GuidelinesDual Citizenship in Germany: What it Means for Internationals in Germany

Dual Citizenship in Germany: What it Means for Internationals in Germany

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the concept of dual citizenship has gained prominence. Germany, a country known for its rich history, economic prowess, and vibrant culture, has recently reformed its citizenship laws to make dual citizenship more accessible. Whether you’re an expatriate, an immigrant, or simply curious about the topic, read on to discover what it means to hold dual citizenship in Germany.

Germany has historically had strict policies regarding dual citizenship, typically requiring naturalized citizens to renounce their original nationality. However, the country is embarking on a new era with the recent approval of landmark reforms allowing foreigners to more easily obtain German citizenship while retaining their existing one. Here are what you need to know about “Dual Citizenship in Germany: What it means for international Germany.”

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What Is Dual Citizenship?

Dual citizenship, also known as multiple nationality, refers to an individual holding citizenship in two different countries simultaneously. In Germany, this concept has undergone significant changes ll, making it easier for non-EU citizens to acquire German nationality while retaining their original citizenship.

Who Benefits from Dual Citizenship?

The reforms address the needs of various groups:

  1. Immigrants: Over 12 million people in Germany do not hold a German passport. These immigrants, including long-term residents, stand to benefit from the streamlined process.
  2. Children: The automatic citizenship provision ensures that children born in Germany have a secure legal status, regardless of their parents’ nationality.
  3. Elderly Applicants: The oral language test option recognizes the diverse backgrounds and experiences of older immigrants.
  4. Global Citizens: With the acceptance of multiple citizenships, Germany aligns itself with other European countries. Sweden, for instance, had the highest naturalization rate in 2020, emphasizing the importance of embracing diversity.

Overview of the New Law

On January 19th, 2024, the German Parliament passed a bill introducing sweeping changes to the country’s citizenship laws. Some of the key aspects include:

  • Shorter residency requirements – The minimum years of legal residency required to apply for naturalization reduced from 8 to 5 years. In exceptional cases demonstrating ‘advanced integration’, this is further reduced to just 3 years.
  • Dual nationality permitted – Naturalized German citizens can now retain their previous citizenship, no longer needing to renounce it. This profoundly impacts especially non-EU nationals.
  • Automatic citizenship for children – Children born in Germany to a parent who has legally resided for over 5 years automatically receive German citizenship, down from the earlier requirement of 8 years.
  • Relaxed requirements for seniors – Applicants over 67 years can complete an oral German test instead of a written exam.

The law is expected to take effect by May 2024 after undergoing final formalities. It represents a historic shift cementing Germany’s transformation into an inclusive, multicultural society.

Why Germany is Easing Citizenship Rules

Germany has an aging population and acute shortage of skilled workers. The government hopes the relaxed citizenship and dual nationality policies will help attract global talent and fill pressing labour market needs.

As a major European economy navigating an increasingly competitive landscape for global skills, the changes bring Germany closer in line with countries like France, Sweden, and Canada that have embraced more open citizenship frameworks.

The reforms also acknowledge that Germany has been a de facto country of immigration for decades, yet one in seven residents still lacks a German passport. By easing the path to naturalization, millions more long-term foreign residents will now be able to formalize their place as equal participants and stakeholders in German society.

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Key Benefits of Dual Citizenship for Internationals

Acquiring dual German nationality offers internationals a wealth of new opportunities and advantages:

Visa-Free Travel

The German passport grants visa-free entry to 190+ countries, providing extensive global mobility. Dual citizenship allows you to retain the travel privileges of your existing nationality while enjoying expanded access.

Live and Work Freely in EuropeAs a dual German citizen, you can live, work, study and do business anywhere in the EU and EFTA states without additional permits. This greatly expands your personal and professional horizons.

Voting Rights

Dual citizens can fully participate in Germany’s vibrant democracy by voting in local, state, and federal elections. This gives you a powerful stake in shaping your adopted homeland.

Cultural Identity

Maintaining your birth citizenship preserves an integral part of your cultural identity and family heritage. Dual nationality allows you to nurture meaningful connections with both countries.

Benefits for Children

Children born to just one German parent automatically receive German citizenship, ensuring future educational and career opportunities across Europe.

Other Advantages

Other benefits include social security coverage in Germany, unrestricted property ownership, and simplified inheritance procedures in both countries.

Who Qualifies for Dual Citizenship?

To receive German dual nationality, you must generally fulfill the following:

  • Legally reside in Germany for 5 years (or just 3 years in case of exceptional integration)
  • Show basic German language proficiency
  • Prove ability to support yourself financially
  • Have no serious criminal convictions

There are also pathways if you:

  • Were born in Germany to one German parent
  • Are married to or in a civil partnership with a German citizen

It’s recommended to consult a lawyer to verify if you meet all eligibility criteria before applying.

How to Apply for Dual Citizenship

The process involves submitting an application to the immigration authority with the required documents.

Key steps include:

  • Filling out the application form
  • Preparing supporting documents (ID, birth certificate, proof of address, language certificate, etc.)
  • Passing the German naturalization test
  • Attending an interview
  • Paying required fees
  • Receiving approval decision

The process typically takes around 6 months but can vary by location. Immigration lawyers can provide end-to-end support to streamline this process.

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Tax and Legal Considerations

Before obtaining dual citizenship, be aware of important tax and legal implications:

Tax Obligations

As a dual national, you must comply with the tax laws of both countries. Understand how your specific situation may be impacted.

Military Service

Some countries have compulsory military service requirements for certain dual citizen males. Seek guidance beforehand.

Loss of Citizenship

Verify under what conditions one or both of your citizenships could cease to exist. This depends on each country’s specific policies.


Germany’s relaxed dual citizenship laws represent a new dawn signaling enhanced inclusion and unity. For internationals looking to plant lasting roots while retaining their origins, dual nationality provides the best of both worlds.

However, the application process involves nuanced legal and bureaucratic aspects warranting collaboration with specialized immigration lawyers. They can expertly guide you through eligibility criteria, required paperwork, dealing with officials, and more to make your journey smoother.

As Germany continues fostering diversity under its new citizenship landscape, this is an unparalleled opportunity to formalize your place in its fabric. If you meet the eligibility criteria, contact a legal advisor to evaluate your specific options.

Read Also:

Luxembourg Allows Dual Citizenship for Foreign Workers

Retain Existing Nationality When Gaining Luxembourgish Citizenship

EU Blue Card Fast Tracks Permanent Settlement and Dual Nationality

Children Born in Luxembourg Can Claim Citizenship By Birth

Live and Work Freely Across EU Member States as Luxembourg Citizens

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