This article is part of our How to Get Dual Citizenship Guide, check it out here!
If Germany has crossed your mind when thinking of potential destinations for work, higher studies, or even retirement, you might be wondering what it takes to get German citizenship. What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? And, if you have German relatives, could you apply for it?
In this article, we’ll take you through the process of obtaining a German citizenship, so don’t get any cold feet because of bureaucratic procedures! This guide will simplify the requirements that you need to consider to become a German citizen in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step way.
What is German Citizenship? Its Reach and its benefits
Counting with German citizenship would grant you a set of rights and freedoms that non-citizens can’t count on. For example, you would have the right to access consular protection in a foreign country. You could vote in German elections or become a public servant if you wanted. And you could also have unrestricted access to German jobs.
Some have their interest in German citizenship because of the freedom of transit among the countries inside the EU (European Union). Germany shares its borders with nine other EU countries and anyone who has the German passport is allowed to visit 188 countries around the globe with no need of having a visa.
Of course, this also means complying with German regulations and law-enforcement obligations, such as taxes.
Keep in mind what we’ve mentioned before about how bureaucratic this entire process can be. The institution in charge of granting German citizenships is the German Federal Foreign Office. So every documentation required will have to be delivered to them.
Now, let’s deepen into the ways of acquiring German citizenship to understand more clearly about that necessary documentation. There are three principles by which this citizenship can be recognized:
- Right of blood (Jus Sanguinis)
- Right of soil (Jus Solis)
Through naturalization, a foreigner can become a German citizen. If you fulfill the requirements set by the government, you could qualify to apply. These requirements are what we will be focusing on.
By definition, naturalization means that after a certain period of being a permanent resident in Germany, you could request legal citizenship. These are the rest of the conditions that you would have to meet as well:
- Residency: there are two options here. You need to have lived in Germany on a residence permit for at least 8 years, or attend an integration course if you’ve lived in Germany for less than that. You’ll have to present your residence records.An integration course for foreigners is a school-like system of classes in German that helps foreign nationals that have come to live in Germany, to learn the local language, German traditions, customs, history, culture, and even the legal system.
- Language: you’ll have to prove German language proficiency (with a minimum average of B1, which requires speaking and writing in German in an academic level). To prove your language proficiency, you could provide any of the following documents:
- The Zertifikat Deutsch (a German language certificate)
- If you’ve completed secondary school in Germany, you can present a certification that states so.
- Admission proof in a German upper secondary school or proof of completion of a higher education degree in Germany.
- If you’ve participated in an integration course, you could present any certification you might have obtained. For example, the “DTZ – German test for immigrants”.
- Financials: you need to be financially capable of supporting yourself without the assistance of the state. You can submit bank statements or any other documentation that states your financial situation.
- Precedents: you must be a law-abiding resident, with no criminal record.
- Exam: there’s a test that you’ll have to pass. We’ll go into the details below.
- It is mandatory to renounce any other previous citizenship you may have.
Now that we’re aware of the requirements, let’s move on to the steps: :
1) Check your founding
You will need to pay for several naturalization fees in different instances of the process:
- Application form for adults = €255
- Application form for children (under 16 years old) = €51
- Citizenship test = €25
- Citizenship certificate = €25
2) Application form
You’ll find that each German state has its own immigration office. So, make sure you know which regional district office is the one that corresponds to your residency. If you live in an urban area, you can go to the city council.
When you begin filling the application form, prepare all the documentation that meets the requirements above.
3) Study on: German Citizenship Test
The German citizenship test, which lasts an hour and costs €25 as we’ve mentioned, consists of 33 multiple choice questions regarding different topics that go form “Living in a democracy” to “History and responsibility”. Also, you will have to answer some questions about the particular state where you live. At least 17 of these questions need to be correct to pass the test. In case you fail the exam, you can retake it as many times as you need. Remember that the certificate that you need for your application costs another €25.
It’s recommended to take integration courses, especially to practice with the evaluation process or simply by reading information about German life and law. We recommend the following websites to learn more about these courses:
- Germany Visa: https://www.germany-visa.org/immigration-residence-permit/integration-courses-learning-german-and-much-more/
- Make it in Germany (form the Federal Government): https://www.make-it-in-germany.com/en/living-in-germany/integration/course/
4) Submit, mein Freund
Once you have all the documentation that meets the requirements for naturalization, the receipts of the fees you’ve paid and your naturalization certificate, go to the office where you got your application form so that the authorities can go through your case.
German Citizenship by Descendent
Ius Sanguinis means that you can be recognized as a citizen if you are a direct descendant of a citizen. In German’s case, this would only apply with your parents and no other relatives, such as grandparents. those born in a foreign country, whose parents were also born there, can’t obtain German citizenship by descent. Now, a child under 18, adopted by German parents could obtain citizenship through ancestry.
A child is automatically considered a German citizen from birth if they are born to at least one German parent, regardless of the location where the birth took place. However, the child had to be registered to the German authorities in that country before he or she turns one year old.
According to German law, if the parents are divorced, German citizenship by descent is only possible if the parents recognize the baby as their legal child.
German Citizenship by Birth
Jus Solis makes reference to the right of citizenship for being born within the borders of a given country. If you were born in German soil, you can get German citizenship.
Even if your parents aren’t German, if you were born in Germany, you qualify for obtaining citizenship, if you meet these conditions:
- At least one of your parents must have lived in Germany for a minimum of 8 years before your birth.
- At the time you were born, one of your parents had a permanent residence permit.
As we’ve mentioned before, you would have to choose between the citizenship of your parents and German citizenship, since dual citizenship is not possible in Germany, with a few exceptions:
- Being form an EU country.
- Being from a country that forbids renouncing citizenship, such as Argentina or Mexico.
- Being an ethnic German
- Having parents from the US
- Counting with a special permission from German authorities to retain another citizenship.