FAQ on Reclaiming German Citizenship – updated 2022

The FAQ on German Citizenship are the most popular post on my blog. But some aspects are so complicated that they deserve their own list of FAQ, like those on applying for naturalization without living in Germany and the following ones on reclaiming German citizenship that had previously been lost. Some of these sections also extend to descendants of former Germans.

Before asking a new question, please read through the many comments which may already answer your questions. And if you find these FAQ useful or if you ask a new question, it would be very nice of you to support this blog. Thank you!

1. Why would someone lose German citizenship in the first place?

The main ways to lose German citizenship are applying for and receiving citizenship of another country without prior permission from Germany (§ 25 StAG), voluntarily serving in the armed forces of another country (§ 28 StAG) and renunciation (§ 26 StAG).

But it becomes endlessly more complex because different laws were in place at different times. Until 1949 or 1953, depending on the specific circumstances, German women who married a foreign man automatically lost German citizenship. Until 1913, German citizenship could be lost by living abroad for more than 10 years and not registering with a German consulate. And then, between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis stripped many people of German citizenship as an act of punishment or out of anti-Semitic ideology.

2. I am a history geek. Tell me more about that Nazi policy.

Ok. After all, I am history geek, too:

In November 1941, the Third Reich passed a law that deprived all Jewish Germans who were living abroad at the time (or moved abroad later) of their German citizenship.

In addition to that, since July 1933 there had been a law that allowed the individual revocation of German citizenship, which was mostly applied to opposition activists and intellectuals. If your ancestors were among the 39,006 victims of that policy, they were in the good company of people like Albert Einstein, Willy Brandt, Hannah Arendt, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Bertolt Brecht and others.

3. I am a descendant of someone in one of these two groups of people. Does this mean I can now apply for a German passport?

Generally yes.

Art. 116 II of the German Constitution states that all people who were deprived of their German citizenship on “political, racial or religious grounds” between 1933 and 1945 can reclaim Germany citizenship. What is of more interest to you is that Art. 116 II GG extends to descendants.

Since 2021, there is a new § 15 StAG, widening the number of people who are eligible to reclaim German citizenship. So even if you were previously told (by me or by someone else) that you are not eligible, it may well be worth to look into your case again.

4. That sounds interesting. What are the changes?

First, the new § 15 no. 1 StAG extends the eligible group of people to all those who lost or gave up their German citizenship – for the reasons outlined in Art. 116 II GG – before 1955. Previously, the loss of German citizenship had to have occurred before 1945. The purpose of the new § 15 StAG in this respect is to cover German citizens who fled from the Nazis, but only lost their German citizenship after the end of the Nazi regime, for example through naturalization in another country after 1945.

Second, § 15 no. 2 StAG now explicitly covers people who were excluded from mass-naturalizations of ethnic Germans based on racial grounds. For example, when the Nazis occupied the city of Gdansk/Danzig, the population automatically became German. Jews were however excluded from this.

Third, § 15 no. 3 StAG now covers people who did apply or could have applied for German citizenship between 1933 and 1945, but did not receive German citizenship due to racial or political discrimination. This concerns Jews, but for example also communists.

Fourth, § 15 no. 4 StAG extends the possibility to obtain German citizenship to people who were deported from the German Reich by the Nazis. In this case, the applicants (or their parents, grand-parents, etc.) need not have been German citizens! For example, especially Eastern Europeans were sometimes deported because they were suspected of being Jewish.

4. Why did you say “generally yes”? That sounds like there are some caveats.

In law, there are always exceptions.

First of all, in some of these cases, it’s hard to prove the political or ethnic persecution. For example, your grandfather may have lost his German citizenship because he was a communist. But by some weird twist of fate, he landed in the USA, where during the McCarthy era, it wasn’t particularly popular to be a communist. (Come to think of it, it probably still isn’t very popular.) So he may never have told his children and the information got lost.

And then there are exceptions if your ancestor lost his/her German citizenship first through Nazi persecution, then regained it (e.g. by moving back to Germany for a while) and then later lost it again (e.g. by emigrating a second time and getting naturalized in another country). All these cases are worth looking into them, though, because there are of course exceptions from the exceptions. But that would be too much for a simple FAQ.

5. But if I qualify, this also extends to my children?


6. What about the non-Nazi related cases, for example when I lost German citizenship because I applied for US/Jamaican/Australian citizenship without prior permission from Germany, but now I want to move back to Germany?

First of all, you don’t need German citizenship in order to move to Germany (§ 38 II AufenthG).

But § 13 StAG allows for the discretionary renaturalization of former German citizens (and their minor children). You are not entitled to it, though, and thus need to present a compelling case.

7. Can you help me with that?

Yes, I can.

The minimum requirements are that you speak German at B1 level, that you can financially support yourself and that you have close ties to Germany (family, professional, business, academic or otherwise). Even then, you’ll need to show that it would be in the national interest of Germany to re-naturalize you.

8. I am the child of a German mother, but I was born before 1975 and therefore did not receive German citizenship. Isn’t that unfair?

