If you have been living in Germany legally for at least eight years and posses the appropriate residence permit, you can apply for citizenship through naturalisation if you meet following requirements:
What requirements do I need to become a German citizen through naturalisation?
- Must have an indefinite right of residence in Germany (for example as an EU citizen; as the holder of a settlement permit, or a limited residence permit that can be converted to an indefinite residence title. However, a residence permit for studying is insufficient.
- You must accept the Basic Law (Grundgesetz), that is the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany. If you apply for German nationality you must acknowledge in writing and orally that you will respect the Basic Law and the laws of the Federal Republic of Germany and refrain from doing anything that could harm it.
- Must be able to support themselves and dependants without recourse to social assistance i.e relying on social welfare benefits and unemployment benefit. Unless this is due to circumstances beyond their control.
- Should not have committed any serious criminal offences.
- Must give up their previous citizenship. In certain cases or for certain groups of persons, however, multiple nationality may be considered.
- There are exceptions to this rule for certain countries of origin. For example, nationals of the EU member states and of Switzerland are allowed to keep their previous nationality when they obtain German citizenship. The same applies to citizens of Morocco, Iran and Algeria.
- Special rules apply to persons with special status (displaced foreigners and stateless persons), making it easier for them to become naturalised citizens.
- Must have sufficient knowledge of German. You are not required to have a perfect command of the German language. You are however required to prove your oral and written German skills in a language exam to at least Level B1 (Common European Framework of Reference).
A German school-leaving certificate or a vocational training diploma or university degree from Germany are also proof of your German-language skills.
- Must have passed a naturalisation test. Through this test, you prove your knowledge of the German legal and social system. Normally you don’t have to take this test if you have a German school-leaving certificate or a degree in law, social or political science in Germany.
Click here for a questionnaire to prepare for the naturalisation test
- You must make your acknowledgement to the naturalisation authorities. You are advised to consult the naturalisation authorities for specific information regarding your case before applying.
If you meet the above requirements, then you can go ahead and submit your application.
They will give you personal advice and supply an application form which you must fill out and hand in with the required documents.
Foreigners who have successfully completed an integration course are eligible for naturalisation after seven years.
What is derivative naturalisation?
Spouses who are not yet eligible for naturalization and minor children may apply for naturalization along with their eligible spouse or parent, which gives families of foreigners the possibility of acquiring German citizenship together.
Apart from the minimum residence requirement, the requirements for derivative naturalisation are the same as for naturalisation on the basis of legal entitlement.
Are spouses or registered partners of German citizens eligible for early naturalisation?
Spouses or registered same-sex partners of German citizens are eligible for naturalization after three years of legal residence in Germany. They must have been married or in a registered partnership for at least two years at the time of application. The general requirements for naturalization also apply.
For more information, please contact the naturalisation authority responsible for your place of residence.
How well do naturalization applicants have to speak German?
Applicants for naturalization are required to have a sufficient command of the German language: oral and written German language skills equivalent to level B 1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for languages.
The ability to speak German is an absolute necessity. Being able to communicate in German is essential for social and economic integration.
For more information on proof of sufficient command of German, please contact your local naturalisation authority.
The naturalisation process – what you must do
Please note that you are not naturalised automatically even if you have been living legally in Germany for at least eight years. You have to submit a written application to the naturalisation authorities.
You can apply for naturalisation in your own right from the age of 16. For children, the parents or other legal guardians can apply on their behalf.
How much does it cost?
Normally naturalisation application fee is 255 euros. A fee of 51 euros is to be paid per child being naturalised with their parents.
If one child alone is to be naturalised, a fee of 255 euros is also due.
In exceptional cases the naturalisation fee may be reduced or waived altogether. This can be done for example if the applicant has low income or several children are to be naturalised at the same time.
What do I do after making my application?
Once your application has been verified and accepted, you will receive notification from the naturalisation authorities on what to do.
Depending on which Land you live in, you will have to take the steps to renounce your previous nationality yourself. You will receive an assurance of naturalisation (“Einbürgerungszusicherung”) which you can submit to the consulate of your country of origin to apply to renounce your previous nationality.
If by acquiring German nationality you automatically lose your previous nationality, or if it is impossible or deemed unacceptable to renounce it, there should be no further obstacle to your naturalisation. You will receive a naturalisation certificate, which will usually be handed to you in person or presented during a naturalisation ceremony. This document makes you a German citizen.
The entire process may take several months. For information on how long your application for naturalisation may take, please take with your local naturalisation authority.
This article has been prepared using information provided by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF).