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MILAN

Population of Milan hits 30-year high after influx of new residents

So many people are moving to Milan that even despite a falling birth rate, the city's population is booming.

Population of Milan hits 30-year high after influx of new residents
Milan's population is booming, thanks to people moving in from Italy and abroad. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Milan counted more than 1.4 million residents at the end of 2019, according to the latest figures from the city's anagrafe, or registry office, which says the population is now at its highest since 1990.

More than 40,000 people registered their residency in Milan last year and another 10,000 have applied to do so, according to data gathered by La Repubblica.

While the northern powerhouse is draws people from all over Italy, some 12,000 people moved to Milan from overseas, the figures show.


Milan is the hub for Italian finance, industry and commerce. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

“Lots of people are arriving from London – Italians coming back, but not only,” Mayor Beppe Sala told reporters in December, suggesting that Brexit could bring “many advantages for our city”. 

Milan stands to rival London as Europe's main banking hub when the UK leaves the European Union and the city is already beginning to add personnel and investment, Sala said.

Brexit may also have boosted Milan's population figures in a more minor way, as existing British residents rush to register their residency before the expected leave date on January 31st. The city is the top destination for Brits in Italy after Rome, while the wider region of Lombardy has more British residents than any other part of Italy.

FOR MEMBERS: Where do all the native English speakers live in Italy – and where do they avoid?

Milan makes registering residency easier than many other cities in Italy, including Rome, by giving the option to complete the entire procedure online, even for non-Italians registering in Italy for the first time.

Yet while it enjoys a reputation as Italy's most modern and international city, Milan scores poorly with some foreign residents for work, friendliness and cost of living. In one recent survey international residents ranked Milan as the worst place in the world for job satisfaction, with just under half of those asked saying they were happy with their job in Milan compared to an average of 67 percent globally.

The city also has the highest rents in Italy, or indeed anywhere: Milan is one of the top ten most expensive places to rent in the world, according to one study last year.

READ ALSO: Rome and Milan ranked among 'worst cities in the world' for foreign residents


Property is a big expense in Milan. Photo: DepositPhotos

It's thanks to incomers that Milan's population is growing at all: like the rest of Italy, the city's birth rate continues to fall to record lows, with just under 9,700 babies born in 2019 – the fewest in a century.

The two trends could be related, according to Flaminio Squazzoni, professor of sociology at the University of Milan, who told Repubblica that Italy's lack of policies to support working mothers especially impacts those who have moved to Milan for a job.

“These are people who don't have a family network to rely on, grandparents who could support a new mother both immediately after the birth and when she goes back to work,” Squazzoni said.

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ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP

How foreigners can get ‘fast track’ citizenship in Italy

It can take three years or more for Italy to approve applications for citizenship via ancestry, but there is another way. Here’s how you may be able to cut the waiting time.

How foreigners can get ‘fast track’ citizenship in Italy

Italy is far more lenient than many other countries when it comes to allowing people to claim citizenship via ancestry.

In fact, anyone who can prove that they had an Italian ancestor who was alive after March 17th 1861 (when the Kingdom of Italy was born) and that no one in their line of descent renounced Italian citizenship before the birth of their descendant has the right to become an Italian citizen. 

READ ALSO: What’s the difference between Italian residency and citizenship?

But that doesn’t mean getting Italian citizenship by descent is easy, and the application process is known for involving lots of paperwork and being excruciatingly lengthy.

From the moment applicants file their claim with their country’s Italian consulate, it usually takes between two to three years to get a ruling from the Italian authorities, with waiting times often being even longer in countries where the number of applications is high (Brazil, Argentina, USA). 

There is an alternative route: Italy has a ‘fast track’ citizenship application option which can reduce adjudication times to around a year on average.

But this quicker avenue requires moving to Italy, becoming a legal resident, and filing the citizenship request directly with the local town hall. 

This means applicants must be physically and legally resident in Italy for the entire duration of the citizenship application process, and their presence in Italy must be continuous during that time.

This is subject to checks by Italian law enforcement and breaking the rules can void your application.

If moving to Italy (and staying here) would be an option for you, here’s a closer look at the requirements:

Step 1 – Sorting out the documents 

Foreign nationals opting for the quicker citizenship route can only submit their application after they’ve relocated to Italy. But, most, if not all of the documents required by Italian authorities should be prepared well before moving to Italy. 

