German Citizenship by Descent

German citizenship by descent, also known as “citizenship by ancestry,” is a way for individuals with German ancestors to obtain German citizenship. Here’s some information on the eligibility criteria and application process:

Eligibility Criteria

  • You were born to at least one German parent (or to a German mother before 1975)
  • You were adopted by a German citizen before the age of 18
  • Your ancestors were deprived of their German citizenship during the Nazi era (between 1933 and 1945) due to political, racial, or religious persecution

Application Process

  1. Collect your documents: In order to support your application, you must obtain and present documentation that demonstrates your German origin, such as a birth certificate or passport.
  2. Apply at the German Embassy or Consulate: The German Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence or place of birth is where you should submit your application for German citizenship by descent.
  3. Attend an interview: You will be expected to attend an interview to discuss your application and to give any necessary extra information or paperwork.
  4. Wait for a decision: Following the interview and submission of your application, you will need to wait for a response. Although processing times can vary, they can go on for months.

If your application is approved, you will be granted German citizenship and can obtain a German passport. Keep in mind that you may be required to renounce any other citizenships you hold, depending on the laws of your home country.


How far back can I trace my ancestry for German citizenship by descent?

Generally, German citizenship by descent is available to individuals with at least one German parent or grandparent. There is no limit on how many generations you can trace back, as long as you can provide the necessary documentation to prove your German lineage.


To get German citizenship by descent, must I renounce my present citizenship?

No, in order to get German citizenship by descent, you do not need to renounce your present citizenship. Germany recognizes dual citizenship in specific circumstances, but the rules can change based on the nation you now call home.

Can I pass on German citizenship by descent to my children?

Yes, if you obtain German citizenship by descent, you can pass it on to your children, regardless of where they are born.

Can I still obtain German citizenship by descent if my German ancestor(s) lost their German citizenship?

In some cases, individuals whose German ancestors lost their German citizenship due to certain historical events, such as forced naturalization during World War II, may still be eligible to reclaim German citizenship by descent. This is known as “restored citizenship.”

Can my children also obtain German citizenship through my German ancestry?

Yes, if you successfully acquire German citizenship by descent, your children may also be eligible for German citizenship. The specific rules may vary depending on factors such as the child’s age and whether they were born in or outside of Germany.


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