both movable and immovable assets.

Immovable assets include houses, shops, buildings, agricultural or building land.

Movable assets could for example include, boats, jewellery, works of art, bank and post office current accounts, money, investments such as shares, bonds, trust funds.

In addition, companies and shareholdings in companies are taxable. However, there are exceptions to this which would exempt heirs from inheritance tax.

How is Italian inheritance tax calculated?

Basic inheritance tax in Italy, “Imposta sulle Successioni” equates to 8% of the estate.

However, rates depend on the relationship of the beneficiary to the deceased.

The Italian inheritance tax rate drops to 6% between siblings, relatives up to the fourth degree cousins and relatives up to the third degree. This might for instance, be a spouse’s uncle. In the case of direct heirs such as the deceased’s children, spouse or registered partner, the applicable tax rate is 4%.

Summary of Italian inheritance tax rates

Heir Rate (Aliquota) Exemption up to
Spouse, relatives in the direct line of descent  (parents, grandparents, children, children’s children…) 4% 1.000.000 euro
Brothers and sisters 6% 100.000 euro
Other relatives up to grade 4, related in the direct line of descent, related in a collateral line up to grade 3 6% No exemption
Other subjects 8% No exemption

Finally …

Because Italian inheritance can be a complex matter and each case is different, we recommend that you seek expert support and advice.

If you wish to discuss your case with us or you are feeling unsure about anything related to Italian inheritance, do not hesitate to contact us for a free preliminary consultation.

You may also be interested In Planning for the future: your Italian holiday home.

You may also like to watch our info videos on the subject of Italian inheritance law.