Thursday, February 3

Attn: All Italian Passport Holders

Well, the title's a bit misleading.  This is one of my sporadic Public Service Announcements for any of you out there that may hold an Italian passport, and have a dual last name, or kids with hyphenated ones.  I won't go into the details of my odyssey into the bowels of the Italian bureaucracy, like, being told to go up to the 2nd floor, then 3rd floor, down to the ground floor, and no, it's on the first floor (I should have known), and then following the signs for Birth certificates to discuss Marriage ones, and finding the office has moved (but no sign saying as much...) 
So--in an effort to prevent those of you from the same fate...
Basically, many years ago, Italians decided that foreigners with Italian grandfathers could gain citizenship. In the USA, this coincided with a vote that Americans could hold two passports as well.  
The conspiracy theory at the time was that this was a way to bump up their populations in order to gain more money from the EU (I believe it wholeheartedly).  
I applied for my entire extended family, and after a 3 yr. trip to Dante's inferno and back, we were good to go.
In the meantime, my sister had four kids, all of whom were put on her single passport.  Her kids have a hyphenated last name.  Hyphens, striking terror in the hearts of Italian pencil pushers, and causing so much angst that people are known to collapse at their desk from brain hemorrhages at the very thought of spotting a dual last name in their piles of papers.  So, out went the hyphen, yet the two names coexisted peacefully for about 12 years.
That is, until 2006, when Italy allowed for voting from abroad.  And so, they took countless millions of dual citizens and inserted them into computers.  Anyone with two last names was shortened down to one, naturally, the father's.  Unbelievably, this draconian measure was taken only with her oldest child, for no apparent reason.  You were given 30 days to counter.  Unfortunately for you, the Courthouse & address indicated on the form was totally incorrect - they had nothing to do with the entire fiasco.  And so, the record stayed put.  
[Admirably, they did attempt to inform Consular offices worldwide of the problem, even writing to specific complainants directly - I've seen the files, organized by country.]
In 2008, a law was passed that outlawed all that happened in 2006. Basically, some wizened old sage understood that you can't have people running around with different names for different countries, especially if it was the very same person.  For that kind of behavior, you'd either be on a 'no-fly' list by now, or considered a mafioso on the lam.  So, orders were given to take those millions, and put their names back.  Except no one got around to it.  
Add to this, that in 2010, the Courts, taking a major step closer to equality, also decided that kids could bear their mothers' names.  Many single moms can now also have their child's name match their own.
So, if you recognize yourself as one of these people, you need to ideally restart the process at the Anagrafe di Roma, Ufficio di Correzioni (Corrections Office, in the true sense of the word). You could try going through your Consolate, but I'd go straight to the source (Italian only, per favore).  They will deny, of course, any knowledge of any of the above, and tell you you don't need to change the name.  Press on.  They have to make the change, but you'll have to supply all docs again, even if they have them sitting right on top of their computer screens.  
Keep in mind that both parents need to sign the request and...Dio ti Benedica if that parent is no longer in the picture.
While passing (a lot of) time sitting in these various offices, I had a lot of time to mull things over.  The mom's name (of the hyphens) is still her dad's last name...so, it's still paternal after all.  Maybe the Spaniards, with their dozen or so last names, mom's&dad's, have it right after all.  But what would that do to the Italian computer systems?  It'd be worse than the Melissa virus...but then again, that might not be a bad thing.

12 comments:

Dave514 said...

Francesca, oh Francesca, you have forgotten another possibility that I've been living with all my life.

O shame, o shame.

I have a hyphenated last name. However, it was not of my father and mother commingling so to speak. My third great grand father wrote the first lexicon and grammar on Sanskrit, held the chair of Sanskrit at New Delhi University and started the Indian Institute at Oxford University. This was for worthy Indian students that couldn't afford Oxford. For all of this he was knighted. You may not know this, but when you're knighted you may take any name you want, so that's how our family got our name.

There are many American slobs who have no idea of this and insist on calling me by the last part of my hyphenated name. They are, on the other hand, perfectly OK calling some Southern broad, Mary Sue Ann. It pisses me off no end. I have to educate not just Americans but bloody Italians and the rest of the Europeans, who though are at home with names, like my friend Princessin Annie von Salem Salem.

Oh, I love this rant it makes me feel so so much better.


Davide

mmtmrb said...

Would be hilarious if it wasn't happening to me!!!

Alena said...

Funny-in Belarus,all you need to do is bring a bottle of vodka and a
box of cookies to get your documents!

Francesca Maggi said...

Well, the moment she said she "...was doing me a favor" I probably should have greased her palm...and besides, there were other people in the room...
But, that's how my 80 yr old great-aunt managed to get my Italian passport request into the fast lane... I just don't have it in me.

Francesca Maggi said...

@Davide, so, what name would it be?

And, in honor of the Chinese New Year, if someone could please tell me where the Mr. or Ms. goes and which name goes where, I'd be a lot more calm when dealing with our overlords.

Dave514 said...

Eh Francesca!:
you know my name as I know yours.


Davide

CT said...

There are worse things than having a passport with a different name on it, I changed the name on my Italian passport due to a typo but in retrospect that was pretty stupid!!

Regarding Chinese names, the FAMILY name is always one syllable, no matter which order it it is in. The given name is usually two syllables. So Deng Xioaping means that Deng is the family name.

CuzLiz said...

Definitely painful, and I feel for you, but it is something you must laugh at. Wringing their necks is still illegal.

Gabriela said...

I am unfortunatelly having this problem right now .... I have a question, you write in this blog that one should contact the Anagrafe di Roma, Ufficio di Correzioni to correct the mistake ... Do you happen to know if this is for someone who's from Rome or any Italian with dual citizenship (because my family is originally from Genova)... I tried researching this but my italian is not that good....
Thanks a lot
Gabriela

Francesca Maggi said...

@Gabriela:
Not as easy as it looks:
All the records are in Rome but not at the Anagrafe - supposedly coordinated at the URP/Ufficio Relazione Pubblico (which happens to be in Rome).

They told me during our process (which was just completed with success! 7 mths later) that all the docs for foreign residents were being taken care of / names put back one by one from Rome and that foreign embassies needed to be on top of this.

I would suggest instead that you start your complaint at your local Consular Office (as long as it's not in Detroit! - that's another blog entry) *AND* with the folks at the Anagrafe in Genova. I have a feeling you'll have to file the complaint with the Foreign Residents Ofc as I did above...

Buona Fortuna!

Gabriela said...

Ok, I will start the complaint at both places, then... thanks a lot for your prompt response.... Gabriela

Francesca Maggi said...

Two years later, the update on my endeavors to correct my niece's name prior to her return trip to Italy:

My sister goes to collect her kids' passports at the Detroit Consulate [I have an entire entry on them - you can read about on link below - who are pretty much the top experts in the world on obstructionism -- if there are any sociologists who want to study the issue, it'd be a terrific place to start.]

http://burntbythetuscansun.blogspot.it/2011/03/italian-consulate-your-government-not.html

a) They say they never rec'd any paperwork from Rome
b) They say she needs to start all new request with all paperwork (she did)
c) They say they need extra docs not listed as required on the website
d) They ask for extra money not listed on the reqs sheet
e) She brings in all the receipts attesting to the request frm 2011 & name rectification - they begrudgingly accept it...

And then, in under 6 weeks, they issue the new passport!

Except they leave out her middle name and they leave out the hyphen, the problem that needed correction to begin with.