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 (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

On 29.08.2019, the German Ministry of the Interior (BMI) issued two comprehensive decrees to facilitate the acquisition of German citizenship for people resident abroad who are descendants of Germans persecuted under the National Socialist regime, and who are not entitled to restoration of citizenship under Article 116 (2) of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz).

Persons who stand to benefit from the decrees include:

  • children born in wedlock before 1 April 1953 to German mothers whose citizenship had been revoked and foreign fathers;
  • children born out of wedlock before 1 July 1993 to German fathers whose citizenship had been revoked and foreign mothers, provided the paternity of those children was recognized or determined under German law prior to their reaching the age of 23;
  • children whose German parent had acquired foreign citizenship and lost their German citizenship amid National Socialist persecution, including children whose mothers emigrated as a result of persecution and lost their citizenship under Section 17, number 6, of the former Imperial and State Nationality Law (RuStAG a.F.) prior to 1 April 1953 by marrying a foreign man;

and their descendants 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.

Further information 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.

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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