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German citizenship, when is my child entitled to it?

How to acquire German citizenship for children.

Acquisition of German citizenship is given depending on the citizenship of the parents and the place of birth. Different rules apply for children who want to be German citizens, here’s how you can acquire German citizenship for a child:

Citizenship acquired from having German parents

A child becomes a German citizen at birth if their mother or their father or both are German citizens.

If the parents are married, and if one or both of the parents are German citizens, then the child automatically gains German citizenship.

If one parent has citizenship and is not married to the other, then an acknowledgement of paternity is required which can be obtained from the local youth welfare office or registry office before or after the birth for a fee of €40.

The applications must be completed before the child turns 23.

A child with parents of different nationalities can also be registered at birth according to the foreign nationality of the parents and will posses dual citizenship. We have an article that could help here: Dual citizenship in Germany, what you need to know

Children born abroad but of German parents

Children who are born abroad, whose German parent was also born abroad after December 31st, 1999, may only acquire German citizenship if their birth is entered in a German register of births within one year.

If the German parent was born before December 31st, 1999 and/or within the territory of Germany, the automatic acquisition of German nationality by descent does not change.

Citizenship through adoption

Any adopted child can acquire citizenship should one of its parents be a German national at the time of adoption – this is if the adoption is legally effective under German law.

Also if the adopted child is not yet of legal age (18 years) at the time of the adoption application.

READ RELATED ARTICLE: How much does German Citizenship cost?

Citizenship acquired after being born in Germany

The principle of place of birth has applied in Germany since January 1st, 2000. According to this principle, even if neither parent has German nationality, a child born in Germany can become a German citizen, as long as certain conditions are met by either the father or mother.

At the time of birth, at least one parents must be a resident in Germany for at least eight years, and have an unlimited right of residence or a residence permit.

You acquire right of residence by;

  • Having a settlement permit or a permanent residence EC permit
  • Being an EU citizens who is entitled to freedom of movement
  • Being a national of Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway who have the same status as citizens of the Union, and
  • Turkish workers and their family members who have a right of residence on the basis of the European Union’s right of association with Turkey.

Unlike children who gain right of citizenship from a German parents, those born in Germany have to choose which citizenship status to keep before they reach the age of 23.

READ MORE: How to get German citizenship for African refugees as they approach their sixth year

This means that, when the child turns 18, they receive a letter from the authorities asking them to choose which citizenship they intend to keep and informing them of the steps they need to take to make this declaration.

If they do not make any declaration before their 23rd birthday, they lose their German citizenship. This however could change given the drastic measures the coalition government has promised to enforce. We wrote about them here: Germany’s new coalition government to allow dual citizenship

Citizenship through Naturalisation

For children without a German parents this still remains a way to acquire citizenship. From the age of 16, children can make their applications for German citizenship. Before this age the application must be done by a parents or legal guardian.

For children under the legal age of 18 without their own income, who are undergoing the application process along with their parents, the application cost only €51.

READ ALSO: How to apply for German citizenship (deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit)

If only the child is applying for citizenship, however, the full fee of €255 will apply.

For children under the age of 16, co-naturalisation is normally possible but after three years of living in Germany. The German language requirement can also be simplified for children.