|German Citizenship Act|
|Parliament of Germany|
|An Act relating to German citizenship|
|Enacted by||Government of Germany|
|Status: Current legislation|
German nationality law is the law governing the acquisition, transmission and loss of German citizenship. The law is based on a mixture of the principles of jus sanguinis and jus soli . In other words, one usually acquires German citizenship if a parent is a German citizen, irrespective of place of birth, or by birth in Germany to parents with foreign nationality if certain requirements are fulfilled. Naturalisation is also possible for foreign nationals after six to eight years of legal residence in Germany. [ which? ] do not allow dual citizenship even with other EU countries. German citizens wanting to acquire a non-EU or non-Swiss citizenship and to maintain their German citizenship must apply for a permission (Beibehaltungsgenehmigung) before acquiring the other citizenship, or they automatically lose German citizenship when they acquire the foreign citizenship. For details, see Dual citizenship section below.However, non-EU and non-Swiss citizens must usually renounce their old citizenship before being naturalised in Germany. Citizens of other EU countries and of Switzerland usually can keep their old citizenship. Some EU countries
A significant reform to the nationality law was passed by the Bundestag (the German parliament) in 1999, and came into force on 1 January 2000. The reformed law makes it somewhat easier for foreigners resident in Germany on a long-term basis, and especially their children born in Germany, to acquire German citizenship.
The previous German nationality law dated from 1913. Nationality law was amended by the Nuremberg Laws of Nazi Germany; these amendments were revoked after the defeat of Nazism by an Allied occupational ordinance during WWII in 1945. Germany ratified the European Convention on Nationality, which came into force in Germany on 1 September 2005.All German nationals are automatically also citizens of the European Union.
Before the formation of the German Empire in 1871, the states that became part of the empire were sovereign with their own nationality laws, those of the southern ones (notably Bavaria) being quite liberal. Prussia's nationality law can be traced back to the "Law Respecting the Acquisition and Loss of the Quality as a Prussian subject, and his Admission to Foreign Citizenship" of 31 December 1842, which was based on the principle of jus sanguinis . Prussian law became the basis of the legal system of the German Empire, though the state nationality laws continued to apply, and a German citizen was a person who held citizenship of one of the states of the German Empire.
On 22 July 1913 the Nationality Law of the German Empire and States (Reichs- und Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz, shorthand: RuStAG) established a German citizenship, either derived from the citizenship of one of the component states or acquired through the central Reich government.
Under the Third Reich, in 1934, the German nationality law was amended to abolish separate state citizenships and creating a uniform Reich citizenship, with the central Reich authorities having power to grant or withdraw German nationality. In 1935 the Reich Citizenship Law (Reichsbürgergesetz), the second of the Nuremberg Laws, created a new category called "state subjects" (Staatsangehörige) to which Jews were assigned, thereby withdrawing citizenship from Jews who had been citizens; only those classed as being of "German or related blood" retained Reich citizenship.
On 13 March 1938, Germany extended the nationality law to Austria following the Anschluss that annexed Austria to Germany. On 27 April 1945, after the defeat of Nazism, Austria was re-established and conferred Austrian citizenship on all persons who would have been Austrian on that date had the pre-1938 nationality law of Austria remained in force. Any Austrians who had held German nationality lost it.Also see Austrian nationality law.
The Nazi amendments of 1934 and the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were revoked by Allied occupational ordinance in 1945, restoring the 1913 nationality law, which remained in force until the 1999 reforms.
Article 116(1) of the German Basic Law (constitution) confers, subject to laws regulating the details, a right to citizenship upon any person admitted to Germany (in its 1937 borders) as "refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or as the spouse or descendant of such a person." Until 1990 ethnic Germans living abroad in a country in the former Eastern Bloc (Aussiedler) could obtain citizenship through a virtually automatic procedure. From 1990 the law was steadily tightened each year to limit the number of immigrants, requiring immigrants to prove language skills and cultural affiliation.
Article 116(2) entitles persons (and their descendants), who were denaturalised by the Nazi government, to be renaturalised if they wish. Those among them, who after May 8, 1945 take up residence in Germany are automatically considered German citizens. Both regulations, (1) and (2), allowed a considerable numbers of Poles and Israelis, residing in Poland and Israel, to be concurrently German citizens.
Children born on or after 1 January 2000 to non-German parents acquire German citizenship at birth if at least one parent:
To retain German citizenship, such children are required to take affirmative measures by age 23, after which their German citizenship otherwise expires. These affirmative measures may include proof of the applicant's link to Germany, as evidenced by at least one of the following:
Applicant fulfill these requirements in the vast majority of cases. If not, the applicant can alternatively prove they hold no foreign citizenship other than in a European Union member nation or a nation such as Morocco, Nigeria, or Iran whose domestic law provides that its citizenship cannot be lost.
Parents who are citizens of European Economic Area states or Switzerland are eligible to receive permanent resident permits after five years.
A person born of a parent with German citizenship at the time of the child's birth is a German citizen. Place of birth is not a factor in citizenship determination based on parentage.
Persons who are Germans on the basis of descent from a German parent do not have to apply to retain German citizenship by age 23. If they acquire another citizenship at birth, they can usually continue to hold this.
A child adopted by a German citizen becomes German national automatically if aged less than 18 on the date the application for adoption was made. So dual citizenship is granted.
