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Renaturalisation and discretionary naturalisation

Discretionary naturalisation under §14 Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (StAG)

Foreigners can apply for naturalisation whilst living abroad under §14 of the Nationality Act if specific conditions and criteria are met. The decision is at the discretion of the competent citizenship authority, the Federal Administration Office (BVA). There is no legal entitlement to naturalisation when living abroad, unless Article 116 II applies to you.

In the experience of the Foreign Ministry, discretionary naturalisations are only granted if they can be shown to be in the public interest of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is therefore unlikely that being married to a German citizen would be sufficient for a successful application for discretionary naturalisation.

In addition to the proof of public interest you may have to provide, further conditions and criteria will have to be met. These include demonstrating German language skills and providing evidence of strong ties to Germany, as well as a secure income and a clean criminal record (Straffreiheit).

Children of a German parent who could not acquire German citizenship automatically by descent

Children of a German parent who could not acquire German citizenship automatically by descent (see Acquiring German Citizenship) can, under certain circumstances, apply for naturalisation under simplified requirements. This applies if you were:

  • Born to a German mother and married parents before 1975
  • Born to a German father and unmarried parents before 1 July 1993

Entitlement to naturalisation also extends to the descendants of these children up to the generational cut-off point specified in Section 4 (4) of the Nationality Act. Naturalisation is also possible for descendants of these children up to the so-called “generational cut-off point” under Section 4 (4) of the Nationality Act. This provides that children born outside Germany whose relevant parent for acquiring German citizenship was him- or herself born outside Germany after 31 December 1999 can only acquire German citizenship under the conditions specified in it. As a result, only the first generation of descendants born after 31 December 1999 is eligible for naturalisation. Their own descendants are not eligible. However, for children under 18 naturalisation will be possible under a transitional arrangement until 31 December 2020.

Further information as well as the application forms can be found on the website of the Federal Office of Administration (Bundesverwaltungsamt).

If you intend to apply for discretionary naturalisation, please contact the Federal Office of Administration, the German Embassy in London or the General Consulate in Edinburgh before applying, outlining the details of your case.

Easier naturalisation for descendants of victims of Nazi persecution under Section 14 of the Nationality Act

On 30 August 2019, the Federal Ministry of the Interior introduced two comprehensive ministerial orders which make it easier for descendants of German victims of Nazi persecution who live abroad and are not entitled to renaturalisation under Article 116 (2) sentence 1 of the Basic Law to claim citizenship. For details see the Federal Ministry of the Interior press release.

The group of persons affected includes children whose German parent acquired a foreign citizenship and lost German citizenship as a result of Nazi persecution measures. This also includes children whose mother emigrated to escape persecution and lost her German citizenship prior to 1 April 1953 as a consequence of marriage to a foreign man. The descendants of these children are also entitled to Naturalisation up to a generational cut-off point that was written into law on 1 January 2000 in accordance with Section 4 (4) of the Nationality Act. This corresponds to the scope of Article 116 (2) of the Basic Law.

Accordingly, children born outside Germany whose relevant parent for acquiring German citizenship was him- or herself born outside Germany after 31 December 1999 can only acquire German citizenship under the conditions specified in it. As a result, only the first generation of descendants born after 31.12.1999 is eligible for naturalisation. Their own descendants are not eligible. However, for children under 18 naturalisation will be possible under a transitional arrangement until 31 December 2020.

Further information can be found on the website of the Federal Office of Administration (Bundesverwaltungsamt). An information sheet in English as well as English translation aids of the application forms can be found at the bottom of this page. Please note that the translation aids are provided for your convenience only. When submitting an application, please use the German forms.

If you intend to apply for discretionary naturalisation, please contact the Federal Office of Administration, the German Embassy in London or the General Consulate in Edinburgh before applying, outlining the details of your case.

Renaturalisation under §13 StAG

People who have lost their German citizenship can, under certain circumstances, reapply. This includes children under 18.

Naturalisation under simplified requirements is possible for a person who lost their German citizenship by obtaining the citizenship of another EU member state or Switzerland and who is now permanently resident in any EU member state or Switzerland. Further information and an application form can be found here

If you intend to apply for renaturalisation, please contact the Federal Administration Office or the German Embassy in London or the General Consulate in Edinburgh before applying, outlining the details of your case and your reasons for applying.

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