German citizenship is applied through jus sanguinis, or citizenship by descent. This is acquired when someone is born to a German parent anywhere in the world.

All German citizens have the right to freedom of movement in countries that are members of the European Union as this is a right assigned to citizens of countries who are part of the EU / Schengen. Dual citizenship is not required to live and work as a German in an EU country.

dual citizenship

The Following Situations Qualify for German Dual Citizenship:

1. If you acquire citizenship at birth because you were born to German parents and you gain at birth another citizenship like U.S. citizenship which is a right given to anyone born in the united states regardless of the parent’s citizenship

2. If you have the status as a naturalized German citizen because you were born in Germany to parents who are not German parents and you also apply to maintain your parent’s nationality

3. If you are a German citizen you can obtain another nationality if you ask for permission to be granted by the German government

4. If you are a Swiss or an E.U. citizen when naturalised

5. If you are a refugee who is in possession of 1951 travel documentation when you were naturalised

Of course, before you can apply for dual citizenship with another country, you have to be eligible for German citizenship.

Keeping German Citizenship

If you were born in Germany after 1st July 2000 to parents who are non-German you will get German citizenship as long as one parent is classified as a permanent resident, which means they have lived in Germany for no less than 8 years. In order to keep the citizenship, you have to apply by the time you are 23 years old to be eligible. You will also have to prove you don’t hold citizenship of any other country, except of course European Union countries, and if you have citizenship of a country which can’t be lost.

How to Apply for German Citizenship

There are several ways to apply for German citizenship.

  1. Citizenship By Descent

If when you were born your parent had German citizenship you are entitled to German citizenship yourself. For births after 1st January 1975, you are able to gain German citizenship through either your father or mother but before 1st January 1975 you can only use your father.

If your German parent was born outside of Germany after December 31, 1999 and has his or her primary residence abroad, you will not have received German citizenship automatically by birth, unless you would have been stateless, or your German parent registered your birth within one year with the local German consulate.

2. Citizenship By Naturalisation

There are specific requirements that may apply before naturalisation is granted which are as follows:

  • Be a resident in Germany for eight years
  • Committed to a free democratic constitutional system as stated in German basic law
  • Possession of a residency permit
  • Have the capability of being able to support oneself without depending on benefits
  • Has not been committed a criminal offence
  • Possesses sufficient knowledge of the German language
  • Knows the legal system, the living conditions and society found in the federal republic of Germany

Anyone who applies for naturalisation must prove they have renounced their current nationality or they will lose automatically their current nationality when naturalized. There are some exceptions to this which are:

  • Anyone who can’t easily give up their present nationality, such as refugees
  • Anyone who is a citizen of an E.U. member state or Switzerland

A shorter residency requirement for eligibility for naturalisation is possible under the following situations:

  • By completing an integration course which shortens the residency requirement to just 7 years
  • By showing that you are particularly well integrated because you have a high command of German. This will mean you only have to be resident for 6 years
  • A German citizen’s spouse may become naturalised following a residency period of just 3 years as long as the marriage has been for at least 2 years
  • Any refugees or stateless people may apply following a residency period of 6 years
  • Previous German citizens may only require a much shorter period of residence
  • If you lost German citizenship during the Nazi regime, including both children and grandchildren, might be eligible for naturalisation with no residency requirement or the requirement to renounce of their current citizenship

3. Dual Citizenship by adoption

A child who has been adopted by a citizen of Germany becomes automatically a German national if no older than 18 years on the application date for the adoption. The adoptee may also be eligible for dual citizenship.

German Australia Dual Citizenship

Germans, after spending some time in Australia, may decide to apply to become an Australian citizen. Overall, Australian laws are loose when it comes to dual citizenship and in many cases, it’s allowed without question.  However, German laws are not quite so forgiving and often being granted citizenship of another country apart from Switzerland and member countries of the E.U. require that you forego your German citizenship.

To avoid losing your German citizenship you must be in possession of a certificate of retention which allows you to keep your German citizenship (Beibehaltungsurkunde). This has to take place prior to being granted naturalisation in Australia. This retention certificate is in effect giving permission to retain German citizenship (Genehmigung zur Beibehaltung der Deutschen Staatsangehoerigkeit). The Federal Office of Administration issued this in Cologne. It requires filing an application which includes the reasons for wanting to be Australian and the reasons for retaining German citizenship such as ongoing ties in Germany. So, German Australia dual citizenship is a distinct possibility if you play your cards right before filing an application for Australian citizenship through naturalisation.

Documents Required when Applying for German Dual Citizenship

Specific documents required when applying for dual citizenship may include your German passport and if you live in the EU or Switzerland passports from those countries as Germany allows dual citizenship for those passport holders. If you would like to hold dual German citizenship with any other country you will need to apply for a retention certificate by completing the required document giving your reasons for retention. You must do this before you apply for naturalisation for any other country.

Conclusion

Citizenship rules in Germany are complex and even more so if you wish to hold dual citizenship. The easiest way to approach an application for German dual citizenship or German Australia dual citizenship is to contact the German authorities before contacting the Australian authorities.