How to get German citizenship

As of 2018, the German passport is ranked as one of the most powerful passports in the world according to the Henley Passport Index. The index classifies countries one can visit Visa-free and Germany has been a strong contender on this list for the last 5 years. Travelling Visa-free to 179 countries around the world is just one of the perks of being a German citizen. With this perk, you can overlook the Germany bureaucracy involved in becoming a citizen. This article will explain the basics and the step by step process to becoming a citizen.

Privileges of being a German citizen

Apart from an opportunity to travel the world Visa-free, there are other benefits of becoming a citizen of Deutschland.
  • High standard of living – Germany has the reputation for being the most stable economy in Europe. This allows you access to their stable health and education systems.
  • Travel, Work and Live in EU – As a German citizen, you can travel freely to other EU countries and live and work there as well.
  • Right to Vote – The right to cast your vote to elect a government representative of the country.
  • Right to Consular protection – If you are residing in a foreign country, in the cases of serious emergency or crisis, you will be provided with protection by the Germany consulate.
  • Basic constitutional rights – such as freedom of assembly, association, movement, occupation, etc.
  • Access to benefits – Germans get easy access to health, unemployment and pension benefits.
  • Apply for the Civil services – The German word for civil servant is Beamter and as a citizen, you can apply for work as a public servant of Germany.
Apart from the many benefits one gets after becoming a German citizen, you would also have to adhere to the duties and obligations of a citizen. The most obvious of these is to respect and obey the German law. Until 2011, it was compulsory for male citizens to enrol in military service. Women were, however, exempt from this law.

Does Germany allow Dual citizenship?

Yes, Germany does recognise dual citizenship if your country is within the EU or Switzerland, or if you are a refugee carrying the eligible travel documents at the time of naturalisation. Countries like Nigeria and Philippines allow dual citizenship. Nigeria only allows dual citizenship if you are a Nigerian by birth. Do you send money to India, Philippines or Nigeria? Click here to read more about Rewire’s services. Bonus! Besides our multi-lingual support, free International MasterCard and terrific rates – you’ll get 20% OFF on your first transfer!

Types of German Citizenship

Every expat or immigrant who wants to get a German citizenship can only do so under certain conditions. A basic often stressed upon requirement is that you have lived in Germany for more than eight years. There are exceptions to this and below are the different ways, you can acquire your German passport.

The principle of descent

If either of your parents is German, you are automatically allowed to become a citizen of Germany. The principle of birthplace: A child born in Germany can claim citizenship if they fulfil one of the following two conditions –
  • At least one parent must have lived in Germany for eight years before the birth of the child.
  • Either of the parents holds a German permanent residence permit.
Read our guide to acquiring the German permanent residence permit here.

Naturalisation

Foreigners who have lived in Germany on a residence permit for eight years are eligible to apply for German citizenship. Those who have completed the integrations course are eligible for citizenship after seven years. Immigrants and expats whose partner or spouse is a German citizen, do not acquire German citizenship by marriage or registered partnership (same-sex couples). They are eligible to apply for citizenship through naturalisation if they are married for a minimum of two years and have lived legally in Germany for three years.

General requirements to apply for a German citizenship by naturalisation

Requirements to become a citizen of Germany are solely based on an individual’s background. Listed below are the essential general requirements which make you eligible for German citizenship by naturalisation.
  • You must be living in Germany with a residence permit at the time of applying for citizenship.
  • You should be able to support yourself (and dependent family) without depending on any unemployment or social benefits from the state.
  • You must be fluent in written and spoken German. The minimum requirement is B1 level of fluency.*
  • You must not have any criminal record.
  • You should be aware of the German legal and social system and also do the mandatory integration course.
  • You must be willing to surrender your current citizenship.

Process of applying for German citizenship by naturalisation

  1. Written application form – Start your process of applying for German citizenship by getting the application form from the nearest immigration office. Fill out the form and attach the required documents as proof that you meet the basic requirements. The entire process is in German and can be understood by anyone with a B1 level of German (which is a basic requirement)*
  2. Cost of the citizenship – The current cost of citizenship via naturalisation is 255 EUR for adults and 51 EUR for children.
  3. German citizenship test – To be naturalised, you need to pass the citizenship test to prove you have sufficient working knowledge of German legal and social systems. The test has 33 multiple choice questions, you need to get 17 correct to pass the test. You need to complete this test before you apply for citizenship. The cost of the test is 25 EUR.
Gather all of your documents together, this includes the application form & documents, payment of fees, German citizenship test results and submit these documents back to the immigration office. The waiting time to receive your citizenship purely depends on your local officials. Post receiving your confirmation that you are a citizen of Germany, you can apply for your German passport.
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