Citizenship by descent is perhaps the most popular route for Americans planning to start a new life in Italy. But you will be surprised to know that you may not qualify despite having an Italian bloodline. Sadly, the country’s law is biased against women as it does not allow females to pass on their rights to their children like men do. But the Italian government has taken tangible measures to redress the discriminatory stance and ensure that women are in a better place when it comes to the transfer of citizenship rights.


The 1948 rule brings the opportunity to claim your citizenship regardless of the gender of your ancestor. Although you cannot apply through the regular administrative process, the rule lets you claim the right through the Italian court. The process sounds daunting because the court is involved, but it is much easier than it sounds. You can even expect it to wrap up faster than the administrative process. But everything boils down to having a good understanding of the process and the 1948 rule experts representing you in the court. Let us explain the 1948 rule in detail.

The basics of the 1948 Rule 

The current Jure Sanguinis law states that Italian women can hold citizenship but not pass it on to offspring born before January 1, 1948. Technically, you are of Italian descent but cannot claim by the descent route. Only men can transfer citizenship to their children, regardless of the date of birth. It makes the 1912 citizenship law discriminatory against women and unfair to people who want to claim through their female bloodline. The circumstances eliminate many people from qualifying for citizenship by descent only because they have a maternal relative in their lineage. Moreover, siblings from the same family miss out on eligibility because they were born before 1948. But the implementation of the 1948 Rule has come as a relief for many families. 

How do 1948 cases work?

When you apply through Jure Sanguinis, you have to follow an administrative route with an application and submission of documents at the Italian consulate. But the 1948 Rule entails a judicial process, where you have to provide evidence in the Italian Court of Rome. You need not worry because the judicial route does not necessarily make the process long, hard, and stressful. If you have the right documents and an expert lawyer, the judge will probably close the case with a favorable verdict sooner than you expect. Although the process involves a court hearing, you need not even fly to Italy to be present for the hearing. Your local lawyer can attend it as your representative. Although you spend on their services, you end up saving a fortune on the traveling costs. Not to mention, you save time and steer clear of the stress because the lawyer takes care of the entire process.

What are the steps of a 1948 case?

The 1948 Rule involves a judicial process, and there is a set of common steps that all applicants have to follow. A thorough understanding of these steps enables you to have clear expectations about the timelines and complexities. You can Visit for a complete overview of the court proceedings. We have a simple list of steps you can go through to get a fair idea of the process. Here are the steps of a typical 1948 case. 

Gather the essential documents

Immigration processes do not work with word of mouth. You always have to present essential documents to validate your claim. Essentially, you will have to provide the ones detailing the significant life events of the ancestors in your lineage. These include certificates of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. You will also have to show records of immigration, name changes, and naturalization if applicable. 

Legalize the documents 

The essential documents serve as a paper trail connecting you with your lineage. But you need to make sure that all the non-Italian documents are legalized. For example, the death certificates of your grandparents issued in the US must have an apostille to authenticate them. The Italian court will not validate the ones without the stamp, so you cannot miss out on this step. 

Get translation for documents 

Italian is the only official language of the country, so local courts will accept only the documents that are in Italian. If any of the papers are in another language, you have to get an official translation. You also need certification for accuracy. The best way to do it is by having them translated from a local Italian consulate by paying a fee for the process. You can get the translation certified by an Italian judicial official after the documents are translated by a professional.

Hire an Italian attorney

Since 1948 cases are filed in the court, you will need a lawyer to handle the proceedings. Ideally, you should look for someone with the relevant expertise and experience because they will know the loopholes of the law. These cases are different from the common civil cases, so hiring an expert gives you better chances. Look for someone trustworthy because you need a lawyer reliable enough to represent you at the hearings when you cannot be present physically. 

Give Power of Attorney to your lawyer 

Once you hire an Italian lawyer, you have to give them a Power Of Attorney to act on your behalf. It means that you are authorizing them to be present at the hearing on your behalf if you cannot travel to Italy. Sign the document, get it notarized, and send it across to the lawyer. You will have to provide separate signed and notarized POAs for all family members applying along with you. If there are minor children, you can sign on their behalf. Mail the original signed POAs and all the certified documents to your attorney so that they can get started with the process. You will have to send only the original documents because photocopies are not valid for the court proceedings. 

Start the petition 

Now your lawyer will go through the details and seek more information from you to make a strong case. You can also ask questions and clarify doubts about the law so that you are more confident about going ahead. After the lawyers are convinced that they have all they need to represent the case in court, they will start your petition process. The good thing is that the application process is far easier and quicker these days as you can do it online. The lawyer e-files the documents with the court, and the officials will start reviewing them for further processing. 

Get a case number and wait for a hearing date

After the lawyer files the petition and submits the documents, the court will assign a case number and a judge to oversee the case. The process takes time, and you may need to wait for a couple of months or even a year to get the case number. After you get one, you will have to wait a little more for the hearing date. The judge does a preliminary evaluation of the case on the hearing. You may also expect them to address the main points and seek clarification from the lawyer if they have some concerns. A single hearing suffices in most cases, but the judge may schedule a follow-up hearing if they deem it necessary. The final judgment comes within a few months of the final hearing. The success rates of the 1948 cases are high, and there are good chances you will get a verdict in your favor.

Register the vital records

Technically, you get your Italian citizenship through the 1948 Rule once the judge gives a favorable verdict for the case. But you will have to complete some final formalities to seal the deal for good. You have a court order, which means that your vital documents provided to the court as part of your case will have to be registered now. You will need to register with the comune in which your Italian ancestor was born. Different comuni have different policies and procedures for completing the process. It makes sense to let your lawyer handle things because they are better equipped to do it. Once the final formality is completed, you can start a life as an Italian citizen.

While the steps of the 1948 Rule sound complicated, there isn’t much to worry about if you have a legal expert handling them for you. Another good thing about the rule is that the entire family can file a petition through a shared ancestor. It reduces the expenses and speeds up the process for everyone. You hire one attorney to represent everyone, provide separate POAs, and the lawyer can attend a hearing for every member of the family. Since the process involves a specific immigration law, it is wise to collaborate with a specialist attorney who knows it inside out. It gives you peace of mind about the quick and hassle-free completion of the process and the successful closure of your case.