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German Citizenship ("Beibehaltung")

Retaining your German Citizenship ("Beibehaltung der deutschen Staatsbürgerschaft")

Are you a German citizen, living in the United States and you want to obtain the American citizenship? Did you know that if you willingly apply for any foreign citizenship and obtain it, you automatically forfeit your German citizenship?

Or are you an American citizen and of German descent and you want to reacquire German citizenship?

However, if you do not want to give up your German citizenship or if you want to reacquire your German Citizenship, you have to apply according to exact procedures and deadlines?

I guide you along the process and translate and interpret all necessary forms and documents and help you to handle administrative formalities necessary to obtain a special authorization from the German government to allow you to keep your German citizenship.

Dual Citizenship
German-American Citizenship is not only a dream any more since the new  law came out in the year 2000.
Did you grow roots in more than one country?

How can I lose German citizenship?

  • by voluntarily acquiring a foreign citizenship
  • If you willingly apply for a foreign citizenship and obtain it, the German citizenship is automatically lost. If you obtain a foreign citizenship without an application for naturalization, you remain a German citizen.

- Please note: Loss of citizenship can be avoided by obtaining a special permit ("Beibehaltungsgenehmigung") before you are naturalized in a foreign country.

  • By voluntarily entering into the armed forces or other armed units of a country whose citizenship you also have (Example: a person with German and US citizenship starts a career in the US Navy). Male persons can avoid the loss of citizenship by getting a special permit.
  • by renunciation (if you hold dual citizenship)
  • If you are holding dual citizenship (German and at least one other citizenship), you can renounce the German citizenship by declaration.
  • by adoption
  • If you are adopted by a non-German and are no longer considered to be legally related to your German parent(s), you lose German citizenship if the adoption automatically makes you a citizen of your adopted parents' country.

Persons permanently residing outside Germany may contact their local German mission (embassy, consulate general or other consular office) for initial information; their applications for naturalization are handled by the Federal Office of Administration in Cologne but submitted to the General German Consulate in Miami.

Please note: If you were born in Germany before January 1, 1990 to parents who were not Germans at the time of your birth you did not become a German citizen by birth.

Information on Dual Citizenship/"Beibehaltung der deutschen Staatsbürgerschaft" of the General German Consulate in Miami:

Information on the procedure of Dual Citizenship - "Beibehaltung" from the General Consulate in Miami

The "BMI" on Dual citizenship - multiple nationality:

The "BMI" on Dual Citizenship

  • Is it possible to have another citizenship in addition to German citizenship?
  • Can I become a naturalized citizen without giving up my previous citizenship?
  • Do Special rules apply to EU citizens?
  • Do multiple nationals have special rights?
  • Information for persons subject to compulsory military service?

Is it possible to have another citizenship in addition to German citizenship?

In certain cases, German nationality law allows its citizens to have or acquire an additional citizenship. Multiple nationality may result from the following situations:
  • As a rule, children born to a German and a non-German parent, or to parents with dual nationality, acquire the nationalities of both parents at birth, according to the principle of descent.
  • Ethnic German repatriates and family members admitted with them acquire German citizenship when they are issued a repatriates certificate, in accordance with Section 7 of the Nationality Act; they do not have to give up their previous citizenship. If allowed by their countries of origin, their children born in Germany then acquire at birth both German citizenship and that of their parents.
  • In certain cases, German citizens may apply for dual nationality, allowing them to acquire foreign citizenship while retaining their German citizenship.

Those who have multiple nationality for one of these reasons normally pass multiple nationality on to their children. In such cases, German law allows children to retain their multiple nationality permanently; i.e., they do not have choose between their German and foreign citizenship upon reaching the age of majority.Persons with multiple nationality may, however, choose to give up their German citizenship (Section 26 of the Nationality Act).
The number of German multiple nationals is unknown because in Germany they are treated exclusively as German nationals and cannot invoke their other nationality when dealing with the authorities. Multiple nationality is no longer a rarity and does not cause any special difficulties.

Can I become a naturalized citizen without giving up my previous citizenship?

Section 12 of the Nationality Act
As a rule, no. One aim of German nationality law is to avoid creating multiple nationality through naturalization
as far as possible. However, there are exceptions for cases of special hardship, specifically:
  • for victims of political persecution and recognized refugees, the requirement to obtain release from previous citizenships are generally waived;
  • when applicants cannot reasonably be expected to meet the conditions for release from their nationality, including unreasonable fees or humiliating practices to obtain release;
  • for elderly persons, if being released from their foreign nationality would cause unreasonable difficulties, and being denied naturalization would constitute a special hardship;
  • or if being released from previous citizenship would cause significant disadvantages, particularly in terms of finances or property rights.

