FAQ on naturalization in Germany from abroad

As part of my very popular series of legal FAQ, I now address a question that I get asked very frequently: it’s about the possibility to get naturalized as a German citizen without living in Germany.

I have also posted FAQ about divorce in Germanychild custody law in Germanyinheritance law in Germany, a general overview of German citizenship law, about international child abduction, constitutional complaints in Germany, the right to freedom of movement within the EU and about how to work with me as your lawyer. You can see the full list of FAQ on my website.

1. Can I become a German citizen without living in Germany?

Yes. There are several possibilities to do so: (1) you may already have German citizenship due to German descent, (2) re-instatement of previously lost citizenship, (3) adoption by a German citizen as a minor, and (4) naturalization in accordance with § 14 StAG. These FAQ only deal with naturalization from abroad, the other options are covered in another FAQ.

2. What are the requirements to get naturalized as a German citizen without living there?

You have to meet all the normal criteria for naturalization. Only the requirement of residence in Germany (typically between 3 and 8 years) will be waived if you can show “ties to Germany that justify your naturalization”. I will cover these requirements in the following paragraphs.

3. Do I need to speak German?

Yes. This is an essential requirement, so don’t even apply before you have reached at least the B1 level in German. Because you would be applying for a naturalization which you are not entitled to but which is in the discretion of the German government, a higher level of German would be even better.

4. How do I show my ties to Germany?

There are many ways to prove these ties, and the more ways in which you can show your ties, the better is your case: marriage to a German citizen, employment by a German company, longer and frequent visits to Germany, ownership of real estate in Germany for your personal use, ownership of a business in Germany, contributions to the German pension system, visits of German schools or universities, academic interest in Germany and anything else that you can think of.

5. What are the other requirements?deutscher Pass

The same as with a naturalization within Germany: (1) You need to be able to support yourself financially without recourse to welfare. Because you would be eligible to move to and live in Germany, you need to show that you could also earn a living in Germany. (2) You shouldn’t have a criminal record. Traffic tickets pose no problem. (3) You need to pass the citizenship test. It’s a multiple choice test about life in Germany, the German constitution and things like the colours of the flag. You get 33 questions, of which you have to correctly answer 17 within a maximum of 60 minutes. You can take this test at a German consulate or of course on one of your visits to Germany. All the possible questions are online, so it’s easy to prepare yourself.

6. Do I need to give up my existing citizenship?

Usually yes. Germany unfortunately does not believe in dual citizenship and thus requires applicants for naturalization to give up their previous citizenship. There are however plenty of exceptions, but that’s the topic of a different set of FAQ.

7. When do I need to fulfil these criteria?

You need to meet these and the other criteria at the time of the application. Because you decide when you apply, you can really prepare yourself for such an application, even if it may take a couple of years. If you book a personal consultation, I will assess your situation and your personal circumstances and suggest several ways in which you can improve your chances. Of course I will also be happy to help writing your application essay.

Once you will receive German citizenship, you don’t need to prove anything anymore. You can also keep German citizenship if you never take up residence in Germany. Even if you would subsequently become dependent on welfare or commit crimes, your German citizenship cannot be withdrawn.

8. How is this option connected to German citizenship by descent?

It shouldn’t be connected at all, because citizenship by descent and naturalization are two completely different matters. But Germany now uses this naturalization according to § 14 StAG to rectify an old problem: Children who were born to a German mother and a non-German father before 1975 often did not receive German citizenship by descent. This obvious discrimination against the maternal line of descent is now being rectified by allowing these children to apply for naturalization under this clause. The difference to completely foreign applicants is that this group of applicants do not need to give up their primary citizenship. Also, if you have minor children they will usually be naturalized as well.

9. Do you have some special trick that you want to share with us?

Always. If you work in the Iranian nuclear programme for example and you are ready to disclose certain information to the German Intelligence Service, your application will be viewed very favourably.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in German Law, Germany, Immigration Law, Law and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

173 Responses to FAQ on naturalization in Germany from abroad

  1. Pingback: 10 FAQ on citizenship law in Germany | The Happy Hermit

  2. I clicked on personal consulation, it came up empty. Say my Dad was born in the Sudetanland, now CZ, CZ sent him to E Germany after the war when they expelled all the Germans. He escaped, made it to W Germany, and then to the US to join his Father. He gave up citizenship (Czech as it was listed) at 18 in favor of US. Odds of him being able to get German citizenship back? I suggested to him to go to a Rathaus in DE near the border of CZ as they may be more familiar. Thoughts?

    • Thanks for that, I repaired the link.

      If your father had German citizenship at the time of his naturalization in the US, then he lost it in the process (§ 25 I StAG). If he had Czech citizenship, it depends on Czech law what happened to that.
      § 13 StAG allows the re-instatement of a previously lost German citizenship, but if this application is made from abroad, the requirements detailed above apply, including the requirement to give up his US citizenship.

      • Thanks! I think he will settle for getting CZ removed as his country of birth. He has a lot of resentment towards them and HATES it on his passport. He´s working on it.

  3. Hans Mueller says:

    Yes, exactly, wanna get German Citizenship, then give up US Citizenship. Tough choice for some, but it’s a fair deal. Although I would not want to become a citizen of Germany if I am not planning to live there. Another thing is when you are a born citizen and live elsewhere but keep your native citizenship. Or those who have EU country’s citizenship, then they automatically can live in Germany, I suppose, without the need to get German citizenship. Is that correct?

    • Yes, any EU citizenship is as good as the other. I have German citizenship for example, but I have lived in the UK, in Malta, in Lithuania and am about to move to Italy. Without any need of a residence permit, no paperwork, nothing.
      That’s why I personally would prefer the citizenship of any EU country over that of the USA, because it allows you to live in 28 countries, among them beautiful places like Croatia. And the number of countries who are members will probably grow.

  4. Can you clarify something on point number 4? If I’m showing my ties to Germany, what colours does Germany prefer – the gold, red, and black, or something more neutral? :D
    (My apologies for being a wise-acre. You may delete this if you wish. I’ll find a more appropriate place to annoy you. ;) )

    • You already passed the test by knowing that the third colour in the flag is gold, not yellow.

      • I always thought it odd that under the rule of Emperors (Kaiser), who were usually thought of as hugely rich, the top colour was white. Yet in the period without monarchy, a “pure” rule time which should reflect the purity of the colour white, it became gold instead. (We’ll just kinda bounce over that whole “red and black” period. Schickelgruber had LOUSY taste in design – among MANY other things. ;) )

      • By the by, do you realise that on the Eastern front during WW1, it was Caeser versus Caeser? Both Kaiser and Tsar/Czar trace their roots to the title of Caeser. One for you etymological freaks. :D

  5. Brenden says:

    Your last point made me laugh!

  6. Very interesting and also amusing. Thanks Have a good day. Best regards

  7. JoV says:

    I don’t think I will ever apply for a naturalisation in Germany but your effort to put out a FAQs here is commendable. Well done and thank you.

  8. Kavita Joshi says:

    I liked the last point

  9. ron says:

    I have read your blog with great interest.
    You will have to tell me what is your favourite cigar or maybe i will have to tempt you with some good South African wine.
    My great grandfather died the 4 May 1934 in East London South Africa
    His South African death notice says he was German born in Germany.
    According to the shipping records when he arrived in South Africa in MAY 1878 on a ship called Papa from Hamburg with his parents and siblings he was 9 years old.

    my grandfather was born is south africa in 1895 died 1974
    my father was born in 1928 in south africa died 1993
    i was born in south africa in 1965

    I have contacted the German embassy in Cape Town south africa with regards to obtaining German citizenship by means of a German bloodline Jus sanguinis.

    The reason for doing this is that members of the German embassy frequent my restaurant and the topic of heritage and where we come from came up. One of the embassy workers on hearing my family history convinced me to look into my German bloodline and he said that if i had a direct male line to Germany then it would be easy to obtain German citizenship albeit the paperwork between Germany and south africa might take some time.

    I subsequently spent many hours in the various archives looking up my family history which was very interesting for me.
    When i took all the information i had gathered to show my bloodline Jus sanguinis to the embassy Cape Town ( this was an informal meeting at the embassy) they came up with a curve-ball which was…….
    pss the curve ball greater than what gomez would shoot

    My great great grandfather would have had to register at a German mission in south africa to have been able to retain his citizenship back in the late 1800’s.
    of course if he had retained this citizenship then it would be ok
    The only problem is that there was no official German mission or offices in south africa that i can find.
    I have contacted the German embassy in Pretoria and they are adamant that there were no official German offices in south africa until the mid 1930s.
    by then my great great grandfather was dead and his tombstone reads ‘ Hier ruhet in Gott”

    So therefore my conundrum which maybe you can help me (for those cigars or south african wine)

    Do you think they are messing me around or would i by some chance have an entitlement to German citizenship?

