The stateless status: what it means

The definition of “stateless” describes a person that no State considers to be its citizen. Citizenship can be lost or not obtained for various reasons. For example, it may happen that the laws of one country do not provide for the transmission of the citizenship of parents residing in a second country to the child born outside the national territory.

Italian law protects stateless persons, recognizing them the same rights attributed to political refugees but is lacking in identifying the procedures for obtaining the recognition of statelessness.

Residence permit for stateless citizens

In fact, before attributing the rights related to statelessness to a person who claims to be, it is necessary to verify their veracity. Each case is analysed separately, brought to the attention of a court and in the event of recognition of the stateless status, the applicant has the opportunity to apply for a residence permit. The residence permit will last for five years and will allow:

  • carrying out work activities
  • access to the study
  • access to public employment
  • registration with the health service.

After obtaining the residence permit, the stateless person must register in the municipality, request the identity card and register with the National Health Service and obtain the health card and tax code.

Travel abroad

With the residence permit, the stateless person will be able to work in Italy and travel for tourism reasons in the Schengen area like any legally resident foreigner, while to travel abroad in non-Schengen countries they will have to apply to the competent Police Headquarters for the issue of a travel document for stateless persons (equivalent to passport).


After 5 years of legal residence in Italy, as for asylum seekers, stateless persons can apply for Italian citizenship by naturalization. The moment in which Italian citizenship is obtained, the statelessness status lapses.