Loss of German Citizenship


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 was that a foreign citizenship was acquired upon application without first obtaining a German letter of retention. Exception: Since 28.08.2007, becoming a citizen of another EU country or of Switzerland did not lead to the loss of 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

From 01.01.1977 to 27.06.2024 the law stipulated that a German child which was adopted by foreign parents and subsequently no longer legally related to a German parent, lost German citizenship if he/she obtained the citizenship of the adoptive parents at the same time.

Until 31.12.1976 and as of the 27.06.2024 one did/does 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.

However, with the coming into force of the Fourth Act Amending the Nationality Act on 20.08.2021 you now have the option to acquire German citizenship by declaration this case. You will find more Information about this Topic here

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

Additional content

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

Automatic Acquisition of German Citizenship

You wish to establish the fact that you are German? Or you need to apply for a certificate confirming and proving that you are a German citizen? Read here about what a certificate of Citizenship is and how to apply.

Certificate of Citizenship - Determination of German Citizenship

In general, applying for and obtaining a foreign citizenship results in the loss of German citizenship. In order to avoid this, you can apply for a letter of retention before becoming naturalised abroad.

Retaining German Citizenship

You are not a German citizen automatically but wish to become German?

Almost always, naturalisation requires the candidate to be residing in Germany. Naturalisation from abroad is possible in only a very few exceptional cases, about which you can read here.

Naturalisation and Acquisition by declaration

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