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Citizenship of children in Germany: what is the citizenship of a child born in Germany; how can a child obtain the German citizenship

On this page you will find out what kind of citizenship children in Germany receive by birth in the country, whether a child can get dual citizenship, how a child can be granted the German citizenship.

§ Citizenship of a child born in Germany

The basic German law governing children’s citizenship is the Nationality Act, Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (StAG) §4; for links to the German citizenship laws see a dedicated page on our website.

When granting the German citizenship to a child, the legislation applies 2 principles: the principle of origin (in German: Abstammungsprinzip) and principle of the birthplace (in German: Geburtsortsprinzip or ius soli).

The principle of origin means that a child with at least one parent holding the German citizenship automatically receives at birth. However, if the parents are not married and the father of the child is German, while the mother is a foreigner, then, awarding the citizenship to the child requires the acknowledgment of paternity.

The birthplace principle means that a child of foreigners born in Germany can automatically obtain the German citizenship at birth if at least one of his/ her parents has been living in Germany for at least 8 years and has the right to permanent residence in Germany at the time of the child's birth, for example, a residence permit or a permit for an indefinite stay.

The birthplace principle has been in force in Germany since 2000, and special rules apply for children born before that year.

Procedure for obtaining the citizenship at birth

If the conditions for obtaining a child’s citizenship at birth are met, s/he will receive this citizenship automatically; this does not require submitting specific application. However, after the birth of a child, the registry office employee who registers the birth will check whether the conditions for obtaining the German citizenship are met by the child and may ask the parents to fill out the required form to this purpose. To confirm the citizenship, you can request a document named the "Certificate of Citizenship" (in German: Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis) at the registry office, which will evidence the enjoyment of the German citizenship at the time this Certificate at the time of granting the said certificate.

§ Obtaining the citizenship, naturalization of the German citizenship to the children of foreigners not born in Germany

For the children who were not born in Germany and whose parents did not have the German citizenship at the time of the child's birth, obtaining the German citizenship is possible in the same way and under the same conditions as for adults. The difference is that for naturalization the application for children under 16 years of age shall be submitted by their parents; besides, when obtaining the citizenship together with their parents, children pay a much smaller fee for its registration. For information on how to get the German citizenship: conditions and procedure for obtaining the citizenship, see a dedicated page on our website.

§ Double citizenship of children in Germany

Children of foreigners born in Germany and having received the German citizenship can, along with the German one, have the citizenship of their parents, i.e. get dual citizenship. Obtaining double citizenship for a child is possible if s/he has been raised in Germany.

If the child obtained the German citizenship, but has not been raised in Germany, by the age of 21 s/he has to choose (in German: Optionspflicht), which citizenship s/he wants to have: German or the foreign citizenship of his/ her parents. In order not to lose the German citizenship, the child has to promptly inform the responsible institution of his/ her choice.

According to the Nationality Act §29 para. 1, the term “to be raised in Germany” shall mean that a child under 21 years of age has lived in Germany for at least 8 years, or has attended school in Germany for 6 years, or has finished school or received vocational education in the country.

§ Adopted children in Germany and their citizenship

If a German adopts a child who does not have the German citizenship, the child becomes a German citizen, provided that, at the time of filing the application for adoption, s/he is younger than 18 years old.

Below you will find the links to the sources of detailed information on/ about/ as to the citizenship of children born in Germany, obtaining/ getting the citizenship for a child in Germany.

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