“Prospective applicants are strongly advised to come to Italy with all of the relevant documentation already arranged in the best possible way,” says Giuditta De Ricco, attorney-at-law at immigration law firm Mazzeschi Srl. 

That’s because “any inconsistencies in the documentation can further complicate and lengthen the process”, she says.

But what documents do foreign nationals need to claim Italian citizenship? Here’s an overview: 

  • Birth and (where applicable) death certificates for all the Italian ancestors in their direct line of descent plus their own birth certificate.
  • Marriage certificates for all the Italian ancestors in their direct line of descent, including that of their parents.
  • A certificate issued by their home country’s relevant authorities proving that the first ancestor in their line of descent did not acquire foreign citizenship before the birth of their descendant.
  • A certificate issued by their country’s Italian consulate proving that no ancestor in their direct line of descent nor they ever renounced Italian citizenship.

Two people signing documents in an office

Prospective applicants should get all of the necessary documents in order prior to leaving for Italy. Photo by Gabrielle HENDERSON via Unsplash

It bears noting that all of the documents issued by foreign authorities will have to be legally validated by the issuing country’s Italian consulate.

Also, all documents available in a language other than Italian will have to be translated and their translation will too have to be legally validated (this is known as ‘asseverazione’).

Once again, De Ricco recommends that all translation and validation procedures be carried out before leaving for Italy.

Step 2 – Relocating to Italy  

Being permanently resident in Italy is a binding requirement of the quicker citizenship avenue. 

“Applicants are allowed to go on short holidays abroad if they wish to” but, outside of those, their presence in Italy “must be continuous”, says De Ricco.  

Taking up residency in Italy is relatively straightforward for EU-passport holders as they don’t need a visa to enter the country nor do they need a permesso di soggiorno (residency permit).

Essentially, all EU nationals are required to do at this stage is to physically relocate to Italy and become legally resident by registering with the Ufficio Anagrafe (Registry Office). 

Things aren’t quite as easy for non-EU nationals as they need a valid entry visa and a residency permit.

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There are different types of visas and permits available to non-EU nationals, but the easiest route if you’re moving for citizenship purposes is the permesso di soggiorno in attesa di cittadinanza (residency permit pending the acquisition of citizenship), which allows foreign nationals to legally live in the country for the entire length of their claim. 

Prospective applicants can enter the country on a dichiarazione di presenza (declaration of presence) – this is filed with border police for non-Schengen arrivals and at the local Questura (police station) within eight days of entry for others – use the above dichiarazione to register with the Anagrafe and then submit their citizenship application at the town hall. 

Starting the citizenship application process will ultimately give foreign nationals the right to apply for the residency permit, which they’ll have to request by filling out and posting the relevant form along with all the necessary documents to the local Questura.   

Remember: a dichiarazione di presenza allows non-EU nationals to legally remain in Italy for a maximum of 90 days, so you’ll have to send in your permesso di soggiorno application before your 90-day window expires.

READ ALSO: How to register with the anagrafe in Italy

It’s also worth noting that holders of residency permits for citizenship purposes are not allowed to carry out any type of work in the country. However, such permits can be converted into residency permits for work purposes if needed. 

Step 3 – Booking an appointment with the town hall

Once you’ve registered with the Anagrafe and prepared all of the relevant documents, you’ll need to book an appointment at the Ufficio di Stato Civile (Civil Registry) at your local town hall and submit the application to become an Italian citizen. 

Colourful houses in Venice

Foreign nationals must be legally and physically resident in Italy in order to apply for citizenship at their local town hall. ​​Photo by Alex VASEY via Unsplash

You’ll find your registry’s contact details on the town hall’s website. 

Step 4 – Outcome

Barring any inconsistencies regarding the submitted documentation, Italian authorities have 180 days to rule on the issue of Italian citizenship.

However, town halls are required to exchange information with foreign consulates during the application process and the latter’s response times don’t count towards the 180-day window.

That’s part of the reason why “waiting times vary greatly from case to case”, says De Ricco. “Some consulates get back after three weeks, while others might take seven months to do it.”

So, ultimately, the luckier applicants might become Italian citizens within as little as six months, whereas others might have to wait a year or a year and a half. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: Will my children get an Italian passport if born in Italy?

If the request is successful, the applicant will receive Italian citizenship and so will any children of theirs under the age of 18. Children aged over 18 will have to file their own application. 

From the moment they’re awarded Italian citizenship, new citizens have six months to take an oath of allegiance to the Italian Republic. If they don’t, their citizenship will be automatically revoked.

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