    Ps my great grandfather and father were fluent in german and ich spreche ein bischen

    Your help would be greatly appreciated

    • Aureus Aurarius says:

      Why would you want to move to Germany? South Africa is such a beautiful country, I lived there for a year and half of Western Cape are now related to me… I wish I could move down there again. I was born the same year as you.

      • ron says:

        i think as you have mentioned before. To have the joy of freedom of movement without having the constrains of visa restrictions. Cape town is beautiful and i don’t think i am going to move soon.:) or maybe ever. Where did you stay and how long ago were you here. Probably time for a new visit. Well i am in june. Do u think there is any hope? me getting the right to travel?

      • Aureus Aurarius says:

        I lived in 1997-98 in Cape Town in Khayelitsha, Bonteheuwel, Mannenberg… just joking… I was at Pinelands, Mowbray, Bishopscourt, Table View. Yet I’ve had been to all the “dangerous” areas as well, many times, even at night. I enjoyed the sound of helicopters and cars chasing and machine gun fire at night, sometimes hitting walls of my house in Mowbray. Love the drive to Knysna. Never been to JHB. They said not worth it. You can get a EU passport if you try really hard. I got one. Also got one for the USA. I’d love to live in ZA if I had some business opportunity there. Never been to a more beautiful country than Suid-Afrika. Perhaps Japan? China? Brazil? What countries can you visit visa-free with a ZA Passport?

  10. Aureus Aurarius says:

    Those must be Italian Stone Pines ({Pinus pinea) in the header photo.

  11. Shania says:

    Hello Andreas!

    This is Shania from Hong Kong, You’re so generous and resourceful.
    Thank you so much for sharing so much useful information here really!

    May I ask more about the non-EU naturalisation application…
    Does the years of obtaining student visa (studying a M.A degree program in Germany) be also counted into the “3-8 years” requirement of residence in Germany?

    I’m learning Germany in my living place now, If i obtain above B2 german language level when i’m in Germany, will it help shorten the time a bit?

    Last question is, I saw it said people who earn 44800 euro in Germany annually will get Blue Card, is it also a standard for naturalisation, or it is ok to get a job lower than that 44800 euro a year if I want to apply?

    Thanks many and many!!!!!!! ;-D
    all the bests,

    • Hello Shania,
      1) Yes, the time that you spend in Germany as a student will count. It is also no problem if you receive a scholarship or other student support, as this is not considered welfare.
      2) Yes, the better your German skills, the better your chances.
      3) No, the income level for the Blue Card is higher than the one for citizenship. For citizenship you can earn much less, as long as you can show that you can pay all of your expenses. Thus it also depends a bit on where in Germany you live. If you move to an area with lower rent prices, a lower income will suffice.

  12. Elena says:

    Hello Andreas,
    thank you for all info posted here. Short question: in order to get the citizenship are requested 8 years. These years should without break in De? I have 4 years now, will move next year in other country, but I am quite sure I will return.

    thank you for feed-back.

  13. HB says:

    Has anyone here been successful in getting German citizenship outside Germany? I live in the UK, and am not sure whether to apply in London or whether to move back to Germany for a bit just to apply.

    Will birth in Germany be enough to justify ties? What about if you’ve studied German at a UK university for three years and spent one year in a German university? Will that help?

    Does it matter what sort of job one currently does? As in, does it matter if I’m just doing unskilled work?

  14. Sam Lee says:

    Hi Moser,
    Thanks for very useful information.
    I have a question regarding naturalisation in Germany.
    I am from Singapore and I lived in Germany for six years (2006-2012). I have PhD from German University and then moved to UK from mid 2012. currently I have job offer with good salary from Germany. so I am thinking of moving back to Germany from mid 2013. Is it possible to count the six years (2006-12) for the 8 year requirement to naturalization? or I need to stay for next eight years in Germany to get German passport? is it possible for fast track naturalisation procedure with BLUE card?
    Thanks in advance for your info.

    • Good news: 5 of your previously spent 6 years can be counted towards naturalization (§ 12b II StAG).
      The 8-year requirement can be reduced to 7 or 6 years, depending on your level of German.

      • Sam Lee says:

        Thanks Moser for immediate reply.
        last question before I stop bothering you.
        I am gud in German and can easily clear B1.
        so in principal if I move back to Germany with a job, I can get citizen ship in 2-3 years?
        Thanks for StAG document (I googled it and is very useful)

      • Yes, if you are at B1 level in German and you pass the integration course, you will only need another 2 years. If you could get to B2 level, you will need another 1 year.

      • BK says:

        Hello Andeas,
        I have come across your website in google search for my einbürgerung. I have reacently applied for Citizenship and submitted all the documents,but at the end the case worker said that as my certificates are not form Germany and all in English she asked me to pay 350€ for the verification of my certificates. Is it normal in the case of Einbürgerung. Please let me know.

      • Which certificates?

      • BK says:

        Hello Andreas,
        The certificates are my birth certificate, my marriage certificate(I am from India I got married in India only), my passport copies and educational documents. So, is this a normal precedure. Please reply

      • Sounds like a silly request to me. If you have already been living in Germany for a while, you probably have a residence permit. In order to issue that residence permit, the Ausländerbehörde had to check your identity and whether you are married already. So it’s not like they have any doubt about the authenticity of the documents.

        I would ask them how they could issue you a residence permit based on the same papers without any problems, and what which of these documents they doubt. If they have a doubt about your birth certificate for example, they can call the city in India which issued the birth certificate.

        This kind of stupid bureaucracy makes me angry.

      • BK says:

        Hello Andreas,
        Thanks for the reply. Even I found it to be silly, but they said that it is different for different cases, could you advise me what to question them regarding my process for naturalization.


      • See the arguments in my answer above.

  15. PENNY says:

    only some questions get answered maybe the other questions are too difficult

  16. Robert Miner says:

    Dear Andreas,
    Thank you so much for your very helpful and insightful presentation.
    I really only have one question concerning the points 2 and 4 above.
    My situation, in brief:
    US citizen, living in Jordan, married, 60 years old.
    As a young man, aged 14, I moved with my parents to Hamburg in 1968 and attended Gymnasium there. Since that time my periods of residence in Germany have been a patch work of different locations (Hamburg, Loerrach, Heidelberg) and times. I’ve calculated the total of my German residence permits to be 18,4 years (as recorded in my passports).
    I’m fluent in German, studied psychology in Vienna, theology in Basel (both in German), and linguistics in Strasbourg (in French, Dr. phil). I’ve been in Jordan for 24 years and teach christian theology in Arabic.
    Since 1986 I’ve been employed by the “Deutsche Missionsgemeinschaft” (in Sinsheim) and have paid into the German welfare system, as I now continue to do.
    I think I fulfill all the requirements to apply for German naturalisation according to your presentation, except living the last 6 to 8 years uninterruptedly in German.
    Do you think this will be a problem?
    Thank you in advance for your advice on this matter.

    • Hallo Robert,
      Dein Lebenslauf ist der Paradefall für die Einbürgerung als Deutscher aus dem Ausland nach § 14 StAG. Die Anzahl, Dauer und Tiefe Deiner Bindungen an Deutschland sind meiner Meinung nach absolut ausreichend.
      Alternativ könntest Du nach Deutschland ziehen, wo 5 Jahre Deiner früheren Aufenthaltszeiten auf die 6-8 Jahre angerechnet werden.
      Die einzige Hürde ist wahrscheinlich, daß Deutschland die Aufgabe Deiner US-Staatsbürgerschaft verlangen würde.

      • Robert Miner says:

        Vielen Dank für die rasche Antwort. Ich habe nur deswegen auf Englisch geschrieben, damit alle anderen mitlesen konnten.
        Ich würde liebend gern die US-Staatsbürgerschaft aufgeben, wenn ich die deutsche erhalten könnte. Absolut keine Reue!
        Um auf die Zeitrechnung zurückzukommen, falls die geforderte Länge des Aufenthaltes auf Grund der Sprachkenntnisse von 8 auf 6 Jahre verkürzt werden könnte und auf Grund meiner früheren Aufenthalte 5 Jahre angerechnet werden könnten, würde es dann bedeuten, dass ich nur ein Jahr in Deutschland sein müsste, um die Einbürgerung zu erlangen?
        Danke nochmals im Voraus.

