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Citizenship: Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ

FAQ

Yes, you can, but we currently do not offer appointments to hand in your application or go through your application with you. You can however, visit the Legalisation Office during opening hours without prior appointment.

Click here for information on opening hours of the Legalisation Section and more details.

We cannot provide a general answer to this question, as each case is different. Generally, we always recommend checking with the other country that you are a citizen of, as we can always only advise from the German side.

Yes, you can. If several members of a family are applying on the basis of the same parent/grandparent, the applications can be submitted together and the documents relating to that parent/grandparent (one set of certified and one set of plain photocopies) need only be provided once.

All general queries can be sent by email, but if you are submitting (additional) documents or your entire application please do so either by post or by visiting the Legalisation Office of the Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh. Please remember not to send original documents, but certified copies instead.

Click here for details on how to certify your documents

Owing to the increase in applications we are unfortunately unable to provide appointments for general enquiries or to go through questions in detail. If you are not sure whether you are eligible for German citizenship or how to proceed, start by reading carefully through this FAQ and all the information provided. In unusual cases or if you still have questions, feel free to contact us via the contact form. We will try to get back to you as soon as possible.

You can visit the Legalisation Office at the Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh to have your signature/photocopies certified. Please book an appointment here

Alternatively, you can have your copies certified by your local Honorary Consul. Please contact the Honorary Consul responsible for your area beforehand.

Click here to find your Honorary Consul

It depends on the application process and the basis on which you are applying. Waiting times for naturalisations have recently increased considerably, and the Federal Administration Office may take up to two years to process an application.

In some cases, German citizenship can be lost automatically through acquiring a foreign citizenship by application. If you obtain a foreign citizenship by application, German citizenship is automatically lost. However, as of 28 August 2007 this does not apply to the citizenship of an EU member state or of Switzerland. It also does not apply to the United Kingdom until the end of the transition period of their exit from the EU (currently 31.12.2020). In all other cases, loss of citizenship can be avoided by obtaining a special permit (Beibehaltungsgenehmigung) before you are naturalised in a foreign country.

Click here for more information

Copies of UK naturalisation certificates and further useful information can be found on the website of the UK National Archives

For marriage and birth certificates you might be able to contact the local authority at the place of marriage and birth respectively. In Germany, this is the local Standesamt (Registry Office), or, if dating back further, the relevant city archives. Some Standesamt websites offer services to order these documents online.

For certificates of citizenship and the necessary research, the German Military Archives and WASt might be a useful resource.

In addition, you can refer to our guide on family research, which includes a number of useful links.

If you received your naturalisation certificate within the last five years, you will have to provide us with your child’s birth certificate and, if applicable, marriage certificate, as well as a signed application form. If the child is below the age of 16, you will have to sign the application form yourself. Please quote the Embassy’s reference number you received when submitting your application.

German citizenship might be automatically acquired through descent, adoption or birth on German territory. A child born in Germany on or after 1 January 2000 to non-German parents may acquire German citizenship under certain conditions.

Click here for more information

German citizenship can be automatically acquired by descent, but this is not always the case.

Click here for more information

We strongly advise you not to submit original documents but certified copies instead.

All decisions on citizenship are the responsibility of the Federal Administration Office (BVA). You can, however, submit your application through the Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh; we will then forward it to the Federal Administration Office.

As the documents required differ according to the basis on which you are applying and/or the certificate you are applying for, please check the sections under “German Citizenship” to see which is relevant to your case. If you are unsure which section is relevant to you, we suggest you read through General information, which is intended to point you to the section relevant to your individual case.

No. You only need to provide us with the documents relating to the person on whom your application is based and proving the link between yourself and that person. Please see the relevant section for details.

Subject to certain conditions, your child will have automatically acquired German citizenship by descent and is therefore entitled to a German passport. For more information please see: Acquiring German citizenship.

In this case, you can apply for a German passport for your child at the Embassy in London, the Consulate General in Edinburgh and some Honorary Consuls.

Click here for more information on Passports as well as details on booking an appointment and the documents required.

In some cases a name declaration might be required.

Click here for further details on Naming Law and Civil Status Certificates.

Please bring the original documents, two sets of copies and if possible plain copies of your passport. If you are simultaneously submitting applications for yourself and other members of your family, please provide us with a copy of each applicant’s passport.

