Citizenship: Frequently Asked Questions



In general, German citizenship is automatically acquired at birth by descent from a German parent if at least one parent is German at the time of birth. You can therefore usually apply for a German passport or ID card for your child.

If only the father is German, a valid acknowledgement of paternity is required. If your child is born it the United Kingdom, it is usually sufficient if the father is entered in the birth certificates and both parents are mentioned as “informants”.

Children born abroad whose German parent was born outside Germany after 31.12.1999, only acquire German citizenship if their birth is registered at a German foreign mission within one year. In case the German parent was born before 31.12.1999 and/or born in Germany, his or her children still automatically acquire German citizenship by descent.

In general, German law does not oblige you to choose between your citizenships at the age of 18 if you automatically acquired German citizenship at birth by descent from a German parent and your foreign citizenship was also automatically acquired at birth. From a German perspective dual citizenship will automatically persist in these cases. However, you may wish to enquire with the authorities of your other country of citizenship whether any restrictions apply from the other country’s perspective.

Following an amendment to the German citizenship legislation taking effect as of 28 August 2007 German citizens do not lose their German nationality any more when they acquire upon application the citizenship of another EU member state or of Switzerland.

Consequently, if a German citizen acquires British citizenship after 28 August 2007 he or she will not lose German citizenship but may automatically have two citizenships.

However, please note that this rule does not apply to

- German nationals who applied for and received an EU/Swiss citizenship before 28 August 2007, or

- German nationals who wish to apply for a third state citizenship, i.e. of a non-EU member state.

In these cases German nationality is usually automatically withdrawn unless a formal permission ('Beibehaltungsgenehmigung') to retain German nationality is granted before applying for the other citizenship.

Beibehaltung (in German only)

Under German law, naturalisations are primarily meant for persons who stay in Germany and are residents there. Provided certain other conditions are met the foreign partner of a German citizen usually has a right to naturalisation after having been legally resident in the Federal Republic of Germany for three years. However the applicant must have been married for at least two years. Please contact the local authorities at your place of residence in Germany for further information.

Naturalisations whilst residing abroad are only possible in few cases; the requirements are strict and according to the Federal Foreign Office’s experiences very rarely met.

Among others, the essential requirements are thorough knowledge of the German language and strong ties to Germany. It must be ensured that the applicant does and will not rely on public funds. Furthermore, the naturalisation must be in the public interest of the Federal Republic of Germany. Solely private reasons, such as the fact of a marriage to a German partner, usually do not constitute a public interest.

Please refer to the competent citizenship authority, the Bundesverwaltungsamt (Federal Office of Administration), for further information (in German).

Federal Foreign Office FAQ on German Citizenship

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