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Automatic Acquisition of German Citizenship

Young Muslims holding a German flag

Muslim life in Germany, © Federal Office for Migration and Refugees

09.09.2020 - Article

Introduction

The German citizenship laws are generally based on descent. This means that citizenship is obtained by birth through a German parent.

 

It is not possible to skip generations. This means that you yourself cannot derive German citizenship from a grandparent. It may be possible, though, that one of your parents 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

Birth in Wedlock

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

If only your mother was German, you did 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 today is difficult and subject to strict requirements.

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 did 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 today is difficult and subject to strict requirements.

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 was also born outside of Germany after 31/12/1999 then you were not born a German citizen. In this case the birth must have been registered in Germany within one year of the date of birth for you to become German. See here for further Information.

Birth out of Wedlock

You have acquired the German citizenship 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 was also born outside of Germany after 31/12/1999 then you were not born a German citizen. In this case the birth must have been registered in Germany within one year of the date of birth for you to become German. See here for further information

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.

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 please contact us.

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 us.

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, they must opt for either of their citizenships within one year of the 21st birthday. Please contact your German Mission.


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