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Restored Citizenship

27.08.2021 - Article

Former German citizens who were deprived of their German citizenship or acquired a foreign citizenship on political, racial or religious grounds between 1933 and 1945 may be re-naturalised. The same goes for their descendants.

Article 116 II Basic Law

“Former German citizens who between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945 were deprived of their German citizenship on political, racial or religious grounds, and their descendants, shall on application have their citizenship restored. They shall be deemed never to have been deprived of their citizenship if they have established their domicile in Germany after 8 May 1945 and have not expressed a contrary intention.”

The above-mentioned group includes primarily German Jews and members of the Communist or Social Democratic Parties.

The Situation between 1933 and 1945

Two regulations resulted in a depravation of citizenship between 30.01.1933 and 08.05.1945:

  1. According to the “Law on the Revocation of Naturalisations and the Deprivation of the German Citizenship” of 14.07.1933, individual Germans were deprived of their citizenship by finding their names listed in the “Reichsgesetzblatt” (Reich Law Gazette).
  2. The larger group of Germans were deprived of their citizenship with the “Eleventh Decree to the Law on the Citizenship of the Reich” of 25.11.1941, which stipulated that Jews staying outside of Germany at the time could not be German citizens - by this regulation, all Jewish German citizens who had fled from Germany before in the years earlier were affected.

Re-Naturalisation under Art. 116 II Basic Law

Upon the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949, it was stipulated in the “Grundgesetz” (Basic Law) that persons affected as well as their descendants may have their citizenship restored by application.

The requirement for naturalisation is that citizenship was indeed taken from them according to the above listed politically and racially or religiously motivated measures. By contrast, a person who had emigrated and acquired a foreign citizenship earlier had already lost German citizenship according to Section 25 of the former Nationality Law. For these cases, please see below.

Based on a decision by the Federal Constitutional Court of 20.05.2020 - 2 BvR 2628/18 –more people will now be eligible for a claim in accordance with Article 116 (2) first sentence of the German Basic Law. The following groups of persons will henceforth be considered “descendants” in terms of citizenship-related questions:

  1. Children born in wedlock before 1 April 1953 to foreign fathers and German mothers whose German citizenship had been revoked.
  2. Children born out of wedlock before 1 July 1993 to German fathers whose citizenship had been revoked and foreign mothers.

Persons falling under this new interpretation will no longer have to revert to an application for naturalisation in accordance with Sect. 14 of the German Nationality Act in connection with the decrees issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community dated 28.03.2012 and 30.08.2019.

If your earlier application for naturalization under Art. 116 II Basic Law has been turned down or not finally been decided upon in the past under the former - applicable jurisdiction, you may now contact the nearest German mission to file an informal new application which will be forwarded to the Federal Office of Administration considering the a.m. court decision.

Please contact your German Mission to make an appointment for launching your application.

Applying for Re-Naturalisation under Art. 116 Basic Law

  • The application is free of charge
  • Application form: We provide and recommend using These application forms as they indicate what information is needed to facilitate and thus expedite processing of your application in Germany.

Required documents:

  • The number of documents required depends on whether you experienced emigration and the deprivation of your citizenship, or whether you are a descendant.
    Please read this information sheet provided by the citizenship authority where you will find information on the process, the required documents and assistance in filling out the forms.

Your application will be forwarded to the Bundesverwaltungsamt for processing.

Information concerning data protection with regard to the processing of your application can be found here.

Persons not meeting the criteria of Art. 116 II Basic Law

The Fourth Act Amending the Nationality Act, which entered into force on 20 August 2021, has created a new legal entitlement to renaturalisation for persons who lost or were denied their German citizenship due to Nazi persecution and who are not already entitled to restoration of citizenship under Article 116 (2) of the Basic Law (Section 15 of the Nationality Act). This entitlement to naturalisation also applies to all descendants of such persons.

Under Section 15 of the Nationality Act, persons who surrendered, lost or were denied German citizenship between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945 due to persecution on political, racial or religious grounds are entitled to naturalisation:

  1. Persons who surrendered or lost their German citizenship prior to 26 February 1955, for example through acquisition of foreign citizenship on application, release on application or marriage with a foreigner
  2. Persons who were excluded from the legal acquisition of German citizenship through marriage, legitimisation or collective naturalisation of persons of German ethnic origin
  3. Persons who were not naturalised following application or who were generally excluded from naturalisation that would otherwise have been possible upon application, or
  4. Persons who surrendered or lost their habitual abode in Germany if this was established prior to 30 January 1933 or, in the case of children, also after this date.

This entitlement to naturalisation is also extended to descendants

More detailed information on naturalisation for descendants of victims of Nazi persecution can be found on the Website of the Federal Office of Administration


Application procedure

  • The application is free of charge

  • Required documents:
    Please read this information sheet provided by the Bundesverwaltungsamt where you will find information on the process, the required documents and assistance in filling out the forms.

  • Application forms
    Please fill out the German version of the application forms using the Information sheet in English as a guideline

  • Please contact your German Mission to make an appointment for launching your application.

Your application will be forwarded to the Bundesverwaltungsamt for processing.

Information concerning data protection with regard to the processing of your application can be found 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

One may lose German citizenship.

Read about the reasons for loss of citizenship and how you can avoid it.


Loss 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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