Infographic: German Citizenship Law

My FAQ on German citizenship law is one of the most-visited posts on my blog, with hundreds of comments and questions already and new ones being added almost every day. This large amount of text seems to be confusing for some. So I put together an infographic on German citizenship law which visualizes the four main routes to German citizenship and to a German passport.

Infographic German Citizenship

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.

85 Responses to Infographic: German Citizenship Law

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

  2. Maryam says:

    Thank you; this infographic is very useful. :-)

  3. Very well done, to both of you. Clear and easy, yet informative. Bravo!

    • Maryam says:

      Hello John
      Thank you for the comment. We both think that would be quite helpful for many people as nobody wants to spend time and go through all the FAQ in the blog.

  4. natalie says:

    thanks for you answer my quiz. my other quiz is that have been in germany for past 8years and l have all the requirement someone needs to apply germany citizenship. but at the moment l dont work but my ex germany man is working but we are living differents place we are not yet divorce. is this possible for him to help me with his welfare paper to apply citizenship.

    • If you are living and registered at two different addresses, it would be hard for you to argue that your marriage is still fine, which is a requirement for the easier naturalization for spouses of German citizens according to § 9 StAG.
      Because you have been in Germany for more than 8 years, you could thus apply under § 10 StAG and § 10 I no. 3 StAG requires that you are not on welfare (although there are also exceptions if it’s not your fault that you are on welfare).

  5. natalie says:

    thanks for the good idea. Another question is that lam having small baby one year old with my boyfriend and he refused to take full responsibility of this baby. he is a germany who working in swissland, what can l do to make him pay child support for his baby , should l sue him to court or what can l do.

  6. natalie says:

    okey thanks

  7. Marianne Cosgrove says:

    Looks like i lost my german citizenship when I took the american 3 years ago. I did not know I will loose my german status. i have 3 children who have both(american and german) without the stress to choose which one to keep.Myyoungest son and his girlfriend are having a baby soon.Will this baby have german citizenship ?

  8. Eden Bendorf says:

    If I understand your graphic correctly, I have German citizenship through my father who was born in Germany. Is there anyway to prove this citizenship if I decide to moved to Germany?

    • You would need to prove your father’s German citizenship and your descent from him. Does he have a German passport? While not proof, that would be a strong indicator. Is he listed on your birth certificate? Again, not necessarily proof, a strong indicator.

      The option of receiving citizenship by being born in Germany was only introduced in 2000 (and applied retroactively to people born since 1990: § 40b StAG). So your father would have had to derive his citizenship from his parents.

      • Eden Bendorf says:

        His passport has since expired. He is listed on my birth certificate, I have a copy of his birth certificate, and his mother’s birth certificate. Unfortunately his father’s birth certificate is missing. The Berlin Archives sent me a letter stating it might be due to the war but they do not have it. I have a copy of their marriage certificate so maybe that could help? Also would I be able to obtain a German passport with this information?
        Thank you for your help!

  9. Alcantra says:

    Can someone get a german citizenship if someone impregnated a german woman?

  10. Deanne says:

    If my daughter obtained a German Passport (she was born 1970) because her father is German and her passport reflects her maiden name which she chose to revert to after her divorce, can her children acquire a German Passport, although they have a different surname, i.e. their father’s surname? Thanks for a very informative site.

  11. VOGT says:

    my father is a German citizens. he was born in Germany and he is a German and I am now 21 and I want to have a German citizens . how long will it take me to become a citizen

  12. VOGT says:

    He is still a German. I am now 21 how long will it take me to become a citizen.

    • I really think I answered that already: If you were born to a German father, you ARE a German citizen from your birth on. You do not need to BECOME a German citizen at all.

  13. VOGT says:

    But my country of birth is Ghana,for which i am still in Ghana. What are the steps involve in order for me to travel to Germany and obtain my German Passport? I humbly need guidance.

  14. Manfred says:

    I have on question, I was born in the philippines and my father is german, my mom is filipina. I was born on 1991, Is it possible for me to get my citizenship here in germany without learning much german? I have lived here for 3 years since i was 19. I am studying in a university, I was told that I could get my Citizenship if I stayed in germany for 3 years before i turn 23.. im turning 23 on april, what are my chances?

    • Manfred says:

      and my parents are not married, But I have lives my life alongside my father and mother even while they were separated.

    • If you father officially acknowledged paternity, then you received German citizenship at the time of your birth already.

      • Manfred says:

        I dont think my father arranged this when I was born, so now, the German embassy in the Philippines required me to stay in germany for 3 years before i turn 23.. I am currently holding a Filipino passport.

