Italy Emigration and Immigration

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Online Sources[edit | edit source]

These sources cover multiple countries.

Additional online sources unique to each country of destination are listed below.

Finding the Town of Origin in Italy[edit | edit source]

If you are using emigration/immigration records to find the name of your ancestors' town in Italy, see Italy Finding Town of Origin for additional research strategies.

Italy Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

"Emigration" means moving out of a country. "Immigration" means moving into a country. (See Immigration into Italy.)
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigrating) or arriving (immigrating) in the country. These sources may be passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, or records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, and places of origin or birthplaces. Sometimes they also show family groups.

Emigration[edit | edit source]

Italy used to be a country of mass emigration, from the late 19th century until the 1970s. Between 1898 and 1914, the peak years of the Italian diaspora, approximately 750,000 Italians emigrated each year. Today, large numbers of people with full or significant Italian ancestry are found in Brazil (25 million), Argentina (20 million), US (17.8 million), France (5 million), Venezuela (2 million), Uruguay (1.5 million), Canada (1.4 million), and Australia (800,000).[1]

  • During the 1800s, most Italian emigrants left through the ports of Le Havre, Marseilles, and Nice in France, and Genova, Napoli, and Palermo in Italy. Although some of the records of departures from these Italian ports exist, they are usually shipping lists and do not list passengers. Each individual shipping company maintained its own lists, and most lists have been lost or destroyed.
Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png The better option is to look for records about the ancestor in the country of destination, the country they immigrated into. See links to Wiki articles about immigration records for major destination countries below. Additional Wiki articles for other destinations can be found at Category:Emigration and Immigration Records.

Italian Immigration Records by Country of Destination[edit | edit source]

Argentina[edit | edit source]

Argentina Online Sources[edit | edit source]

Argentina Background[edit | edit source]

Italian settlements in Argentina, along with Spanish settlements, formed the backbone of today's Argentine society. Argentine culture has significant connections with Italian culture in terms of language, customs, and traditions.

Italian Argentines are Argentine-born citizens of Italian descent or Italian-born people who reside in Argentina. Italian is the largest ethnic origin of modern Argentines, after the Spanish immigration during the colonial population. It is estimated that up to 30 million Argentines have some degree of Italian ancestry (62.5% of the total population).

Italians began arriving in Argentina in large numbers from 1857 to 1940, totaling 44.9% of the entire postcolonial immigrant population, more than from any other country (including Spain, at 31.5%). In 1996, the population of Argentines of partial or full Italian descent numbered 15.8 million when Argentina’s population was approximately 34.5 million, meaning they represented 45.5% of the population. Today, the country has 30 million Argentines with some degree of Italian ancestry in a total population of 40 million.[2]

Australia[edit | edit source]

Australia Online Sources[edit | edit source]

Australia Background[edit | edit source]

Italian Australians comprise the sixth largest ethnic group in Australia, with the 2016 census finding 4.6% of the population (1,000,013 people) claiming ancestry from Italy, be they migrants to Australia or their descendants born in Australia of Italian heritage. The 2016 census counted 174,044 people (2.8% of the foreign born population) who were born in Italy, down from 199,124 in the 2006 census. In 2011, 916,100 persons identified themselves as having Italian ancestry, either alone or in combination with another ancestry (4.6%). By 2016, Italian was identified as the fifth most spoken language other than English with 271,597 speakers. In 2011, Italian was the second most used language at home with 316,900 speakers (or 1.6% of the Australian population).[3]

By Italian Government estimates, fully two-fifths of its emigrants to Australia were from the Veneto and another two-fifths were drawn from the Piedmont, Lombardy and Tuscany regions. Only one-fifth were from Sicily and Calabria.[3]

Brazil[edit | edit source]

Brazil Online Sources[edit | edit source]

  • 1858-1899 Centro Altreitalie Three databases, available online, with the landing lists of Italians in Argentina, Brazil and the United States.
  • 1875-1900 Emigrazione Veneta "If your ancestors came from Venetia: the Venetia is indeed the province where from left Italians’ largest number towards Brazil, in particular at the beginning of the Italian colonization in Brazil (1875-1900). Search by initial of the surname or complete name, information on the travelers."
  • Brazil Emigration and Immigration – Wiki page with additional larger databases which also include Italians

Brazil Background[edit | edit source]

