Dual Citizenship Germany

German citizenship law allows its nationals to become dual citizens with other countries; but only in some instances. Here we walk through the options, eligibility and citizenship application process.

Citizenship law can be a tricky thing to navigate, but Total Law are on-hand to help. Call our team of specialist immigration solicitors today on +44 (0)333 305 9375 or via our online form, for a free chat with no obligation to proceed unless you need and want to.

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    What is Dual Citizenship, and does Germany allow it?

    Dual citizenship (or multiple citizenship) is the legal status held by an individual when they legally hold nationality of more than one country. Not all countries permit their citizens to obtain the nationality of another without rescinding their first, but several do.

    Germany allows its citizens to hold dual citizenship with another nation, but there are eligibility criteria which an individual must meet in order to take up another nationality without giving up their status as a German citizen.

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    Understanding Dual Citizenship in Germany

    German citizenship law changed fairly significantly in 2022 to allow more people to apply for dual citizenship and to become German citizens. As a result, all children born to at least one parent who is a German citizen may qualify for multiple nationalities, and others who fit the eligibility criteria may apply for it.

    Becoming a dual citizen of Germany and another nation may only be applied for if your German citizenship was obtained through either:

    • Birthright
    • Declaration (where an ancestor was German)
    • Naturalisation (where residency criteria has been fulfilled)
    • Retained citizenship (where permission has been received to hold German and foreign nationalities).

    Benefits of Dual Citizenship

    Every nation on earth dictates separate benefits and lawful rights for its citizens. When an individual is a dual citizen between two countries that recognise this, they may hold such benefits and rights for both and will be able to carry passports for both.

    Germany is a European Union and Schengen Area state, which carries with it additional benefits. Those who hold EU nationality enjoy the ‘freedom to roam’ benefit allowing them to travel, live and work in all 27 member states (with some restrictions in place for certain territories). Those who hold Schengen nationality may travel visa-free between all 27 member states; but must note that the 27 countries in the EU and Schengen area are not the same.

    German Dual Citizenship by Birth

    If a child is born to a German parent who holds citizenship in the county, they will be able to claim dual citizenship dependent on meeting eligibility criteria determined by their place of birth.

    If born in Germany to a German parent and a foreign national, the child may automatically claim dual citizenship of both countries (providing both recognise such a status). If born to parents with multiple nationalities, the child may retain all nationalities – with the country of the birth actually occurring in considered irrelevant. If born in Germany to foreign parents, the child may become a dual citizen of Germany and their parents’ home country (if such a state recognises dual nationality) providing that one of the parents has lived in Germany for at least eight years and holds a valid permanent residence card. If born overseas to at least one German parent, the child may apply for dual citizenship providing that they have lived in Germany for at least eight years and attended school in Germany for at least six years.

    German Dual Citizenship by Declaration

    Where an individual holds a claim to German citizenship through ancestry that is not having been born to a German parent, they may apply for dual citizenship with their home country through the standard application process with additional proof.

    They must be able to prove the eligible family connection to a German citizen.

    Eligible ancestors include:

    • A parent or ancestor who lost German citizenship due to persecution or gender discrimination
    • An unmarried German mother if the applicant was born after January 1st, 1914
    • An unmarried German father if the application was born after July 1st, 1993

    Such cases involve a variety of political and historical issues and are best navigated with specialist legal advice.

    Total Law can help with this particularly tricky area of German immigration law. Call us on +44 (0)333 305 9375 to discuss the circumstances of your entitlement by descent.

    Reach out to us for legal help with obtaining dual nationality in Germany. Contact Us

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      Buildings on street in Rothenburg, Germany

      German Dual Citizenship by Naturalisation

      Where an individual has naturalised into German citizenship, they may apply for it to be a dual citizenship with another country provided that:

      • The applicant’s home country permits dual citizenship with other states; AND
      • The applicant cannot give up their other citizenship due to hardship (although this must be proven), OR
      • The applicant holds refugee status in Germany, OR
      • The applicant’s home country is an EU or EEA member state, or Switzerland

      The naturalisation process is a separate one to that of dual citizenship and holds its own eligibility criteria for applicants. To become a naturalised citizen of Germany, the applicant must currently (as at December 2023), have lived in Germany for at least eight years with a valid residence permit throughout and hold at least a B1 level of spoken and written German language.