Individuals are entitled to naturalise as a German citizen if they fulfill all the following criteria :
The examination tests a person's knowledge of the German Constitution, the Rule of Law and the basic democratic concepts behind modern German society. It also includes a section on the Constitution of the Federal State in which the applicant resides. The citizenship test is obligatory unless the applicant can claim an exemption such as illness, a disability, or old age.
An individual who does not have legal capacity is entitled to naturalise as a German citizen merely through ordinary residence in Germany for at least 8 years—and does not have to fulfil the other criteria (e.g., adequate command of the German language and ability to support themselves without recourse to benefits).
Applicants for naturalisation are normally expected to prove they have renounced their existing nationality, or lose it automatically on naturalisation. An exception applies to those unable to give up their nationality easily (such as refugees). A further exception applies to citizens of Switzerland and the European Union member states.
An individual who is entitled to naturalise as a German citizen can also apply for a spouse and minor children to be naturalised at the same time (the spouse and minor children need not have ordinarily resided in Germany for at least 8 years).
Exceptions to the normal residence requirements include:
There are special provisions for victims of Nazi persecution and their descendants.
An individual who is ordinarily resident outside may be naturalised as a German citizen if they can demonstrate sufficient ties with Germany to justify naturalisation.
Under Article 116 of Germany's constitution, known as the Basic Law,anyone who had their German citizenship revoked during the Nazi regime for "political, racist, or religious reasons" may reobtain citizenship. The Article also includes the descendants of Nazi victims, and does not require them to give up the citizenship of their new home countries.
This does not apply to those born before 1953 to a German Jewish mother: Although the law that German citizenship passed only through fathers was changed in 1953, this was not made retroactive.
Regulations stipulate that a descendant of those who had their citizenship revoked is entitled to re-naturalization only if "the following hypothetical question can be answered with a 'yes': Had the primary claimant of the naturalization claim not been deprived of German citizenship, would their descendants have acquired citizenship by birth according to the applicable German law of citizenship?Note that children adopted by German Jews before 1945 are not elligible for German citizenship, even if they were born in Germany.
The "applicable German law of citizenship" referred to states that "Children born in wedlock between Jan. 1, 1914 and Dec. 31, 1974, acquired German citizenship only if the father was a German citizen at the time of their birth." Some waivers were granted for "Children born in wedlock between April 1, 1953 and Dec. 31, 1974 to a German mother and a non-German father" -- but not for those born earlier.
See also the German Citizenship Project.
Under transitional arrangements in the 1999 reforms (effective 1 January 2000), children who were born in Germany in 1990 or later, and would have been German had the law change been in force at the time, were entitled to be naturalised as German citizens.
Between 1995 and 2004, 1,278,424 people obtained German citizenship by naturalization. This means that about 1.5% of the total German population was naturalized during that period.
|Total (including countries not mentioned)||71,981||86,356||82,913||106,790||143,267||186,688||178,098||154,547||140,731||127,153||106,897||112,348||107,317|
German citizenship is automatically lost when a German citizen voluntarily acquires the citizenship of another country, except:
Other cases where German citizenship can be lost include:
Allowed under following circumstances:
Because Germany forms part of the European Union, German citizens are also citizens of the European Union under European Union law and thus enjoy rights of free movement and have the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament.When in a non-EU country where there is no German embassy, German citizens have the right to get consular protection from the embassy of any other EU country present in that country. German citizens can live and work in any country within the EU as a result of the right of free movement and residence granted in Article 21 of the EU Treaty.
Germans living abroad (Auslandsdeutsche) are German emigrants, namely, German citizens residing outside Germany. German emigrants usually do not pay taxes to Germany. Germans abroad are allowed to vote in the Republic's federal elections (general elections). According to the German Foreign Office, "German citizens with permanent residence abroad can participate in federal elections in Germany and European elections. As a rule, German voters who reside permanently in non-EU countries abroad and are not resident in Germany any more, cannot participate in German state and local elections. However, German citizens who are living permanently in other EU countries can vote in municipal elections of their country of residence."
In addition to the above sense, Auslandsdeutsche also refers to ethnic Germans in German-speaking communities abroad who descend from settlers in those countries generations or centuries ago (and therefore are mostly not citizens of Germany). To be unambiguous, modern-day German emigrants may be specified as "German citizens with permanent residence abroad" (Deutsche Staatsbürger mit ständigem Wohnsitz im Ausland).
The case is complicated by the German right of return law concerning Spätaussiedler , people who do not have German citizenship but who are in theory entitled to it because the German state considers them German nationals, like Volga Germans in Kazakhstan.
Significant communities of German citizens abroad are found in the following countries:
More statistics at German diaspora#Distribution.
There were 786,000 Germans in interwar Romania in 1939. USA: Large numbers of German citizens live permanently in the U.S., especially academics, artists, computer experts, engineers, and businesspeople. According to the German Missions in the US, “German citizens living abroad are not required to register with the German Embassy, so we are unable to say how many German citizens live in America.” Some of those Germans abroad hold passports from both Germany and the United States.
Visa requirements for German citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Germany. In October 2018, German citizens had visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 188 countries and territories, ranking the German passport 3rd in the world according to the Henley & Partners Passport Index.
The German nationality is ranked number two as of 2018 in The Quality of Nationality Index (QNI). The ranking is considering internal factors such as peace & stability, economic strength, human development and external factors including travel freedom. France has taken number one after seven years, attributable mainly to the country’s former colonial empire.)
This graph shows the full Global Ranking of the 2018 Henley Passport Index. In certain cases, a rank is shared by multiple countries because these countries all have the same level of visa-free or visa-on-arrival access.