Welcome

Acquiring German citizenship

Article

Comprehensive information on acquiring German citizenship

German citizenship by descent

German citizenship can be acquired by descent, although it is not always acquired automatically by descent. Please check the cases below and refer to the section that applies to your individual case.

If you probably acquired German citizenship automatically, you can book a passport appointment. For more information, please go to Passports.

I. Birth to married parents

My father was German at the time of my birth.
You probably acquired German citizenship automatically.

My mother was German at the time of my birth.

I was born on or after 1 January 1975.
You probably acquired German citizenship automatically.
My mother was German at the time of my birth. I was born before 1 January 1975.

You will probably not have acquired German citizenship automatically, but you might be eligible for discretionary naturalisation.

Please go to Renaturalisation and discretionary naturalisation

II. Birth to unmarried parents

My mother was German at the time of my birth.
You will probably have acquired German citizenship automatically.

My legal father was German at the time of my birth.

I was born on or after 1 July 1993.
You will probably have acquired German citizenship automatically.

My legal father was German at the time of my birth.

I was born before 30 June 1993.

You will probably not have acquired German citizenship automatically, but you might be eligible for discretionary naturalisation.

Please go to Renaturalisation and discretionary Naturalisation

German citizenship through birth on German territory

A child born in Germany on or after 1 January 2000 to non-German parents may acquire German citizenship under certain conditions:

At least one of the foreign parents must have been permanently resident in Germany for at least eight years (if the child is born after 26.06.2024: five years) and – for children born on or after 28 August 2007 – the parent must also possess indefinite leave to remain in Germany.

Children born to foreign parents in Germany before 1 January 2000 did not acquire German citizenship and cannot retroactively apply for citizenship.

If you are German according to these provisions, on reaching age 21 you will receive a letter from the competent authority asking you to declare whether you wish to keep the German or the foreign citizenship (so-called ‘opting procedure’, section 29 of the Nationality Act), unless

you have been habitually resident in Germany for eight years,

you have attended school in Germany for six years,

you hold a school-leaving certificate or have completed vocational training in Germany.

You are exempt from the opting procedure if you only have the citizenship of another EU country or Switzerland in addition to your German citizenship.

Acquisition of German citizenship by declaration

The Fourth Act Amending the Nationality Act, which entered into force on 20 August 2021, has created a ten-year right of declaration (Section 5 of the Nationality Act). It grants children born to a German parent after 23 May 1949 (entry into force of the Basic Law) who, under the version of the Reich and Nationality Act valid at the time of their birth, were excluded in a gender-discriminating manner from acquiring German citizenship by descent at birth have the option of obtaining German citizenship by making a simple declaration to the competent citizenship authority. The option of acquisition by declaration also applies to their descendants.

The group of persons affected includes

  1. children born after 23 May 1949 to a German parent who did not acquire German nationality by birth (children born in wedlock prior to 1 January 1975 to a German mother and a foreign father or children born out of wedlock prior to 1 July 1993 to a German father and a foreign mother),
  2. children born after 23 May 1949 to a mother who lost her German citizenship through marriage to a foreigner pursuant to Section 17 (6) of the Reich and Nationality Act (old version) before the birth of the child prior to 1 April 1953,
  3. children born after 23 May 1949 who lost their German nationality acquired by birth through legitimisation effected by a foreigner and valid under German law pursuant to Section 17 (5) of the Reich and Nationality Act (old version) prior to 1 April 1953, and
  4. descendants of the children in paragraphs 1 to 3.

German citizenship by marriage

Foreign women who married a German citizen between 1 April 1914 and 31 March 1953 automatically acquired German citizenship.

Foreign women who married a German citizen between 1 April 1953 and 31 December 1969 could have acquired German citizenship under certain conditions.

If this applies to you, please contact the German Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh.

German citizenship by adoption

If you were legally adopted under the age of 18 by at least one German citizen on or after 1 January 1977, you are a German citizen. If the adoption took place outside Germany it has to meet certain requirements.

If this applies to you, please contact the German Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh.

German citizenship on another basis

Citizens of the former German Democratic Republic are usually considered citizens of the reunited Federal Republic of Germany as well. German minorities in central and eastern Europe may also have received German citizenship under certain circumstances during the Second World War.

If this applies to you, please contact the German Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh.

Top of page