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Ways to get German citizenship

Posted on January 2, 2020
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German citizenship

The prospect of getting German citizenship is an attractive option for migrants looking to settle down in another country. The reasons are many, low unemployment rates, efficient healthcare system, a booming economy, and numerous employment opportunities.

Apart from this, once you get your German passport as a citizen, you can visit 188 countries around the world without a visa. So, what are the eligibility requirements to get German citizenship?. What are the ways to get one? This post has the answers.

 Eligibility requirements for German citizenship:

  • You must have a residence permit
  • You must have had a place of residence in Germany for at least eight years
  • You should have enough finances to support yourself and your dependents without relying on social welfare
  • Have enough knowledge of German culture to pass the national naturalization test
  • Have the required proficiency in the German language at least till the B1 level
  • Have no criminal convictions

Ways to get German citizenship:

There are three ways to become a German citizen;

  1. Citizenship by naturalization
  2. Citizenship by birth
  3. Citizenship by descent

Every applicant for citizenship except those belonging to EU, EEA or Switzerland must meet any one of these requirements to become a German citizen.

1. Citizenship by naturalization:

Most expatriates applying for German citizenship can apply for citizenship by naturalization. The requirements to apply under this category include the general eligibility requirements given above. Apart from this, applicants will have to pass a citizenship test.

 This test contains 33 multiple choice questions on different topics like ‘Living in a democracy’, History and responsibility etc.

Apart from this, you will have to answer specific questions about the state where you live. You will have to answer at least 17 questions correct if you must pass and you can retake the test in case you don’t pass. If you pass the test, you will be given a naturalization certificate.

Children below 16 are not required to give the test. Individuals with disability, sickness or old age are exempt from giving the test.

Those with a post-graduate degree in politics, law or social science are exempted from giving the test.

You can qualify for citizenship by naturalization by marrying a German citizen. The conditions to obtain citizenship by this method includes:

Couple must have been married for at least two years and must have been living in Germany for at least three years. Apart from this they will have to meet the other naturalization requirements.

2. Citizenship by birth:

If an individual is born in Germany, he will automatically be eligible for German citizenship. This is citizenship by ‘right of soil’ However if an individual is born in Germany but neither parent is German, then there are some additional requirements for citizenship, at least one parent must have lived in Germany for eight years or must be a permanent resident or must be a Swiss national.

3. Citizenship by descent:

You will be automatically entitled to German citizenship if one of your parents is a German citizen. A child below 18 years adopted by German parents also becomes a German citizen.

 Dual citizenship:

Dual citizenship is generally not offered by the German government. You will have to give up your original citizenship once you become a German citizen. Dual citizenship is available to certain special categories.

Losing or renouncing your citizenship:

 According to German rules, you cannot renounce your German citizenship. Renouncing is not an option if you want to avoid paying taxes or doing military service. But you can lose your citizenship under certain circumstances:

If you are offered citizenship of a country that is not part of the EU or Switzerland and not notifying the German authorities about it

Joining the military service of another country where you hold citizenship

If you are arrested for illegal activities, this applies to those who acquired citizenship through naturalization.

German citizenship is an attractive option considering the many benefits it offers. But getting it can be an uphill task thanks to the bureaucracy and the immigration system with its strict rules. But this should not dissuade you from trying.

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