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Citizenship by naturalization

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German citizenship can also be acquired by naturalization. However, naturalization of persons residing outside of Germany is only possible in exceptional cases.

Naturalization, i.e. applying for and being granted German citizenship, is usually meant for persons who currently live in German and have lived in Germany continuously for several years. Nat­u­ral­iza­tions of persons liv­ing abroad on the ba­sis of dis­cre­tion are rare and need to be of spe­cial in­ter­est to the Fed­er­al Re­pub­lic of Ger­many.

In general, those applying for naturalization must give up their foreign nationality. There are exceptions for nationals of EU member states and Switzerland as well as for those whose German citizenship is restored.

The following exceptions allow naturalization of persons living outside of Germany:

  • Restoration of German citizenship according to art. 116 of the Basic Law (former German citizens and their descendants who were persecuted on political, racial and religious grounds between 1933 and 1945)
  • Naturalization of children of German mothers who did not become German citizens at birth
  • Naturalization of children of German fathers who did not become German citizens at birth
  • (Re-)Naturalization of former German citizens who lost their German citizenship by applying for a foreign citizenship no longer than 12 year ago
  • (Re-)Naturalization of former German citizens who lost their German citizenship by applying for another EU-citizenship

For persons living abroad the Federal Office of Administration (BVA) is the competent Authority to deal with citizenship matters.

Please find detailed information leaflets and application forms on the BVA website.