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How To Qualify For Citizenship Through Ancestry In Italy

01 Nov
How To Qualify For Citizenship Through Ancestry In Italy

CDs In Ecuador And Citizenship In Italy

In response to Monday’s e-letter on CD rates around the world, a couple of readers wrote in with questions…and one more reader e-mail from this week that I’d like to share, this one to do with citizenship through ancestry…

I’ve heard of credit unions in Latin American countries paying high interest rates, as they tend to do in the United States. I hadn’t heard of this one in Ecuador specifically, so I did a bit of research. The expat group promoting it has nothing to do with the credit untion or the great interest rates. You can go directly to Coopera to open an account.

They will open accounts for non-residents, although I wasn’t able to confirm whether you have to open the account in person or if you can do it remotely. Their interest rates are tiered and will vary like any bank’s rates. Currently a one-month CD is paying 7%. That interest rate increases until you reach 11.5% for a CD with a two-year term or longer. They state their minimum CD deposit is only US$200.

Sounds great, but don’t forget to factor in the risks. This cooperativa isn’t regulated by the central bank in Ecuador. They are a cooperative organization with organic food stores that set up a credit union. They aren’t insured (although this isn’t uncommon, as most countries/banks around the world don’t have anything resembling FDIC insurance).

Yes, banks in every jurisdiction want reference letters from your current bank before they’ll open an account for you. Most banks will provide only a general letter stating your name, how long you’ve held an account with them, and that your account is in good standing. Sometimes they’ll agree to include a statement about the average balance of the account using digits–that is, the average balance in the account has been $X,XXX or $XX,XXX, etc.

It can be a catch-22 if a bank where you’re trying to open an account wants more details than your current bank will give. I haven’t come across that often, but it does happen. Usually it can be worked out by providing additional information yourself, copies of bank statements, for example.

The most moronic situation I’ve encountered personally had to do with my bank in Ireland. They required a bank reference letter when I opened the account. However, when I asked for a reference letter from them to open an account with another bank in another country, they refused. Not because I wasn’t a good customer, but because they “don’t issue reference letters.” Period. Ever. I went in person to visit my banker. After pointing out the hypocrisy of their policy using what my wife refers to as my “range boss” voice, the banker finally responded, “Well, we can do a reference letter if you fill out and sign this form.” The form was an indemnity releasing the bank from any liability for writing the letter.

Indeed, you may be eligible for Italian citizenship. The best place to start is your local Italian consulate, where you should be able to get answers to your questions and details on the procedure to follow. If you’re using your grandmother to qualify, your mother or father would have to have been born in 1948 or later. Below are the grandparent categories. As you can see, they favor male ancestry. There are categories for great-grandparents as well, again favoring the male side. That is, it’s easiest if your great-grandfather from Italy had a son who is your grandfather who had a son who is your father.

If your parents were born in Italy, you’re eligible, as well. Except if it’s your mother, you have to have been born after 1948. Here are particular qualifying scenarios:

  • Category 3: Your father was born in the United States, your paternal grandfather was born in Italy and was an Italian citizen at the time of your father’s birth.
  • Category 4: Your mother was born in the United States, your maternal grandfather was born in Italy and was an Italian citizen at the time of your mother’s birth, you were born after Jan. 1, 1948.
  • Category 5: Your father was born in the United States, your paternal grandmother was born in Italy and was an Italian citizen at the time of your father’s birth, your father was born after Jan. 1, 1948.
  • Category 6: Your mother was born in the United States, your maternal grandmother was born in Italy and was an Italian citizen at the time of your mother’s birth, your mother was born after Jan. 1, 1948.