  15. Arianna says:

    Good, so my little half german cousin is a german citizen too..good, good.

  16. Pingback: “half-German” | The Happy Hermit

  17. ppittman2014 says:

    Thank you, I’ll look forward to reading it, you’ve been very helpful.

  18. Usman says:

    I m from pakistan and pakistani national, i just married a german national girl who is living in pakistan from few years, we both want to go in germany, please explain me how i get german nationality and get pr in germany , so we enjoy our remaining life happily in germany.

    • You would need to move to Germany and get a residence permit first, and then after several years (minimum 3) you can apply for German citizenship.

      I will put up a separate FAQ on getting the residence permit, as soon as someone will mail me one of the books from my wishlist to do so.

  19. Iyawo says:

    I am a german national, living in Germany and married to a nigerian citizen. I like to apply for the nigerian passport. Is the dual citizenship possible without loosing the german passport?

    • Sie müssen vor Erwerb der nigerianischen Staatsbürgerschaft eine Beibehaltungsgenehmigung nach § 25 II StAG einholen, andernfalls würden Sie durch die Einbürgerung in Nigeria die deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit automatisch verlieren.
      Sie müssen dazu nachweisen, wofür Sie die nigerianische Staatsbürgerschaft benötigen und welche Bindungen an Deutschland Sie weiterhin unterhalten werden.

  20. Iyawo says:

    Danke für die promte Antwort.

    Wenn der Verlust der deutschen Staatsangerhörigkeit automatisch erfolgt, wird demnach die deutsche Staatsangehörigkeitsbehörde durch die Behörden in Nigeria über die Ausstellung des nigerianischen Passes informiert?

    Wie es scheint, ist die Bewilligung der Beibehaltungsgenehmigung eine Ermessensfrage, Flexibilität in Bezug auf die jederzeit mögliche Ein- bzw. Ausreise wird vermutlich kein ausreichendes Argument für die Erteilung der Beibehaltungsgenehmigung sein?
    Ich benötige die nigerianische Staatsbürgerschaft für die Bindung an Nigeria, der Ehepartner lebt und arbeitet dort. Außerdem für die rechtlichen Belange in Punkto Besitz- und Erbrecht. Unser Kind hat ja keine Einschränkungen diesbezüglich, da es bereits nigerianischer Staatsbürger ist. Meine Bindung an Deutschland bleibt durch meinen nach wie vor ständigen deutschen Wohnsitz erhalten.

    • Nigeria wird Deutschland im Normalfall nichts mitteilen, so daß Sie natürlich das Risiko eingehen könnten. In vielen Fällen geht das gut. Wenn Deutschland aber irgendwann durch Zufall von ihrem nigerianischen Pass erfährt, dann ist es zu spät. Das Risiko ist also nicht hoch, aber die Folgen wären verheerend. Unter anderem bräuchten Sie dann ein Visum für Deutschland.

      Da Nigeria visumspflichtig ist, finde ich durchaus, daß das ein Grund ist, v.a. wenn Sie öfter nach Nigeria reisen. Wenn Sie zudem konkrete Vorteile punkto Erbrecht und Eigentumsrecht vorbringen können, stärkt das Ihren Antrag aber noch viel mehr.

      Ich bin gerne beim Abfassen von Anträgen nach § 25 II StAG behilflich, berechne dafür aber eine Gebühr von 150 €.

  21. Vanessa Melchers says:

    I wish there were more such “Germany How to” infographics out there :) In a little less than 2 years I will apply for German citizenship under the German spouse argument (I am Canadian and we married in 2013). Do you know what are the average processing times if the application is in order? (i.e. by then I will have my BAMF integration course certificate, proof of residence, financial stability, etc). Thank you!

  22. Nick says:

    Just a quick question. I have my Grandfathers Naturalization Papers (Einburgerungsurkunde) issued in 1940 during the war. Do you think this gives 100% proof of his citizenship or would it just be an indication of citizenship in the same way that a passport is?

  23. Sevia says:

    I have a question. My father was a German citizen (and still is) when I was born in the US. It sounds like I get automatic citizenship, however I have no papers to prove it. Am I allowed to just get a German passport? or do I have to establish some other citizen eligibility first?

    • You might need to apply for a certificate of citizenship (“Staatsbürgerschaftsnachweis”) and after that you can apply for the passport, which is only a travel document, no document about citizenship.
      You can do this at your nearest German Consulate.