Very unfair indeed. Finally, this has been recognized and there is a new § 5 StAG, which is supposed to bestow German citizenship on all those who previously missed out on it due to gender discrimination in older versions of the Citizenship Act. This concerns the following groups of people:

  • Children of at least one German parent, who did not receive German citizenship at birth (§ 5 I no. 1 StAG). The main cases here are children of German mothers born before 1975 and children of German fathers born out of wedlock before 1993.
  • Children of a German mother who had lost her German citizenship due to marrying a foreigner (§ 5 I no. 2 StAG). This is only relevant if your mother or grandmother married a non-German before April 1953.
  • Children who lost their German citizenship because their German mother married their non-German father (§ 5 I no. 3 StAG).

Like with the other restitution cases, this also applies to descendants of the aforementioned cases.

If you fall under any of these categories, you have until 2031 to obtain German citizenship by a simple declaration.

9. Will I have to give up my existing citizenship?

In the restitution cases, you do not need to renounce your existing citizenship.

In the other cases, you are usually asked to renounce your existing citizenship. But there also plenty of exceptions to this rule.

Before you ask: I’ll have to write a separate list of FAQ on dual citizenship in Germany. I am just waiting for a few more donations to my blog before I do that.

10. I lost German citizenship when I was a child because my family moved to another country and my parents filed for British/Brazilian/US citizenship for me. I was never asked. This is unfair!

We cannot undo everything that your parents did on your behalf when you were a child. Or do you want to return all these bicycles and Commodore computers?

But it is worth looking into the exact circumstances. I’ve had cases where only one of the parents signed the petition for a new citizenship although the parents had joint custody. In this case, German law treats you as if you never lost German citizenship in the first place and you can simply apply for a new passport without having to go through re-naturalization.

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a writer, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in German Law, Germany, Law and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

105 Responses to FAQ on Reclaiming German Citizenship – updated 2022

  1. Pingback: 10 FAQ on citizenship law in Germany | The Happy Hermit


    I was born in Argentina in 1966. My father was also born in Argentina, but had German citizenship as well and got me my German citizenship in 1989. In 2005 I became a citizen of Mexico, since we’ve been living here for over 20 years. Next year my German passport expires.
    1.- Will Germany renew my passport? Do they cross-check citizenships automatically?
    2.- If not, due to my Mexican citizenship, is there an exception that I can apply for?
    3.- If I lose my citizenship, would I be able to reapply if I renounce my Mexican citizenship?


    • Unfortunately, you lost the German citizenship when you applied for and received Mexican citizenship.
      Germany cannot check automatically with all other countries, but they will make you provide a statement from the Mexican authorities or sign an affidavit.

      You can reapply, but as I write in no. 6, it’s not that easy. And you would need to give up both your Mexican and Argentinian citizenship.


      Hi Andreas,

      Thank you for prompt response. Love your sense of humor. Some of your responses are hilarious :-)

      I agree on the need to give up my Mexican citizenship, as I’ve acquired it by naturalization, but as far as the Argentinian goes, I cannot renounce that by law and Germany understands that. I was Argentinian by birth when my father requested my German citizenship by descent.

      Also, being that Germany recognizes citizenship mainly by “jus sanguinis”, which is my case, and without sounding pretentious or entitled, could Germany deny my “jus sanguinis” right, if I would like to re-apply after I give up my Mexican citizenship?

      BTW, I just happily made a donation to the cause :-)

      Vielen Dank!

    • Hello Alejandro,

      thank you very, very much for your donation!
      And I am glad you discovered some of funny replies. Many people overlook my legal FAQ and look for my short stories for humor, but some of the cases/answers about citizenship or divorce law are indeed funnier than any fiction.

      Now to clarify your situation:
      – If you re-apply for German citizenship, it’s an application for a new naturalization. You will be treated like any other applicant and if you previously could have maintained dual citizenship unfortunately plays no more role. (You have to consider that you could have kept German citizenship even you applied for Mexican citizenship if you had obtained permission from Germany in advance, § 25 II StAG).
      – If it’s legally impossible to renounce Argentinian citizenship, then that’s a completely different matter. In that case, Germany accepts dual citizenship (no. VV-StAG).
      – You are right that Argentina is one of these countries. Others are Afghanistan, Eritrea and Uruguay (GK-StAR § 8 Rn. 223).
      – Unfortunately, Germany can deny your application if you do not meet the requirements because you lost German citizenship through a voluntary act of your own volition when you were already an adult. Also, you are not stateless, so you are not considered to be in a disadvantaged situation. Former Germans do therefore not have an entitlement to re-naturalization (GK-StAR § 13 Rn. 33 m.w.N.). Obviously, your connections to Germany will be evaluated, but descent is only one factor. You would need to show that you speak German fluently and that you have other family/professional/business/academic/cultural ties to Germany.
      – If you wish to move to Europe, it might be easier to apply for a residence permit in accordance with § 38 II AufenthG, which is a special clause for ex-Germans, and then apply for regular naturalization after living there for several years.

      I am sorry that it’s so complicated.


