Becoming a German citizen by naturalization

What are the requirements for becoming anaturalized German citizen?

Section 10,para. 1 of the NationalityAct

To beeligible for naturalization, a person has to have livedlegally in Germany for atleast eight years and possess the appropriate residence permit.Foreigners who have successfully completed an integration courseare eligible for naturalization after seven years. Personswishing to become naturalizedcitizens must also declare theirallegiance to our constitutionand have a sufficient commandof the German language.Knowledge of German is anessential prerequisite for integrationinto our society. Candidates fornaturalization must be able tosupport themselves without recourseto social assistance or unemploymentbenefits (Arbeitslosengeld II), unlessthis is due to circumstancesbeyond their control; nor canthey have committed any seriouscriminal offences. In addition,they must give up theirprevious citizenship. In certaincases or for certain groupsof persons, however, multiplenationality may be considered.

Special rulesapply to persons with specialstatus (displaced foreigners andstateless persons), making iteasier for them to becomenaturalized citizens.  

Your localnaturalization authority will beable to tell you whetheryou are eligible fornaturalization and how to apply.They will also determine whetheryou are eligible for discretionarynaturalization.

What is discretionary naturalization?

Section 8of the Nationality Act

Discretionarynaturalization rests not onentitlement derived from law buton a decision made atthe legal discretion of therelevant authority. Persons whowish to become naturalized butare not yet legally eligibleto do so may, undercircumstances defined in Section8 of the Nationality Act,become naturalized citizens atthe discretion of theauthorities.

What is derivative naturalization?

Section 10,para. 2 of the NationalityAct

Spouses whoare not yet eligible fornaturalization and minor childrenmay apply for naturalizationalong with their eligible spouseor parent, which gives familiesof foreigners the possibility ofacquiring German citizenship together.

Apart fromthe minimum residence requirement,the requirements for derivativenaturalization are the same asfor naturalization on the basisof legal entitlement.

Are spouses orregistered partners of Germancitizens eligible for earlynaturalization?

Section 9of the Nationality Act

Spouses orregistered same-sex partners ofGerman citizens are eligible fornaturalization after three yearsof legal residence in Germany.They must have been marriedor in a registered partnershipfor at least two yearsat the time of application.The general requirements fornaturalization also apply.

For moreinformation, please contact thenaturalization authority responsible foryour place of residence.

How well donaturalization applicants have tospeak German?

Applicants fornaturalization are required tohave a sufficient command ofthe German language. Sufficientcommand is defined as beingable to cope in Germanwith daily life in Germany,including dealing with theauthorities, and being able toconduct conversations commensurate withone’s age and education. Asa rule, this includes beingable to read, understand andorally reproduce a German texton a general topic.

The abilityto speak German is anabsolute necessity. Being ableto communicate in German isessential for social andeconomic integration.

For moreinformation on proof ofsufficient command of German,please contact your localnaturalization authority.

Can extremist orcriminal foreigners become naturalizedcitizens?

No.First ofall, the overwhelming majorityof foreigners permanently livingin Germany are just aslaw-abiding as their Germancounterparts. This is documentedby official crime statistics andthe information gathered by theFederal Office for theProtection of the Constitution.

Since 1January 2000, nationality lawcontains a clause prohibitingnaturalization when there isfactual evidence of anti-constitutional,extremist or terrorist activity.Before granting citizenship, theauthorities regularly check withthe police, security authoritiesand authorities for theprotection of the constitutionfor such evidence. Further, allapplicants over 16 are requiredto declare their express andbinding allegiance to the freeand democratic principles of theBasic Law.

What is thefee for naturalization?

The feefor regular or discretionarynaturalization is €255. Areduced fee of €51 appliesfor each dependent minor childnaturalized along with aparent.

Fees maybe reduced or waived completelyin certain cases. According toSection 38, para. 2, fourthsentence of the Nationality Act,the state and localnaturalization authorities may reduceor waive the fee entirelyif appropriate or in thepublic interest.

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