What has changed?
Until now, not all children born after the enactment of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany (23 May 1949) were able to acquire German citizenship by descent from a parent who was German at the time of their birth. The new provision (August 2021) of the German Nationality Act did away with the previous rules on descent as they discriminated against certain parents on the basis of gender, and provides a ten-year period during which the children concerned and their descendants may acquire German citizenship by way of declaration. So from now on these persons can apply to become naturalised German citizens by simple declaration.
- children of a German parent (father or mother) who did not acquire German citizenship from him or her (e.g. children born in wedlock to a German mother and a foreign father prior to 1975 or born out of wedlock to a German father and a foreign mother prior to 1 July 1993), or
- children of a mother who, prior to their birth, lost her German citizenship by marrying a non-German, or
- children who lost their German citizenship acquired through birth as a result of legitimation, as their German mother married their non-German father after their birth, or
- descendants of a person eligible under nos. 1 to 3.
Further details on the new regulations as well as forms and factsheets can be found on the website of the Federal Office of Administration (“Bundesverwaltungsamt” or “BVA”).
Information on the application process
Declarations can be sent directly to the Federal Office of Administration or handed in to the relevant German mission abroad for forwarding. Please note that declarations only become legally valid once received by the Federal Office of Administration.
Guidance on filling in the declaration form (including appendices) and a list of required documents can be found in the information sheet in the download package.
In terms of documents to be submitted, please note that German birth certificates do not count as proof of German citizenship. German citizenship is acquired not by being born in Germany, but primarily by descent from a parent who was German at the time of the child’s birth. Old German passports or identity cards are accepted as proof of a parent’s German citizenship.
Accompanying documents should if possible be submitted in the form of certified copies. Copies can be certified by prior appointment by either the Embassy’s Legalisation department, the Consulate General in Edinburgh or a German Honorary Consul. Please see the Legalisation department’s instructions on our website. Certifications by a British notary public are also recognised by the Federal Office of Administration.
Documents submitted to the Federal Office of Administration must generally be accompanied by a German translation. However, in the Embassy’s experience, the Federal Office of Administration does usually accept simple common English-language documents without a translation. The same applies to apostilles, which are not normally required for British documents. The Federal Office of Administration may contact applicants in the course of the process if any documents, translations etc. are missing. As a rule, there is no problem with sending in documents after your application has been filed.
A British police clearance certificate can be requested from ACRO Criminal Records Office. Please request a police certificate “for visa and immigration purposes”. A police certificate must be submitted for all applicants who have reached the age of criminal responsibility (14 years old). The original document must be submitted (not a certified copy).
Unfortunately, given the large influx of applications for naturalisation by declaration, processing is likely to take some time. It is currently taking the Federal Office of Administration at least 3-6 months just to issue confirmations of receipt. Applications are processed strictly in the order in which they were received.
Should you have any questions, you are welcome to contact the Citizenship team at the Embassy or the Consulate General in Edinburgh using the contact form.
Please be aware, though, that the Embassy is not a citizenship authority and therefore plays no part in deciding on application outcomes. It also has no access to Federal Office of Administration data. Therefore you may wish to address your query directly to the Federal Office of Administration at the following email address: email@example.com or by phone using the Federal Office of Administration helpline number stated in the information sheet.