German Citizenship by Descent - Nationality


Table of Contents

Benefits of German Nationality

Benefits of getting German Citizenship and a German Passport are:

  • Multiple Entry into Germany with a Valid German Passport
  • Freedom of Movement in the EU
  • Visa-free access to 194 countries globally, as per the Henley Passport Index, in 2024. The German Passport is ranked as the equal 1st strongest Passport in the globe
  • Dual Nationality recognition
  • Live, Work and Vote in Germany on a Permanent basis, and other EU Countries
  • Start a business in Germany and in the EU
  • Eligible for Government Social Security benefits and the German Healthcare scheme
  • Discounted Education Costs
  • Work as a Public Servant and stand in Government elections
  • Serve in the German Armed Forces
  • Raise your children in Germany and pass on German citizenship to them
  • Germany is recognised as being one of the best and safest countries to live in the world

Eligibility for German Citizenship by Descent

To be eligible for German Citizenship by Descent under German Nationality law, you are considered a German citizen if the circumstances of your birth fall in one of the categories below, and you are therefore, the Child or Grandchild of a person listed below:

1. If you were born to married parents between 1 January 1914, and 31 December 1974, and your father was a German citizen at the time of your birth.

2. If you were born to married parents between 1 January 1964, and 31 December 1974, and your mother was German, but your father was not, and you would otherwise have been stateless. During these years - 1964 - 1974, women who married foreign citizens had to renounce their German nationality and thus could not pass it on to their children.

3. If you were born to married parents after 1 January 1975, and one of your parents (mother or father) was a German citizen at the time of your birth.

4. If you were born to unmarried parents after 1 January 1914, and your mother was German at the time of your birth.

5. If you were born after 1 July 1993, to unmarried parents and your father was a German citizen who established paternity in line with German law.

6. If you were born to unmarried parents before 1 July 1993, your father was a German citizen who established paternity, and you declared German citizenship by your 23rd birthday.

7. If you were born to unmarried parents between 1 January 1914, and 30 June 1998, but your parents got married after you were born.

Citizenship by Declaration - Amendments to the German Nationality Act in 2021

From August 2021, children born after 23 May 1949, to a German parent (but who were excluded from German citizenship because of gender-discriminatory rules at the time) can now acquire German citizenship by Declaration. The new rules will be in force for ten years, until 19 August 2031. Applicants benefit from the 2021 amendments to Germany’s Nationality Act if:

  • Your German mother married your foreign father before you were born and had to forfeit her German nationality – therefore, she could not pass it to you
  • Your German mother married your foreign father after you were born – therefore, both you and your mother lost your German citizenship
  • You were born to unmarried parents, but your father was German, and your mother was foreign, and therefore, you were exempt from German Nationality.

Restoration of German Citizenship for Victims of Nazi Persecution

During World War 2, Victims of Nazi rule, including a substantial number of Jewish Victims, who had to forfeit their German nationality between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945, as a result of being prosecuted on political, racial, or religious grounds, can now reclaim it. If you meet the listed criteria, then descendants (such as Grand-children and Great-Grandchildren of the Individuals below), may be be naturalized according to Article 116 II of the German Basic Law (“Grundgesetz”) or if Persons did not lose their German CItizenship but were deprived of it or lost it for other reasons or did not acquire it, may be eligible for naturalization pursuant to section 15 of the German Nationality Act:

  • You surrendered or lost your German citizenship before 26 February 1955 to acquire a foreign nationality or marry a foreigner
  • You were banned from acquiring German citizenship through marriage, legitimisation, or naturalisation of individuals with German ethnic origin
  • You were not naturalised as a German citizen, despite being eligible for citizenship, when you applied
  • You were banned from applying for naturalisation, despite being eligible for citizenship, when you applied
  • If you surrendered or lost your German citizenship, as long as residency was established before 30 January 1933 – for children, even after 30 January 1933.

German Citizenship for Children of German citizens born Overseas

After the year 2000, the second generation born overseas, are not German citizens automatically. Children born outside Germany to German parents who themselves were born abroad after 31.12.1999 will only become German if their birth was registered, within one year from their date of birth, at the competent registrar's office in Germany or at a German Mission overseas.

Which Children are not affected?

