Non-acquisition of German nationality for children born abroad to German parents pursuant to section 4 (4), first and third sentences, of the Nationality Act


Children born abroad do not acquire German nationality by birth if their German parent(s) were themselves born abroad after 31 December 1999 and at the time of the child’s birth were ordinarily resident abroad, provided such children acquire another nationality upon birth.

Children who fall into this category may acquire German nationality retroactively from birth if their parents register the birth with the German authorities before the child’s first birthday. To do this, they must apply to the competent registry office in Germany or the competent German mission abroad to have the birth of their child included in the German register of births.

Case study:

A German national born in Spain in 2000 while her parents were working there is currently living with her husband, a US national, in the United States. Their son is born there in 2023 and automatically acquires US citizenship.

In order to also obtain German nationality for the child, the parents would have to apply to the competent registry office in Germany or to the competent German mission abroad before the child’s first birthday to register the birth of their child. If the registration application is submitted on time and with all the necessary supporting documents, the child may be issued with a German passport upon application.

Please note: This rule affects all Germans (expats and emigrants) who were born abroad and whose child was born abroad, regardless of the reason for or duration of their residence abroad.

Under what circumstances will my child not acquire German nationality automatically?

Your child will not automatically acquire German nationality by birth if

- You (the German parent or both German parents) were born abroad after 31 December 1999,

- Your child is born abroad,

- You (the German parent or both German parents) are ordinarily resident abroad at the time of the child’s birth (If you are ordinarily resident abroad, it is immaterial that you have retained a residence in Germany for registration law purposes.) and

- Your child automatically acquires a foreign nationality upon birth.

What do I have to do to obtain German nationality for my child?

You must apply for the birth to be registered in the register of births at the competent German registry office before your child’s first birthday. This deadline is also deemed to have been met if the application is received by the competent German mission abroad within the one-year period. The application may be made by one parent alone.

To apply to register your child’s birth you must submit the following documents:

- A fully completed and signed application form

- Your child’s foreign birth certificate

- The parents’ birth certificates

- The parents’ marriage certificate (if applicable)

- The parents’ passports/ID cards

- Proof of a valid acknowledgement of paternity, if the parents of the child are not married to one another

Please note that your child cannot be issued with German identity papers until a complete application for registration of the birth has been submitted.

If you have any queries, please contact the consular section of the German mission abroad responsible for your place of residence.

Do you have further questions?

Please book an appointment for the consular services at the German Consulates in Toronto and Vancouver online in advance for services that require a personal appointment and cannot be done via mail.

Book an appointment with the Consular Section

Please use this form to contact us in consular matters

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