Germany Dual Citizenship

In certain circumstances, German nationality law allows for individuals to hold dual citizenship: that is, to acquire another nationality or German nationality as their second and reap the benefits of holding two.

Dual citizenship is an area of immigration law that’s always developing, and the German government are due to pass new laws on this topic in 2024. It is critical, therefore, that specialist legal advice is sought to guide applicants through the process. Contact Total Law today on +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online for support.

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    Dual citizenship and holding multiple nationalities

    Dual citizenship refers to the legal status of a person who holds a valid nationality claim in more than one country at any one time. While no one should be deemed stateless entirely, there is no set international convention to determine someone’s nationality, as such status is determined by national laws. This means that multiple citizenship can arise.

    In most cases someone holding multiple citizenships is entitled to all of the rights of citizens in each of the countries they’re considered nationals within, but may also be subject to any such legal obligations (such as the payment of tax, mandatory national service, etc).

    Not all countries recognise or allow dual citizenships, and those that do tend to permit dual nationality in certain circumstances. Germany does permit individuals to hold a foreign citizenship alongside their German citizenship status, but it is not an automatic right to all and certain eligibility criteria must be met.

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    What are the new rules for dual citizenship in Germany?

    The German Federal government is preparing a law to make citizenship through naturalisation in Germany easier – lowering the residency requirement from the current seven or eight years to just five. It was expected that this law would pass in 2023, however, it was met with parliamentary opposition in its original state and so has been delayed. As of December 2023, this law had not been passed but advancements made in its trajectory. It is now projected to be passed in late 2024.

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    Can I become a naturalised citizen without giving up my previous citizenship?

    Naturalisation is the term used to refer to the process of an individual becoming settled in a country well enough and for long enough to become a de facto citizen of that state. Every country holds its own eligibility criteria for applicants to meet to become a naturalised citizen, usually with a long legal residence period and language proficiency requirements.

    As a general rule, an individual cannot become a naturalised German citizen without renouncing their previous citizenship. However, some exemptions do apply to this rule. These are:

    • Where the foreign citizenship of the applicant is that of an EU (European Union) member state
    • Where the current nationality does not allow for renunciation
    • Where the renunciation of the current nationality would cause hardship for the applicant
    • Where the applicant holds valid refugee status in Germany

    When an individual already holds German citizenship and is applying for a second nationality through naturalisation, they do not need to renounce their existing citizenship. German citizenship will be automatically retained unless the country the second citizenship is being sought in does not allow dual citizenship.

    How does UK-Germany dual citizenship work post-Brexit?

    The UK left the EU and had in place a transition period to allow for changing immigration and citizenship laws up until 31st December 2020. Germans who made an application for UK citizenship by naturalisation prior to this date retain their German citizenship automatically alongside it. However, any applications for British citizenship by naturalisation after this date will see the applicant’s German nationality lost automatically.

    Now that Britain’s transition period from the EU has ended, it is also not possible for those holding British citizenship to obtain German nationality through naturalisation without renouncing their current citizenship. Instead, they must decide whether to pursue an EU or non-EU citizenship dependent on their own preferences.

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    Requirements for applying for dual citizenship in Germany

    You may apply for German citizenship as a second citizenship if your eligibility for it is through one of the following routes:

    • Birthright
    • Declaration
    • Naturalisation
    • If special permission has been granted by the German government to retain another citizenship

    The criteria does vary for each.

    German dual citizenship may automatically be obtained at birth where a child is born to a German parent, but the circumstances of the birth may dictate the exact eligibility. When born in Germany to at least one German parent, both citizenships may be retained. If born in Germany to parents with multiple citizenships including German, all nationalities may be retained. If born in Germany to foreign parents, the child may take up dual German citizenship providing at least one parent has lived in Germany for eight years and holds a valid permanent residence card. If born abroad to a German parent, the child will have to undergo naturalisation to become a dual citizen.

    To obtain German citizenship by declaration or naturalisation, the applicant must undergo the standard citizenship application procedure and note in the appropriate place that this is to be a second citizenship.

    In all instances, the other country must recognise dual citizenship.