      • Genau so ist es. Nach § 12b II StAG können bis zu 5 Jahre des früheren Aufenthalts (egal wie lange er zurückliegt) angerechnet werden. Die Verwaltungsvorschrift zum StAG verlangt, daß dieser Aufenthalt “integrationsfördernd” war, was bei Studien- oder Arbeitsaufenthalten generell der Fall ist und ja auch durch Deine beeindruckend guten Sprachkenntnisse belegt wird.
        Wenn Du also in nächster Zeit mal für ein Jahr nach Deutschland kommst, würde ich diesen Weg empfehlen, weil Du dann anders als beim Antrag nach § 14 StAG nicht die besonderen Bindungen darstellen mußt und nicht auf eine Ermessensentscheidung angewiesen bist, sondern einen Anspruch auf die Einbürgerung hast.

  17. Robert Miner says:

    Nochmals, ganz herzlichen Dank!
    Letzte Frage: Sind Deine Buecherwunschlisten (Engl. und Deutsch) noch aktuell und ist die Adresse in Italien noch gueltig?
    Haettest Du gern ein paar Buecher ueber unsere Nachbarschaft hier im Nahen Osten?
    Du bist ganz offensichtlich ein Bibliophil!

  18. Robert Miner says:

    Grazie per il numero e per tutto il vostro aiuto. Sto inviando tre libri da Amazon e ti manderò un paio di miei scaffali qui in Giordania. Have a nice day!

  19. charlie mac says:

    Thank you so much for your information. I’ve been wondering about the law that seemed discriminatory towards children born of a German Mother and American Father, since I was born in 1965. What was that law about anyway? And I think you said the law changed, can I now apply? Unfortunately, I don’t speak German due to not seeing my mother since I was three.

  20. Dayana says:


    Thank you so much for putting this page it really helps a lot.

    I have one question:
    I’m Lebanese and been married to a German Citizen for 2 years and already obtained my A1 certificate and applied for the residency visa. My question is how do I apply for the German Reispass and is B1 enough? I heard there is something called orientierungkurse need to take for one month and then there is an exam if I pass I only need that paper to get the passport?! please advise.

    Many thanks

    • Yes, B1 is enough. The Orientierungskurs or Integrationskurs is a course about life in Germany. If you live in Germany, you are entitled to take part in these courses for a nominal fee or no fee at all.

  21. Bobo says:

    Hey Andreas,
    Thank you so much for this page. It really helps. I have a question i cleared University and been here for 7 years now. While i was studying i was working part time and even now after i cleared am stilling working at the same place. I want to apply for a German passport and i dont know if i quaify or should i look for a fulltime job even though have 2 Jobs and can pay my Bills.
    Another question if i get married outside Germany a church wedding even though am not German then later on i get German passport will my marriage be recognised???. And what if i got marriage when am already a German citizen but still not in Germany is it recorgnized ???
    I will appreciate your help.

    • You should be fine with the part-time jobs that you have. The requirement is that you can provide your own income without recourse to welfare. If you show that you have consistently been able to pay your rent and that you have health insurance, there shouldn’t be a problem.

      Because these threads tend to get very long, I would like to keep the different legal questions separate. I will be happy to put up a list of FAQ on marriage in Germany. All I ask for is that someone mails me one of the books from my wishlist to do so.

  22. Shirin Chamas says:

    Very helpful blog. I married an EU citizen last April and I currently live in Lebanon while my husband lives in Qatar for work. Do I need to wait 3 yrs before I can get a job in Germany? I currently do not have a job in Lebanon, but will it help me if I also work while waiting for my German citizenship?

    • You haven’t mentioned anything about having any ties to Germany, as far as I can see.

      • Shirin Chamas says:

        Sorry about that. He is a Dutch citizen, and I was told that I can obtain German citizenship since both countries are EU members. From what I understand I have to wait for 3 yrs marriage before I can obtain a permit or certificate for me to work in Germany.

      • Whoever told you that told you crap. You should kick that person from me, for wasting both your and my time.

        Incredible. Do people really believe that there is a path to German citizenship by living in Lebanon while being married to a Dutch citizen who lives in Qatar?

      • Shirin Chamas says:

        Actually, it’s an arranged marriage. He’s my cousin (my father and his mother are siblings) and we share the same last name. We just did this so I can obtain German citizenship. (I already have a “green card” because I’ve stayed in Germany for 6 months and have relatives there).

      • Without living in Germany and speaking German, this marriage is unfortunately not very helpful for obtaining German citizenship.

  23. Maya says:

    I lived in Germany for a while in 1993, had a German boyfriend for a number of months and got pregnant. I moved back to Canada before my baby was born because of a breakdown of the relationship. My daughter is now 20, and is very interested in living and working in Germany someday. Can she get German citizenship to be allowed to live and work there? She was born in canada but I did not put her German father’s name on the Canadian birth certificate at the time, just left it as “unknown” because I was afraid he might want to come and try to take her. We believe he would sign whatever is needed to help her out, we are just not sure what it is we have to do. Can you offer some suggestions to get started, thanks.

    • Your daughter will need to officially establish her father’s paternity, either by him declaring an official affidavit of paternity or by getting a court order. As you assume that he is cooperative, the first option is of course much more preferable.

      I will soon put up a separate FAQ on establishing paternity under German law.

      • ppittman2014 says:

        Thank you so much for such a fast reply :)
        I have one more question, how does he declare the official affidavit of paternity? Can he do this in Germany and send us whatever we will need to apply from canada?
        Thank you

      • All of this will be in the FAQ on paternity.

  24. Atawy says:

    Hi, According to the law number 14 StAG it is mentioned that german nationailty can be obtained from abroad, if rules of law number 8 StGA and 9 StGA are verified.
    When i had a look on Law number 8 StGA, i found that it is written that the applicant has his/her own appartment or place to live in Germany.
    Is that means, that the applicant iwho is livining outside Germany, has to have also a flat ( own or rented) in Germany, to be able to apply for the citizinship? Even he lives abroad?

    • Because the § 14 naturalization is a discretionary naturalization, it does of course help if you already have a property or a place to live in Germany.
      But it’s actually not a requirement. In these cases, the requirement is understood to mean that you have sufficient income or funds to be able to live in Germany if you move there.

      • Linda Passwaters says:

        I was born in 1949 in the US. My Mother was a German Citizen at the time and my father an American. I have many family members in Germany and can speak and understand German at B1. My mother is 87 and very ill. I am interested in obtaining German citizenship so I can travel and stay for longer lengths of time with my German cousins. I am 65, retired and have my own income and health insurance. I am only interested in maintaining my German heritage. My father is also of German heritage so I feel very much German. Do you think there might be an avenue for me to gain citizenship. Thank you, Linda

  25. Label Sanoo says:

    Hi Andreas,

    I have a couple of question and I really hope you can help me out.

    My x wife is German
    We have been Married for about 3 years now.
    We moved to England as soon as we got married at this point in time I had no residence permit in Germany.
    I am a non EU citizen.
    We have a daughter who is 4 years old, She is German
    I got my residence permit for Germany April 2013, since then I have been living in Germany till date.
    My level of German is A1, but looking to achieve B2
    I have completed the integration course as well

    My Question is:

    1) Does the 2 years of marriage for naturalization still count even though my wife and I are now divorced ?

    2) Would I have to wait for six years before I can apply for German citizenship ?

  26. Label Sanoo says:

    Correction to my last post

    1) Does the 3 years of marriage count towards applying for a German citizenship even though we are now divorced.

    2) Is it possible to apply for German citizenship if I complete the 3 year residence period


    3) Will I have to reside for six tears before I can apply for German Citizenship ?

    Many Thanks

    • Because you are no longer married, you would need to wait for the normal period, the exact duration of which depends on your personal factors, especially your level of German.

  27. Win says:

    Hi Andreas,

    Thank you for this write up. My wife and I have been trying to get more information about gaining German residency or citizenship for me ( NON- EU). Just a general brief about our situation.

    My wife ( German citizen ) and I got married in Germany in 2010 but we do not live In Germany since we were both working abroad.

    Since our marriage; we have been working in Qatar and are now in Cyprus; we do visit Germany every year without fail since my mom in law lives in Koeln.

    My currently have a 5 year residency permit from Cyprus ( Greek controlled ) but we are thinking of moving to Germany since it has been hard for me to get a job since the Cyprus economy is quite bad. My wife has been the sole income earner since our arrival in Cyprus.

