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Automatic Acquisition of German Citizenship

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Read here about the different ways of becoming a German citizen automatically.

Basics

The German law of citizenship is in general based on descent, meaning that German citizenship is mostly obtained by birth from a German parent.

One cannot skip generations, meaning that you yourself cannot derive German citizenship from your grandparent. It may be possible, though, that your parent obtained German citizenship from your grandparent and that you became German because of your parent.

A person could become a German citizen automatically by

  • birth in wedlock
  • birth out of wedlock
  • legitimation
  • adoption
  • marriage
  • birth in Germany
If one of these cases applies to you, you cannot apply for German citizenship - you are German already. Attention: Were the German parents themselves born outside of Germany after 01.01.2000, then their children will not be German automatically. The birth of these children must be registered in Germany within one year of their birth in order for them to become German. See here

Birth in Wedlock

Before 1975, in almost all cases where the parents were married at the time of birth, you could become German only if the father was a German citizen. One did not become German because of a German mother. 
Choose your date of birth:

You became a German citizen by birth if your father was a German citizen at the time.

If only your mother was German, you could not derive German citizenship from her. There was the possibility of acquiring German citizenship by declaration until 1978. If the deadline was missed, you did not acquire German citizenship. A subsequent naturalisation is subject to strict requirements like fluency in the German language.

You became a German citizen by birth if your father was a German citizen at the time. If only your mother was German, you became a German citizen only if you had otherwise been stateless.

If only your mother was German and you did not become stateless, you could not derive German citizenship from her. There was the possibility of acquiring German citizenship by declaration until 1978. If the deadline was missed, you did not acquire German citizenship. A subsequent naturalisation is subject to strict requirements like fluency in the German language.

You became a German citizen by birth if your father or your mother were German citizens at the time.

You became a German citizen by birth if your father or your mother were German citizens at the time.

Attention: If you were born outside of Germany after 31.12.1999 and your German parent him/herself was also born outside of Germany after 31.12.1999, then you were not born a German citizen. Only if your birth was registered in Germany within one year of your date of birth, you became German. Read here

Birth out of Wedlock

Before 1993, in almost all cases where the parents were - not - married at the time of birth, you could become German only if the mother was a German citizen. One could not become German because of a German father.
Choose your date of birth:

You became a German citizen by birth if your mother was a German citizen at the time.

If only your father was a German citizen, you did not become a German citizen by birth. You may only be German by legitimation (see below). A subsequent naturalisation is subject to strict requirements like fluency in the German language.

You became a German citizen by birth if your father or your mother were German citizens at the time.

However, if only your father was a German citizen, legal paternity must have been established before your 23rd birthday - biological paternity itself is not sufficient.

You became a German citizen by birth if your father or your mother were German citizens at the time.

If only your father was a German citizen, however, legal paternity must have been established before your 23rd birthday - biological paternity itself is not sufficient.

Attention: If you were born outside of Germany after 31.12.1999 and your German parent him/herself was also born outside of Germany after 31.12.1999, then you were not born a German citizen. Only if your birth was registered in Germany within one year of your date of birth, you became German. Read here

Legitimation

Legitimation meant that a child born out of wedlock became legitimised when the parents subsequently got married and thus subsequently obtained German citizenship from the father.
Choose your date of birth:

Your parents got married after your birth? You became a German citizen by legitimation if there was an acknowledgement of paternity that was valid in Germany. The same goes for a court decision regarding paternity.

Both the subsequent marriage, as well as the valid acknowledgement of paternity must have taken place before 30.06.1998 for you to be legitimised. A later acknowledgement of paternity or marriage did not result in you obtaining German citizenship. For more information contact your German Mission.

A legitimation did no longer have any effect with regards to citizenship because children born out of wedlock became German automatically by birth, if either parent was German at the time of birth. See “birth out of wedlock”.

Adoption

A child may have become a German citizen through adoption, if the adoption is valid in Germany.
Choose the date of your adoption:

If you were adopted before 01.01.1959, you did not acquire German citizenship, even if both adoptive parents were German citizens at the time of adoption.

You did not become a German citizen automatically by adoption. However, there was the possibility to obtain German citizenship through declaration; the deadline ended 31.12.1979. If a declaration was made, then you are in possession of a certificate of declaration.

You obtained German citizenship by law if you were adopted by a German parent and if the adoption was valid in Germany.

Information on recognition of foreign adoptions in Germany can be found here. For further information, please contact your German Mission.

Marriage

Since 1970, you could not acquire German citizenship through marriage, anymore. Please choose your date of marriage:

A woman who married a German man became a German citizen automatically.

A man did not become German by marrying a German woman.

A woman who married a German man became German under certain conditions. If this applied to you, you would generally know and have documentation on your German citizenship.

A man did not become German by marrying a German woman.

A woman who married a German man did not become German automatically. She could upon her wedding declare to the registrar's office that she wished to become a German citizen, or she could apply for naturalisation. In both cases, you would have received proof from the registrar's office or the naturalisation authority respectively.

A man did not become German by marrying a German woman.

A foreigner does not become a German citizen through marriage with a German.

Naturalisation require that the spouses have resided in Germany for a certain number of years, that the foreign spouse is well integrated in Germany and speaks the language fluently. Please contact the local citizenship authority at your German place of residence.

Birth in Germany

One does not become a German citizen merely by being born on German soil.

Exception: Since 01.01.2000 a child born in Germany may be a German citizen by birth if either parent has resided in Germany for at least 8 years and has permanent resident status. If, however, the child has not grown up in Germany subsequent to the birth, he/she must opt for either of his/her citizenships within one year of the 21st birthday. Please contact your German Mission.

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