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German citizenship: how to prove adequate knowledge of the German language

What level of knowledge of the German language do you need to become a German citizen and how do you prove it?

German citizenship: how to prove a good command of the German language
German citizenship: how to prove a good command of German

One of the conditions for obtaining German citizenship through naturalisation is a good knowledge of the German language.

Here is how to prove an adequate knowledge of the German language in order to become a citizen.

What does adequate knowledge mean and how to prove it?

In order to to become a citizen, you’re not required to have a perfect command of the language: an adequate knowledge of German is sufficient. The level of German required is Level B1.

Level B1 is the third most advanced level of language proficiency, meaning intermediate knowledge.

According to European levels of language proficiency, a person who knows a language at level B1 has the following skills:

  • Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
  • Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
  • Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

What documents do I need to submit to prove German Level B1 language skills?

You can prove you possess German Level B1 language skills in several ways, including submitting any of the following documents:

  • a language certificate confirming knowledge of a language level B1 or higher. The Zertifikat Deutsch is an international certificate confirming knowledge of German at this level. Zertifikat Deutsch is organized by the Goethe-Institut, Österreichischen Sprachdiplom (ÖSD), Schweizer Erziehungsdirektorenkonferenz (EDK) and WBT Weiterbildungs-Testsysteme gGmbH.
  • a certificate from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge certificate) that you have passed the “German test for immigrants” (DTZ) language test as part of an integration course (“Integrationskurs“) in accordance with the German Residency Act.
  • a German secondary school certificate or an equivalent or higher German-language school diploma
  • admission to grade 10 of an upper secondary German-language school (Realschule, Gesamtschule, Gymnasium)
  • proof of successful attendance of a German-language school for four years (promotion to the next level) with a grade of at least “pass” in German,
  • proof of studies at a German university or university of applied sciences
  • certificate of completion of a German-language vocational training.

If you cannot provide any of these documents, the citizenship authority may call you for a language examination. The examination consists of a written and oral component. Special language courses are available to prepare you for this.