Germany is a wonderful place to make a home, and is well known for having welcomed many migrants in recent years. However, its citizenship laws are actually some of the strictest in Europe, with tough rules especially for those from outside the EU. Read on to find out about how dual nationality works in Germany.
It depends. If you’re a national in another EU country or Switzerland, you can. If you’re a national of any other country, you’ll probably have to renounce your first nationality in order to become a German citizen.
Whether you’re after dual citizenship or sole German citizenship, you’ll need to meet various criteria, including having lived in Germany for 8 years or more.
The situation is different if you have a connection to Germany by birth. People who have a German parent or were born in the country to foreign parents may be eligible for dual German citizenship after all.
You can be a dual national with Germany if you’re a resident of an EU country or Switzerland. At the time of writing, the UK is still an EU country and new rules for after Brexit haven’t been agreed.
Dual citizenship with other countries is possible only for people with a birthplace or parental connection to Germany - otherwise, it’s not allowed.
Without a connection to Germany by birthplace or parentage, people from countries other than those listed above won’t be able to get dual German citizenship.
Certain countries - such as India and Japan - still don’t allow for dual citizenship even for people with a connection to the country by birth.
Just because you can’t get dual German citizenship doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t become a German citizen. But unless you’re from the EU or Switzerland, you’ll need to give up your other citizenship in order to do so. Read more about how to obtain German citizenship.
Technically, multiple nationality is possible, but the rules are very restrictive, as outlined above. So it’s unlikely, but legal in some cases.
You lose your German citizenship automatically if you receive foreign nationality of any country outside the EU and Switzerland. You also lose it if, as a German citizen, you enter another country’s army, unless you have permission.
If you’re not currently a German citizen but would like to become one, the only option is to do so via naturalization. To qualify, you need:
- To have lived in Germany for 8 years or more (or 7 or sometimes 6 if you’ve attended an integration course). Or if you’re married to a German, to have lived there for 3 years and have been married for 2.
- To be able to speak German to a decent level - and to be able to prove it with paperwork. You’ll probably need to do either a language exam or an integration course.
- To be financially stable without state support.
- To have no criminal record.
As explained above, you’ll also need to give up your current citizenship, unless you’re from the EU or Switzerland.
If you meet those criteria, these are the steps to take:
- Get an application form from your local council or immigration office, and fill it in, compiling the necessary documents as required. You’ll have to pay for the form.
- Sit and pass a German citizenship test. It’s a multiple choice paper in which you need to get over 50%. You have to pay for this too.
- Submit your form including the supporting documents and receipts from your various payments.
- Make one final payment, for your citizenship certificate, if your application is approved. You’re now a German citizen!
If you discount the 8 years you need to have lived in Germany before you can apply, the process can still take months as your application has to be formally approved after you’ve submitted it. So you should allow yourself as much time as possible.
If I’m obtaining dual citizenship, do I need to inform both countries of my new citizenship, or do the countries themselves do that?
Even within the EU, countries have differing rules about dual citizenship and retaining or rescinding nationalities. Outside the EU, it’s even more complex. So you should check very carefully with both Germany and your current country of nationality.
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It’s complicated enough to spend time in several countries. If you often need to send money from one country to another, a borderless multi-currency account from TransferWise can make this process far easier, and likely cheaper, than if you rely on banks. You can send and receive transfers across borders quickly and online, and using the mid-market rate - that’s the same rate the banks use to trade between themselves. And there’s only one small, transparent fee - so you could save a lot compared to making the transfer with your bank.
With a borderless account you get local account details for euros, US dollars, British pounds and Australian dollars, and you can hold and transfer money in dozens of currencies including those 4. And consumer debit cards are coming from early 2018, to make the accounts even easier to use.
TransferWise borderless multi-currency accounts are supported for consumers and businesses living in the following countries
- Aland Islands
- American Samoa
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- Holy See (Vatican City State)
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TransferWise borderless multi-currency accounts support transfers and switching with the following currencies
TransferWise borderless multi-currency accounts can generate local bank details in the following regions / currencies
Whether you end up applying for dual citizenship or not, good luck exploring your options. And if you do ever find yourself splitting time between countries don’t forget that TransferWise offers a cheap and easy option to help transfer your money.