DIY Requesting Records from Italy

This article will discuss the nitty gritty of what you need to request civil (birth, marriage, death) records from Italy. Everyone applying for citizenship via jure sanguinis will have to request their ancestor’s birth certificate from Italy, unless you have the original in hand. Some of you will also have to request marriage or death records. Hopefully none of you will have to request divorce records, since divorce was illegal in Italy before 1970 and divorce records are not open to the public.

Records requested from Italy must be certified copies, but do not require an Apostille or translation.

The True DIY Way

Requesting civil records from Italy the true DIY way is going to take a bit of perseverance and resourcefulness on your part, but it is a pretty straightforward process. You will need to have completed your genealogical research before you attempt to request any documents. Italian officials are not legally obligated to perform extensive document searches when a document is requested, so vague search parameters will not be accepted. Submitting multiple requests for Italian documents because you have incomplete or guessed-at information can get very time-consuming and costly.

What You Need

To successfully request documents from Italy, you will need the following information:

City (Citta), Comune, and Provence(Provincia) where ancestor’s life event occurred
Names, dates of birth, and places of birth of the involved parties
Date that the life event occurred
(at least the year)

You will need the following materials for processing:

*Request Form Provided by the US Embassy.  Fill this out and send it with your order.
*Letter of request This is to be sent in with your request form, to be polite. Manners!
*Photocopy of records you already have If you have any.  Send these along to help process your request.
Signed photocopy of driver’s license This one is easy: take a photocopy of your drivers license (black and white is fine) and sign it.  Done.
Stamps For putting on the envelope you send to Italy.
Envelope
For sending your request across the pond.
Self-Addressed (not stamped!) Return Envelope
You should provide a self-addressed envelope with your request, but leave off the stamps (unless you have Italian stamps, then go for it)

The following payments are optional and can be sent with your record request at your discretion:

*Processing fee  If you decide to send this with your request, send it in Euros, and send no more than €5
*International Reply Coupon
/ €3 to €4 Euros to cover return costs

* Discussed in more detail below.

The Nitty Gritty

First things first. If you are going to be requesting documents from Italy without prior experience or know-how, I heartily recommend this book here:

This book contains literally everything you need to know about requesting records from Italy. The Appendix with addresses for Provinces in the back of the book is out of date – use the addresses listed in my post for requesting records Italian Records: ProvinceThere are many other books about Italian genealogical research, but this one is my personal favorite.

That being said, I will give you the basics of requesting documents below.

Request Form

For the actual request forms, the US Embassy in Italy has created some pretty straight forward documents. Here you will find request forms for:

Estratto dell’Atto di Nascita (Birth Certificate)
Estratto dell’Atto di Matrimonio (Marriage Certificate)
Estratto dell’Atto di Morte (Death Certificate)

When using these forms, please indicate the option that requests the “estratto” of the document.  The estratto is more detailed than the certificato.  Also, write “La richieste serve per doppia cittadinanza per l’estero” and “in carte legale” somewhere on the request.

Letter of request

If you feel that you want to also send a letter with these request forms to explain your document request further – to explain your enclosures or to just be polite – a man named David Zerga has created an incredibly valuable website called David’s Italian Form Letters to Send to Italy. He walks you through the basics – including translations of polite salutations – and even has English translations for all of the Italian letter templates so that you know what you are saying. Please note that he still refers to Italian currency as the Lire – but Italy is now run entirely on the Euro. Another great letter writing resource is bab.la, where you will find many common phrases used in written correspondence translated for you. Additionally, templates for letters of request can be found in Italian Genealogical Records, and an interactive request letter writer can be found at Il Circolo Calabrese.  Please make sure to include your email and phone number on your letter.

Photocopy of records you already have

If you have any photocopies or uncertified print-offs of the Italian documents you are requesting, I recommend sending these with your application. They may aid the officials in searching for your document.

Processing fee

Italian civil records offices can, but do not always, charge a processing fee for making copies of certificates. This information is rarely found on the Comune website.

If you decide to not send payment with your request, that is fine.  I have done this before, and I received the document I requested anyway.  If the vital records office requires payment, it will contact you somehow to request payment.

If you are in a particular hurry to get your document, you could send a processing fee with your application.  I only recommend this to save you the time it will cost should the Provincia/Comune wait for payment to process your request. Send payment in Euros, as the records office would have to convert US Dollars to Euros for the money to be useful (and pay the associated fees). You can purchase Euros at airports, and I understand that Bank of America sells foreign currency. You should send no more than €5 to cover the processing fee for your request.

International Reply Coupon / €3 to €4 Euros to cover return costs

You should enclose a self-addressed return envelope with your request, so that the Comune can easily send your documents back to you.

Determining how to apply postage to this return envelope can be frustrating.

The US Embassy in Italy recommends sending an International Reply Coupon with your request. Most post office locations do not carry International Reply Coupons anymore, as they are not commonly requested.  Thus, you may have difficulty finding an International Reply Coupon. The other issue is that Italian Comuni will rarely use a US Post Office to send mail, so this coupon may or may not be entirely worthless. If you can find an International Reply Coupon, they only cost about $2.20.

The other route to covering return postage is to enclose a few more Euros in your application – no more than €3 or €4. If you’re feeling overachieving, you could include both an International Reply Coupon and €3 to €4 with your application fee. We might as well cover all of our bases, here ;)

Of course, you could always opt to not provide either an International Reply Coupon or cash.  I have certainly do this all the time.  I receive my documents anyway.

Figure Out Where to Send Your Request

Time to pack up all of your request materials, and send it to the civil records office.

