Establishing German citizenship


There are some basic principles of the German law of citizenship that you should familiarize yourself with before you apply for a formal confirmation of German citizenship.

Staatsangehörigkeit© photothek / Ute Grabowski

How is German citizenship acquired?

German citizenship is mainly acquired and passed on through descent from a German parent. The parent has to be a German citizen at the time of the child's birth. Children born to former German citizens do not acquire German citizenship.

For children born before January 1st, 1975 to parents who were married to each other at the time of the birth, it was mandatory that the father was a German citizen at the time of the child's birth in order for the child to acquire the German citizenship.

If you were born before January 1st, 1975 to parents who were married to each other at the time of the birth, and your mother was a German citizen, you may be able to apply for German Citizenship by declaration. More information can be found here: Application EER

More Information on how German citizenship is acquired by birth can be found here: German citizenship by birth

Persons who were born in Germany before the year 2000 to non-German parents did not obtain German citizenship at the time of their birth and are not eligible for a German passport. Currently, only children born in or after the year 2000 to long-term residents of Germany could or can under certain circumstances receive the German citizenship.

The German rules on citizenship are based on the principle of avoiding dual citizenship. This means that a German citizen who voluntarily applies for and accepts a foreign nationality on principle loses the German nationality automatically. This rule does not apply to Germans who receive the other citizenship by law (e.g. children born in Canada to parents that hold German citizenship at the time of the birth of the child may be dual citizens by law), or who applied for and received a citizenship of a member state of the European Union or Switzerland after August of 2007.

Am I entitled to a German passport?

German passports are issued only to German citizens.
To determine whether or not you might be a German citizen, please see first whether you fulfill the requirements for German citizenship by birth. If your ancestral reference person (parent/ grandparent) does not have a passport file anymore at the Consulate General of Germany in Toronto or any other German mission abroad, it might be necessary for you to apply for a certificate of German nationality first. (Feststellung) In order for us to assist you better, more information regarding your family's history is required. We have therefore provided a questionnaire which you are welcome to request

for evaluation of your individual case. Please take note that exact dates need to be given, including dates of acquisition of a foreign nationality.

German passports are issued only to German citizens. To determine whether or not you might be a German citizen, more information regarding your family's history may be required. If after reading the informatoin on this website, you are not sure whether or not you may be a German citizen and would like to find out more, please contact your competent German Foreign Mission: Contact Form.

Confirmation of German citizenship

For applicants living abroad, the Federal Office of Administration in Cologne, Germany is the competent authority to deal with citizenship matters. The Federal Office of Administration (BVA) carries out specific procedures to determine whether or not applicants are German citizens.

It ascertains when and by what means you have become a German citizen and whether or not you have lost your German citizenship. Many events in the applicants’ and their ancestors’ lives can be significant for the acquisition or loss of the German citizenship, including personal and family events (e.g. birth, marriage, or adoption) and/or political, legal developments (such as collective naturalizations during World War II or the acquisition of a foreign nationality).

Applicants whose German citizenship has been confirmed by the competent German authority are issued a certificate of nationality. It can also be determined that you are not a German citizen. In this case, you would be issued a so-called negative certificate.

Please note that the whole application process must be conducted in German.

The German Consulate Toronto forwards the application to the BVA for processing. Communication from the BVA will usually be forwarded to the applicant by the German Consulate Toronto.

How to proceed:

1. Please fill out the application form

2. Gather all relevant documents (see below)

3. Application by mail to the German Consulate Toronto


- Original application form, filled out and signed PLUS 1 copy (please find the application forms at the bottom of this page or directly on the website of the BVA)

- Original Anlage V for every relevant ancestor PLUS

- 1 set of copies certified by a notary public of all relevant documents

- cover letter with contact information

Processing time: currently approx. 2 years or more, BVA may ask for additional information or documents at any point during the process

Relevant documents:
(to prove applicant's identity and family relationship to the German citizen in the family)

- valid passport of the applicant

- birth certificate of the applicant

- birth certificates of the applicant's parents

- marriage certificate of the applicant's parents

- former German passports and other documents of the applicant, applicant's parents and grandparents, that prove their German citizenship

- naturalization or nationality certificates (“Einbürgerungsurkunde/Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis”) of the applicant, applicant's parents and grandparents


Please note that some foreign documents such as

  • divorce decrees and
  • custody agreements

need to be translated into German by a certified translator. The Bundesverwaltungsamt (BVA) reserves the right to ask for further translations if necessary.

Application forms and Translation aid:

Please find the most up to date forms to fill out and submit directly on the website of the BVA here

Related content

Top of page