General information


Please read the following information carefully before contacting the Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh.

Although the information on this website has been prepared with the utmost care, we cannot accept responsibility for any inaccuracies it may contain. Please note that German missions abroad are not citizenship authorities and therefore cannot provide final and binding confirmation of your citizenship status. Such confirmation can only be issued by the competent citizenship authority, the Federal Office of Administration (BVA).

German citizenship by descent, adoption or birth on German territory

German citizenship might be automatically acquired by descent, adoption or birth on German territory. To find out under what circumstances you may have automatically acquired German citizenship, please go to: Acquiring German Citizenship.


People can become naturalised citizens either because they are legally entitled to German citizenship or on a discretionary basis. When they are naturalised, they are granted citizenship by the decision of a public authority. This is not a German mission abroad, but the Federal Office of Administration (BVA). The naturalisation becomes effective when the certificate of naturalisation is issued.

Former German citizens who were deprived of their German citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945 are legally entitled to have their citizenship restored. Generally, this applies to their descendants as well. Please see Restoration of German citizenship (Article 116 II Basic Law) for more information.

Generally only people who have been living in Germany for some time can be naturalised. Naturalisation of people living abroad on a discretionary basis is very rare and needs to be in the public interest of the Federal Republic of Germany. Please see Renaturalisation and discretionary Naturalisation for more details.

Loss of German Citizenship

In general, a German citizen who obtains the citizenship of another country by application automatically loses German citizenship. However, as from 28 August 2007 this does not apply to citizenship of an EU member state or of Switzerland.

In all other cases, loss of citizenship can be avoided by obtaining a special permit (Beibehaltungsgenehmigung) before you are naturalised in a foreign country. See Retention of German citizenship.

If you lost German citizenship through naturalisation in the United Kingdom, you might be able to apply for renaturalisation under certain circumstances. See Renaturalisation and discretionary naturalisation for details.

Renunciation of German citizenship

If you live in the United Kingdom, hold dual German-British citizenship and wish to renounce your German citizenship, you must submit an application to the Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh. See Renunciation of German citizenship for details.

Establishment of German citizenship/ Certificate of Citizenship

The Federal Office of Administration (BVA) carries out specific procedures to establish whether or not applicants are German citizens.

It ascertains when and by what means you became a German national and whether or not you have lost your German citizenship.

Many events in the lives of applicants, their parents, grandparents and even ancestors can be significant for the acquisition or loss of German citizenship, including personal and family events (e.g. birth, marriage or adoption) and political/ legal developments (e.g. collective naturalisations during World War II or the acquisition of a foreign citizenship).

Applicants whose German citizenship has been established are issued a certificate of citizenship (Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis).

It can equally be established, upon application, that you are not a German citizen. In such cases, a so-called negative certificate (Negativbescheinigung) is issued. See: Establishment of German citizenship/ Certificate of Citizenship.

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