    Get professional help applying for dual citizenship in Germany from our legal team. Contact Us

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      How to Apply for Dual Citizenship in Germany

      There are two routes to apply for German dual citizenship: applying to retain an existing German citizenship status while another nationality is granted, and applying for German citizenship as a second nationality.

      To maintain status as a German citizen while gaining another nationality from a country allowing multiple citizenships, applicants must receive permission from the German government through a ‘citizenship retention permit’. To do this applicants must:

      Download and complete the application form online

      The application form for a citizenship retention permit may be downloaded the German government website and printed. Applicants must complete this hard copy of the form wholly and accurately.

      Prepare supporting documents

      The following supporting documents will need to be compiled for submission along with the application form:

      • Valid national passport and ID
      • Residence card from the other country (if applicable)
      • Proof of how a second citizenship will benefit the applicant
      • Proof of the applicant’s connection to Germany.

      File application

      The application form and supporting documents should be filed either with a diplomatic mission overseas (if the applicant is abroad) or through the relevant local municipality office (if the applicant is already in Germany).

      Receive retention certificate from local German Embassy or Consulate

      Once the application is approved, a certificate of citizenship retention will be sent to the relevant diplomatic office for collection. The applicant must pay a fee of €255 for the certificate, which proves their new German dual citizenship status.

      To apply for German citizenship as a second nationality to the applicant’s current citizenship, they must follow the standard citizenship application route dependent on their eligibility.

      Processing Time and Cost for Getting Dual Citizenship in Germany

      Applying for German nationality can be a lengthy process, often taking one or two years in total. On average, applications to become a German citizen take between six to nine months in the processing phase. When applying for German citizenship through naturalisation, a €255 application processing fee applies and a further €25 for the naturalisation test fee.

      Applying for a German citizenship retention certificate usually takes no more than six months to process and costs €255 upon collection. A retention permit proves German citizenship in the case of an additional citizenship being obtained.

      There are a number of indirect costs that applicants are responsible for in their application for German dual citizenship. This includes a variety of administration and translation costs as well as travel to and from their local German Embassy, German language classes and trips to and from Germany.

      Every country has varying timescales for their citizenship application processes.

      Does a German Dual Citizen hold advantages over sole German citizens?

      Those in receipt of dual citizenship in Germany hold the same rights as all other German citizens, with no additional advantages. However, the other country whose nationality they hold may grant them further rights as a result of their dual citizenship with Germany. Citizens should uphold the law of whichever country they reside in, no matter their nationality.

      Where a dual citizen who holds German nationality is in the other country in which they hold citizenship, they may find that the local German Embassy or Consulate is limited in the support they are able to offer. This is because the other country will require them primarily as their own citizen when on their soil and treat them accordingly.

      Our specialist lawyers have the expertise to heighten your chance of obtaining German dual citizenship. Contact Us

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        How Can Total Law Help?

        Total Law are immigration and citizenship law specialists, working with individuals all over the world to apply for and successfully receive German nationality. Our team work on cases both simple and complex, with no job considered too big or too small for our specialist legal support.

        We communicate with no jargon, are to the point and can help maximise your chances of success with obtaining German citizenship. Call the Total Law office today on +44 (0)333 305 9375 or message us online, to find out more on how we can support you.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  Generally speaking, German law is not set up to facilitate easy dual nationality, but rather to protect German citizenship above any other. However, German law does apply to dual citizenship in certain circumstances. It is recommended that applicants seek legal advice to understand if they’re eligible and if so, how best to apply. Total Law can help on +44 (0)333 305 9375.

                  Germany allows dual citizenship with the following countries, albeit only in certain circumstances:

                  • EU member states (current EU citizens only – previous EU citizens are subject to additional requirements)
                  • Switzerland
                  • A country that forbids its citizenship to be given up (Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico)
                  • A country that the applicant has fled as a refugee or persecuted person

                  In most cases, an applicant for German citizenship will need to be able to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of the German language to at least a B1 level under the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This can be proven through the completion of a language test and the presentation of the pass certificate along with the citizenship application.

                  The transition period for the UK to leave the EU has now ended, and so British citizens are no longer entitled to apply for dual citizenship with Germany as EU citizens. In order to be eligible for dual citizenship, they must instead qualify under other criteria.