    I have a B1 certificate from Geothe Institute. Will all this; what in your professional opinion are my chances to either get permanent residency or citizenship in Germany.

    Can you also kindly advise me your fees if we decide to apply for citizenship from Cyprus.

    Best Regards


    • If your wife will move to Germany with you, you will very easily get a residence permit (section 28 AufenthG).

      Yor ties to Germany as described are not enough to warrant naturalization from abroad. But after living in Germany for 3 years, you could then apply for naturalization.

      • Win says:

        Thank you for your prompt answer Andreas. Yes…my wife and I will both move together to Germany. With regards to the residency; will I get the non settlement residency or the settle residency in your opinion. Thanking you in advance.

      • Only after 3 years could you get a settlement permit. Until then, you would get a residence permit for 1 or 2 years which would be extended if you will still be married and living together.

  28. Win says:

    Sorry.. I meant … Settlement Permit or Normal residency.

    Thank You

  29. Bobo says:

    Hallo Andreas,am really greatful for what you do here truly its a blessing to have you. I have lived in Germany for the last 7 years but under student-visa. I graduated last year and i got a full-time job but not in the field of what i studied, i also have a 400Euro basis job of the field i studied . I need to change my Aufenthalterlaubnis since am still under paragraph 16 for student-visa, but am afraid to go to the auslaenderbehoerde for the fear of what if they deny me the visa with the grounds i need a full time job of what i studied. can i be able to change my visa with the job i have even though its full time but not in the field i studied or for me to be able to change my visa title i need to get a job of my field?.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Because this thread on naturalization is already getting quite long, I’d like to keep questions about visas and residence permits separate. I’ll put up a separate set of FAQs as soon as somebody mails me one of the books from my wishlist to motivate me.

      But as you have been living in Germany for 7 years already, you might want to consider applying for German citizenship if you fulfil the language requirement.

  30. Bobo says:

    Hallo Andreas thanks for quick reply. Well i would consider applying for the German citizenship but i need to change my visa first coz i still have a studentvisa. If i know how i can change it to paragraph 18 then i would apply for the citizenship. my wish is also to apply for the citizenship.

  31. Ashraf says:

    I am Egyptian with 2 kids and I am getting married to a German. We will not be living in Germany would the kids get the German citizenship if I get mine? (Considering the above mentioned requirements, German literacy, exam, etc.)

    • It’s possible, but it’s not automatic. Naturalization according to § 14 StAG requires strong ties to Germany, and it’s usually harder for children to have formed these ties. As a minimum, they would be required to go to German schools and speak German.

  32. Mohsin says:

    I came here in Germany 2 years before with my wife and daughter as a Asylum Seeker from Pakistan. Now after 2 years our asylum case is passed and we have got Aufenthaltserlaubnis for 3 years. My other family members lives in the UK and we want to go to the UK and live with them. My questions are:
    1. I have read that refugees can apply for nationality after 6 year of legal continued residence. Is our time as asylum seekers also includes as legal residence.
    2. How many minimum years or months we have to work without welfare help to get citizenship.
    3. I have read that if one from husband or wife is capable of getting citizenship and apply it, his or her dependents can get citizenship without fulfilling other requirements like not have to stay in Germany for 8 or 6 years. What other requirements can be avoided. Is language course B1 and no welfare help also includes this.

  33. Csilla says:

    I am hungarian citizen living in germany since 2011 but legally started working , paying insurance, etc from 2012 ..
    My question is how long do i need to live in germany to nutrealise for german citizenship ?? I have no problem with my german language ability .
    Thanks for your answer in advance

  34. hamza says:

    I’m married to German citizen for 2 years but we live abroad .
    my level in German is B2.
    Can I apply for citizenship after one year ?

  35. Denise says:

    Hi Andreas,

    Well it appears from the info from your blog that my hopes for a dual citizenship are not possible. I was born in West Germany to American parents living as ex-pats in Germany. My parents lived in Frankfurt for 26 years. When I turned 18, I was presented with a document to choose my nationality. I was too young to understand what to do and did not really understand the options, so I kept my American passport rather than give it up. Back then, the US did not accept dual citizenships.

    I took 14 years of German (a little rusty now, but fixable). I was hoping to be able to run my business and live in both the US and the EU. Not sure that is possible now. I have a professional friend – a photographer – who is German, now living here five years with two passports. She told me it was easy especially if my birth certificate states West Germany. All I had to do was go to a consulate. Hmmmmm….


  36. Denise says:

    I forgot to add that I lived in Germany until age 20. Went to Switzerland for one year of college and then transferred to a university in the U.S.



  37. Andreas – I am a US Citizen but first generation American. Both my mother and father immigrated to the US as young adults. All my relatives live in Germany on both sides… Do I qualify to get German Citizenship? If yes, can you tell me if there is a qualified, trustworthy company that helps with this process?

    Also – If I qualify, could my US born children qualify under me?

    • I can’t say for sure because you didn’t mention when you were born and what citizenship your parents held at the time of your birth, but I strongly suspect that you will find the answer to your question in my more general FAQ on German citizenship law.

      There is no need to get any company involved. It’s usually a waste of money, as they wouldn’t do anything that you can’t do yourself.

      • Andreas — I was born in 1966 in US. My mother got her US Citizenship in the late 70’s.. so she was a German citizen when I was born. My father also immigrated but my mother does not remember when he got his US citizenship – if it was after we where born or before since as a German he worked with the US military. He died when I was 4.

      • If your father was still German in 1966, you automatically received German citizenship at birth.
        If he was not, then no. 8 of the above FAQ addresses your case exactly.

  38. Thank you Andreas – one last question … I just found out my father got US citizenship in 61 – 5 years before I was born. Will this now make it hard? Should I not try?

    • The answer is in no. 8 of the above FAQ. You qualify for naturalization without living in Germany and without having to give up your US citizenship. Typically, the language test is one of the biggest hurdles. But then you can work on your German, as there is no time limit for you to apply.

  39. Roslyn Daniels says:

    I am applying for a German Passport for my son who was born in South Africa, father is German however – I was married for 5 years to his father who lives in Berlin and is married again. Can I apply for a German passport for myself as well?

  40. Angela says:

    Hi, I have been married for 20 years, my husband is German but did not grow up in Germany he does however have German citizenship, my three sons also have German citizenship even though they have never lived in Germany. We are currently living in Norway. So my question is this, if I learnt to speak German would I be able to apply for German citizenship even though I am not living in Germany? Thanks for your time!

    • As mentioned in the FAQ above, speaking German very well is a minimum requirement. In addition to that, you would need to show very close ties to Germany (as a country, not to your German family members).

  41. Rimal says:

    Hi Andreas Moser,
    Its me Rimal from Essen. I am living in Germany since 8.5 years. I completed my Bachelor in Electical Engineeing from Germany in German medium. Right now i am doing Master in Electrical Engineering and working 20 hrs per week at Electrical company, ABB Group in Germany. I have contributions to the German pension system since last 63 monthe. I am financing my self since i came to Germany, no welfare has taken.

    My question is, can you please suggest me about naturalization of Citizenship in Germany. How much possibility do you see that i am qualified to apply for German citizenship? How much chance do you see in my case ?

    My Visa is going to expire by coming july. There is no problem in further extension. But i am thinking if i am qualified on naturalized citizen in Germany, then i should apply.

    Your advice will be really helpful.

    I am looking forward to listen from you.

    Thank you


    • Hello Rimal,

      you will find more information on my general FAQ on obtaining German citizenship. (This page is only for the special case of applicants who don’t live in Germany.)

      It sounds like you meet all the requirements. You would still need to pass a citizenship test and provide proof that you speak German at least at the B1 level. With your experience, I assume that this should not be any problem.

  42. Lala says:

    Hello Andreas, thank you for all the information, I live abroad and my husbands is German citizen working directly with the Government. How long do you think it will take me for getting the citizenship after applying? We have 8 years marriage and good knowledge of German language. Thank you.

  43. Adelie says:

    Hi Andreas,
    My husband has German citizenship because his mother was German, although he was born and lives in the U.S. We’re considering moving to Europe. Will I be able to apply for German citizenship from the U.S.? I have never been to Germany and I do not speak German.
    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and advice.

    • Without any ties to Germany and without any language skills, there is no chance for naturalization from abroad.

      But as the wife of a European citizen, you can stay with him in any EU member country without any further conditions (EC regulation 2004/38).

  44. MOHAMMED says:

    Hello Andreas,

    Could you please evaluate my case and let me know the probability of getting a German citizenship and how could you help me with it.

