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How to become a German citizen

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In general, German citizenship is established by descent from a German legal mother and/or a German legal father.

German citizenship by being born in wedlock

Children born in wedlock after 01.01.1975 acquired German citizenship if either of the parents was a German citizen at the time of their birth.

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.

German citizenship by being born out of wedlock

Children born out of wedlock to a German mother after 01.01.1914 acquired German citizenship.

Children born out of wedlock to a German father after 01.07.1993 acquired German citizenship if (among other requirements) paternity had been established according to German law.

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.

German citizenship by birth on German territory

A child born in Germany on or after 01.01.2000 to non-German parents may acquire German citizenship under certain conditions:

At least one of the foreign parents must have had his legal domicile in Germany for at least eight years and – for children born on or after 28.08.2007 – the parent must also hold indefinite leave to remain in Germany.

Children born to foreign parents in Germany before 01.01.2000 did not acquire German citizenship and cannot retroactively apply for citizenship under the above regulation.

German citizenship by adoption

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

German citizenship by marriage

Foreign women who married a German citizen between 01.04.1914 and 31.03.1953 automatically acquired German citizenship.

Foreign women who married a German citizen between 01.04.1953 and 31.12.1969 could have acquired German citizenship under certain conditions, esp. through declaration at the time of marriage.

Since 01.01.1970 the acquisition of German citizenship by marriage does not exist anymore. A foreign spouse can only apply for naturalization if certain requirements are met.

German citizenship by other reasons

Other reasons for acquisition of German citizenship include naturalization.

Please refer also to the information sheet below for re-naturalization  for persons whose ancestors lost their German citizenship in connection with National Socialist persecution - for persons living abroad -.

Citizens of the former German Democratic Republic are usually considered citizens of the reunited Federal Republic of Germany as well. German minorities in middle and eastern Europe may also have received German citizenship under certain circumstances during the Second World War. Please contact the German Embassy in London or the Consulate General in Edinburgh should you belong to one of these special groups.

Should the above information not fully answer your questions, please contact us via our contact form (bitte Link)


Please Note:

Although the information on this website has been prepared with utmost care, we cannot accept any responsibility for inaccuracies contained herein.

Additional content

On naturalization pursuant to Section 14 of the Nationality Act (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz, StAG) for persons whose ancestors lost their German citizenship in connection with National Socialist persecution - for persons living abroad

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