Nationality matters
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Nationality matters

The following information offers you a short overview. However, the area of law concerning nationality matters is so ample and complex that this information cannot claim to be exhaustive. If at any time you need more information, please feel free to contact us either in writing or by phone or visit us in person (please keep in mind our office hours!). Since every individual case is different, we prefer in person consultations.

3000. Einbürgerung

General information

The certificate of nationality (Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis) is issued by the competent authority of your principal place of residence. You cannot apply for a certificate of nationality at the authority of your secondary place of residence.

German nationality is officially proven by a certificate of nationality. The certificate of nationality is required for specific legal transactions or legal relationships (e.g. adoption or appointment as a tenured German civil servant (Verbeamtung)).

Before issuing a certificate or nationality or a certificate attesting your legal status as a German (Ausweis über die Rechtsstellung als Deutscher), the naturalisation authority (Staatsangehörigkeitsbehörde) will prove

  • whether and how you have acquired German nationality
  • whether and how you may have lost your German nationality.

In doing so, the naturalisation authority primarily relies on information and documents provided by you. It is therefore essential that you fill out the application form carefully and as completely as possible, and support the information you provide with as many documents as possible.

As a general rule, apart from the information about yourself you also need to provide information about the person from whom you derive your nationality. Please refer to the application form to find out who the persons concerned may be.

Please seek advice from the competent authority if anything is unclear when filling out the application form.

The main modes of acquiring German nationality

Overview of the main modes of acquisition of

  1. German nationality (including information on the person or persons from whom you derive your nationality)
  2. legal status as a German without holding German nationality (Rechtsstellung als Deutscher ohne deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit). (*We would like to point out that beside the named modes of acquisition there are several other methods for acquiring German nationality. If you require further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.)

The conditions of acquisition of German nationality are subject to the legal provisions in force at the time of the relevant event (birth, marriage, adoption, etc.)

  • acquisition by birthGerman citizenship is mainly acquired and passed on through descent from a German parent

    until 01 April 1953 – by birth in wedlock – father German national

    01 April 1953 – 31 December 1974 – by birth in wedlock – father or mother German national (children acquired German nationality if otherwise they would have become stateless)

    after 01 January 1975 – by birth in wedlock – father or mother German national

    after 01 January 2000 - (birth on German territory) – if one or both parents fulfil the conditions stipulated in Section 4, subsection 3 of the Nationality Act (StAG)
  • acquisition by collective naturalisation (Sammeleinbürgerung) relative to the territorial changes between 1938 and 1945

    Requirements: At the relevant date, holding domicile or right of domicile or being on the German People’s List (Volksliste) of the concerned territories of the Czech Republic (Sudetenland, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia), Lithuania (Memel Territory), Poland and Gdansk (incorporated Eastern territories), Yugoslavia (Carinthia, Styria, Carniola), the Soviet Union (Reichskommissariat Ukraine)
  • acquisition of German nationality following acquisition of nationality of the German Democratic Republic

    Requirement: Holding nationality of the German Democratic Republic, BVerfG order of 21 October 1987 ("Teso-Beschluß"), no infringement of the ordre public
  • acquisition of German nationality by marriage

    until 31 March 1953 – German nationality for women, derived from the male spouse’s nationality
  • acquisition of German nationality by adoption

    after 01 January 1977 – German nationality derived from the adoptive father or the adoptive mother
  • acquisition of German nationality by other reasons
  • legal status as a German without holding German nationality
  • ethnic German expellees / repatriates of German ancestry / late repatriates

Required documents

In order to evidence that you or, if applicable, the person from whom you derive your nationality, have acquired and hold German nationality or you have been treated as a German national since at least 1950, the following documents may be required:

  1. Documents relating to filiation and marital status:certificates of birth, certificates of descent, marriage certificates, transcripts / extracts from the family register
  2. Documents attesting acquisition of German nationality:certificates of naturalisation (Einbürgerungsurkunde), certificates of bestowal (Verleihungsurkunde), instruments of admission (Aufnahmeurkunde), certificates attesting that German nationality has been acquired by declaration or option (Bescheinigung / Urkunde über den Erwerb der deutschen Staatsangehörigkeit durch Erklärung oder Option), appointment letters for civil servants (Ernennungsurkunden bei Beamten), notice confirming the acquisition of German nationality through military service in the former German Wehrmacht or in similar organisations (Feststellungsbescheid)
  3. Documents attesting the belonging to a group of persons to which collective naturalisation has been extended:expellee cards (Vertriebenenausweis), certificate of repatriate status (Spätaussiedlerbescheinigung) pursuant to Section 15, subsection 1 and 2 of the Federal Expellees Act (BVFG), identification documents attesting inclusion on the German People’s List (Volkslistenausweis), certifications of ethnicity or other documents attesting to German ethnicity (Volkstumbescheinigung), proof of former right to homeland (Heimatrecht), citizenship rights or domicile in the relevant territories, certifications on waiver of the right to disclaim an inheritance (Bescheinigung über Verzicht auf das Ausschlagungsrecht)
  4. Documents attesting the legal status as a German without German nationality:expellee cards (Vertriebenenausweis), certificate of repatriate status (Spätaussiedlerbescheinigung) pursuant to Section 15, subsection 1 and 2 of the Federal Expellees Act (BVFG), (old) refugee’s identity documents (Flüchtlingsausweis), registration certificates for repatriates (Registrierschein), residence registration documents (Meldebestätigung, Meldebescheinigung)
  5. Documents attesting the acquisition of German nationality / legal status as a German:Certificates of nationality (Staatsangehörigkeitsnachweis or Heimatschein), cetificates / identification documents attesting to legal status as a German, passports and other identification papers (including old ones), extracts from (old) family registers, citizen lists and directories, documents attesting military service or employment as a civil servant, residence registration documents, certificates confirming the permission to retain German nationality

Please submit either the original or a certified copy of the documents (the original documents will be returned to you).
In order to avoid unnecessary costs, it is advisable to contact the naturalisation authority for information on what documents must be submitted.


The fee charged for the issuance of a certificate of nationality amounts to €25.

Further important information

  • Please submit either the original or a certified copy of the required documents
  • The average processing time for applications lies between three and four weeks
  • The applicant must declare that he or she is aware that a fee will be charged for as well the submission, the rejection, as for the withdrawal of the application


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