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Loss of German Citizenship

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One may lose German citizenship.
Read about the reasons for loss of citizenship and how you can avoid it.

Loss by Acquisition of a Foreign Citizenship

The most frequent reason for a person to lose German citizenship is that he/she applies for and receives a foreign citizenship without first obtaining a German letter of retention.

Exception

Since 28.08.2007, becoming a citizen of another EU country or of Switzerland does not lead to the loss of German citizenship.

Are you planning on applying for a foreign citizenship?

You can apply for a letter of retention that would allow you to obtain a foreign citizenship without losing German citizenship.

Were you naturalised in another country when you were still a minor?

You may still have lost German citizenship if you got naturalised together with your parents. Please contact your German Mission for further information.

Loss by Permanently Emigrating before 1914

Before 1914, a person who took up permanent residence outside of Germany for longer than 10 years, lost German citizenship unless he/she registered with the local German Consulate in the so-called “Konsulatsmatrikel” or continued to apply for German passports.

Are you trying to show that German citizenship carried through to you from a German citizen who emigrated before 1904? Then this reason for loss of citizenship is pivotal for you: If your ancestor did not register with the Consulate regularly, he lost German citizenship after 10 years of leaving Germany and could no longer pass on citizenship to the next generation.

Loss by Adoption

Since 01.01.1977 the law stipulates: A German child which is adopted by foreign parents and subsequently no longer legally related to a German parent, loses German citizenship if he/she obtains the citizenship of the adoptive parents at the same time.

Until 31.12.1976, one did not lose German citizenship by being adopted.

Loss by Entry into Foreign Armed Forces

Since 01.01.2000 the law stipulates: A German citizen who voluntarily enters into foreign armed forces or other foreign armed units loses German citizenship unless he/she would become stateless or unless he/she obtained consent from the German Department of Defence prior to contracting their commission.

Loss does not apply to persons who enter armed forces due to compulsory conscription.

Loss by Legitimation

Legitimation meant that a child born out of wedlock became legitimised when the parents subsequently got married and the child subsequently obtained citizenship from the father. Were you born out of wedlock to a German mother and was your father not a German citizen?
Choose the date of your parents' marriage:

Did your parents get married after your birth but before 31.03.1953 and your father was not a German citizen? Then you lost German citizenship.

Did your parents get married after your birth and after 01.04.1953? Then you did not lose German citizenship, even if your father was not a German citizen.

Loss by Marriage

In the past, a woman could lose German citizenship when she got married to a foreigner. Choose the date of marriage:

Are you a German woman who got married to a foreigner before 23.05.1949? Then you lost German citizenship.

Under certain conditions, you may apply for re-naturalisation. Please contact your German Mission.

Are you a German woman and did you get married to a foreigner between these dates? Then you lost German citizenship, provided that you did not become stateless.

Under certain conditions, you may apply for re-naturalisation. Please contact your German Mission.

Marriage does not lead to a loss of German citizenship.

Loss by Renounciation

A German may renounce his/her citizenship, provided that he/she does not become a stateless person. Read here

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