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Obtain Citizenship by Descent in Germany

Obtain Citizenship by Descent in Germany

Our skilled team of immigration lawyers specializes in facilitating the process of obtaining German citizenship through ancestry. We provide comprehensive guidance and support to individuals navigating the intricate requirements and procedures involved in claiming citizenship through ancestry. From assessing eligibility criteria to gathering essential documentation and assisting with the application process, our German immigration lawyers offer tailored assistance every step of the way. 

With our expertise and dedication, we ensure that your citizenship claim is handled efficiently and effectively, enabling you to secure German migration. Our experienced legal professionals can assist you in streamlining the path to obtaining German citizenship through origin. 

 Quick Facts  
Means to acquire citizenship in Germany   You can acquire German citizenship through birth, descent, marriage to a German citizen, long-term residence, or naturalization.

  How to obtain German citizenship by descent?

You can get German citizenship by descent if at least one of your parents is a German citizen at the time of your birth. 

 Access to citizenship based on the relation with German parents (YES/NO) 

 YES, you can access citizenship if one or both of your parents are German citizens when you’re born.

   Access to citizenship based on a relation with other relatives (YES/NO) NO, German citizenship is primarily based on parentage or other direct familial ties. 
  Possibility to pass on citizenship to descendants (YES/NO)

Yes, it is possible.  

 Authorities in charge of the issuance of German documents 

To acquire German citizenship based on descent, you must submit your application either through the German embassy in your country of residence or directly to the Federal Office of Administration (BVA) in Germany with the help of our lawyers. 

 Duration to process the documents (approx.) 

From 1 to 2 years.  

  Special procedure to complete to gain citizenship by ancestry

 While there is no special procedure for gaining citizenship by ancestry, you may need to provide proof of your family connection and fulfill general naturalization requirements. 

 Degree of difficulty in obtaining citizenship 

 Obtaining German citizenship by descent is relatively straightforward if you meet the parentage criteria. Naturalization, on the other hand, can be more complex. 

  Option to apply for citizenship by other means (YES/NO)  YES, you can apply for German citizenship through other means, such as marriage or long-term residence. 
  Renaturalization option (YES/NO) 

YES, if you were previously a German citizen and lost your citizenship, you may have the option to reapply for it. Consult with our immigration lawyers in Germany for application.  

  Option to search for Polish ancestors 

The German Genealogy Internet Portal 

 Possibility to obtain citizenship as a spouse of a German descendent (YES/NO) 

YES, you can potentially obtain German citizenship through marriage to a German citizen. 

 Support in applying for citizenship by descent in Germany (YES/NO) 

 YES, our legal support is available, and you can seek guidance from our law firm in Germany.  

  Other immigration services (YES/NO)  YES, our Germany lawyers offer a range of immigration services beyond citizenship, including visas, work permits, and residency options for various purposes. 

Citizenship options for foreigners in Germany

There are several ways through which a foreign citizen can acquire German citizenship. The simplest way implies naturalization, however, there are also other possibilities, such as marriage, investment, and descent. Out of all the options, one must choose based on specific criteria he or she must meet.

Obtaining citizenship by descent in Germany implies a thorough verification of one’s ancestors followed by the submission of various documents to the Federal Foreign Office. In Germany, citizenship by birth is determined by the principle of jus soli, meaning right of the soil. While Germany traditionally follows jus sanguinis (citizenship by descent), individuals born in Germany can acquire citizenship if certain conditions are met. Generally, being born in Germany does not automatically grant citizenship unless at least one parent is a German citizen or a legal resident. However, specific provisions may allow for birthright citizenship in Germany under certain circumstances, such as when both parents have been residing in the country for an extended period. It is essential to understand the specific criteria and legal requirements for acquiring citizenship if one was born in Germany.

Our immigration law firm in Germany can help you no matter the path you choose for obtaining a German passport.

If you are interested in German citizenship by descent, our immigration lawyers are at your disposal with dedicated services.

Conditions for obtaining German citizenship by descent

Compared to other means of acquiring a passport, obtaining citizenship by descent implies the satisfaction of specific requirements. Any of the ancestry requirements listed below may be applicable when seeking German citizenship based on heritage:

  1. the applicant has German ancestors who have been stripped away of their citizenship under the Nazi occupation in 1938;
  2. the applicant was born before 1975 and has a German father;
  3. the applicant was born after 1975 and had a German father or mother;
  4. the was born after June 1993 as an illegitimate child of a German citizen (father), however, managed to prove paternity before the age of 23.

Under these conditions, one may be granted German citizenship automatically based on a few documents, while in other cases, the procedure is more complicated in terms of paperwork. Either way, we invite you to submit an inquiry with our immigration law firm in Germany for a detailed assessment of your case.

One of the most important documents to submit when filing for a German residence permit is proof of self-sufficiency. This is a mandatory requirement when first coming to Germany that the authorities require in order for the applicant to not request social support from various organizations of the state.

