Italian citizenship & name discrepancies: what a difference a name makes!

In 2009 a Swedish couple started their honeymoon with an adventure. They mispelled the name Carpi (instead of CAPRI) on their GPS and the system sent them 650km (400 miles) off course to Carpi, an industrial town in the north. The couple asked at Carpi’s tourist office where they could find Capri’s famous Blue Grotto.

“Capri is an island. They did not even wonder why they didn’t cross any bridge or take any boat!”

Many celebrities change their names for various reasons

For example, “Katy Perry and Emma Stone opted for a change to avoid clashing with stars who shared their birth names. Others, like Bruno Mars and Michael Caine, were simply inspired. Some stars, including Halsey and G-Eazy, didn’t like their birth names”.

The famous Italian actor and Latin Loved, RODOLFO VALENTINO changed his name because it was definitively too long and difficult to pronounce.

His screen name became a bit of a conundrum. The hard-to-remember “Guglielmi” was shed in favor of “di Valentini,” but that was put through a veritable wringer of different spellings: “di Valentina,” “De Valentina,” “Volantino,” “Valentine” and “De Valentine,” all of which might be paired with “Rodolfo,” “Rudolpho,” “Rodolph,” or “Rudolf” with careless abandon. Eventually he settled on “Rudolph Valentino,” which certainly had flair–and asked that his friends call him Rudy. (*)

Emigrants had more serious reasons to change their name

Adopting names that could sound more “friendly” in the new country could help them to speed assimilation, avoid detection, deter discrimination or just be better for the businesses they hoped to start in their new homeland (*)

But what can be the impact of a name change or discrepancy in a citizenship application?

Individuals who are applying for Italian citizenship by descent are required to produce many documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates.

In fact, they need to prove that the ancestor who expatriated and his/her direct descendants maintained their right to Italian citizenship (aka never renounced Italian citizenship) and — in the event that their Italian parent was a naturalized citizen — were born before that parent renounced Italian citizenship via naturalization.

These vital records have often names or dates discrepancies, not only because many immigrants changed their names but also because their name was mistakenly recorded.

In many cases, the mistake was done not upon arrival but at the shipping line’s station in Europe, by clerk who wrote the passenger’s name in the ship’s manifest. (*)


Photo by Varvara Grabova on Unsplash

Italian law is quite formal and does not leave much flexibility or discretion to the the Office that need to decide upon the adjudication, in case submitted documents have discrepancies or mistakes.

In fact, any documents containing:

  • errors (misspellings, incorrect dates, incorrect boxes checked, etc), must be corrected/amended BEFORE submitting the citizenship application
  • discrepancies on ancestral documents — discrepancies should be corrected when and where possible so that the documents reflect the same information on the ancestor’s birth certificate.
  • discrepancies on applicant’s documents — applicant’s vital records (marriages and births of any children under 18) must reflect his/her information (first name, any middle names, last name, and date of birth) as it appears on his/her original birth certificate. Any discrepancies or errors must be corrected BEFORE submitting documentation.


Procedure to obtain the correction of a certificate or vital record change from country to country.

Italian offices generally do not accept affidavits or sworn self-declarations. In some cases, correction can be done directly by the Office of Vital Statistics but when this is not doable the correction shall be obtained through a Court proceeding, which can be lengthy and the outcome unpredictable.


Photo by Hamza NOUASRIA on Unsplash

Consulates suggest the applicant to obtain a written statement from the vital records office where the certificate was requested stating that the document does not exist. The statement must clearly explain the reason why the record does not exist. The office where application is filed will discretionary assess whether the statement can be taken into account and be considered as validly replacing the missing certificate.


Photo by Luca Florio on Unsplash

If there were no registries in existence at the time of your ancestors’ birth, applicant can submit:

  • a baptismal certificate issued by the Parish with the authentication of the pastor’s signature by the authorised bishop’s office;
  • the written response from the town hall (Comune) in Italy confirming the non-existence of a registry office on the date in question.


The information provided on this article (i) does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; (ii) are for general informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information (iii) contains links to other third-party websites. Such links are only for the convenience of the reader; (iv) readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.




Marco Mazzeschi, is an attorney at law admitted in Milan and Taipei, Adjunct Professor at the Chinese Culture University —

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium


The UK narrowly escapes two new climate change taxes and a new business tax — a massive increase…

India: Hyper-Nationalism suppressing patriotism

The Japanese Response to the Pandemic is Not that Perplexing

Thoughts on statue toppling spree

China-Africa Relations in 2020: Key Trends to Watch

Digital Single Market: still on track but needs ‘more support’, to ‘embrace risk’

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Marco Mazzeschi

Marco Mazzeschi

Marco Mazzeschi, is an attorney at law admitted in Milan and Taipei, Adjunct Professor at the Chinese Culture University —

More from Medium

President Uhuru state of the nation address was unlawful

Dear Katherine: I’m Nervous About Being Judged This Holiday Season

Dear Black, Pandemic Sweatpants,

Caught by Surprise