…and probably the most difficult: Obtaining Italian Birth Records.

I decided that likely the most efficient way to handle the daunting dual-citizenship task would be to procure the hardest-to-find documents first. If I am going to have a insurmountable barrier, I’d rather hit it early before to much time and money has been invested. So I’m on a mission to get official copies of the birth certificates of both of my great-grandparents: Salvatore Sirna and Rose Marie Ridolfo Sirna.

Italian Law dictates that all vital records for birth should be stored at the Civil Status Office (Ufficio dello Status Civile) in the commune where the person was born. I’ve called the family genealogy specialists and found that both my great-grandparents were born in Naso, Messina. So now to write a letter asking for these documents:

Any information you can provide to the Status Office that can help your case is useful, my research tells me that they don’t usually release birth certificates unless you can identify the full name, the parents and the date-of-birth of the person in question. Using some online tools, some brute force Italian lessons and some verification, I’ve drafted letters to the Status Office. Google will be very useful for this, and this tool his handy as well. Here is what they sound like:

Ufficio dello Stato Civile
Comune di Naso
98074 Messina
ITALY

Il sottoscritto: John Nicholas Smarto discendente del Sig. Salvatore Sirna nato a Naso il 29-01-1890 figlio di Giuseppe Sirna e figlio di Carlemia Savio chiede cortesemente il rilascio di :
( X ) ATTO DI NASCITA CON PATERNITA E MATERNITA
(     ) ATTO DI MATRIMONIO CON
(     ) ATTO DI MORTE

-in carta semplice e con le eventuali annotazioni marginali.

CORDIALMENTE

John Nicholas Smarto

Roughly translated:

The undersigned, Nick Smarto, the descendant of Mr. Salavatore Sirga born in Naso on 29-01-1890, son of Giuseppe Sirna and Carlema Savio respectfully requests the issuance of:

Act of birth with maternity and paternity on plain paper and with any marginal notes.

Thank you very much.

It should be noted that you need to ask for the act of birth with maternity and paternity, as otherwise, you could receive a simpler version of a birth certificate with only the name and date of birth of your ancestor, and thus you will likely be rejected during your dual-citizenship application process. As a rule of thumb, if you can provide more details, you should.

Most communes will be happy to help out out, as they are very conditioned to the request of Italian Birth Certificates from America because of genealogy enthusiasts. Still, it is not likely that they will fork over the costs of shipping a document back to you, so when I am sending my letters, I am also going to include some International Reply Coupons. These are currently sold by the USPS at $2.10, and I’m going to include 4 of them (good for 4 ounces of total postage) just so that I’m sure return costs are covered. Because of a little uncertainty in how my letters are addressed, Id like to include a return receipt for $2.30, but this requires paying an extra $10.00 for registered mail, and I don’t feel that it’s necessary, but you may. The actual postage over to Italy will only be $0.98 USD with a First-Class Mail® International Letter. This project is going to take months, if not years, so why pay more for faster postage?

Total costs for this stage: (4 x $2.10) + $0.98 = $9.38

I’m going to be tracking this cost throughout so at the end, it may help you decide if the time and costs are worth it for you personally. Though I think all the benefits listed in my first post are invaluable.

These letters are going out today, hopefully I’ll receive my return receipts before the end of January 2010.

IDC - Rosie and Sam Birth Certificate Requests