Dual Citizenship Germany

German nationality law confers German citizenship by four distinct ways, such as by birth, ancestry (descent from a German parent), adoption and naturalization. Citizenship is granted to an individual as long as the requirements for acquiring German citizenship within any one of these means are met. Although dual citizenship is permitted under special circumstances, it is generally restricted given the stringency of German nationality law.

Originally, German citizenship was not automatically conferred to children born in Germany to non German parents. However, in 1999 the German nationality law was reformed, reducing the severity of the requirements for acquiring German citizenship by children born there to foreigners who held permanent residence or resided in the country for at least 8 years. Moreover, provided that this law is not changed by the year 2023, these children are expected to reapply for German citizenship by the age of 23 in order to maintain their status as citizens of Germany. This law however does not apply to children who have a German parent, and there is no need for them to renounce their citizenship in order to acquire another one. Children are thus allowed a second citizenship.

German citizenship is conferred to a child born any time after January 1st, 1975 and has at least one parent who is a citizen of Germany. A child born before January 1st 1975 normally acquired citizenship of Germany only from the father, except in the case of an unmarried German mother who was able to register her child as a German citizen on or before December 31st 1977 or pass on her citizenship. Citizenship may only be granted to persons born before July 1st 1993 if the father is German and is not married to the mother; however, by the age of 23 the child’s paternity must be acknowledged by the father, who may also decide to marry the mother when doing so. In the future, within 12 months of birth of a child born outside of Germany, German parents who were also born out of Germany must have the child registered as a German citizen.

The local German Consulate must be contacted in order to clarify the citizenship of a child who was born in Germany and adopted to a foreign country. The citizenship laws of Germany automatically granted German citizenship to a child on the date of adoption if he is has not yet turned 18 and was adopted by a German citizen.

Persons wishing to acquire German citizenship through naturalization after having permanent residency in Germany must be able to communicate in the German language, support themselves without welfare assistance and be permanent residents in Germany for a minimum of 8 years. With the exception of European Union member states that do not require Germans to renounce their citizenship in the event of becoming naturalized in a member country and refugees who cannot easily renounce their citizenship, persons who receive German citizenship through naturalization will be deprived of being German citizens if they are unable to show that they have renounced their existing nationality.

However, the regular residency requirements may be waived in certain circumstances, such as in the case of former Germans, for example, German Jews who lost German citizenship under the Nazi regime as a result of denaturalization laws that were passed in 1935 as a means of discrimination.

In addition, the required number of years required before applying to become a naturalized German citizen may be reduced to 7 seven for individuals who may have completed an integration course and 6 for refugees and stateless persons, while the spouse of a German national may present his or her application after 2 years of marriage and 3 years of residency.

With the exception of persons who received advance permission to acquire a second citizenship, a German citizen will automatically lose citizenship if that of another country is conferred to him. Germans are thus permitted to have dual citizenship, but the relevant procedure must be undertaken in order to do so.

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