German Dual Citizenship

German citizenship is primarily based on jus sanguinis, citizenship by descent. Thus, German citizenship is typically acquired when you are born to a German parent, regardless of where you are born.

Since Germany is a part of the European Union, a German citizen can travel and reside freely in any of the member states that are a part of the EU.

German dual citizenship is permitted in the following limited situations:

  • you are born to German parents and you acquire another citizenship at birth, such as U.S. citizenship as a result of being born in the U.S.;
  • you are a naturalized German citizen or born in Germany to non-German parents and you apply to keep your foreign nationality;
  • you are a German citizen and you obtain another nationality with the permission of the German government;
  • you are a EU or Swiss citizen during naturalization;
  • you are a refugee holding a 1951 travel document during naturalization.
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German Dual Citizenship

How can you acquire German citizenship?

Citizenship By City-of-birth

CITIZENSHIP BY BIRTH

Those born in Germany on or after January 1, 2000 to non-German parents acquire citizenship at birth if at least one parent is a permanent resident and has been residing in Germany for at least 8 years. Such children will have to apply to retain citizenship by age 23 and they will have to prove that they are not citizens of any other country, except for EU countries and countries where it is impossible to lose your citizenship.

 
Citizenship By Descent

CITIZENSHIP BY DESCENT

If your parent was a German citizen when you were born, you were born a German citizen. If you were born after January 1, 1975, you can claim German citizenship through your mother or father.

If you were born before January 1, 1975, you could normally claim German citizenship through your father and not your mother, unless your parents were not married or your German mother registered you as a German citizen on or before December 13, 1977.

If you were born before July 1, 1993 and only your father was German and not married to your mother, your German father must have acknowledged paternity and married your mother before July 1, 1998.

If your German parent was born outside of Germany after December 31, 1999 and has his or her primary residence abroad, you will not have received German citizenship automatically by birth unless you would have been stateless or your German parent registered your birth within one year with the local German consulate.

 
Citizenship By Naturalization

CITIZENSHIP BY NATURALIZATION

Those meeting the following requirements may apply for naturalization:

  • residence in Germany for 8 years;
  • commitment to the free democratic constitutional system enshrined in the German Basic Law;
  • possesses a residence permit;
  • able to support himself/herself without relying on benefits;
  • has not been sentenced for an unlawful act and not subject to a court order imposing a measure of reform and prevention;
  • possesses an adequate knowledge of German;
  • possesses knowledge of the legal system, the society and living conditions in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Those who do not have legal capacity can naturalize merely through residence in Germany for 8 years without having to demonstrate knowledge of the German language and ability to be self-supporting without reliance on benefits.

Those who apply for naturalization are expected to prove renunciation of their existing nationality or will automatically lose their existing nationality upon naturalization. There is an exception for the following:

  • those unable to give up their nationality easily, for example, refugees;
  • those who are citizens of Switzerland and the EU member states.

The following group of persons can take advantage of a shorter residence requirement for naturalization:

  • completion of an integration course shortens the residence requirement to 7 years;
  • if you can show that you are especially well integrated and have a higher level of command of the German language, you may have the residence requirement reduced to 6 years;
  • a spouse of a German citizen may be naturalized after 3 years of residence, so long as they have been married for at least 2 years;
  • refugees and stateless persons may apply after 6 years of residence;
  • former German citizens may be subject to a shorter residence requirement.

Those who lost German citizenship under the Nazi regime, including children and grandchildren, may be eligible for naturalization without a residence requirement or renunciation of their existing citizenship.

Under the transitional arrangements in the 1999 reforms (effective January 1, 2000), children who were born in Germany in 1990 or later and would have been German had the law change been in force at the time, were entitled to naturalize as German citizens. A naturalization application was required by December 31, 2000, and the child was required to apply to retain German citizenship by age 23 and show that no other foreign citizenship was held at that time.

 
Citizenship By Adoption

CITIZENSHIP BY ADOPTION

A child adopted by a German citizen becomes German national automatically if aged less than 18 on the date the application for adoption was made. Dual citizenship is also permitted for the adoptee.