The procedure for acquiring citizenship by descent in Germany

The procedure for applying for a German passport through ancestry can begin with the German embassy or consulate the applicant resides in or is a citizen of at this time. However, he or she will need to gather all the necessary documents that attest to his or her German ancestors.

These documents must be appended to the application form alongside the foreign citizen’s passport and filed with the Federal Foreign Office in Germany.

Our lawyers in Germany can support you during the immigration procedure if you want to obtain citizenship by descent.

Germany supports foreign citizens who move here through various schemes. This is one of the reasons that attracts many non-EU people to this country. However, when it comes to permanent residency and German citizenship, the requirements are quite strict. If you are interested in any of the two options, you can consult our lawyers for support.

Other means through which German citizenship by ancestry can be obtained

Provided that one falls under the conditions mentioned above, he or she can acquire German citizenship by ancestry automatically once proving one’s ties to the German people. Apart from the requirements presented earlier, German citizens who live abroad and have their children born there can make all the necessary arrangements for their children to be declared German citizens if they register them with the embassy or consulate in the respective country before the minors turn one year old.

Adoption is another way through which citizenship can be acquired. If you are planning to immigrate to Germany and need guidance, our specialized lawyers are at your service.

All your questions on Germany citizenship by descent can be answered by our lawyers who can also help you prepare the necessary documentation associated with obtaining a German passport.

The principle of descent in Germany

Foreign citizens who have German ancestors can claim citizenship by descent in Germany based on the principle of ancestry, which under the national law implies that the applicant has at least one German parent. However, there is also an exception to this rule, and it applies to people who were born in other countries from parents who were born abroad after December 31st, 1999, and who are now residents of the respective countries.

Also, German citizens changing their residency abroad and having children after January 1st, 2000, can pass on their citizenship to their children. Another aspect related to Germany citizenship by descent is that in this last case, the descendants of German citizens can claim citizenship within one year of their grandparents’ relocation.

The principle of ancestry in Germany is not as simple as in other countries, which is why if you are interested in acquiring citizenship this way, you can rely on our immigration law firm.

Obtaining German citizenship by descent based on the place of birth

Obtaining citizenship by descent in Germany implies meeting a set of criteria, and one of them refers to the place of birth. This principle applies to start with the year 2000. According to it, a child can obtain German citizenship if at least one of the parents is a legal permanent resident of this country for at least 8 years. This rule was created in order to allow children of foreign citizens born here to acquire German citizenship.

Our immigration lawyers in Germany are at your service with more information on this principle.

Citizenship by descent in Germany based on marital status

Germany citizenship by descent can also be acquired based on the marital status of the mother who was a foreign citizen herself. This principle applied to children born before 1975 and who had German fathers.

Under the new changes in the legislation which occurred in 2019, children born before 1975 and who have German mothers and foreign fathers can also apply for citizenship by descent.

Here are the main requirements to meet in order to obtain a German passport by descent under the 2019 Mothers’ Decree:

  • the mother was a German citizen at the time the child was born;
  • the parents were married at the time the child was born;
  • the mother had ties with Germany and is a fluent German speaker.

If you need guidance in applying for citizenship by descent under this new rule, you can request the services of our immigration law firm in Germany. Our attorneys will not just provide guidance but also actively help you in obtaining German citizenship based on your ancestry.

Can unmarried parents pass citizenship to their children?

If you are planning to move to Germany, our lawyers can assist you. Please note that establishing eligibility for German citizenship through descent entails a nuanced process, dependent on specific criteria. If born after January 1, 1914, you are recognized as a German citizen if your mother held German citizenship at the time of your birth. Similarly, if born after July 1, 1993, and paternity was legally established under German law, with your father holding German citizenship at your birth, you are also recognized as a German citizen. 

However, for those born before July 1, 1993, additional conditions apply, including residing in Germany for at least three years and acquiring German citizenship by declaration before turning 23. It’s crucial to note that merely having a German-born parent does not automatically confer citizenship; specific legal requirements must be met. 

For instance, a child’s foreign mother must ensure the father legally acknowledges paternity to qualify for German citizenship. Our immigration lawyers in Germany specialize in navigating these complexities, ensuring all necessary documentation is gathered and procedures are followed diligently for a successful citizenship claim. If you are planning to relocate to Germany, and apply for citizenship here, the services of our lawyers are at your disposal.

German citizenship by descent and naturalization: differences and similarities

Foreign citizens interested in obtaining German citizenship have several means they can employ to become citizens of one of the most powerful economies in the world. Among these, descent is reserved only for those who have German ancestors. However, compared to other countries, Germany has made several recent changes to its immigration laws under which foreigners can acquire German passports through their ancestors or living parents, which shows the interest of the authorities in its citizens.

Naturalization is also one of the ways through which foreign citizens can obtain German citizenship if they have lived here for at least 8 years. Moreover, their children can acquire citizenship directly if they are born in this country. They can also obtain German citizenship by descent if their parents are residents but relocate to other countries temporarily.