      Applying for German citizenship as a Second Nationality

      The process for applying for dual citizenship is not an easy one and can take up to two years to complete – even with no delays, rejections or appeals. There are many variables involved, but generally speaking the application process is as follows:

      Nominate a legal representative

      Citizenship law can be difficult and it’s recommended that applicants seek relevant legal advice to guide them through the process in order to minimise their chances of a citizenship application refusal. These are the services Total Law offer. Call us on +44 (0)333 305 9375 to learn more.

      Apply for residence permit

      Applicants will only be eligible for German citizenship if they have lived in the country for eight years and so will require a valid residence permit.

      Apply for citizenship through local district office

      The initial step requires citizenship application through the local Landratsamt. This involves the submission of an application form which notifies German authorities of the impending full application.

      Submit supporting documents

      Applicants have a one month period after the application form submission to submit ID documents and proof of their German ancestry (where the application is made through declaration).

      Receive decision

      If approved, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) will issue a citizenship certificate. If rejected, there may be recourse to appeal and details of due process will be supplied.

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        Applying for a Second Nationality in addition to German

        Where an individual is already a German citizen but is intending to apply for a second nationality from another country, they must first seek permission from the German government. This requires them to apply for a retention permit; allowing them to retain their German citizenship while taking on another.

        To apply for a nationality retention permit, the applicant must:

        • Download and fill out the relevant application form from the German Federal Office website
        • Send supporting documents alongside the application. These documents are:
          • Valid German passport and ID
          • Residence card from the country within which the applicant wishes to obtain citizenship
          • Proof of how the second citizenship will be of benefit to the applicant
          • Proof of a continued strong connection in Germany that means retaining German citizenship will be of benefit to the applicant
        • Submit all of the above to the local Consulate or Embassy (if overseas) or to the local Federal Office of the municipality, along with a €255 fee

        If approved, the retention permit will be granted and the individual is free to apply for their second nationality without giving up German citizenship. If the applicant is overseas, the permit will be sent directly to their local Consulate or Embassy.

        Application Cost and Processing Time for German Dual Citizenship

        The costs involved in applying for German dual citizenship is dependent on the individual’s route to application, and as of December 2023 are as follows:

        • No fee for a citizenship through declaration (descent) application
        • €255 for a citizenship through naturalisation application
        • €51 for a citizenship through naturalisation application for a minor
        • €255 for a citizenship retention permit application

        There are several indirect costs often incurred as a result of citizenship application, which are the responsibility of the applicant.

        The processing time for German citizenship applications depends on the demand fluctuations of the office processing the application as well as the route for eligibility.

        On average, the process takes up to two years from start to end.

        How Can Total Law Help?

        Total Law manage the application and appeals of citizens worldwide for travel visas, passports, dual citizenships and other immigration legalities. Our team of specialist immigration lawyers have experience globally in even the most complex of immigration cases and our end-to-end approach means that we can guide you through every step of the process for travelling, working and living abroad.

        We offer a free, no-obligation chat with a specialist solicitor to everyone who needs it – just call us on +44 (0)333 305 9375 or through our online contact form, to learn more. Whether you’ve already embarked on your application or just want to understand better what you may be eligible for, the Total Law team can help.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  Children born to one German and one non-German parent or parents with dual nationalities inherit the nationalities of both at birth, unless the citizenship by descent rules of one of the countries differ.

                  Around 50% of countries worldwide recognise dual citizenship, and individuals can only hold two nationalities if both countries do.

                  It is always recommended that certified copies rather than originals of supporting documents are sent along with citizenship applications.

                  The routes to nationality for Germany require applicants to hold at least a B1 level of knowledge of the German language.

                  Although a residency permit may have been granted on the basis of an individual being married to a German citizen, a divorce does not necessarily lose them the right of residency in the country and they will not be stripped of citizenship if this has already been granted in full; unless there is reason to believe the marriage was constructed only to obtain it.

                  If dual citizenship was granted prior to the UK’s exit of the European Union, it may be retained by the individual. However, no new applications will be accepted unless eligibility is by descent.