Naturalisation is a way to acquire citizenship. Citizenship in Germany, and other countries, are normally issued automatically by birth, or through applying for it if you have a right to citizenship, such as your parents being German nationals.
If you fulfill the requirements you can apply for citizenship in Germany through naturalisation enjoy all the benefits of a German citizen.
The Benefits of Claiming German Citizenship Through Naturalisation
The process of naturalisation makes you a German citizen and a national of the European Union. This provides full rights and obligations such as:
- Voting rights: Once you hold German citizenship, you are entitled to vote locally, at a national level and even at a European level. Furthermore, you can stand for parliament and officially represent political interests.
- Access to all professions in the labour market: You can choose any profession (not only professions for qualified professionals). You can even hold positions as a public service employee.
- Freedom of movement in the EU: Once you become a German citizen, you also become a citizen of the European Union. This grants you freedom of movement within Europe, allowing you to take up employment or settle in any other EU country. Furthermore, you have the same rights in EEA states and Switzerland.
- Easier traveling: because EU-countries have many world-wide agreements, it will be easier to acquire VISA’s in countries outside Europe.
- Less bureaucracy: Once you become a citizen, you no longer need a residence permit and renew them at the national registration authority.
Requirements to apply for citizenship
If you have not acquired German citizenship by birth, or by any other right such as by decent, you can apply for German citizenship. The requirements for naturalisation are:
- You have been living legally in Germany for at least 8 years;
- You have an indefinite right to take up residence in Germany. This could be via freedom of movement for EU nationals, or if you hold a settlement permit. Residence permits on the basis of education (studying) is not sufficient.
- Be able to support you and your dependents financially, or have adequate employment at the time of application.
- Have sufficient knowledge of the German language. Proof of this can be provided either through a language exam or by a German school leaving certificate in case you have studied in Germany. A minimum level of B1 is required according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR).
- You have passed the naturalisation test. This is a rest for new citizens which proves they have sufficient knowledge of German social and legal system.
- You abide by the basic law, which means you must acknowledge written and orally that you respect the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany.
- You must not have been convicted of a crime. In case you are under investigation, your application cannot be approved until the investigation is completed.
- You give up your previous nationality, unless you can have dual citizenship or in the case where deprivation of nationality is deemed unacceptable (such as Morocco, Iran, and Algeria).
Each case of naturalisation is different and is treated and approved or declined on an individual basis. Dependents such as spouses and underage children may also be entitled to citizenship even though they have not lived in Germany for at least 8 years.
If at least one parent is a German national, the child obtains automatically German nationality at birth. Every child born in Germany can hold a dual nationality as long as they grew up in Germany. This means that by the time they reach 21 years of age, they have:
- Lived in Germany for eight (8) years; or
- Attended a German school for at least six (6) years; or
- Completed their schooling or vocational training in Germany.
The process of Acquiring Citizenship Through Naturalisation in Germany
Even if you fulfill the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation, you are not granted citizenship automatically. Citizenship can only be granted if applied for in writing to the naturalisation authorities.
You can apply for citizenship in your own right from the age of sixteen (16). Children must give their parents or legal guardians apply on their behalf.
Citizenship Application Fee
The fee for citizenship by naturalisation is EUR 255 for each applicant. In the case of children who are to e naturalised with their parents, the fee is 51 EUR per child. If a child is to be naturalised by themselves, the entire fee of EUR 255 is applicable.
The application fee may be reduced, or waived altogether, at the discretion of the authorities in case of low income or if many children are to be naturalised at the same time.
Naturalisation Certificate and Renouncing Previous Citizenship
If your citizenship application has been verified and accepted, you will receive assurance of naturalisation (“Einbürgerungszusicherung”). Depending on where in Germany you live, you will receive a letter on which steps to take in order to renounce your previous citizenship (unless you are eligible to dual citizenship).
The assurance certificate can be used to submit to your the consulate of your country of origin I order to renounce your existing citizenship.
In the case of dual citizenship or in those countries it is deemed unacceptable to renounce your citizenship, no further action is required. You will then receive your naturalisation certificate which will be handed to you in person or during a ceremony. The entire process can take several months.
Apply for Your German Passport and Identity Card
With your newly acquired naturalisation certificate, the local residents' registration office (“Einwohnermeldeamt”) can issue your new identity documents.