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German citizenship by birth

30.01.2018 - Article
Frau mit Globus
Frau Weltkugel© www.colourbox.com

German citizenship law is based on the principle of descent. This means that German citizenship is generally established by descent from a German parent and not through birth on German territory.

Only since January 2000 can children born in Germany to non-German parents acquire German citizenhip if at the time of birth one parent has lived in Germany legally for at least 8 years and has the right of permanent residence.

In return, German parents born on or after January 1st, 2000 outside of Germany no longer automatically pass German citizenship on to their children if these are born outside of Germany as well.




German citizenship may have been obtained at birth through the following:


Children born in wedlock between January 1st, 1914 and December 31st, 1974 acquired German citizenship if the father was a German citizen at the time of their birth.

Children born in wedlock between January 1st, 1964 and December 31st, 1974 to a German mother and a non-German father acquired German citizenship if they did non acquire any other citizenship at birth.

Children born in wedlock since January 1st, 1975 acquire German citizenship if either of the parents is a German citizen at the time of their birth.

Children born abroad whose German parent was born outside of Germany on or after January 1st, 2000 only acquire German citizenship if their birth is registered with a German foreign mission within one year.

Children born out of wedlock to a German mother on or after January 1st, 1914 acquire German citizenship by birth.

Children born out of wedlock to a German father on or after July 1st, 1993 acquire German citizenship by birth if (among other requirements) paternity has been established according to German law.

Children born abroad whose German parent was born outside of Germany on or after January 1st, 2000 only acquire German citizenship if their birth is registered with a German foreign mission within one year.

Since January 1st, 1977, minors who are adopted by at least one German citizen acquire German citizenship if the adoption is recognised under German law.

Children who were adopted by a German parent between January 1st, 1959 and December 31st, 1976 could become German citizens by declaration until December 31st, 1979.


The marriage of the parents of a child born out of wedlock was called „legitimation“.

Children of German fathers and non-German mothers born out of wedlock between 1914 and June 1993 may have acquired German citizenship if their parents got married at a later date (before July 1998).

A child born in Germany on or after January 1st, 2000 to non-German parents may acquire German citizenship if at the time of birth one parent has lived in Germany legally for at least 8 years and has the right of permanent residence.

Children born to foreign parents in Germany before January 1st, 2000 did not acquire German citizenship and cannot retroactively apply for citizenship under the above regulation.

Do you have further questions?

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