For marriage and birth certificates you might be able to contact the local authority at the place of marriage and birth respectively. In Germany, this is the local Standesamt (Registry Office), or, if dating back further, the relevant city archives. Some Standesamt websites offer services to order these documents online.

Anyone who either automatically lost his/her German citizenship under §2 of the 11th Decree Implementing the Reich Citizens Act of 25 November 1941 (this affected all German citizens of the Jewish faith who had their permanent residence abroad when the regulation entered into force on 27 November 1941 or later) or who was deprived of his/her German citizenship on an individual basis under the Act on Revocation of Naturalisations and Deprivation of German Citizenship of 14 July 1933 is deemed to have been deprived of his/her German citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds. Individual cases of deprivation of German citizenship were published in the Reich Law Gazette (Reichsgesetzblatt).

All foreign documents that are not either in English or German will have to be translated by a certified translator. The Embassy, the Consulate General and Honorary Consuls do not provide translation services. Translators accepted by the BVA can be found e.g. on the website of the Institute of Linguists in London.

Each descendant has an individual claim, subject to eligibility. It is thus possible for grandchildren to apply, even if their parents decide not to. Please note, however, that children younger than 16 require parental consent. If parents wish to apply for a child under 16, they should fill in the form with the child’s details and sign the form themselves.

Frequently asked questions regarding citizenship after Brexit:

3. Citizenship

FAQ

The Embassy cannot make a general recommendation as to whether it is advisable to acquire British citizenship. The adoption of foreign citizenship is an individual decision which depends on the person’s particular circumstances, and is subject in every country to certain criteria.

For questions about dual nationality/ permission to retain a nationality, see points 3c–g and 3k below.

The criteria that must be met to acquire British citizenship are based on British law. Further information on this can be found on the Home Office website.

Under the German Nationality Act (in force since 28 August 2007), a German does not lose his/ her German citizenship if he/ she acquires citizenship of another EU member state or of Switzerland. The United Kingdom has not been a member of the EU since 31 January 2020, and the transition period ended on 31 December 2020.

Under Section 3 (2) of the Transitional Brexit Act passed by the German parliament on 17 January 2019, Germans who have made an application for naturalisation in the United Kingdom before the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) do not lose their German citizenship pursuant to Section 25 (1), first sentence, of the Nationality Act, even if the citizenship ceremony marking the acquisition of British citizenship only takes place after the end of the transition period.

This means that, if you were naturalised by the British authorities or applied for naturalisation before the end of the transition period following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, you will not lose your German citizenship, and neither will you need permission to retain German nationality. It is the date of the application that counts here, not the date of naturalisation (citizenship ceremony). It is essential to retain proof of the date of your application (see question 3d).

However, if after 1 January 2021 you apply for and acquire British citizenship without having previously received permission from the Federal Office of Administration to retain German nationality, you will automatically lose your German nationality. You can find detailed information on Retention of German citizenship upon naturalisation in another country here.

When applying for a new German passport, you will have to state that you have applied for and acquired British citizenship. If naturalisation is after the Brexit date, you will also have to prove that you submitted the application before the end of the transition period and therefore, under the transition arrangements, have not lost your German citizenship.

There are three ways of proving this:

  • If you applied for British citizenship online, you can use a printout of the dated receipt you received for your online payment; the receipt normally states that you have applied for British citizenship;
  • If, alternatively, you submitted a paper application for British citizenship, you can use a printout of the dated application confirmation letter you received from the Home Office;
  • If you submitted your application very close to the Brexit date, it was received by the Home Office prior to the Brexit date but the date of the confirmation letter is after the Brexit date, you can get written confirmation from the Home Office that it received your application before the Brexit date. You will have to contact the Home Office separately to ask it to issue this confirmation.

Please retain this documentary evidence and keep it safe so that you are able to prove at a later date, for example when applying for a German passport, that, in acquiring British citizenship, you have not lost your German citizenship pursuant to Section 25 (1), sentence 1, of the Nationality Act. It is in any case generally advisable to retain and keep safe all documents connected with your application for British citizenship.