Italian Brazilians are Brazilian citizens of full or partial Italian descent. Italian Brazilians are the largest number of people with full or partial Italian ancestry outside Italy, with São Paulo being the most populous city with Italian ancestry in the world. Nowadays, it is possible to find millions of descendants of Italians, from the southeastern state of Minas Gerais to the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, with the majority living in São Paulo state and the highest percentage in the southeastern state of Espírito Santo (60-75%). Small southern Brazilian towns, such as Nova Veneza, have as much as 95% of their population of Italian descent. In 2019, 11,663 people with Italian nationality emigrated from Italy to Brazil according to the Italian World Report 2019, totaling 447,067 Italian citizens living in Brazil until 2019.[4]

Canada[edit | edit source]

Canada Sources[edit | edit source]

Halifax, Nova Scotia[edit | edit source]

Halifax, Nova Scotia was an influential port of Italian immigration between 1928 until it ceased operations in 1971.

Canada Background[edit | edit source]

Italian Canadians comprise Canadians who have full or partial Italian heritage and Italians who migrated from Italy or reside in Canada. According to the 2016 Census of Canada, 1,587,970 Canadians (4.6% of the total population) claimed full or partial Italian ancestry. Residing mainly in central urban industrial metropolitan areas, Italian Canadians are the seventh largest self-identified ethnic group in Canada behind French, English, Irish, Scottish, German and Chinese Canadians.

Italian immigration to Canada started as early as the mid 19th century. A substantial influx of Italian immigration to Canada began in the early 20th century, primarily from rural southern Italy. The interwar period of World War I also instigated further migration, with immigrants primarily settling in Toronto and Montreal.

A second wave of immigration occurred after the World War II, and between the early 1950s and the mid-1960s, approximately 20,000 to 30,000 Italians immigrated to Canada each year, many of the men working in the construction industry upon settling. Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia was an influential port of Italian immigration between 1928 until it ceased operations in 1971, where 471,940 individuals came to Canada from Italy, making them the third largest ethnic group to immigrate to Canada during that time period. [5]

France[edit | edit source]

France Online Records[edit | edit source]

France Background[edit | edit source]

  • Italian migration into what is today France has been going on, in different migrating cycles, for centuries, beginning in prehistoric times right to the modern age. According to Robin Cohen, "about 5 million French nationals are of Italian origin if their parentage is retraced over three generations". According to official data of the Eurostat for 2012, the number of Italian citizens residing in France was 174,000.
  • Italian popular immigration to France only began in the late 18th century, really developed from the end of the 19th century until the World War I and became quite massive after this war. France needed workforce to compensate for the war losses and its very low birthrate.
  • Initially, Italian immigration to modern France (late 18th to the early 20th century) came predominantly from northern Italy (Piedmont, Veneto), then from central Italy (Marche, Umbria), mostly to the bordering southeastern region of Provence. It wasn't until after World War II that large numbers of immigrants from southern Italy immigrated to France, usually settling in industrialised areas of France, such as Lorraine, Paris and Lyon.[6]

United States[edit | edit source]

United States Online Sources[edit | edit source]

United States Background[edit | edit source]

1848 to 1870. More than 20,000 emigrants left Italy and migrated to the United States. This wave of emigration was caused by political upheaval and revolution as Italy struggled to become an independent, unified state.

1870 to 1914.

  • From 1870 to 1880, an estimated 55,000 Italians came to the United States.
  • From 1880 to 1890, more than 300,000 others arrived.
  • As word arrived in Italy of the opportunities in America and as economic problems increased in Italy, nearly 4 million Italians came to America between 1890 and 1914.
  • Most emigrants were from southern Italy and settled in New York, Chicago, and along the East Coast. Many emigrants from northern Italy settled in the coal and mineral mining towns across the United States. Other northerners later settled in northern California where a climate similar to their own existed.

Uruguay[edit | edit source]

Uruguay Online Sources[edit | edit source]

Uruguay Background[edit | edit source]

  • It is estimated that more than one third of Uruguayans are of Italian descent.
  • Along with its neighboring country, Argentina, Italian immigration to Uruguay is one of the largest, if not the largest, ethnic groups towards Uruguay's modern culture and society, along with Spanish Uruguayans. Outside of Italy, Uruguay has one of the highest percentages of Italians in the world.
  • The first Italians arrived in Spanish and Portuguese colonies of South America in the 16th century. The first Italians were primarily from the Republic of Genoa and worked in the business and commerce related to the transoceanic shipping between "old and new world".
  • Immigrants from other areas of Italy followed with Lombardi exiles, craftsmen, farmers, the followers of Garibaldi, Southern Italians of various trades and even those active in many other ways, including a minority of adventurers.
  • From 1875 to 1890, Italians were the largest part of a wave of immigration to Uruguay from Spain and Italy. That continued in the 20th century until the early 1960s, but was followed by a sharp reduction, coinciding with economic and political upheavals in both Uruguay and Italy.
  • By 1976, Uruguayans of Italian descent numbered over 1,300,000, almost 45% of the total population, including Italian-Argentine residents in Uruguay. High concentrations are found in Montevideo and the city of Paysandú, where almost 65% of the population is of Italian origin.[7]