    1. I ve been living in Germany for the past 4 years (50 months to be exact).
    2. I am employed at a German company and I have a blue card.
      3.I did my MSc(Master of Science) from German University and I have been working as a student, intern and thesis ever since I came to Germany.

      1. I also have a B1 certificate and I believe is better than B1 currently.
        5 . I have also passed the Einburgerungstest with a good score 27/33.

    Do I need to wait for two more years to apply for citizenship or can I apply within few months? Youe advice will be very much appreciated.

  45. Mona says:

    Dear Andreas,

    God bless you and thank you for sharing all of this information.

    My husband has recently got the German Citizenship with my new baby born. He now has an entsendung for two years to Dubai from his German company.
    I have been living in Germany for a year and have passed the Integration Kurs exams (B1 level and Orientierung). The ausländerbehörde luckily told us that these two years will be counted for my citizenship. However, they refused to give me a bestätigung for two years when they knew my passport will finish in a year and a half. They gave me a bestätigung for one year only meaning I have to come next year to apply again for the residency.

    How can I apply again for residency if my husband will have to do abmeldung in Germany before leaving?

    If we can’t, will this year of residency at least be counted for me later on when we come back?
    What do you think?

    • The easiest thing would be to get a new passport which will be valid throughout the 2 years of your husband’s stay in Dubai.

      Does your child have German citizenship? If so, you can always extend your residence permit based on your child as long as he or she remains in Germany.

      • Mona says:

        Thank you Andreas for your prompt response.

        Unfortunately, I still have a year and half validity :)
        I contacted my embassy and being a Syrian citizen, I can only renew my passport when I have 6 months of validity.

        As for my child, he has the German citizenship but he is coming with us.

        Two more questions please:

        1) You said that this is the easiest way, what difficult options do I have?
        We thought of coming again next year to do anmeldung for one month only because we can’t afford paying taxes for a whole year, that would be too much…do you think this is possible? We are just not sure it would work.

        2) I hope I understood correctly, I have read your previous responses and learned that years of residence are usually counted even when a residence permit is over and later renewed. Is this true in all cases?

      • Oh, I misunderstood the situation at first. I thought your husband will go to Dubai and you and your son will remain in Germany.

        1) You can actually return with your son only. As he is a German citizen, he can come to Germany anytime, you can get him registered and you can stay with him even if your husband is not there (§ 28 I Nr. 3 AufenthG). This way your husband would not have to pay any taxes in Germany.

        2) Yes, § 12b II StAG states that up to 5 years of previous residence are counted towards the residency requirement for obtaining German citizenship.

        As to the time that you spend in Dubai, usually your residence in Germany is interrupted if you leave for more than 6 months (§ 12b I 1 StAG). If you wish to stay away longer and have it count towards residence, you need the permission by the Ausländerbehörde according to § 12b I 2 StAG, which is hopefully what you received. In this case, you can stay in Dubai for the year that they permitted and you only need to come back towards the end of that year, apply for a new Syrian passport and renew the permit for another year. Then you can join your husband in Dubai again.

      • Mona says:

        Andreas, your response is very helpful.
        I didn’t know i can use my baby’s name for registration and residency permits.

        God bless you a million times.

        Had the situation been better, I would’ve invited you over for a tour in beautiful Syria.
        But anyway, if you like adventures, feel free to contact me for that anytime :)

        Have a nice day!

      • Thank you very much!

        I am very sorry about the situation in Syria. Actually I am not only sorry, but really angry that the world is not doing anything to support what started as a peaceful revolution against the dictatorship of Bashar Assad. They waited for a few years and now use the presence of Islamists as an excuse, although these Islamists might never have shown up (or become so influential) if we had helped the people in Syria earlier.

        I have actually been to Syria once, but only for a few days in Damascus. I have very fond memories of the old city and of Umayyad Mosque. I have always wanted to return to Syria and it makes me angry to see how much of it will be destroyed when/if this conflict will be over.

  46. Mona says:

    Happy to know there are still humans out there who have feelings at all towards whats happening.
    Exactly! As you said, they waited then found an excuse.
    Or perhaps waited for the excuse to be well cooked…isn’t that politics?

    It is devastating for me to see my country’s human resources and its great heritage being destroyed. As if the scenario was perfectly planned by the regime from the beginning especially with the emergence of so called ‘Daesh’ Group.
    I keep wondering why the regime keeps bombing and shelling civilians and rebels but never bombs Daesh! On the other hand, Daesh slaughters civilians or rebels but nothing significant is done against the regime. What coincidence is that?

    Wherever the truth is, I personally find it ironic the way the Regime feels comfortable to use ‘Islamists’ (in a country of muslim majority) as a scarecrow to people and the International Community. More ironic is that the international community doesn’t feel embarrassed to use it as an excuse. Again, it is politics. No shame whatsoever :)

    As for your visit to Damascus, the old city in Damascus is actually the most interesting in it. If you have seen it already then you haven’t missed seeing much elsewhere.
    Unless u decide to live in it, Damascus really has a very ambiguous charm and a unique lifestyle to experience. You are talking to an admiring local.

    Yet, Syria in general has much to see. Aleppo, Latakia, Palmyra, Daraa, Idlib, Homs..etc.
    All of them are interesting but unfortunately easy access to charming places has not been developed in the last 40 years. Not to mention the sad destruction we have now as you posted in your link.

    Anyway, there is always hope. You are a citizen of a country that got destroyed after a world war. As a believer in Divine Justice, I know oppressors don’t stay for long.
    Thus, I will reserve your right to contact me anyway whenever things get better :)

    • I think I know what you mean about Damascus. It was really a stark contrast between the old city and the new city. I tried to spend as much time as possible in the old city. :-)

      I wanted to go to Palmyra and had even managed to get a bus ticket (with the help of a friendly customer of the travel agency who could translate), but then I overslept the next morning and missed the bus. :-(

  47. Georg says:

    I’m German & my wife is Lebanese. Can she get the German passport without living in Germany? We are married since 1997

    • Genau das hoffe ich in den obenstehenden Fragen und Antworten zu beantworten, aber natürlich hängt alles vom Einzelfall ab. Die Einbürgerung aus dem Ausland ist eine Ermessensentscheidung.

  48. Rhonda Jackson says:

    My husband and i are American. My daughter and son were born in 1993 and 1995 in Heidelberg Germany . My husband moved to Germany with his family when he was 15 (his father was a contractor with the United States) He was not in the military. My husband ended up working for a German company and was a resident in Germany, holding a residency and work permit when my children were born. Do my children qualify for German Citizenship? My husband and i no longer live in Germany , however he is still with the same company after all these years he just works for the American side of the company now.
    Thank you for your help,

    • Your children might have qualified for German citizenship based on their birth in Germany (see no. 4 of my general FAQ on German citizenship), but the deadline for them to apply ended in the year 2000 (§ 40b StAG).
      That leaves your children with the option of naturalization if they meet all the criteria outlined in the FAQ above.

  49. Carmen says:

    Hi Andreas,

    By chance I landed in your blog when I was looking for naturalisation in Germany. In the 10 FAQ page you mentioned, ‘For the spouse of a German citizen, this requirement is usually 3 years (of which you need to have been married for the last 2 years).’

    My German husband and I (non-EEA national) is now residing in the UK since 2008. Previously I was a student studying at a university in Germany for 5 years (2002 – 2007) with a student visa and spouse visa. The degree I did at university was taught in English but did my German language course before studying in Germany up to C1 level (obtained in 2002). In 2005 we were married (not in Germany) but the marriage certificate is recognised through “Apostille” and was accepted by the local town hall where we used to live in Germany. In 2008 we moved together from Germany to the UK. My question now is, can I naturalise as a German through “marriage”? Can this be applied outside Germany, e.g. the UK?

    I am a bit concerned as I am not sure that 3 years residence requirement – whether or not I must have been married for 3 years or it could count before marriage?

    Many thanks!

    • If you apply for naturalization from outside of Germany, it is completely up to the discretion of the immigration authority. There is no specific time required, but you will have to show extremely close ties. In your case, you may be asked to show that you have closer ties to Germany than to the UK despite living there.

      Given the time you have been living in the UK, it might be easier to apply for naturalization in the UK.

  50. Diana says:

    Was wondering if you could answer a question, I am a dual citizen from birth as my mother is a German citizen and my father an American citizen. My mother has always told us that my children will be a dual citizen as well, but my grandchildren would not. I cannot seem to find any documentation online that proves or disproves that. I have a 2 year old and currently pregnant, am planning on making a trip to the German mission (consulate) after his birth to see what I need to do to renew my passport and get them set up, but until then thought I would throw the question out there and see what sort of answers I get.