If you submit an application for British citizenship after 1 January 2021 and at the same time want to retain your German citizenship, you have to apply beforehand for permission to retain German citizenship. You can find the application form here

If your application for naturalisation was submitted before the end of the transition period following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, i.e. before 31 December 2020, under current German law you do not need a retention permit.

Yes! Under Section 15 No. 4 of the Passport Act and Section 27 (1) No. 4 of the Act on Identity Cards, holders of a German passport or national identity card are obliged to notify the competent passport office/ identity card office without delay (if your habitual place of residence is the United Kingdom then this is the Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh) that they have acquired a foreign citizenship.

When applying for a new German passport or identity card anywhere in the world, and whenever a German authority asks for your nationality, you must state that you have acquired British citizenship. Upon naturalisation, you can email a scan of your certificate of naturalisation and of the photo page of your German passport and proof that you have applied in due time where applicable. 

It is important that you bring your British certificate of naturalisation (or proof of your application as described in 3e) with you to the passport appointment at the Embassy/Consulate General.

In some cases (which cannot all be listed here) you may also be under obligation to notify certain German domestic authorities. Please enquire with the authority concerned.

Children of German parents acquire German citizenship not by application, but automatically by descent. Further information on acquiring German citizenship can be found on our website.

If your child acquired German citizenship through birth, you can normally apply directly for a German passport or national identity card for your child, and do not need to apply for German citizenship beforehand. Further information on applying for a passport can be found on our website.

However, please check before booking a passport appointment whether you first need to make a name declaration for your child. All information on this can be found on our website under Naming law.

You only need to register the birth of your child or apply for a German birth certificate if you, as a German parent, were yourself born abroad after 31 December 1999. Further information on this can be found on our website (in German).

Under current German law, your child’s German citizenship is not affected if the child automatically acquires another citizenship through birth.

The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU and the end of the transition period do not affect your existing German citizenship. If, on that date, you already held dual nationality, you do not have to decide between German and British citizenship.

Under current German citizenship law, naturalisation is only possible in exceptional cases for someone living abroad. As a rule, the spouses of German nationals cannot be naturalised if the family is living abroad.

The competent citizenship authority, namely the Federal Office of Administration in Cologne, has confirmed that being married to a German (even for many years) and wanting all the family to have the same nationality are not, on their own, adequate grounds for naturalisation.

In addition to the general naturalisation conditions (such as speaking very good German and having close ties with Germany), the naturalisation must be in the particular public interest as well as being in the applicant’s private interest. Unfortunately this condition is rarely met.

Further information can be found on our website and on the website of the Federal Office of Administration

This often happens, for example, if the German passport was issued in a person’s unmarried name, but the person uses a new name after getting married without a formal married name declaration having been made under German law, or if a child was born out of wedlock in the United Kingdom, but is to take the father’s surname or a double surname. In these cases you have two options:

a) You change the name under British law to match the name in the German passport, for example by a deed poll name change. The fact is, it is easier to change the name on a British passport than on a German passport.

b) If, however, you or your child want to have the name that is on your British passport on your German passport as well, it depends on the individual case as to whether it is possible to change the name on the German passport and how this is done. Unfortunately a British change of name by deed poll will not be recognised. However, you can make a German name declaration and then apply for a new passport in the new name. General information on name declarations can be found on our website.

Unfortunately, since 1 January 2021, name declarations under Article 48 of the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code (EGBGB) whereby it used to be possible to take a name from a British civil status certificate are no longer possible as, since Brexit and the end of the transition period, the United Kingdom is no longer treated as an EU member state. In the past, a declaration of this kind was used mostly, though not exclusively, in the following circumstances:

  • double surname (consisting of the surnames of both parents, with or without a hyphen) is to be chosen for a minor (or a child who has reached majority)
  • a minor is to be given a surname which differs from the surnames of both parents (e.g. grandfather’s surname, father’s first name or even a made-up name)

Unfortunately this will be difficult now that Article 48 of the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code (EGBGB) (see answer to 3l. above) is no longer applicable. The safest way is to opt immediately for either the mother’s or the father’s surname and have this entered on the British birth certificate.

If one parent holds another nationality (other than British and German), it is worth checking whether an alternative kind of name declaration might be an option (opting for the law of another country).

If a name declaration is not possible, but you want to keep the double surname, there is also the option of a name change under public law. Please contact us if you would like further information on this.

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