What does a foreign document need to be used in Italy?
If you need to register your marriage, divorce, or child’s birth with your Italian Comune, or if you are applying for Italian citizenship and need an official translation of your foreign documents in Italian, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a quote.
Let’s say that you got married in the US (or UK, or Australia, etc) and that you would like to register your (foreign) marriage certificate with your Italian comune (Roma, Firenze, etc) because you are an Italian citizen living abroad and want to update your marital status with the Italian authorities. What does your foreign marriage certificate need to be registered in Italy?
Here is a short guide on what a foreign document needs to include in order to be used and accepted in Italy.
1) The document must be an original document, usually in a “long form”, with a clear stamp and signature of the competent clerk.
2) Then, you need to add a legalization or apostille depending on the country where the document was issued.
2-A) Legalization. In order to be valid in Italy, your document issued by a foreign authority may need to be legalized with a stamp in the country where the document was issued. As a matter of fact, the “legalization” is a procedure by which the legal qualification of the public official who signed a document and the authenticity of his signature are officially attested. However, the legalization does not certify the authenticity of the content of the legalized document. For example, documents issued in China need a legalization.
2 -B) Apostille. If the document was issued in a State that has signed the Hague Convention dated October 5, 1961, you do not need the legalization because you can request the “apostille” from the competent local office. The apostille replaces the legalization. You should look for the competent office in your country that will add the apostille to your original document (birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce, etc). When you have the apostille, the document can technically be accepted in Italy (or in a foreign country which has signed the aforementioned Convention), provided that it is in Italian or has been translated into Italian (see below point n.3). For example, documents issued in the US, UK, Brazil etc. need an apostille.
3.Translation. When you have the document with the apostille, if the document is in a language other than Italian, it will need to be translated into Italian by an official translator to be accepted in Italy. If you are using a translator who is located outside of Italy, he/she must be authorized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and must stamp and sign the translation.
Now, even some translators that are listed on the Italian consulates websites are not really experts and will provide a simple “certified translation” (based on our experience this happens in most cases especially with translators based in the UK and US). Unfortunately, a simple “certified translation” of the translator has no legal value in Italy and cannot be accepted by the local authorities. Therefore, what do you have to do? Well, you have two options. 1) You can have an official translation done to which you will have to add a second legalization/apostille, which is a complicated process and also risky because it is not guaranteed that the translation will be accepted by the Italian authorities if it is not done correctly. 2) You can simply have an official sworn translation of the certificate (which must have the apostille as said above) done here in Italy.
For many clients who need to apply for Italian citizenship, or register their birth or marriage certificates here in Italy, or in many other cases, we do official sworn translations here at the courthouse of Rome. The document is then complete (original >apostille>sworn translation) and ready to be used at the Italian consulates or here in Italian municipalities or courthouses.
Please consider that some documents have a limited validity. For example a marriage certificate is valid for six months only. Therefore, if for instance you are an Italian citizen living abroad (registered with the AIRE) and want to register your marriage in Italy, your marriage certificate must not be older than six months the day the Comune receives it.
Thanks to the Vienna Convention dated September 8, 1976, documents drafted on multilingual standard forms do not need translations or apostilles, considering that Italy has signed this international convention.
It’s important to note that the specific requirements for using a foreign document in Italy can vary depending on the type of document and the country where it was issued. It’s always a good idea to check with the relevant authorities in Italy to determine the exact steps that need to be taken.