    Thanks for you time.

    • First of all, your grandchildren’s citizenship will depend on the laws that will be in place when they will be born. That sounds like it’s very far in the future, so the laws may change a lot. Secondly, it will also depend on the citizenship of the other parent (which nobody knows yet) and on where the child will be born (which nobody knows yet).

      Based on current German citizenship law, if the German parent was born outside of Germany in the year 2000 or later and gives birth outside of Germany, then German citizenship is not passed on automatically (§ 4 IV 1 StAG). This could apply if one of your children will ever have children.

      They will be able to avoid the fate of losing German citizenship if they register the birth with the German consulate within one year after the birth (§ 4 IV 2 StAG). Make sure they don’t forget that!

  51. Suresh says:

    Hi Andreas,

    I ‘m living in Germany with my wife and 2 kids. I came to Germany on study visa and then after my study finished and I got the Job and then in Oct 2012 I got German nationality. My wife came to Germany in September 2009, she is still Indian national (we married in India and she came to Germany on family reunion visa ). My both kids are also German national. We also bought a house in Germany.

    Now due a project my employer is sending me to Poland for 3 years assignment with family. It is not problem for me and my kids because of German nationality. My wife has German residence visa till march 2015. My employer will arrange residence permit of Poland for my wife (India national).

    My wife is preparing to get B1 German certificate, so that she can apply for German nationally. But still she don’t have B1 certificate, so she can’t apply. Now if we shift to Poland, can she still apply for German nationally? As we will leave German residence for 3 years (we will still keep our house in Germany and will visit frequently). We are afraid that after 3 years assignment, when we will come back to Germany, she again need to wait 3 years before she can apply for Germany nationality .

    What are best options for her to get German nationally? Which rule will apply for her? Any help really appreciated.

    Many thanks for your help.

    • The time that your wife already stayed in Germany will still count, despite the interruption: § 12b II StAG. Therefore she won’t start at 0 when you will return to Germany.

      So you have two options:
      – She can wait until you will return to Germany and apply then.
      – Or she could try to use § 14 StAG and apply for German citizenship while you live in Poland.

      Because the second option requires very strong ties to Germany and is only granted by discretion, and because you know that you will return to Germany in 3 years, I would probably go for the first option. Of course it would be useful for your wife’s chances if she uses the time to learn German and get the required certificates, maybe even higher than the B1. Depending on where you live in Poland, there will be a Goethe Institute or you might even find locals who speak German.

      • Suresh says:

        many thanks for the prompt response…
        My German is not bad, but the legal German is very difficult.

        So what 12b II StAG really say? For me very difficult to understand ;-) Specially the part “sich aus einem seiner Natur nach nicht vorübergehenden Grund”…

        (2) Hat der Ausländer sich aus einem seiner Natur nach nicht vorübergehenden Grund länger als sechs Monate im Ausland aufgehalten, kann die frühere Aufenthaltszeit im Inland bis zu fünf Jahren auf die für die Einbürgerung erforderliche Aufenthaltsdauer angerechnet werden.

        And If she try § 14 StAG (as her husband (I) and kid are German, we have house in Germany and she lived in Germany long time), in your opinion, usually how long this option takes for decision? And if she apply and get -ve decision, does this will have any impact on other options, like first option you described.

        (3) Unterbrechungen der Rechtmäßigkeit des Aufenthalts bleiben außer Betracht, wenn sie darauf beruhen, dass der Ausländer nicht rechtzeitig die erstmals erforderliche Erteilung oder die Verlängerung des Aufenthaltstitels beantragt hat.

        As we will keep our house in Germany and visit frequently, is this possible that she keep her residency further in Germany and also get her visa extended from Germany (so called hauptwohnsitz und nebenwohnsitz).

        many thanks for your help.

      • Using § 14 StAG usually takes a long time. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend it here. There is no point in trying it before your wife has a very high standard of German (preferably higher than B1), so it might take some time still anyway, and by then you will soon return to Germany.

        I also thought of the option of your wife keeping her residence in Germany, but I don’t know where in Poland you will move to and if that would be feasible. You cannot have a Nebenwohnsitz in Germany if your Hauptwohnsitz is abroad, so your wife would really need to remain in Germany (or at least pretend to).

      • Suresh says:

        Andreas God bless you and many thanks….

        i just want to add, i will be on expats contract, so this means that even i will go to Poland (exactly Krakow), i will still get my partial salary in Germany and i will pay the social security, pension, etc further in Germany and also in Poland (my company will manage it)…

        Does she need the permission by the Ausländerbehörde according to § 12b I 2 StAG before we go to Poland? As her Visa is only valid for march 2015, Can she come back to Germany and apply again for extension of visa with Ausländerbehörde before it is expired?

        Can ausländerbehörde give us presmission that these three years will be counted for my wife’s citizenship? should they give us in written form?

        sorry many question,

        many thanks and Gold bless you for this good work…

      • You could also ask for the Ausländerbehörde’s permission before your move to Poland. However, I am not sure they will grant it for 3 years. (The typical cases of § 12b I 2 StAG are students who go abroad for a year.) But there is no harm in asking.

        The Ausländerbehörde won’t provide any guarantee on citizenship, they can only give your wife a waiver from the 6-month rule in § 12b I 1 StAG. But the rule on citizenship is in the Citizenship Act, § 12b II, so there is no need to get a document about it.

        Krakow unfortunately is too far to pretend that you are still living in Germany.

        One other thing which might work is this: you all move to Krakow, but simply retain the registration in Germany. Because Poland and Germany are both in Schengen, the immigration authorities will never know where you really are. If you still receive a salary in Germany and pay into the German social security system, nobody might notice. (And nobody will look at it anyway, as long as you are not applying for a renewal of your wife’s residence permit.)
        If your wife is quick with her German course, she might apply for citizenship in March 2015 when her current residence permit will expire.
        But this would only work if you live in a larger city where nobody will notice that you are actually not there anymore. If you live in a small town and the immigration officer is your neighbor, then that won’t work of course.

        There are a lot of creative (or dodgy) solutions, but we should keep in mind that your wife’s citizenship application will not depend so much on how long she lived in Germany, but on her German language level and on your financial situation, as well as on other factors conducive to integration in Germany.

      • Suresh says:

        Hi Andreas,

        many thanks… we are a bit clear now concerning citizenship. so let put citizenship aside.

        One question relating to German residence permit.
        As her German residence permit will expire in March 2015, as we will be living in Poland (Schengen country), so she can simply come back to Germany let say in Feb 2015 and apply for extension of her German residence permit. Would this work?

        you gave an answer to Mona on 21 May

        “As to the time that you spend in Dubai, usually your residence in Germany is interrupted if you leave for more than 6 months (§ 12b I 1 StAG). If you wish to stay away longer and have it count towards residence, you need the permission by the Ausländerbehörde according to § 12b I 2 StAG, which is hopefully what you received. In this case, you can stay in Dubai for the year that they permitted and you only need to come back towards the end of that year, apply for a new Syrian passport and renew the permit for another year. Then you can join your husband in Dubai again.

        Can my wife do the same, ask/apply to renew the permit after March 2015?

        Our biggest Goal is that my wife keep all the time valid German residence permit, also during the time when we stay in Poland (3 years)… would it possible? if yes, how?

        many thanks in advance for your help.

      • Yes, you can try to get that permission from the German immigration office, although your wife will also get a Polish residence permit according to EC regulation 2004/38, which is just as useful as both countries are in the Schengen zone.

  52. Schi-baba Welter says:

    Hello Andreas,

    This is a very resourceful site you have here and you are really generous with your information.

    My situation is actually complex. I was adopted by my German Father in Nigeria as you can see from the name, but he did not pull the adoption through in Germany because he was misinformed by the behorde in hamburg. He was advised that he waits until i am 18 before he went ahead with the adoption. He is a man that had worked almost all his life in nigeria and had little or no knowledge about the laws of his own home land, so he fell for it. When we went back to the behorde when i was 18, it was told him that it was too late and i could not be adopted because i was already 18. This was like putting a hole in his heart because he has no natural kids of his own and he fell in love with me the moment he saw me as a baby in Nigeria.
    I have been traveling to germany since the age of 5 every 2 years with my adopted father. After my secondary school was the age i travelled with him back to settle down there and he would do the adoption. But unfortunately things went the way they went. I stayed in germany for close to 3 years, learnt the language and even got the KDS Diploma from Goethe Institute. I even started an intern program with Panalpina in Hamburg but after 3 months of work i was asked to stop work as i could not be paid because i did not have a work permit. We tried a couple of things then but could not get any head way. I and my adopted father decided i come back to nigeria and continue with my university education here. I also travelled back several times to visit my Adopted father.