Venezuela[edit | edit source]

Venezuela Background[edit | edit source]

  • Among European Venezuelans, Italians are one of the largest groups of immigrants to settle in the country.
  • In the 1940s and 1950s, the Venezuelan President Marcos Pérez Jiménez promoted European immigration to his depopulated country, and more than 300,000 Italians emigrated to Venezuela (although many later returned to Italy).
  • The Italians in the 1961 Venezuelan census were the biggest European community in Venezuela (ahead of the Spanish). In 1966, according to the Italian Embassy in Caracas, of the 170,000 Italians present in the country, 90% lived in the main cities: about 9,6000 in Caracas, 1,4000 in Maracaibo, 8,000 in Maracay, 6,000 in Valencia and 5,000 in La Guayra. Most of these Italians were born in Sicily, Campania and Puglia; only 15% were born in northern Italy (mainly in Emilia-Romagna).
  • They initially worked in construction, in the service sector, in commercial agencies and in different businesses (like hotels, banks, restaurants, etc.), in manufacturing activities and a few also in the oil industry.
  • Marisa Vannini calculated that in the 1980s Italian-Venezuelans made up almost 400,000 of Venezuela's population, including second-generation descendants of immigrants.
  • Currently (2021), Italian citizens resident in Venezuela are reduced to less than 50,000, due mainly to demographic mortality and to their return to Italy (because of a Venezuelan political and economic crisis in the 2000s).[8]

Immigration into Italy[edit | edit source]

  • Early 1200s. Waldensian emigrants from France moved to northern Italy as a result of religious persecution.
  • 1431 to about 1450. Thousands of Greek and Albanian Christians moved into Italy as a result of persecution under the Muslim Turks. They settled in coastal areas of the Italian peninsula and in Sicilia.
  • 1492 to 1692. Thousands of Jewish emigrants moved into Italy because of religious persecution. Most of them came from Spain and Portugal. Many settled in Rome and other major cities.
  • 1980s to Present As a result of the profound economic and social changes brought about by postwar industrialization, including low birth rates, an aging population and thus a shrinking workforce, during the 1980s. Italy became to attract rising flows of foreign immigrants. The present-day figure of about 5 million foreign residents, that make up some 8% of the total population. The official figures also exclude illegal immigrants, the so-called clandestini, whose numbers are very difficult to determine. In May 2008, The Boston Globe quoted an estimate of 670,000 for this group.
  • Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and more recently, the 2004 and 2007 enlargements of the European Union, the main waves of migration came from the former socialist countries of Eastern Europe (especially Romania, Albania, Ukraine and Poland).
  • The second most important area of immigration to Italy has always been the neighbouring North Africa (in particular, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia), with soaring arrivals as a consequence of the Arab Spring.
  • In recent years, growing migration fluxes from the Far East (notably, China and the Philippines) and Latin America (Ecuador, Peru) have been recorded.
  • Currently, there are 1.2 million Romanian-born citizens living and working in Italy.
  • Today the Romanians make up the largest community in the country, followed by Albanians (441,027) and Moroccans (422,980).The fourth largest community in Italy are the Chinese.[9]

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Demographics of Italy: Modern Italy and immigration", in Wikipedia,, accessed 19 April 2021.
  2. "Italian Argentines", in Wikipedia,, accessed 17 April 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Italian Australians", in Wikipedia,, accessed 17 April 2021.
  4. "Italian Brazilians", in Wikipedia,, accessed 17 Apri 2021.
  5. "Italian Canadians", in Wikipedia, accessed 17 April 2021.
  6. "Italians in France", in Wikipedia,, accessed 19vApril 2020.
  7. "Italian Uruguayans", in Wikipedia,, accessed 17 April 2021.
  8. "Italian Venezuelans", in Wikipedia,, accessed 21 April 2021.
  9. "Demographics of Italy: Modern Italy and immigration", in Wikipedia,, accessed 19 April 2021.