Under Section 25 of the Nationality Act (“Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz”), a German citizen who acquires another citizenship by application generally loses German citizenship unless written permission to retain German citizenship (a retention permit or “Beibehaltungsurkunde”) has been granted in advance.
Automatic acquisition of another citizenship without having applied for it does not result in the loss of German citizenship. For example, anyone who acquires citizenship of another country through birth and also German citizenship from a German parent by descent can keep both nationalities without having to apply for permission to retain German nationality.
Naturalisation in European Union member states and Switzerland
Since 28 August 2007, when an amendment to the Nationality Act came into force, Germans no longer lose their German citizenship if they acquire citizenship of another EU member state or of Switzerland after that date.
Hence there is no need in such cases to apply for permission to retain German nationality, as German nationality is automatically retained.
However, “old cases” are not covered by this provision. Under Section 25 of the Nationality Act, anyone who acquired citizenship of another EU member state or Switzerland prior to 28 August 2007 without first having applied for a retention permit automatically lost their German citizenship. These persons can, under certain circumstances, apply for renaturalisation.
Naturalisation in other countries
If you wish to become a naturalised citizen of another country, for example the United Kingdom, and at the same time keep your German nationality, it is possible to apply for a retention permit. The Federal Office of Administration (Bundesverwaltungsamt) in Cologne is responsible for issuing retention permits for Germans living abroad. Please submit your application through the German mission responsible for your area.
This administrative procedure also takes into account the applicant’s private motives. The applicant will need to provide evidence of continuing ties with Germany and that there are substantial reasons for acquiring the other nationality.
On the application form, please provide full details of your reasons for wanting to acquire the other nationality, e.g. information on what specific benefits you will gain or what specific drawbacks you will be able to avoid/overcome by naturalisation (e.g. in your training or education; in your work; in terms of scholarships or grants; in your business relationships; in terms of the purchase/sale of real estate; in terms of inheritance law; in terms of right of residence). Circumstances that place all foreigners at a general disadvantage compared to local citizens are not sufficient reason to be issued a retention permit. You must be able to show that this has a particular impact on you in your specific individual situation. Please also describe in detail your continuing ties with Germany. Please attach convincing evidence of the reasons given.
Detailed instructions, a factsheet about the procedure, answers to Frequently Asked Questions and the application form can be found on the website of the Federal Office of Administration.
Applying through the German missions in the United Kingdom
When applying for permission to retain German citizenship you need to provide the following documents:
- two copies of the application form
- a certified copy of your German identity document
- a certified copy of your UK residence permit
If you have settled status and received a link and access code from the British authorities to access confirmation of this, please use your access details to visit the site, print out the confirmation and add it to your application documentation. This printout does not need to be certified.
You can have your copies certified by one of our Honorary Consuls or by a notary public. Copies may not be certified by anyone else. If you do currently not have the possibility to have your copies certified, please prepare the application documentation with plain copies. Please then send your application documentation by post to:
Legal and Consular Section
23 Belgrave Square
Consulate General Edinburgh
Legal and Consular Section
16 Eglinton Crescent
The Embassy will forward your application to the competent authority. We will send you confirmation of receipt once your application has been forwarded to the Federal Office of Administration and we have received a file reference for your case. Please note that this will take approximately three months.
We will contact you if any additional information or documentation is needed during the processing of your application. Otherwise we will only be in touch once a decision has been made on your application. Please understand that we cannot respond to enquiries about the status of your application in the ten months after your application has been filed.
If you have specific questions you are welcome to contact the relevant German mission using the contact form, or contact the Federal Office of Administration directly.