You can find address information for the various vital statics offices in these posts: Italian Records: Region, Italian Records: Province, Italian Records: Comune

There are also countless blogs and forums on Italian citizenship where you can post questions and request information on the address of a Vital Statics Office.  Here are a few links for you: ItalianGenealogy.com, ItalianCitizenship.FreeForums.org, MyItalianCitizenship.com.

Please note that some Comuni accept faxed document requests, which is free for you and greatly cuts down on processing time. This tends to be more the exception than the rule, however. You may be able to find this information at your Comune’s website (if one exists) or by posting to blogs and/or forums to gain information.

Time to send it off!

Once you send your application, you can expect the processing time to be about one to two months. If you have not heard from the Comune after one month, send a follow-up letter. Dave Zerga comes to the rescue here again, and provides a template for this letter here. You may also want to call the Comune, as well, if your Italian is decent or you know someone who speaks Italian well.

This Stinks, I Think I’ll Hire Someone Else to Do It

Does all of this seem a little overwhelming? I don’t blame you. Luckily for those of us who want to scream and pull our hair out at the thought of requesting documents from Italy, we can hire someone else to do it!  Read this article about what you will need and who to hire: Hiring Someone Else to Request Italian Records for Me.

Share your personal experience with requesting document with us!  Have any tips I did not mention here?

27 Comments

  1. This information has been a HUGE help! I thought I was going to have to pay hundreds of dollars to request my Italian family records. After reading this I thought it was too good to be true so I emailed and received a response right away. I highly recommend using this site to find all the information you will need to apply for your Italian Citizenship. I will report more when I get my records back!

  2. I used this site to get the information I needed to send to Italy for my family records. I mailed it 8/24/16, I will post back with any updates!

  3. Do I sent the Euros as cash in the envelope or do I see if my bank does cashiers checks in euros?
    Thank you for the help. GREAT SITE!!

      1. Hiya Margarita. Sorry, not sure that I understand the question. You already have dual citizenship? In that case, you just need to get your passaporto :)

  4. In the section where I am to list my information (top section)
    what do I put after (Born in) and (Province)?

    I assume the first is United States, but the province?
    Is it my State?

    Thank you
    Anissa

  5. Afternoon, I am completing the online application for Italian Citizenship but have a problem on Pg3, What do they require in the field “PIC”? Also Pg4 they ask for personal details. Do you know if one should use your Passport number here or birth certificate/ID Number Card?

  6. Hello
    My Father got his Italian citizenship after he passes, What document should I request from Italy if he was not born in Italy?

    Thanks a lot

    PS Great site !!

    1. Hi, sorry, not sure I understand the question! Your father was born in the US, started the jure sanguinis application process, and then passed away after he gained citizenship?

  7. Hello
    My father was born in Venezuela , after he passed my brother in Venezuela did all the Jure sanguinis , etc and now my father is register as Italian .
    My question is , what document should i request from Italy , so i can start my Jure sanguinis aplication ?
    Thanks a lot for your reply
    Giovani

    1. The Comune can issue a certificate of Citizenship for your father, the Stato di Famiglia document for the father will list him and his whole household along with their citizenships. However, I would probably just get your father’s Italian Birth Certificate as that is also proof that he is an Italian as it will show that he got recognized and his foreign BC was already transcribed in Italy.

      Adult children of an already recognized Italian citizen only have to document their connection back to that parent in most places. So it’s rare that the Italian authority will force you to document back to the original Italian ancestor who emigrated from Italy… but not unheard of. I would recommend that you start a citizenship process where you present your Father as the last Italian registered ascendant and submit his Italian BC and MC and then they trace just back to you.

      Some consulates have a process to skip a citizenship appointment if you are the child of an Italian by just making a Stato Civile appointment and submitting your docs to be recorded in Italy as your Italian parent is already in AIRE and their status as a citizen is obvious.

  8. Hi I seem to have lost my Italian birth certificate, and I am in a weird situation where I’m not an Italian citizen, but I was born in Capua, Italy. I am both a Canadian and Polish citizen. I am trying to obtain my birth certificate so I can register to live in Germany. I could use some real help in how to obtain a new birth certificate from Italy.

  9. Hello– this is an incredible website, thank you!

    We are requesting three copies of an ancestor’s Estratto dell’Atto di Nascita (three siblings applying for dual citizenship). Is it okay to send more than 5 euros in this case, if we’re estimating 5 euros/copy?

    Thanks for the advice.

  10. Thank you for sharing your expertise with us! I thought this was going to cost me hundreds. Just mailed mine off and fingers are crossed that something comes back. Unrelated to birth cert but do I have to prove my grandparents were married for dual cit? No idea when or where in the US and I can’t find anything on Ancestry or the like. I’m using his direct line for my application and she died very young so not much info for her. TIA!

  11. Awesome blog! One question. I’m a category 10. My Italian great-grandfather was declared MIA (“disperso”) in 1916 while serving Italy during World War I. Should I expect his commune of Caccamo to have a death certificate or the equivalent? Or do I need to request an official document from another entity? I’m already planning to ask the commune for his birth and marriage certificates, and was planning to ask for the death certificate at the same time. Many thanks!

    1. I think you’re right to request his doc, to see what that returns.

      Although…. who was the first italian-born immigrant in your family to come to the US? You’ll only need to collect comprehensive documentation for that ancestor onwards.

  12. Grazie!

    My great-grandfather is indeed my most immediate Italian-born ancestor.

    Hopefully Caccamo will have all three of his vital docs. We shall see!

    Appreciate your guidance—

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

YouTube
Instagram
TWITTER
Google+
http://diyitaliancitizenship.com/requesting-records-from-italy
FACEBOOK
RSS