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Dual citizenship in Germany, what you need to know

Dual citizenship in Germany: Germany has been loosening its rules on dual citizenship in the recent year and giving more people more opportunities to hold German passports while they retain one from a country they have links to via blood or birth. Here are some of the rules:

Germany has made several changes to the law over the pas few decades making it possible for many to hold German citizenship and that of another country too.

Changes to the law on dual citizenship in Germany:

  • At the age of 21 the children of immigrants parents had to chose between German citizenship and that of their ancestral home. But a law passed in 2014 more or less did away with this need to choose, removing it for immigrant children as long as they were born and grew up in Germany.
  • Meanwhile, a 2007 law had already made it possible for EU citizens to hold both a German passport and one from their home country.

What you need to know before applying for German Citizenship:

Who qualifies for Dual citizenship?

  • The children of a foreign parent and a German parent born on German soil have a right to both nationalities as long as the law of the foreign parent’s home country allows it. 
  • Children born to non-German parents in Germany after the year 2000 have the right to dual citizenship as long as they also grew up in Germany.

Adults who want to gain citizenship:

  • Children born to at least one German national abroad have a right to dual citizenship so long as the country of their birth also recognises the principle of jus soli. The parents have to register this birth with the local diplomatic mission within the first 12 months of the child’s life.
  • If you have lived in Germany legally for eight years, have never committed a crime and have a good grasp of the language then you have the right to become a German. Generally this means giving up other nationalities (unless you can give authorities an exceptional reason that you need to have double citizenship).

There are several exceptions though.

  • For a start, all EU citizens and citizens of Switzerland have an automatic right to dual nationality.
  • As the UK left the EU, Brits applying for German citizenship after the Brexit transition period ended (January 1st this year) will generally have to give up their British citizenship. 

How do I become a citizen as a refugee?

  • People who came to Germany as refugees also have the right to keep their home nationality. That also goes for citizens of Iran and Morocco, two countries which make it exceedingly hard for citizens to give up their nationality.
  • It is estimated that roughly half of all people who take on German citizenship as adults are able to retain their original nationality.

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Source: the Local de