The following Children will continue to become German CItizens by birth:

  • Children whose parents were born in Germany
  • Children whose parents were born before 01.01.2000, and
  • Children born in Germany

Marriage to a German - Acquisition of German Citizenship

The acquisition of German Citizenship by Marriage depends on the date of the marriage, as follows:

1. Foreign women who married a German citizen between 01.04.1914 and 31.03.1953 automatically acquired German citizenship.

2. Foreign women who married a German citizen between 01.04.1953 and 31.12.1969 could possibly have acquired German citizenship under certain conditions, especially through declaration at the time of marriage.

3. Since 01.01.1970 the acquisition of German citizenship by marriage does not exist any longer. If situated in Germany, a foreign spouse can apply for naturalization, if certain eligibility requirements are met.

Application for German Citizenship by Descent

To apply for German Nationality, contact VisaConnect's Consultants and our German Immigration Lawyers for advice and assistance. Note that the German Immigration lawyers will usually require that you sign a Power of Attorney so that they can provide complete assistance on your behalf. Therefore, Applicants must submit the following documents to their nearest German Consulate-General or the Federal Office of Administration (“Bundesverwaltungsamt”):

  • Completion of German application Form
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Certificates of descent
  • Family books
  • Evidence of having possessed or lost German citizenship
  • Evidence of having acquired or possessed other nationalities
  • Police Criminal Record Check - Certificate of Good Conduct from the police authorities in your country of residence
  • Evidence of Impunity. Applicants must not have been convicted to imprisonment or youth detention for two or more years (including preventative detention)
  • Certificate of Name change, if applicable
  • Proof of custody (for children up to 16 years of age)

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Do you provide a FREE Citizenship Eligibility Assessment?

Yes, our German Immigration and Citizenship Lawyers can provide a brief FREE Citizenship eligibility assessment by email.

What are the German Lawyers advice and assistance services?

Our German Immigration and Citizenship Lawyers can assist and advise with the following services:

  • Initial Consultation
  • Announcement of representation
  • Advice regarding supporting documents
  • Checking and reviewing your supporting documents
  • Power of Attorney, so that the German Lawyers can provide complete assistance, on your behalf
  • Asssiatance in applying for a Certificate of Good Conduct from your Country of residence
  • Assistance in completing Application Forms, plus documentary evidence
  • Translation of documents into German, if required
  • Inspection of records at the Municipal Office in charge
  • Legal Writ for the application
  • Accompaniment of the APplicant to the Appoiuntment at the German Government office
  • Legal remedy, if required

What documents do I need to provide to Register my Child's birth?

You must apply for your Child's birth to be registered in the register of births at the competent German registry office before your child’s first birthday. This deadline is also deemed to have been met if the application is received by the competent German mission abroad within the one-year period. The following documents should be provided:

  • A fully completed and signed application form
  • Your child’s foreign birth certificate
  • The parents’ birth certificates
  • The parents’ marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • The parents’ passports/ID cards
  • Proof of a valid acknowledgement of paternity, if the parents of the child are not married to one another

Does an Applicant applying for German Naturalization need to speak German?

Applicants for naturalization need to have a sufficient command of the German language: oral and written German language skills equivalent to level B 1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for languages. 

Therefore, the ability to speak German is a mandatory requirement. Being able to communicate in German is essential for social and economic integration.

What is the Processing Time to get a Certificate of German Citizenship?

The processing time to obtain a German Certificate of Citizenship is approximately 2 -3 years.

What is the processing time to get a German passport?

The processing time is approximately 8 - 10 weeks, provided that your application is complete and no documents are missing. Alternatively, you can apply for an 'Express Passport, which takes approximately 3 - 4 weeks. Note the Passport is printed in Gewrmany, and there is additional time for shipping overseas.

What is the Fee for a German Certificate of Citizenship?

The fee for a Certificate of Citizenship is 51 Euro. If your application is rejected, the fee is between 25 and 51 Euros. Payment is due once your application has been decided and is to be paid by you directly to the Federal Office of Administration. Note that he service provided by the German Consulate is free of charge.

Office Address and Telephone - VisaConnect UK

Contact VisaConnect's Consultants at our London, UK office below:

VisaConnect Immigration Consultants UK
124 City Road

Telephone: (+44) 207 193 2327