Naturalisation

After a certain time in Germany, numerous migrants decide to take Germany nationality. In 2014, 108,420 people of foreign origin were naturalised, according to figures published by the Federal Statistical Office. 

Naturalisation © fotolia / morganimation

5 reasons to claim naturalisation

5 reasons to claim naturalisation © fotolia / Andrey Popov

Naturalisation makes you a German citizen and at the same a national of the European Union – with full rights and obligations:

  1. You get more say: You are entitled to vote not only in the town where you live, but also at the Land and national levels, and even at the European level. Moreover, you can stand for parliament yourself and actively represent your interests politically.
  2. Free access to all professions: You can choose any profession you like in Germany. For example, you would even be able to work as a public service employee.
  3. The European Union is open to you: If you are not already the national of an EU state, your German passport gives you immediate Freedom of movement within Europe. That opens up even more possibilities: you can study, work and live in the EU, the EEA states and in Switzerland without restriction.
  4. Travelling is easier: You can travel to and get visas more easily for numerous countries outside Europe.
  5. Less bureaucracy: You no longer need a Residence permit and no longer need to go to the foreign nationals' registration authority.

Who is entitled to naturalisation?

Who is entitled to naturalisation? © fotolia / _jure

If you are not German by birth, you can be naturalised if you meet the following requirements: 

  • You have been living in Germany legally for at least eight years. 
  • You have an indefinite right of residence in Germany (for example as an EU citizen with Freedom of movement, or as the holder of a settlement permit), or a limited Residence permit that can be converted to an indefinite residence title. However, a Residence permit for studying is insufficient. 
  • You are able to support yourself and your dependents without social welfare benefits and unemployment benefit: You satisfy this requirement especially if at the time you apply for Naturalisation you are in adequately paid employment. 
  • You have sufficient knowledge of German: You do not need to have a perfect command of the German language to obtain Naturalisation. It is enough to be able to prove your oral and written German skills in a language exam to at least Level B1 (Common European Framework of Reference). A German school-leaving certificate or a vocational training diploma or university degree from Germany are also proof of your German-language skills.
  • You have passed a naturalisation test. By passing the Naturalisation test, you provide proof of your knowledge of the German legal and social system. Do you have a German school-leaving certificate or a degree in law, social or political science in Germany? If so, you are not usually required to take the Naturalisation test: your German school-leaving certificate or degree will usually suffice in that case. You will find a questionnaire to prepare for the Naturalisation test on the Internet
  • You have not been convicted of any criminal offence: If you have been convicted of a crime or are under investigation in Germany or abroad on suspicion of a crime, you must notify the Naturalisation authorities. The Naturalisation authorities will only be able to make a decision about your application when the investigation has been completed.
  • You accept the Basic Law: The Basic Law (Grundgesetz) is the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany. If you apply for German nationality you must acknowledge in writing and orally that you will respect the Basic Law and the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany and refrain from doing anything that could harm it. You make your acknowledgement to the Naturalisation authorities.
  • You give up your previous nationality: When you are naturalised you will have to give up your previous nationality. There are exceptions to this rule for certain countries of origin, however. For example, nationals of the EU member states and of Switzerland are allowed to keep their previous nationality when they obtain German citizenship. Other exceptions exist for certain states such as Morocco, Iran and Algeria. Deprivation of nationality is deemed unacceptable in these states. 

As the issue of Naturalisation includes many specifics and each case is different you should talk to the Naturalisation authorities before applying. For example, underage children and the spouses of migrants who are entitled to Naturalisation may also be naturalised at the discretion of the Naturalisation authorities even if they have not lived in Germany for eight years.

You can find out which Naturalisation office is responsible for your case from your local town hall or district authority, or the foreign nationals' registration authority of the municipality where you live. 

The naturalisation process – what do I have to do?

The naturalisation process – what do I have to do? © fotolia / stockpics

Submit your application

Even if you have lived in Germany for eight years or more, you are not naturalised automatically. You always have to submit a written application to the Naturalisation authorities. They will also give you personal advice and supply an application form which you must fill out and hand in with the required documents.. You can apply for Naturalisation in your own right from the age of 16. For children, the parents or other legal guardians can apply on their behalf. 

Pay the fee 

As a general rule, the fee due when applying for Naturalisation is 255 euros. For children who are to be naturalised with their parents the fee is 51 euros per child. If one child alone is to be naturalised, a fee of 255 euros is also due. In exceptional cases the Naturalisation fee may be reduced or waived altogether. This is the case, for example, if the applicant has only low income or several children are to be naturalised at the same time

Naturalisation certificate

Once your application has been verified and accepted, you will receive notification from the Naturalisation authorities as how to proceed next. Depending on which Land you live in, you will have to take the steps to renounce your previous nationality yourself. You will receive an assurance of Naturalisation (“Einbürgerungszusicherung”) which you can submit to the consulate of your country of origin to apply to renounce your previous nationality. If by acquiring German nationality you automatically lose your previous nationality, or if it is impossible or deemed unacceptable to renounce it, there should be no further obstacle to your Naturalisation. You will receive a Naturalisation certificate, which will usually be handed to you in person or presented during a Naturalisation ceremony. This document makes you a German citizen.

How long it takes all in all from the time you apply to the presentation of the certificate varies from case to case. In many cases it can take several months. The best thing is to talk with your local Naturalisation authority.

Applying for a German identity card and passport 

With the Naturalisation certificate you can have a German identity card and a German passport made out at your local residents' registration office (“Einwohnermeldeamt”). You have to be in possession of at least one of these documents in Germany to provide proof of your identity if required. It usually takes a few weeks before your identity papers are ready to collect. 

Regulations concerning children

Naturalisation: Regulations concerning children © fotolia / lassedesignen

Principle of parentage and principle of birthplace: German nationality is based on the principle of parentage. That means that a child who has at least one parent with German nationality automatically obtains German nationality at birth. The principle of birthplace is also valid. According to this, a child of foreign parents can automatically obtain German nationality if born in Germany if one of its parents has lived legally in Germany for at least eight years and held a settlement permit or an indefinite residence title at the time of the birth.

Dual nationality: Children of foreign parents who have acquired German citizenship by birth can have German nationality in addition to the nationality of their parents. The prerequisite is that they grew up in Germany. According to the law, a person grew up in Germany if, by the time they turn 21, they:

  • have lived in Germany for eight years, or
  • have attended a school in Germany for six years, or
  • have completed their schooling or vocational training in Germany.

Complete category "Visa"

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Information on this portal

Find out more about integration courses (German, English, Spanish)

Why people from all over the world feel at home in Germany (German, English, Spanish)

Information on the Web

FEDERAL OFFICE FOR MIGRATION AND REFUGEES (BAMF)

Information about naturalisation in Germany (German, English, Russian, Turkish)

FEDERAL OFFICE FOR MIGRATION AND REFUGEES (BAMF)

Information about the naturalisation test (German, English, Russian, Turkish)
Preparatory questionnaire for naturalisation test (German)

Federal Government – Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration

Information about the requirements for claiming naturalisation (German)