Once you have been living permanently in Germany for eight years, you can apply to become a German citizen.
Becoming a German citizen not only means you’re more fully integrated into, and accepted by, German society but it also gives you the same rights and legal status as other German citizens – which German permanent residence permits do not.
With German citizenship, you will have the inalienable right to live in Germany, have basic constitutional rights (such as the freedom of assembly and association), you can vote, move freely through the EU, have consular protection and be exempt from certain German visa requirements – plus be eligible to become a civil servant.
Below are some German citizenship requirements depending on your reason for applying for German citizenship.
How to become a German citizen via naturalisation
If you want to become a German citizen via naturalisation, most people need to pass an hour-long naturalisation test – on legal and social aspects of life in Germany – and fulfil certain basic requirements, listed below.
To get German citizenship, you must:
- have right of residence at the time of your German citizenship application;
- have been living in Germany permanently and lawfully for eight years (seven if you’ve attended an integration course or six in special integration circumstances);
- be able to support yourself and dependent family members without the help of welfare or unemployment benefits;
- have adequate oral and written German language skills (equivalent to level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages);
- have no criminal convictions;
- be committed to the constitutional principles of freedom and democracy.
If you do not fulfil every single condition, then you may be granted a discretionary naturalisation, if it is deemed that your German citizenship would be in the public interest.
If you are required to prove your adequate German-language skills, one option is to attend a full integration course and obtain the ‘DTZ – German test for immigrants’ certificate. Part of the integration course also tackles several themes covered by the naturalisation test. Find the closest integration course venue. Other ways to prove your German language skills include showing a Zertifikat Deutsch certificate or equivalent language certificate, or presenting a high school certificate or university diploma from a German education institution. You can find a variety of language schools in Germany.
Not everyone needs to take the German naturalisation test. Exemptions occur if you:
- are under 16;
- have graduated from a German school or a German university in law, social, political or administrative sciences;
- don’t meet the testing requirements through illness, disability or age are exempt.
Before you can acquire German citizenship you must also renounce your former nationality, however, German dual citizenship is allowed if:
- you’re from an EU member state or the former Soviet Union;
- you’re the child of parents from the US;
- you’re from a country, such as Morocco, Syria or Iran, that does not allow their citizens to relinquish their citizenship. In these cases you can have German dual citizenship.