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Loss of German citizenship

Loss through obtaining another citizenship by application

If you are a German citizen and you obtain a foreign citizenship by application, you will normally automatically lose your German citizenship. However, as of 28 August 2007 obtaining the citizenship of an EU member state or of Switzerland by application will not lead to the loss of German citizenship.

Until 31 December 1999, the loss did not occur if you were still legally resident in Germany at the time your naturalisation became effective.

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

In some cases, German citizenship may have been lost by marriage

German women who married a foreign citizen before 23 May 1949 lost their German citizenship even if they thereby became stateless. German women who married a foreign citizen between 23 May 1949 and 31 March 1953 lost their German citizenship only if they did not become stateless. They can be renaturalised subject to certain requirements. Please see Renaturalisation and discretionary naturalisation for more information.

As of 1 April 1953 marriage to a foreign citizen does not lead to loss of German citizenship.

In some cases, German citizenship can be lost by adoption

If you are adopted by a non-German and are no longer considered to be legally related to your German parent(s), you lose German citizenship if the adoption automatically makes you a citizen of the adopting parent’s country. If this applies to you, please contact the Embassy in London or the General Consulate in Edinburgh.

If you hold dual citizenship you can renounce your German citizenship by declaration. See Renunciation of German citizenship.

Loss through voluntary military service

By voluntarily entering into the armed forces or other armed units of a country whose citizenship you also have, you may lose or may have lost German citizenship. Loss of German citizenship by entering foreign armed forces can only be avoided with an official permission from the competent German authorites.

However, as of 6 July 2011 (date of commencement of duties), this permit is automatically given to dual nationals who also hold the citizenship of

  • another EU member state
  • an EFTA member state
  • a NATO member state, or
  • a state listed in § 41 I of the German "Aufenthaltsverordnung" (Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, United States of America)

and who serve in this country.

Loss by renunciation (if you hold dual citizenship)

If you are holding multiple citizenships (German and at least one other citizenship) you can renounce German citizenship by declaration. Please see Renuncation of German citizenship for more information

Loss by permanent residence abroad before 1914

German citizens who had their permanent residence abroad for more than 10 years before 1914 automatically lost their German citizenship unless they registered themselves in the "Konsulatsmatrikel" (consular register) of the competent German consulate. This reason for loss of German citizenship is particularly important in case you wish to trace back German citizenship to ancestors who emigrated Germany before 1904. If this is the case, they would have lost German citizenship after 10 years and could not have passed it on to descendants born after they lost their German citizenship.

Loss by legitimisation

The marriage of the parents of a child born out of wedlock was called “legitimisation”. The legitimisation by a foreign father could lead to the loss of a child’s German citizenship. Please contact the Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh for further information, if this may apply to you.

In all other cases (e.g. loss of citizenship through legitimisation), please contact the Embassy in London or the Consulate General for further information.

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