Seeking new opportunities and life stability, many individuals contemplate acquiring German citizenship through the process known as naturalization. This pathway unlocks full participation in German social life, presenting a spectrum of benefits, both personally and professionally. Here is all you need to know about current requirements and costs of German citizenship.
What are the benefits of German citizenship?
Through naturalization, you attain equal status as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Germany, entailing all the rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship. Upon obtaining German citizenship, you gain various rights, including:
- active and passive voting rights, both in local and federal elections
- access to the status of a state official
- consular protection abroad
- all rights guaranteed by the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany
- visa exemption in many cases countries around the world
Naturalization, the process of granting German citizenship to a foreigner based on permanent residence in Germany, is not automatic. Immigrants who meet specific conditions must actively apply for German citizenship. Individuals above 16 years of age are required to submit their own applications, while parents handle the application process for children and adolescents under 16 years old.
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German citizenship requirements
You can apply for German citizenship if:
Your main residence is in Germany.
You have been legally residing in Germany for:
- 8 years or
- 7 years with completed integration course or
- 6 years with language knowledge at B2 level or higher or
- 3 years if you are married to a German or have been in a civil partnership for at least two years
- If your wife/husband or children also apply, shorter deadlines may apply to them.
- You have a valid passport or ID card confirming your current citizenship
- Neither you nor any organization of which you are a member or which you otherwise support commits extremist or terrorist acts.
- You do not receive Bürgergeld citizenship allowance or other social welfare benefits
- You have no prior convictions or ongoing investigation
- You know how the German state works and you can prove it by: passing the German citizenship test or a German school leaving certificate or successfully completing studies in law, social sciences, social sciences, politics or administrative sciences in Germany (decision made by the citizenship authority) .
- You know German at least at level B1
How much does it cost to obtain German citizenship?
The process of obtaining German citizenship involves additional costs. Here’s how much the fees are in each case:
- Obtaining German citizenship based on the right to naturalization (long-term residence in Germany; marriage to a German citizen) – €255
- Obtaining German citizenship based on proof of origin – €25
- Obtaining German citizenship by children, together with parents applying for citizenship – €51
- Obtaining German citizenship for children without parents – €255
- German citizenship test fee – €25
- Cost of a naturalization certificate – €25
Where can you apply for German citizenship?
In the Federal Republic of Germany, the authority for granting citizenship lies with the federal states. Information about the office responsible for naturalization can be obtained from the municipal office at the place of residence or the local foreigners’ or migrant counselling offices. Additionally, details can be found on the website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).
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German citizenship test
Knowledge of the legal and social system, as well as living conditions in Germany, which is necessary for naturalization, is typically assessed through a citizenship test. The test comprises 33 questions, with three specifically focusing on the federal state of residence. Each question offers four possible answers, and to pass the exam, one needs to answer at least 17 questions correctly. In recent years, the statistical success rate for passing the test has been around 90%.
Who does not have to take the German citizenship test?
Exemptions from the naturalization test are granted to individuals under 16 and those unable to meet the requirements due to illness, disability, or age. Additionally, individuals holding a German school leaving certificate or providing evidence of successful completion of studies at a German university in the fields of law, society, social sciences, political science, or administration are also exempt from the test.
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For those interested, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Germany (BAMF) offers a practice citizenship test on its website, along with the full catalog of possible questions.