    In the time now, i am a graduate of computer science and have worked as a Systems/Network Administrator and presently as a Maintenance Supervisor.

    My concern now is this, with the times i have travelled to Germany from birth, and also spent in germany, my ties as in Friends and Families i have made in germany and also being able to speak and write the language, can i apply for Residency through Naturalisation by Discretion? It gives me so much worries that every time i have to travel to germany to visit my Father in his old age, i always have to go through the process of applying for a Visa. Is there no other way around it, that i would not need a Visa to enter Germany when i am going to visit him? Would it be possible to apply for this, even if i would still be living and working in Nigeria?, would it still be possible to carry on with an adoption now in germany, even if i would not have the full rights of a german? Also would inheritance give me the possibility of having a residency?

    I would really appreciate if you can help out with your advice

    Many thanks in advance.

    • There is a possibility to perform the adoption even though you are already an adult because there seems to be a genuine father-son relationship. As you mentioned, this would however not bestow citizenship on you directly. But I think that it would – in combination with all the other factors that you have mentioned – provide a strong case for your naturalization as a German citizen.

      Because inheritance is only a concern once your father would pass away, I would recommend that we focus on the adoption instead.

  53. diaconur says:

    I was wondering what is the shortest period possible in which someone can become a German citizen, without being married to a German person? I intend to do a master and a PhD in there, learn the language, find a job and buy a house. Given this, is it possible to become German in less than 8 or 6 years?
    Your opinion will be very much appreciated.
    Thank you!

    • Well, how long will it take you to get both your intended degrees, find a job and become fluent in German?

      • diaconur says:

        Well the masters is 2 years and the PhD 3 years so it would be about 5 years. During this time I can learn German and I can find a job while I am studying for my master. Would they give me citizenship in 5 years if I do all these things?

      • Because a lot will change in 5 years, it’s really best if you contact me again then.

  54. Bernard Odendaal says:

    Guten tag Andreas,
    I was born in South Africa in 1960 – 254 years after Wilhelm Odendall (born 1685 Cologne, Germany) – the first Odendall (now spelled Odendaal) arrived in South Africa (in 1706). He lived in Keulen prior to his move to South Africa in 1705/06.
    He died on 19 January 1732 (although SA Genealogies erroneously date it as 29 January 1732).

    My question – would I qualify for German Citizenship? I deeply value my German Ancestral roots and am proud of it.

  55. Akinlolu Akinbobola says:

    Hello Moser,
    Thank you for your information. It’s very helpful. Pls I would like a little clarification about this German naturalisation from you. I am a nigerian but was given birth to in Germany in 1979 by Nigerian Parents whom as at that time were working and studying in Germany. My parents both came home in 1981, but I still have my Germans certificate of birth. I am a graduate of plant science and would like to go back to Germany for my master and Phd and at the same time would like to do the naturalisation stuff if possible. I have done A1 and A2 from Goethe. Kindly enlighten me more on it.
    Looking forward to hear from you soon.

  56. Alex says:

    Dear Andreas,

    I am married to a German citizen, but we don’t live in Germany; we live in Switzerland. Could I apply for German citizenship? You mentioned that there are certain situations in which it is possible to apply for German citizenship even though you don’t live in Germany, but I was not sure whether my situation was covered. I would greatly appreciate your advice. Best regards.

  57. Camilla says:

    Hi Andreas
    I am a German citizen living in Berlin. My grandmother, also a German citizen has been living in South Africa since December 1952 at the age of 20. I have recently visited her in South Africa and would like to bring her to live with me in Berlin to look after her in her old age. I was wondering what the chances are that she would receive a German state pension if she moved back to Germany now.
    Thank you and best wishes,

    • Because that has nothing to do with the topic of these FAQ, I’d recommend that you contact me directly for a consultation. I would need to know your grandmother’s and her husband’s employment history for that. I charge 200 EUR for an initial consultation.

  58. Farzad Mengal says:

    Hi, I came to Germany 21 Aug 2011, and my wife is German citizen, when i went to applly for German citizen they said to me when i have Perminent job then they give me a German cityzenship, do we need Perminent job for German nationality?

    best regards.

    • A permanent job is not required, but you will need to show that you consistently have enough income to support yourself.

      • farzad mengal says:

        Then how i prove that for German Nationaly there is no requrment for perminent job. Because they said to me when u have perminent job then you can apply.

      • I can send you an e-mail with the relevant sections from the Citizenship Law and from the immigration authority’s internal guidelines.
        Unfortunately I charge 200 EUR for an initial consultation.

  59. Lorna Hartmann says:

    Hallo Andreas,
    I have an intention to apply for a German Citizen from Canada. My situation is this: I am married to a German for over 30 years. I lived in Germany for 14 years and worked there for 9 years before my husband and my daughter and my self moved to the Philippines in 1998. In 2007, I moved to Canada to work until at present. Mean time my daughter has worked at the German Embassy Manila from 2007-2012 als Sprach Assistentin in der Verwaltung. In October 2012, She and her husband moved to Germany and found a good work in a family owned company, and while her husband ist Krankenpfleger in einem Altenheim. I have a work in Canada als Haushaelteirn und verdiene nicht schlecht. Bezahle alle Soziale Beitraege an der kanadishe Regierung. I’ve got 2 sisters in Germany too. Mein Mann hat auch noch Konto in Deutschland. Mein Deutsh kenntnis ist nicht schlecht. Wie steht meine Chancen fuer die Einbuergerung. P.S. Ich war letztes Jahr in Deutschland zum besuch aber nur 3 Wochen…Vielen Dank im voraus!!!

    • 1. It would have been easier to do this before 1998 when you still lived in Germany. :-)

      2. You might have a case. I would only be worried because your long stay in Germany has been so long ago and it would help if you are also engaged in some social, academic, political or economic activities related to Germany now in Canada. What your children are doing does not really count that much because they can apply for German citizenship themselves if they qualify.

      3. Do you have Canadian citizenship or are you planning to apply for that as well? If you apply for naturalization in Germany, Germany would require you to give up your Canadian citizenship (if you have it), which might make things more complicated for you if you plan to stay in Canada. If you don’t have Canadian citizenship yet, you would need to be present a case in which you have stronger ties to Germany than to Canada, which might be hard after living and working in Canada for 7 years.

  60. Abrar says:

    Hi, first of all it is a great job that you are doing here, thanks.

    My question will be about moving temporarily to overseas while holding German residence permit types. I am a Lebanese national and I have been living in Germany since 4 years and I am a holder of Blue card valid for next 4 years. My company is asking me to move to US for 2 years of time.

    I am interested to go but I do not want to lose my German citizenship chance which will be coming after 3-4 more years.

    How do you suggest to continue for me? Which of the residence permits among BlueCard/Niederlassungerlaubnis/daueraufenthalt-eg can be most useful for such purpose? (Visiting Europe would also possible for me for 1-2 time a year)

    • Usually a residence permit becomes invalid once you leave Germany for more than 6 months (§ 51 I Nr. 7 AufenthG).

      If you know that you will return to Germany after 2 years, the best thing would be to inform the Ausländerbehörde about your secondment to the US and ask for permission to maintain your residence status during that time (§ 51 IV 1 AufenthG). This will then also could towards your residence time when you will apply for naturalization in Germany (§ 12b I 2 StAG).

  61. eduardo gorne says:

    Dear Mr. Moser,
    Thank you for your time, patience and wonderful information. Best regards

  62. gkolivier@gmail.com says:

    Hallo Andreas
    I am asking out of interest. Would naturalization from abroad be considered under these circumstances? I am living in South Africa, having been married here to a German citizen for more than 8 years. My German is fairly fluent and I speak the language daily. I have done the German Abitur at a German school South Africa, and I work in a German company. When I was still unmarried I spent one year as an exchange student in Germany; later while I was married I lived with my family in Germany on a work visa for 18 months. I have also been in Germany on tourist visas on many occasions over more than 10 years to visit my wife’s family. I now have 2 children who have dual South African and German citizenship, the youngest of them was born in Germany. Perhaps the biggest problem is that I do not want to give up South African citizenship.
    Would it be a waste of time and money to apply for naturalization from abroad?

