If you are a foreigner whose principal residence is in Germany, or if you are a child born in Germany to foreign parents, you may want to think about obtaining German citizenship and thus participating actively in political life. You’ll become a German citizen through naturalisation, and will receive the rights of a full citizen, e.g. right to vote, free movement, the right to free occupational choice and protection against extradition and deportation. However, you are also subject to citizen duties, such as mandatory military service, and the obligation to engage in our society as a lay judge or electoral assistant.
Naturalisation involves many legal rules, which we will present to you in a rough overview here. Your local citizenship authority will provide you with information on your specific case.
Naturalisation is only performed on request. If you’re 16 or over, you can lodge a naturalisation application with your local citizenship authority. Naturalisation of children under 16 must be requested by a legal representative, generally his / her parents.
A person is entitled to be naturalised in accordance with § 10 of the Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (StAG - German Citizenship Act) if they meet all the necessary legal requirements for naturalisation. Their foreign spouse, who themselves is not individually entitled to naturalisation, and / or their under-aged children can be naturalised with them, enabling the family to obtain German citizenship together.
If you are the spouse or registered same-sex partner of a German citizen, your naturalisation is governed by § 9 StAG. If you’re not yet entitled to be naturalised, the authorities may still agree to naturalise you in certain cases according to § 8 StAG.
The requirements for the respective forms of naturalisation (and their respective exceptions) vary for individual cases. The following general requirements are, however, essentially the same for all forms of naturalisation:
- You must hold a permanent residence permit at the time of naturalisation.
- You must have had your legal place of residence in Germany for at least eight years.
- You must be able to support yourself (and any dependent family members) without social welfare benefits or Arbeitslosengeld II (unemployment benefits).
- You must be familiar with the legal and social order and living conditions in Germany (legal proof through the standardised national naturalisation test).
- You must have sufficient knowledge of German.
- You must not have been convicted of a criminal offence.
- You must lose or surrender your previous citizenship.
- There must be no evidence of anti-constitutional or extremist acts committed in the past or present, and you must commit to the free democratic basic order of the German Constitution.
- The naturalisation process begins with you submitting a naturalisation application and all necessary documents to your local citizenship authority. To do this, you must contact the citizenship authority beforehand and enquire about the specific naturalisation requirements to be met.
- If all the naturalisation requirements apart from the necessary relinquishment of native citizenship have been met, you will generally receive a naturalisation guarantee, asking that you give up your native citizenship.
- Naturalisation takes effect when the naturalisation certificate has been conferred. Beforehand, you must solemnly verbally declare that you will adhere to the constitution and laws of the Federal Republic of Germany, and will refrain from undertaking anything that may harm the Federal Republic of Germany. You reinforce this with your written oath.
A fee of EUR 255.00 is generally charged for naturalisation, and for co-naturalisation of spouses or registered same-sex partners. The fee is reduced to EUR 51.00 for the co-naturalisation of under-aged children who do not earn their own income. If, however, under-aged children are naturalised without their parents, the fee is EUR 255.00.
- §§ 8-10 Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (StAG)
- Verwaltungsvorschrift des Sächsischen Staatsministeriums des Innern über das Verwaltungsverfahren im Staatsangehörigkeitsrecht (VwV-Staatsangehörigkeit, VwV-StA)
- Veordnung der Staatsregierung über Zuständigkeiten im Staatsangehörigkeitsrecht (ZustVO Staatsangehörigkeitsrecht)
Based on the German version authorized by Sächsisches Staatsministerium des Innern