Do special rules apply to EU citizens?

Given the aim of increasing European integration, the law contains special rules for EU citizens: They are not required to give up their previous citizenship in order to become naturalized German citizens, if their country of origin does not require Germans to give up their citizenship to become naturalized citizens of that country. According to Section 25 para. 2 of the Nationality Act, Germans who become naturalized citizens of another EU country may receive permission to retain their German citizenship.
This rule currently applies to the following EU countries: Greece, the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, France, Belgium, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Malta and Cyprus. With regard to the Netherlands and Slovenia, it applies only to certain categories of persons.

Do multiple nationals have special rights?

In Germany, a person with foreign citizenship in addition to his/her German citizenship (a multiple national) has exactly the same rights as all other German citizens.
German multiple nationals cannot claim additional rights in Germany through recourse to their other nationality, nor can they avoid any obligations, such as compulsory military service.
Additional rights may result in relation to the other state whose nationality they have. Whether they may exercise these rights (such as the right to vote) depends on the laws of the other state and does not affect policy, society or the individual in Germany.
When German multiple nationals are in the other country of their citizenship, the German embassy or consulate there may be able to provide them only limited protection, as such persons are regarded by the other country primarily as their citizens and treated accordingly. For this reason, multiple nationals in the relevant age groups should inform themselves in advance of rules regarding compulsory military service.

Information for persons subject to compulsory military service?

As a rule, male German nationals are required to perform military service in Germany; the same applies to German multiple nationals. If a multiple national has fulfilled his German military obligations, this is normally recognized by his other country of citizenship, on the basis of numerous international treaties, bilateral agreements or the relevant national law.
If the person has already fulfilled his military obligations in his country of origin before becoming a naturalized German citizen, the actual length of service will be recognized in Germany. For example, a Turkish national who completed the one-month military service in Turkey may, after becoming a naturalized German citizen, have his compulsory military service in Germany reduced by one month; the remainder must still be served.
A German multiple national who voluntarily enters the armed forces of his other country of citizenship will lose his or her German citizenship (loss of citizenship by serving in the armed forces of a foreign state

Obtaining Citizenship

I have received dual citizenship by birth and have not acquired any other citizenship voluntarily since my birth. Do I have to choose between the two citizen-ships at the age of 18?

German law, in general, does not oblige you to choose between the two citizenships at the age of 18.

How do I obtain German citizenship ?

- by birth to a German parent

Laws regarding citizenship have been changed several times over the last decades. Whether or not a person has acquired German citizenship may therefore depend on the person's date of birth:

If you were born before January 1, 1975:

- If your parents were married at the time of your birth you acquired German citizenship if your father was German; you did not acquire German citizenship if only your mother was German (unless you would otherwise have been stateless).

- If your parents were not married at the time of your birth you acquired German citizenship if your mother was German; you did not acquire German citizenship if only your father was German.

If you were born on or after January 1, 1975:

If your parents were married at the time of your birth you acquired German citizenship if at least one parent was German.

If your parents were not married at the time of your birth you acquired German citizenship if your mother was German; you did not acquire German citizenship if only your father was German. However: a person born out of wedlock on or after July 1, 1993 can acquire German citizenship if only the father is German and if the father acknowledges paternity.

-by birth in Germany

If you were born after December 31, 1999 to foreign parents in Germany.

One of the parents must have been a legal resident in Germany for at least eight years at the time of your birth.

In addition, at least one parent must have an unlimited residence permit ("unbefristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis") or a residence entitlement ("Aufenthaltsberechtigung") at the time of your birth

If you obtain another citizenship by birth, you have to give up one citizenship between ages 18 and 23.

Please note:

Most US military personnel are in Germany for a period considerably shorter than 8 years; they neither have residence permits nor entitlements because of bilateral agreements.

In most cases therefore children born to US military personnel do not have the right to German citizenship (unless they had a German parent at the time of their birth)

- by adoption

If you were adopted by at least one German citizen on or after January 1, 1977, you are a German citizen. If the adoption happened outside Germany, it has to meet certain requirements. (please call the competent German Mission in the US for further information).

- by naturalization

Naturalizations of people with permanent residence outside Germany are rare. Applicants have to meet a host of requirements; you typically have to give up your present citizenship(s) in order to become a German citizen, fluency in the German language is another precondition. (please call the competent German Mission in the US for further information).