  63. Ali says:

    Dear Andreas,
    I’m a Syrian inventor living and working in Dubai, due to situation in Syria, I would like to apply for German citizenship. but because of my business in Dubai, im not ready to live in Germany.
    is there are any options for citizenship by investment? like to establish a business in Germany


    • An investment might be enough for a residence permit, but then you would need to live in Germany to exercise it (otherwise you might lose it again after a while).

      The citizenship by discretion is possible if you make investments in Germany, but you would usually have to have other ties to Germany as well (like speaking German, having studied there, family ties).

  64. Saman says:

    Dear Andreas,

    Highly appreciate your all valuble information. I am Sri Lankan and did my Master in Germany ( 3 years) and now working as a Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin ( contributing German pension and tax system and doing my PhD ( still one and few months )in the university. I have about C 1 level German language and working and learning furthermore. Now, altogether I am living here about 4 and 3 months. I will do the Einbürgerungin Test next November. My question is, under my these conditions, can I apply for German Citizenship December 2014.

    Very much appreciate your great information.


    • That would probably still be deemed too early. The internal guidelines of the Department of the Interior reduce the regular 8-year residency requirement to 6 years in the case of someone who is highly integrated and almost fluent in German, like yourself. Therefore you would probably still have to wait about 2 years.

  65. Saman says:

    Dear Andreas

    Many thanks for your prompt reply.

  66. Jenna says:

    Dear Andreas,

    Thank you very much for your valuable information. Truly appreciated. To keep it short so as not to waste too much of your time: I am a non-EU citizen married to a German. I went to a German school in my home country from Kindergarten up to the Abitur, which is recognized by the German government (so C2 proficiency). I lived in Spain for 3 years where I earned my degree and met and lived together with my husband there and then we moved together out of the EU for our job (same country). I occasionally teach in Germany on short term basis. Since we regularly visit Germany, I moved my residency from Spain to Germany at the time of our marriage and been keeping it on the basis of registering my place of residence on that of my husband’s family house (or at least that has been the case for the last 4 months).

    My question is: would my residence in another EU country and getting a European degree count towards anything? Would my German school education of 17 years count as ties (mind you that everything was taught in German and was on Germany)? Can I keep a second residence in Germany as a non-EU citizen while living and working abroad with my husband? Based on the above is naturalization an option any time in the future or only when we return to permanently reside in Germany?

    Many thanks in advance!

    • What is your citizenship and where do you live now?

      • Jenna says:

        Thank you, Andreas, for the followup. My nationality is Egyptian and we both work in Lebanon.

      • Thank you!

        The factors that would count in your favour are the German education, your time spent in Germany, your marriage to a German, your fluency in German, and the knowledge about and interest in German affairs you might have.

        The time spent in Spain really does not help, nor does the university degree obtained in Spain unless it was in German studies, German language, German literature or something.

        Regarding the residence, I am not sure what you mean. If you both work in Lebanon, your residence is in Lebanon (unless you commute every day). Being registered somewhere else does not establish residence if you don’t really live there for the majority of the time.

        Overall, I think you might have a shot at naturalization according to § 14 StAG, especially if you continue teaching in Germany. Is your job in Lebanon related to Germany in any way? Do you engage in any Germany-related activities there? That would help further. How long are you planning to stay in Lebanon? One test would be whether you could show that your ties to Germany are actually greater than those to Lebanon, although you live and work in Lebanon (and as an Egyptian obviously also speak the language).

  67. Jenna says:

    Dear Andreas,

    Thank you very much for your very detailed reply. Really, thank you for taking the time for this. Your answer helps a lot! In fact, we are here to work on the refugee situation in Syria and given the fluid situation we cannot know how long our jobs are going to last…therefore we don’t know if it is a permanent job for us or not.

    As for the residency, I think I will lose it after 6 months of not living in Germany, but I wanted to confirm on this. I kept it given that we didn’t know if we will stay in Lebanon for over 6 months or not – again given the unpredictable situation. But we are slowly getting there ;) Hence, it will be visas for me every Christmas and Easter. I do however engage in teaching in Germany every year (at least up until now) and am thinking of working with Goethe in Beirut. So hopefully that would help for the future.

    A million thanks again and good day to you :)

    • Yes, if you could work for/with the Goethe Institute in Beirut or specifically with Syrian refugees planning to go to Germany, that would help a lot.
      It also helps in this context that your situation in Lebanon is not a permanent one.

      Keep up the good job! Viel Erfolg!

  68. Katja says:

    Hello Andreas,

    Would I be able to re-gain my German citizenship? I was born and raised in Germany and married a U.S. Citizen. I became a naturalized U.S. Citizen in 1990 before the law changed that now allows dual citizenship. Now that my spouse is retired, we would like to move back to Germany. While my spouse is not intending to work, I would like to work and understand that it is more difficult to get a work permit and job for U.S. citizens based on the “Vorrangprinzip” for EU/EFTA members.

    Your advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • Yes, you can apply for re-naturalization in Germany, but you would be asked to give up your US citizenship.

      If you are not ready to do that, you could apply for a residence permit as a former German in accordance with § 38 AufenthG, which includes a work permit (§ 38 IV AufenthG), but – depending on your qualifications – it might be harder to get a job with the residence permit than with German citizenship, as you noted.

  69. harmonie00ie says:

    Hello I have a question…
    Well I was born in Cameroon and moved to germany witht he age of 5, where i was living with my cameroonian fatehr and hsi german wife.

    in 1999 I believe I bacame a german citizen and I had to give up cameroonian nationality so did my father.

    Now my question is my mother, which remain in Cameroon, is it possible for her to get the german nationality through me? I guess I am her german tie.

    Also I currently live and work in the UK I am not sure if that would be a problem.

    If you can pelase advise on this I would be gratefull.

    Thank you very much in advance

    • There is no way to sponsor anyone for German citizenship. The requirements need to be met by the person applying, so unless your mother has real ties to Germany and speaks fluent German, there is no chance.

      However, you as a German citizen living in the UK could possibly sponsor your mother to join you in the UK under EC Regulation 2004/38. See more about this on my FAQ on freedom of movement within the EU.

  70. red says:

    THANK YOU!!!! for the massive amount of information.

    I would greatly appreciate if you could give me some pointers. Will try to be brief!

    Born in Germany (on an American military base I believe) 1986, currently 28
    German mother, American father
    Moved to America by age of 2, have never been back to Germany
    Mother passed away while I was a teenager

    I am planning to visit Germany next year and am attempting to reach out to my family over there. I’m feeling the desire to move to Germany, master another language, and challenge myself in a new environment. While I visit, I plan to feel the country out and evaluate whether or not I would like to try living in Germany.

    I have been living abroad in Japan for 5 years and speak/read/write fluent Japanese, so I know how to study foreign languages and have experience abroad. I am studying German now and am working hard for fluency! Actually German was the first foreign language I studied, but only in high school courses (though I seem to have retained a good bit and have a good head start).

    1. Given that my “ties” to Germany seem to have been severed, how realistic is citizenship, and what can I do to increase my chances? (working on the language ability)
    2. If citizenship is too difficult to obtain in the meantime, does the law offer any advantages to “German birthright” individuals who simply wish to obtain a visa/residency? In other words, the ability to live and work in Germany, but not participate in politics etc.

    If the answer is very grey and difficult, any sort of help or general advice to keep me moving would simply be amazing as well. Thank you.

    • I may have good news for you: if your mother was a German citizen at the time of your birth and you did not apply for naturalization in the US (and I assume you got US citizenship from birth because of your American father), then you HAVE German citizenship ALREADY.

      In order to obtain a German passport, you would need to show that your mother was a German citizen in 1986 (her birth certificate, her old passport, old records from Germany) and that you are your mother’s son (your birth certificate).

      The FAQ above actually apply to you at all because you don’t need to apply for naturalization. After 1975, being born to a German mother made you a natural born German (§ 4 I 1 StAG).

      It’s good that you find out about this now instead of another 28 years later, I would say. :-) Enjoy Germany!

  71. Janet says:

    I am married to a German citizen since 1993. We are living in the Caribbean. We have to German children already adults. I speak German because I learned in the German embassy courses. But I have never lived in germany. Only in the Caribbean. Can I ask for German passport.? Which possibilities do I have? Thanks for your answers. Blesses

    • No. 3 and 4 of the FAQ above should be a good guideline, and then you have to decide if you think you have strong enough ties to Germany. There needs to be more than the marriage because that can be dissolved at any time of course.

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