Means passport citizenship

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German citizenship law is basically based on the so-called descent principle. This means that German citizenship is primarily acquired on the basis of descent from a German parent. Since the year 2000, it has also been possible to obtain an income from birth in Germany and from foreign parents.

There are the following reasons for acquiring German citizenship:


Acquisition through conjugal birth

Children born in wedlock who were born between January 1, 1914 and December 31, 1963 acquired German citizenship only through their German father.

Children born in wedlock to a German mother who were born after 01.01.1964 and before 31.12.1974 acquired German citizenship if they would otherwise have become stateless.

Children born in wedlock who were born since 01.01.1975 acquired citizenship if one of the parents was German.

Children born in wedlock to a German mother who were born after April 1st, 1953 and before January 1st, 1975 and already had a nationality, had the opportunity to submit a declaration from January 1st, 1975 that they wanted to obtain German citizenship. This declaration period finally expired on December 31, 1977. These children can apply for naturalization. More information can be found here.

Acquisition through illegitimate birth

Children born out of wedlock to a German mother have been given German citizenship by their mother since 01.01.1914.

Children born out of wedlock with a German father have acquired German citizenship since July 1st, 1993, provided, among other things, a valid acknowledgment of paternity or determination of paternity takes place before the child is 23 years old.

These children may have the option of naturalization. More information can be found here.

Acquisition of German citizenship for children born abroad whose German parents were born abroad after December 31, 1999 (Section 4 (4) StAG)

If born abroad, children whose German parents or German parents were born abroad after December 31, 1999 and at the time of

Birth of the child have / has their habitual residence abroad, not German citizenship by birth, if they acquire foreign citizenship by birth.

The child will only acquire German citizenship retrospectively at the time of its birth if the parents submit an application to the responsible registry office in Germany or the responsible German diplomatic mission in the birth register within one year of the child's birth.

Example case:

Mr A is transferred to Spain from his company in 1999. His daughter Klara was born there on February 1st, 2000. The family returns to Germany after a few years. In 2018, Klara met a US citizen with whom she moved to the USA. Her son will be born there on January 1st, 2020. Although his mother is German, he does not acquire German citizenship by birth, as he acquires US citizenship by birth in the USA.

In order for the child to acquire German citizenship, Klara or the child's father must submit an application to the responsible registry office in Germany or the responsible German diplomatic mission abroad for the birth of their child to be certified. If the application is submitted on time and in full, the child can be issued a German passport upon application.

Please note: All Germans (expats and emigrants) who were born abroad and have a child abroad can be affected by this regulation, regardless of the reason and length of their stay abroad.

Acquisition through adoption

Since January 1, 1977, German citizenship can also have been acquired through adoption by a German parent. If you have any further questions, please contact the German diplomatic mission responsible for you.

For children who were adopted by a German parent between January 1st, 1959 and December 31st, 1976, there was the possibility of acquiring German citizenship by declaration until December 31st, 1979.

Acquisition through legitimation

Legitimation is the subsequent marriage of the parents of a child out of wedlock. Legitimation can also be provided by the child's declaration of marriage by a court. The acquisition of German citizenship is generally based on the regulations applicable to legitimate children. Since July 1st, 1998, the legal concept of legitimation no longer exists in German law.

German citizenship could also have been acquired through legitimation from 01/01/1914 to 06/30/1998.

Earning when born in Germany and with foreign parents

Since January 1st, 2000, children of foreign parents, at least one of whom fulfills certain residence criteria, acquire German citizenship when they are born in Germany.

Acquisition through marriage of a foreigner to a German

Foreign women who had married a German automatically acquired German citizenship between January 1, 1914 and March 31, 1953.

Special regulations applied to foreign women who married a German between April 1, 1953 and August 23, 1957.

In the case of marriage between 08/24/1957 and 12/31/1969, there was the possibility of acquiring German citizenship by declaration at the time of marriage or afterwards.

Since 01/01/1970, marriage is no longer an automatic reason for employment. However, spouses of German citizens can, under certain conditions, apply for naturalization from abroad. Please contact your responsible diplomatic mission in this regard.

Other reasons for acquisition

German citizenship can also be obtained through naturalization or Award have been acquired. Please note the separate information on the individual naturalization procedures and the information on naturalization in accordance with Article 116, Paragraph 2 of the Basic Law for former German citizens who acquired German citizenship between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 for political, racial or religious reasons has been withdrawn.

Germans in the former German Democratic Republic were and still are German citizens. If you have acquired citizenship of the German Democratic Republic (e.g. by issuing an identity card), please contact the German diplomatic mission responsible for you.

Special regulations also apply to the Members of the German minorities in Central and Eastern Europewho may have acquired German citizenship through collective naturalization during the Second World War. If you belong to this group of people, please contact the German diplomatic mission responsible for you. You can find out which representation is responsible for you with the help of our consulate finder.