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German Citizenship – How to become a German Citizen

Applying for German citizenship can only take place after a number of years. Commonly, you have to be resident in Germany for 8 years and accomplish certain conditions to become a German citizen.

In most cases, you have to accomplish most or all of the following circumstances:

  • a valid Aufenthaltserlaubnis or Aufenthaltsberechtigung residency permit
  • legally resident in Germany for at least 8 years
  • a livelihood-guarantee of you and your dependants without recourse to social welfare or unemployment benefits (exceptions are made for people under of 23 years)
  • adequate knowledge of the German language
  • on oath on the German constitution
  • you have to give up your former citizenship (although there are exceptions to this)

When you’re talking about partners and children, and if they have not been living in Germany for 8 years, it can often be naturalised. Before the application can be made for partners of German citizens, the couple must be married for two years and the partner resident in Germany for three years.

Children: German Citizenship by Birth

By inheritance from parents and not by place of birth German citizenship is determined. At birth, children with a German mother or father are automatically citizens. Not all children born in Germany are naturally German. In fact, there are 100.000 non-German children born every year.

If the parents are foreigners, the child only gets German citizenship naturally from birth when one or both of the parents has been legally living in Germany for a period of 8 years, and has a valid Aufenthaltsberechtigung or has had an unbefristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis for a period of three years. These children get German citizenship as well as the citizenship of their parents. Once the child reaches the age of 18 they have to choose which citizenship they wish to keep.

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