German citizenship law: German citizenship for foreigners living outside of Germany

If a person wants to obtain German citizenship, this is generally subject to certain conditions. These conditions are even more difficult to meet if one does not live in Germany but abroad. This is due to the fact that naturalization of persons living abroad is rather conceived as an exception. The requirements for acquiring German citizenship are regulated in the Nationality Act (StAG). § 14 StAG regulates exactly the case of naturalization of persons living abroad. In the following, it will be explained what a person living abroad has to do in order to obtain German citizenship or which requirements he/she has to meet.

Where do I have to submit what kind of application?

An application for naturalization must be submitted to the German embassy abroad in the respective country of residence of the applicant. For this purpose, it is recommended that you use the application forms that can be downloaded from

for Applicants over 16 years old

https://www.bva.bund.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/Buerger/Ausweis-Dokumente-Recht/Staatsangehoerigkeit/Einbuergerung/Ermessen/Antrag_EB.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=6

for Applicants under 16 years old

https://www.bva.bund.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/Buerger/Ausweis-Dokumente-Recht/Staatsangehoerigkeit/Einbuergerung/Ermessen/Antrag_EBK.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=6

Which requirements must I fulfill?

First of all, it is important to mention that persons living abroad can never claim naturalization. Whether naturalization is granted is always at the discretion of the authorities. Therefore, fulfilling the requirements does not necessarily lead to the granting of German citizenship.

Requirements:

Ties to Germany

The most important requirement of § 14 StAG for the naturalization of persons living abroad is proof of ties to Germany. Only those who can prove ties to Germany have the possibility of acquiring citizenship at all, since not everyone should be granted this.

What is meant by a tie to Germany?

The requirement of a tie to Germany must be understood against the background that most Germans live in Germany and are therefore familiar with the country, culture, language, etc. This is at least not so easy to see in the case of people living abroad, since they are not in Germany. It must therefore be obvious that the person could easily live in Germany or has close family ties to Germany. Indications for a relationship to Germany would be good language skills, membership in German clubs or organizations, a degree from a German school (which may be located abroad), or for example a German parent or a German spouse.

If a tie to Germany is accepted by the authorities after submitting appropriate proof, there is a good chance of naturalization.

Other requirements:

Only a few additional requirements of § 8 StAG must be fulfilled:

  • The applicant must be at least 16 years old or legally represented
  • The applicant must not have been convicted of a criminal offence by a final judgment
  • The livelihood must be guaranteed
  • In the case of spouses who are naturalized according to § 9 StAG due to the fact that they would otherwise have no citizenship, proof of knowledge at language level B1 is also required

If these requirements are all met and the authority concludes that there are ties to Germany, the chances of naturalization are quite good. However, as already mentioned, naturalization is by no means certain; it is at the discretion of the authority.

Important Note: This article has been prepared by mth Tieben & Partner for general information purposes only. Mth Tieben & Partner does not accept any liability to any person or organisation for the use or reliance of the information contained in this article. On any specific matter, kindly contact us by dialing 0049 (0)221 – 80187670 or sending us an email to info@mth-partner.de

Lawyers in Cologne provide legal advice on German immigration law.

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