  24. Pingback: 18 Fabulous Infographics On Germany | Infographics |

  25. Raymond Walheim says:

    I am a citizen of the USA. I was born here, as were my parents and grandparents. My Great-Grandparents were born in Germany, but became naturalized citizens in the early 20th century. I have deep German roots, and have considerations of buying a second home in the region of my ancestors. I was curious about duel citizenship, though it appears from your FAQ that this may not be possible. I do not have any intention of giving up my USA citizenship, but with the duel residency, it would be useful to have a German passport. Is this possible?

    • Whether you actually have German citizenship already or not depends on when your great-grandparents got naturalized, if your grand-parent had already been born by then and whether you can derive German citizenship from your paternal or your maternal line.

      If you do not have this (dual) citizenship by birth, then it would be hard to get it now unless you fall under the exception outlined in no. 8 of my FAQ on naturalization from abroad.

      I should point out that you do not need German citizenship for purchasing property in Germany and for living there. You can get a residence permit instead.

  26. Christopher Zoellner says:

    I’m a Brazilian national and my great-grand parents from my mother’s side were German. Years ago, all my uncles got a dual German citizenship but at that time I was denied it because my father’s family is from Portuguese descent and it seems that only foreigner descendants of a male German relative could be allowed to have a dual citizenship. Is it still true? Aren’t there any changes in the law?

    • Yes, the law has changed in 1975. Since then, German mothers can pass on citizenship as well, irrespective of the father’s citizenship. However, this law does not apply retroactively (laws usually don’t).

      In recent years, Germany has however begun to rectify this problem and has been allowing the children of German mothers born before 1975 to naturalize without having to give up their other citizenship. (See. no. 8 of these FAQ on naturalization from abroad.) – In your case, this would only help if your mother was still German at the time of your birth, i.e. if she could derive her German descent from a paternal line and if German citizenship had not been lost after leaving Germany.

  27. Chak says:

    Andreas, Great work, thank you very much for the information. I have a question about my status.
    I have lived in Germany for 6 years, did my masters and PhD, then I left Germany for 2 years to work as a postdoctoral fellow in Canada. Now I would like to return to Germany, with a decent employment offer from a very good institute. I would like to know from you, should I decide to obtain German nationality, will my 6 years of stay in Germany will count towards my citizenship a? Or should it be just a 8 years continuous fresh stay in Germany? By the way, I have a German proficiency level of B1.

    Thank you for your reply, much anticipated.

    • Of your previous stay in Germany, up to 5 years can be counted towards the residency requirement (§ 12b II StAG), under the condition that they helped you to get integrated in Germany. Having studied and/or worked in Germany and having learned the language is the prime example for this, so I would say that you will have 5 years recognized.

  28. Sana says:

    I am living in Germany for 7 years already, and i got my PhD from German University. However , all these years I am on a scholarship (I am a scientist), meaning I do not pay taxes. Is there any way to get a Blue Card or another kind of residence permit in case my current contract ends? Do I have to leave Germany the very same day as my contract ends? thank you in advance for your help…

    • The Blue Card or residence question depends on the kind of job you would get and the salary. If you have to leave in between depends on the type of residence permit you have now. (I am not going into the details here, because this post is already getting lots of comments on citizenship law and I don’t want to mix it up with residence and work permit questions too much. I’ll be happy to post FAQ on Blue Cards and residence permits once somebody mails me a book from my wishlist in order to motivate me.)

      If you are thinking of applying for German citizenship, you don’t need to worry about having received scholarship. You don’t need to pay taxes in Germany in order to become a citizen. Scholarships count as regular income and they are no welfare payment. However, if you think that you might find a job soon, it would be better to wait with your application for citizenship because it’s more straightforward with an employment contract. With a scholarship, the immigration office’s main concern will be what you’ll do once it expires, so you would need to show a long-term funding plan.

  29. Jesse Knight says:

    Hi Andreas, your work here has been amazingly informative and I was wondering about the following:

    My German grandmother became a naturalized American citizen in 1959 after giving birth to my father (1957) and my uncle (1956). My father passed away about 10 years ago having done nothing to either affirm or renounce his German citizenship (he wouldn’t have realized he was a German citizen). Presumably, he would have been a German citizen at birth and would have passed his citizenship on to me and my siblings. I have birth records for everyone (grandmother, my father, and myself) and was wondering if this is all I would need to apply for a certificate of citizenship (“Staatsbürgerschaftsnachweis”). Am I likely to run into any problems with my father having passed away early? Also, with my grandmother being a woman, are there going to be difficulties with citizenship passing along matrilineal lines?

    Thank you so much for your time!

    • Before 1975, only fathers could pass on German citizenship (with exceptions for unmarried mothers), so your father’s citizenship would depend on his father’s. It sounds like he was American and the US citizenship would then have prevailed, with the German line stopping there.
      Your father could later have applied to get naturalized in Germany without living there (see no. 8 of my FAQ on naturalization from abroad), but this possibility does not extend to the next generation.
      Sorry that I don’t have better news.

  30. Maye Contreras Collignon says:

    Dear Andreas Moser
    Thank you kindly for sharing this wonderful information!
    I would like to ask you, (perhaps you know) if my grandfather was born in Rostock Germany early 1900s am I still able to apply for the german passport even if my Dad passed away already?


    • That depends on whether your grandfather still had German citizenship at the time of your father’s birth and on whether your father still had German citizenship at the time of your birth. For example they could have lost it by applying for the citizenship of another country.

      If you mail me with all of the details and mail me one of the books from my wishlist, I’ll be able to give you a definitive answer for your specific situation.

  31. syedirshad says:

    hello friend

    i want to marry German girl and i need citizenship so please help me

    my E-mail : –

  32. Taralyn says:

    hello, my mother was a German citizen and Father american and I was born in 1950 in USA. Can I claim German citizenship by descent? I’m reading other websites that say ‘only if born after 1953′ or ‘born after 1977′. So much conflicting info, I just need to ask.Thanks

  33. Hallo,

    My opa (89) is a WWII veteran and still a German citizen. He and my oma (deceased) moved to the US in 1954. My dad (58) was born in the US and never claimed dual citizenship. I am 23 (in a month) year-old student. I had been living in Italy and want to continue my studies in europe, possibly move to Germany someday. My mom’s family line is German as well, but from generations back.

    Would my dad first have to apply for duel citizenship before me or can I apply directly?
    Can I get dual citizenship or have to renounce my US citizenship?

    Would my chances be increased if I were studying in German/learning the language?
    How many years does it generally take?

    It is impressive how you maintain this site. Thank you for providing all the information and answering everyone’s questions.

    Vielen Dank,

    • Good decision to stay in Europe! It’s a very diverse and beautiful continent and you save a lot in tuition fees. :-)

      It sounds like your father got German citizenship by descent automatically. Because it sounds like he never applied for US citizenship (because he got it automatically at birth), he never lost his German citizenship.
      Thus your father passed on the German (and the US) citizenship to you when you were born. You don’t need your father to apply for anything, although if he is interested, it might be easier if you both apply for a certificate of citizenship together. With that certificate of citizenship, you can then obtain a German passport.

      Note that you are not applying for naturalization, so you don’t need to prove any language skills and you don’t need to renounce your US citizenship.

      • Andreas,

        Thank you for the reply, recently visited Berlin and love the country even more!

        Before, I had thought my opa had maintained his citizenship because he was still receiving a pension and social security. However, he willfully immigrated to the US and it took him nearly 10 years to obtain US citizenship. The German Missions states this is a likely cause of loss: (still have to research more to confirm his status.)

        Would this interrupt my dad having a natural citizenship through descent? And block me from apply for a passport?


      • If your grandfather applied for and obtained US citizenship before your father was born, then the chain of German citizenship was indeed broken. If your grandfather applied for US citizenship after your father had been born, then it doesn’t have any retroactive adverse effect on the German citizenship that had already been passed on.
        Your own citizenship then obviously depends on that.

  34. kosovar says:

    Hello i have one question. I have born in Germany at 1995 and i stayed there six years can i get german citizenship.Also my sister and my brother has born in Germany, my sister has born in 1996 my brother has born in 2000 Pleas answer me i need your opinion.

  35. Tara says:

    Hello Andreas, Thanks for all the great information…. I have spoken to several lawyers and still don’t have a clear answer. I have lived with my family(from the middle east) for 4 years in Germany and I work as board member with a multinational company here. We do not speak much German as the work environment is English and my son goes to an international school. We have bought a beautiful house in Germany and absolutely love living here. I know that part of the criteria for receiving a German citizenship is passing the German test but could you please advise if there is any loophole we could use? Is there anyway we can get a citizenship without passing the test? Do you recommend going down the blue card route? Thanks so much in advance for your response!

    • There are exceptions for people who can’t read or write, for old people and for handicapped people. An exception can be made for applicants whose naturalization is in Germany’s particular interest (Nr. VV-StAG), but that is mostly applied to sports stars or applicants who can provide vital intelligence information about their home country.

