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Retention of German citizenship upon naturalisation in another country

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Under Section 25 of the Nationality Act (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz – StAG), German citizens who acquire another citizenship upon application generally automatically lose German citizenship unless written permission to retain German citizenship (a “retention permit” or Beibehaltungsurkunde) has been granted in advance. Now that the United Kingdom has left the EU, this also applies to cases where a German citizen actively applies for British citizenship (rather than having acquired it through birth, for example). In such cases we would ask you to apply in advance for a retention permit, which you need to have received prior to acquiring your new citizenship!

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 (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz), 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 (including the United Kingdom)

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.

Important guidance regarding your application:

  • How do I prove that I have continuing ties to Germany?

Continuing close ties to Germany are a key prerequisite for the grant of a retention permit. Whether you have the necessary connections is assessed by looking at the overall picture. Generally speaking, you can write down everything that connects you to Germany in any way. This includes, for example, lengthy stays in Germany in the past, regular consumption of German media, memberships of German organisations, orders of merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, German bank accounts, owning property in Germany or being entitled to a German pension. Always provide relevant supporting evidence, and give as much detail as possible.

  • What reasons for acquiring British citizenship are, or are not, relevant to the decision on retaining German citizenship?

Limitations/inconveniences that are the norm for foreigners and do not constitute sufficient reason for the grant of a retention permit include: entry formalities, renewal of residence permit and associated costs, integration into one’s personal environment, being unable to vote in elections or participate in public life. Restrictions of this kind generally apply to all foreigners and hence count as reasonable restrictions. Purely hypothetical advantages or disadvantages that may or may not materialise are not sufficient either (e.g. fear of an amendment to the social security legislation that would put foreigners at a disadvantage). In other words, the advantage or disadvantage must be specified in concrete terms, must be reasonable, and must actually apply to the applicant’s personal situation or at least be sufficiently likely to occur in the foreseeable future.

For example, if the desired citizenship is a requirement for a particular job or promotion (e.g. in the civil service), you could be deemed to be at a career disadvantage without it. You may be restricted in your current work activities if, for security reasons, the foreign citizenship is required in order to be able to perform certain functions (e.g. working in security-sensitive areas). Financial or pecuniary advantages can also constitute a valid reason (e.g. study grants, research funding or tax benefits).

Please set out what specific personal disadvantages you would suffer if you did not acquire British citizenship, and provide relevant supporting evidence for your claims as far as possible (e.g. excerpts from laws, employer confirmation, applications already attempted etc.). It must be clear that the disadvantage affects you personally and makes it necessary for you to acquire the foreign citizenship.

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
  • any supporting documents (see above)

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. Please then send your complete application documentation by post to:

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
Legal and Consular Section
23 Belgrave Square
London
SW1X 8PZ

or:

Consulate General of the Federal Republic of German
Legal and Consular Section
16 Eglinton Crescent
Edinburgh
EH12 5DG

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. Processing can be expected to take some time, so please refrain from enquiring about the status of your application until at least twelve months have passed since submitting your application.

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.

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