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Transcription of Civil Status Documents in Italy

Recently updated on 12 Jan 2024

17 Nov 2023 - Divorce & Family Law - Min Read 5 min
Transcription of Civil Status Documents in Italy

The transcription of civil status documents concerning birth, marriage, civil union, or death that occurred in a foreign country can be forwarded to the relevant Municipality for transcription in the Civil Status registers.

In order to carry out the transcription, the Civil Status Officer is obligated to examine the contents of foreign measures to verify compliance with the conditions set by the law.

The document must not be incompatible with Italian law and, therefore, must not be contrary to Italian public order. For instance, a polygamous marriage certificate could not be transcribed. Upon verifying the regularity of the documentation, the process concludes with the transcription of the document.

Transcription can apply to both Italian citizens and foreign citizens.

Transcription of Civil Status Documents Abroad for Italian Citizens

Birth, marriage, civil union, and death certificates formed abroad and related to Italian citizens must be sent to the Italian Municipality of residence or registration in the Registry of Italians Residing Abroad (AIRE) for transcription.

Italian citizens are obliged to communicate civil status events that concern them, even if they occur in a foreign territory where they are temporarily located.

Transcription of Civil Status Documents Abroad for Foreign Citizens

Foreign citizens residing in Italy can request the transcription of civil documents formed abroad that concern them, provided they are not contrary to public order.

These documents must be submitted along with a sworn translation into Italian and legalization, unless exempted, by the competent foreign authority.

Transcriptions of Civil Status in Italy reproduce foreign documents, and no annotations can be made on them. Annotations on foreign civil status documents transcribed in the Civil Status registers are not provided, even if the foreign citizen undergoes a change of personal information (changes in name and/or surname).

New data, duly certified by the competent foreign authority, must be reported on civil records.

Documents Eligible for Transcription in Italy

In the Civil Status registers of Italian Municipalities, documents that can be transcribed are the following:

1.Birth certificates if:

  1. the father and/or mother are residents in that specific Municipality;
  2. the father and/or mother are registered in the AIRE of that Municipality;
  3. the father and/or mother had their last residence in Italy in that specific Municipality;
  4. the document holder is of legal age, residing in that specific Municipality, or registered in the AIRE of that specific Municipality.

2.Marriage/Civil Union certificates if at least one of the spouses is a resident in that specific Municipality or registered in the AIRE of that Municipality; if one is an Italian citizen or born in Italy.

3.Death certificates:

  1. if the deceased was a resident in that specific Municipality;
  2. if the deceased was registered in the AIRE of that Municipality;
  3. if the deceased had their last domicile in Italy in that specific Municipality.

Before requesting transcription, it is necessary to ensure that the document has not already been transcribed in another Italian Municipality.

Civil Status Documents Formed in Italy for Foreign Citizens

The transcription of civil status documents formed in Italy, in municipalities other than the residence of the individuals concerned, for foreign citizens, will be transcribed automatically in the civil status registers of the municipalities of residence upon request from the offices that issued them.

The transcription of religious marriages, with civil significance, will be handled by the ministers of the faith who celebrated them.

Transcription of Birth and Adoption Records in the Case of Surrogacy

In Italy, Law No. 40 of 2004 expressly prohibited surrogacy, i.e., the practice of conceiving children through third parties, establishing its criminal relevance. However, this does not prevent the birth certificate of a child born through surrogacy abroad from being simply transcribed as acquired.

The main obstacle to transcription is rather Article 18 of Presidential Decree 396/2000, which states: “Public acts formed abroad cannot be transcribed if they are contrary to public order.” The point of contention becomes the identification of what is understood as “contrary to public order,” which is not agreed upon by the first citizens, institutions, or the lower courts.

Many municipalities have transcribed foreign birth certificates of children born through surrogacy, as it is a lawful practice in other countries. However, even in these cases, the Prefecture has the authority to intervene and annul the transcriptions if they are deemed not in line with current laws.

Once the transcription request is made, the civil registry officer, based on existing provisions, must issue a decision of acceptance or denial. In case of denial for the aforementioned reasons, the decision can be challenged before the judicial authority.

According to Italian law, to obtain recognition of the parenthood of the intended parents in Italy, the most appropriate solution is to resort to adoption for special cases. The procedure for adoption in special cases is governed by Article 44 of Law 184/1983. This article provides that adoption in special cases can be granted to the spouse or partner of the biological parent of the minor or to a person who already has a stable and lasting relationship with the minor.

To obtain adoption in special cases, the intended parents must submit an application to the Juvenile Court.

The debate on this matter is still ongoing, appeals abound, and the European Parliament has already criticized Italy, while the legal representatives of “rainbow families” have accused the provisions of blocking or canceling transcriptions of unconstitutionality and certainly will not give up without a fight.

Documents to be Presented for Transcription

When requesting the transcription of a civil document formed abroad, it is necessary to present:

  • A valid identification document.
  • The document to be transcribed, in the original or a certified copy, translated, and legalized (if required).

Legalization is not required if the document was formed in a state adhering to exempting conventions or drafted in a multilingual model if formed in a state adhering to the Vienna Convention of September 8, 1976.

If you need assistance with transcription or have doubts about the procedures, our lawyers from the Family Law and Divorce Department and Probate will guide you until the registration is completed in Italy.

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Calogero Boccadutri

Calogero Boccadutri is the Managing Partner of Boccadutri International Law Firm. He has trial experience in Forex, Personal Injury and Administrative litigation.

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