German citizenship by marriage

Marrying a German citizen doesn’t automatically make you a German citizen yourself. Certain German citizenship requirements have to be met, including having been married for two years and legally residing in Germany for at least three years. If you get married in Germany after arriving, the process for claiming German citizenship by marriage can take longer.

German citizenship by descent

A child is considered German from birth if they are born to at least one German parent, irrespective of whether the child was born in Germany or abroad. However, a child cannot claim German citizenship by descent if they were born to a German abroad and their German parent was also born abroad after 1 January 2000 (and have not yet returned to Germany), unless it would mean a child is stateless or the birth is registered with a German embassy or consulate within one year.

Any child born to one foreign parent and one German parent, or to a parent holding German dual nationality, acquire all nationalities respective to their ancestry, however, only temporarily. When the child reaches 18 years old, he or she has five years to choose between German citizenship by descent and the nationality of the parents.

If a child has a German father who is not married to the mother, acknowledgement or legal establishment of paternity is required before the child turns 23 in order to claim German citizenship.

German citizenship by birth

If neither parent is German, a baby born on German soil automatically takes German nationality provided that at the time of birth at least one parent had been living in Germany for eight years and had German permanent residence or is Swiss. In these cases, a child is also entitled to take the nationality of the parents. This only applies, however, to children born after 1 January 2000; the claim period for children born before then has already closed.

German dual citizenship

While most nationalities must denounce their nationality in order to get German citizenship, German law permits certain people to hold two citizenships in certain circumstances.

German dual citizenship can be granted in the following situations:

  • Children with one German and one foreign parent, or a parent who has two citizenships, automatically acquire all the citizenships of their parents.
  • Resettlers of ethnic German descent and their family members (admitted along with them) do not have to renounce their previous citizenship when they acquire German citizenship.
  • Germans who acquire citizenship of another EU country or Switzerland do not automatically lose their German citizenship.

Any child who acquires German citizenship by right of being born in Germany or naturalisation and who holds citizenship elsewhere must decide by age 23 whether to retain their German citizenship or give preference to the other citizenship.

Even if you hold German dual citizenship, you are still wholly viewed as a German citizen by German law and have the same rights as any German citizen. However, if you chose to live in your home country (or any country where you hold citizenship) you will lose your right to claim German consular protection; instead, you will be viewed by your home country as one of its citizens and thus their services apply.



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