      Considering that the regular residency requirement is 8 years and that you only need to get to B1 level, it’s really not that hard. Even with only 15 or 20 minutes of studying every morning, you can get there. Then you try to speak more of it every day and you will draw motivation from the conversations in which actually understood what the German speaker said. Because you can take the A1 and A2 tests before, you have these incremental steps to measure your progress and to keep you motivated. Yes you can!

      • Tara says:

        Dear Andreas,
        Thanks for the response.
        I really want to learn German as its no fun living here without it…. just cant find a minute to do it ….
        What you said actually motivated me. 15-20 minutes a day? Yes I can!!
        I also read about your trip to Iran…… Very interesting. You probably also noticed that its the capital of Plastic Surgery of the world!
        All the best and thanks again.

      • For Italian, I found the book from ASSIMIL the best one. They also have one for German, so that might be worth a try.

  36. Sami says:

    Hello dear I am citizen of EU my passport is Finnish and my wife is a family member of the EU citizen , from 2 years we are living in Germany in last October 2014 my child was born in Germany can you tell me is my child allso can get a German citizenship ? thanks

  37. Mohamed says:

    hello dear,

    I born for german father and egyptian mother in 1988 and up to now i don’t have any passport so i can prove i’m german or i lost it

    • Then you should apply for one now.

      • Mohamed says:

        that means i can apply for passport from german embassy in egypt or i need proof. I’ve my father citizenship docs. that prove that he was german on date of birth plus his german passports.

      • Exactly, you can go to the German Embassy in Cairo.

        You will need proof of your father’s German citizenship and proof that you are his son (for example your birth certificate).

      • Mohamed says:

        sorry for more questions but i never been to germany so it will be a problem for me and also am now 25 yrs and also egyptian birth cert. is enough registers in exterior ministry

  38. Michael Gall says:

    Hi Andreas, My mother is an ethnic German (Donauschwaben), she was born in Deutsch-Zerne in 1937. Deutsch-Zerne unfortunately no longer exists, it is now Crnja, located in the autonomous province of Vojvodina, Serbia. After WWII her family was in concentration camps which they eventually escaped. She spent a brief time with relatives in Austria prior to emigrating to the US. I was born and raised in America, but I now live in Croatia (married to a Croatian National). My question for you is whether decedents of ethic Germans (not born on German soil) Donauschwaben whose families have emigrated to America can still obtain German passports/become German citizens? For what it’s worth, I know that my maternal grandmother’s family was from Bavaria, and my maternal grandfather’s family was from the Alsace Lorraine region. Also, what documentation would be required as proof to obtain a passport? Specifically I am interested for myself, as an American, and for my daughter, who is already a dual citizen of the US and Croatia. I would also like to share this information with my wider family and other Donauschwaben communities in the US and Canada?

  39. Hi Andreas! I have a son his father is German but im still married and my annulment is on going. I got pregnant when my BF invited me for 3 months to stay with him in Germany we have ultrasound and records from OB Gyn in Germany. My son used his father Surname on his Birth Certificate here in the Philippines with his Signature and Acknowledgement of paternity at the bsck of his BC. We want our son to get german passport. What can we do? Im still married here in the philippines nut just waiting for the decision of my annulment. I know that in german law the legal father is still my current husband even we are separated for 9 yrs already. Please help me.. Thanks.

  40. Michael says:

    My father died in Germany recently. Although I kept his birth certificate and death certificate and my confirmation as inheritor but I did not keep his personalausweis nor his reisepass. I think my aunt may have handed them into the authorities. I got my staatsangehoerigkeit and reisepass in the 1980’s. In order to renew my reisepass at the embassy where I am registered I see I have to provide not only my full birth certificate and parents marriage certificate but also my deceased fathers reisepass. Any advice about what I can do about this?

    • First, you can try without it. I also get my German passports from embassies or consulates because I live abroad, and all I ever had to provide was my birth certificate and my last passport.
      Second, you can contact the authority which issued your father’s passport and ask them to confirm this fact to the embassy.

  41. Andrew says:

    I am the father of a German child from Jamaica and went to work outside of Germany for more than 6 months! At the moment I have a German Nationalitate Card, will I loose it?

    • What is a “German Nationalitate Card? Do you mean your residence permit?

      I’d like to open a separate list of FAQ on residence status in Germany because under this thread we already have tons of citizenship questions and we shouldn’t confuse and mix these two subjects. I will set up the new FAQ as soon as you mail me one of the books from my wishlist.

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