German immigration law: The naturalisation of a turkish national requires renunciation of previous nationality - MTH Rechtsanwälte Köln
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Immigration law
von: Helmer Tieben

Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht), 21 February 2013, case: BVerwG 5 C 9.12

With naturalisation as a national of Germany, the applicant acquires all the rights and obligations of a German citizen. Through naturalisation, the applicant becomes an active member of society and is moreover granted the right to vote.

The applicant applies for naturalisation with the naturalisation authority that has jurisdiction for the applicant. Since naturalisation is dependent on various requirements, other authorities (e.g. the foreign citizens’ authority, the State Criminal Police Office (Landeskriminalamt) or the Federal Central Register (Bundeszentralregister)) will be involved in the decision after the applicant has submitted his or her documents. The naturalisation process can therefore be rather lengthy. At some point, the applicant will receive a naturalisation warranty so that he or she can be released from his or her original citizenship. Among many other requirements, the applicant has to arrange for the release from his or her original citizenship
according to section 10 of the German Nationality Act (Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz – StAG).

Under certain circumstances, however, a renunciation of previous citizenship can be waived according to section 12 of the German Nationality Act (StAG) if the foreign citizen is unable to give up his or her previous citizenship or can do so only under very difficult conditions.

This is to be assumed, for example, if

– the law of the foreign state makes no provision for giving up its citizenship,
– the foreign state regularly refuses to release its nationals from citizenship,
– the foreign state has refused to release its nationals from citizenship for reasons beyond the foreigner’s control, or attaches unreasonable conditions to release from citizenship or has failed to decide within a reasonable time on the application for release from citizenship which was submitted in due and complete form,
– subsequent multiple nationality represents the sole obstacle to the naturalisation of older persons, the process for release from citizenship entails unreasonable difficulties, and failure to grant naturalisation would constitute special hardship,
– in giving up his or her foreign citizenship, the foreign citizen would incur substantial disadvantages beyond the loss of his or her civic rights, in particular disadvantages of a financial or property-related nature, or
– the foreign citizen holds a travel document in accordance with Article 28 of the
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951 (Federal Law Gazette
1953 II p. 559).

In the above-mentioned case, the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) had to rule on whether a 15-year-old Turkish girl could
obtain German nationality without giving up her original citizenship, since the Republic of Turkey only allows persons who have reached their majority, inter alia, to renounce their Turkish nationality.

Facts of the case

The father of the 15-year-old Turkish girl had been granted asylum status and become a German citizen in 2004. In May 2006, he had applied for naturalisation of his daughter as a German citizen. When this application was rejected by the naturalisation authority, the father brought an action before the Administrative Court (Verwaltungsgericht). The court found for the plaintiff. An appeal lodged against this ruling with the Higher Administrative Court (Oberverwaltungsgericht) was successful and the girl's action was dismissed.

Judgement of the Federal Administrative Court

The Federal Administrative Court agreed with the view of the Higher Administrative Court and dismissed the girl´s claim to naturalisation.

The Federal Administrative Court ruled that a foreign citizen was only eligible for naturalisation if, inter alia, he or she had renounced his or her previous citizenship (section 10 para.(1) sentence 1 no. 4 of the German Nationality Act – StAG). It conceded that the law made an exception to this principle of avoiding multiple nationality under section 12 para. (1) sentence 2 no. 1 of the German Nationality Act if the law of the foreign state made no provision for giving up its nationality. However, this exception was irrelevant in this case, as, according to the findings of the Higher Administrative Court, the Republic of Turkey permitted a renunciation of its nationality, inter alia, to persons who had reached their majority.

The provision would only apply if the law of the country of origin generally ruled out any renunciation of its citizenship. However, no provisions were made for a case where renunciation was permitted, but – as with the minor plaintiff – the requirements for this were not met. Neither did the other exception apply that the foreign state attached unreasonable conditions to release from citizenship (section 12 para. (1) sentence 2 no. 3 of the
German Nationality Act (StAG)).

Source: Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht)

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