The naturalisation process
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 provide an application form which you must fill out and hand in with the required documents. You can apply for naturalisation yourself if you are at least 16 years old. Parents or other legal guardians can apply on behalf of minors younger than 16.
Pay the fee
As a general rule, the fee due when applying for naturalisation is €255.00. For children who are to be naturalised with their parents, the fee is €51.00 per child. If one child alone is to be naturalised, a fee of €255.00 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 a low income or several children are to be naturalised at the same time.
Once your application has been verified and accepted, you will receive a notification from the naturalisation authorities stating how you have to proceed next. Depending on which federal state 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.
The duration of the process 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 issued 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.