No matter the way one decides to apply for citizenship in Germany, our law firm is at your disposal and will help you verify if you meet the eligibility criteria.

Tailored support in obtaining German citizenship

Our German immigration lawyers are at your disposal with various services, including assistance in relocating here and applying for citizenship by naturalization or investment. However, if you are interested in Germany citizenship by descent, the process can be more exhaustive, especially when your ancestry must be proved by searching various people’s registers. We can conduct these searches and inform you about the findings so that you can acquire your German passport.

If you choose another pathway, we are at your service with quick guidance in drafting the necessary documents, so that you can become a German citizen as soon as possible.

The German Nationality Act

Foreign citizens can apply for German citizenship under the new Nationality Act (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz) which was enabled in 2000. The simplest form of obtaining German citizenship is for one to have at least a German parent. However, foreign citizens moving to Germany can apply for citizenship if the meet all the conditions of the Nationality Act. In 2005, the Government also enabled the Immigration Act (Zuwanderungsgesetz) under which foreign citizens may apply for German residency.

For information about applying for a residence permit, you can get in line with our lawyers in Germany.

Obtaining a German passport

Foreign citizens applying for citizenship in Germany must fulfill the following conditions:

  • they must be German residents for at least 8 years,
  • they have the appropriate financial means to support themselves,
  • they must speak German,
  • they must know how the German legal system works.

EU and Swiss citizens can apply for German citizenship based on their residence permits. Foreign citizens living in Germany for less than 8 years may apply for citizenship if they have a good command of German and the means to support themselves.

The evolution of dual citizenship law in Germany

On January 19, 2024, the German federal parliament passed legislation aimed at simplifying the process of acquiring dual citizenship and facilitating naturalization for non-EU citizens. Central to this paradigm shift is a groundbreaking amendment that embraces the acceptance of multiple citizenships. Under the revised law, applicants are no longer compelled to relinquish their original citizenship upon obtaining a German passport, marking a significant departure from previous regulations. This monumental change holds particular significance for individuals hailing from non-European Union countries, affording them the opportunity to attain German citizenship without severing ties to their countries of origin.

Prior to this legislative revision, dual citizenship was primarily accessible to those arriving from other EU member states or under specific circumstances. However, this impending modification promises to significantly broaden the accessibility of dual citizenship, heralding a new era of inclusivity.

Furthermore, children who acquire German citizenship through this provision will now have the privilege of retaining their parents’ citizenship, thereby honoring and preserving their cultural heritage and ties to their ancestral homelands. This approach to dual citizenship underscores a commitment to recognizing and respecting the diverse cultural identities within German society while concurrently endowing children with the rights and privileges associated with German citizenship.

Given the complexities and implications of these legal developments, it is imperative for individuals to seek guidance from our knowledgeable German citizenship lawyers. By doing so, they can gain a comprehensive understanding of the ramifications of both German and dual citizenship, ensuring informed decision-making in navigating this evolving legal landscape.

If you are a foreigner and eligible to obtain German citizenship through heritage, you are no longer required to renounce your other nationality. If you are eligible, the services of our lawyers are at your disposal. 

Documents required when applying for German citizenship

Foreign citizens moving to Germany are first required to obtain a residence permit. They must verify the type of residence visa they need as it could affect their right to obtain a German passport. The first step when moving to Germany is to register with the local residence registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). After registering with the local registration office they will obtain a residence permit which will also allow them to work in Germany. The documents required when moving to Germany are:

  • a valid passport,
  • proof of financial self-sustenance,
  • original and notarized copies of the birth certificate,
  • academic qualifications,
  • insurance,
  • book of vaccination, if the foreign citizen has one.

Our immigration lawyers in Germany specialize in assisting individuals seeking German citizenship by ancestry. We can guide you through the intricate process of collecting the necessary documentation to establish your eligibility for citizenship based on ancestral ties.

Our experienced legal team will meticulously review your family history, identify relevant records, and provide expert advice on fulfilling the requirements set forth by German authorities. With our personalized assistance, you can navigate the complexities of German citizenship through ancestry application process with confidence, ensuring that all necessary documents are properly gathered and submitted for your citizenship claim. Trust our dedicated professionals to streamline the path to obtaining German citizenship by descent grandparent. 

Foreign citizens living in Germany

There is also the case of foreign citizens living in Germany and having their children born in this country. In their case, at least one of the parents must be a permanent resident here in order to register the children as German citizens. The conditions in this case are:

  • at least one of the parents must have lived in Germany for 8 years;
  • for children born after August 2007, one of the parents must have obtained permanent residency.

If you have any questions on how to obtain citizenship by descent in Germany, you can send them to our lawyers.

Obtaining German citizenship by ancestry is one of the quickest ways of becoming a citizen of this country, which is why if you meet any of the requirements above and want to submit an application in this sense, our immigration lawyers are at your service with tailored support during the entire procedure. Do not hesitate to contact us and present your case to start the procedure as soon as possible.