    Hi Andreas,

    I have no plans to move to Europe for now, but I’ve always been proud of my German heritage, I went 12 years to the Goethe Schule and the Steiner Schule (Waldorf) in Buenos Aires and traveling around the world with the most powerful passport in the world has been very easy.

    Do you think that I could ask for permission to keep my German citizenship now by apologizing for my lack of knowledge of the consequences of acquiring the Mexican citizenship? I cannot renounce it for a few years, as my work visa in the United States is based on my Mexican passport through NAFTA. I’ve read somewhere that if I could be seriously affected financially by giving up my acquired Mexican citizenship, Germany would consider that as well.

    Again, thanks for what you do :-)

    • The information about the German schools is positive, that will count for a lot when Germany will make a discretionary decision.

      The problem with the Mexican citizenship is this: If you say that you need it to stay in the US, you will be asked what on earth you need German citizenship for if you don’t want to live in Germany. I agree that it’s a very useful passport for traveling, but that’s not a compelling reason for an exception.
      The hardship exceptions for keeping another citizenship when getting naturalized as a German are usually cases from countries where you lose property or inheritance rights when you give up citizenship.
      And if you are planning to apply for US citizenship, then you have the same issue again of losing German citizenship unless you get a permission in accordance with § 25 II StAG. Lastly, this is all complicated by the fact that applications for German citizenship from abroad currently take at least 2 years to process because of the huge number of applications due to my FAQ ;-) – and due to Brexit, to be honest. And if you get US citizenship first, Germany will ask you to give it up upon naturalization in Germany.

  4. Afia says:

    Hi Andreas
    I was born in Germany in 1981 from a GhanaIan parents and they move to ghana I just received my Germany birth certificate how do I apply for passport pls am worried

  5. YUNITA Anzarni says:

    Hallo andreas.

    I am yunita from Indonesia. I have relationhip with the refugee status in germany. We love each other so much. We want to know how we can married.
    He didn’t have german pasport. So his lawyes just give him 2 choices. There are married with german girl or change his religion to christiani.

    I don’t have any idea now. I’m really confused. I’m pregnant and this is our baby.

    Do you have idea for us ?

    Thanks Andrean.

  6. Jim says:

    Hi Andreas,

    Thank you for this great source of information. I am a 55 year old US citizen living most of my life in Japan. Some very sketchy research indicates that my great great grandfather, born in 1879 came to the US from Germany when he was a young man and fathered my grandfather in 1906 in Camden New Jersey who then fathered my father in 1929. None of them signed up for any wars although my father was conscripted to Korea. I don’t know if my great great grandfather naturalized or not. I think he came through Ellis Island. Was naturalization part of the process? Anyway, I am interested in finding out if I have a chance for German citizenship or not. Would appreciate any info or ideas you could provide.

    • Naturalization was not done at Ellis Island because it required several years of residence in the US.
      In your case, we would need to find out when your great great grandfather came to the US and if he was naturalized before 1906. None of the subsequent forefathers would have been naturalized because they received US citizenship due to being born in the USA.
      Because you have a fully paternal line of ancestors, you’d be German if everything checks out all right in the first immigrant generation.

  7. Natalia says:

    Danke schoen Andreas! Sehr hilfreich!

  8. Ben says:

    Hello, I’ve read through the various questions and appreciate the insight. I was hoping you might be able to provide some clarity on this situation. I am the last, direct male heir from my German great grandfather.

    Great Grandfather: 1866 – 1942
    Emigrated to the United States around 1884 per U.S. Census in 1900
    No evidence of naturalization
    You mentioned a law which could remove citizen if a German citizen lived abroad 10+ years without registering with a consulate. Are these consulate records generally available? Would immigration today give much credence to this old law, or expect me to provide evidence of the consular registration?

    Grandfather: 1913 – 1989
    Born in the U.S.
    **Served in the military in WWII against Germany**
    I am not certain if the military service would void his possibility of citizenship, or if there was an exception made after the war given circumstances.

    Father: 1953 – Present
    Born in the U.S.

    Me (male): 1988 – Present
    Born in the U.S.

    • I’ll be happy to help once I receive a donation to my Paypal account or a few books from my wishlist. Thank you very much already!

    • Ben says:

      Of course- thank you.

    • Dear Ben,

      thank you very much for your generous donation! That really helps to keep this blog and its services going.
      So let’s look your situation, generation by generation. First of all, it’s good that you have an all-male line because that made a difference until 1975 and makes it much easier.

      With your great-grandfather, you already indicated the two issues:
      – We can’t prove a negative, but we would need to show indications that he was not naturalized as a US citizen before 1913 (when your grandfather was born). If the US agency that took care of naturalizations at the time can confirm that they don’t have any record of his naturalization, that should suffice.
      – The second problem is that the old German Citizenship Act in force from 1871 to 1913 demanded that Germans register with the German Consulate every 10 years (for example to renew their passport or simply to be entered into a list, called “Konsulatsmatrikel”) or that they would otherwise lose German citizenship automatically. Although this law went out of force in 1913, it did remove German citizenship while it was in place and thus the law or rather its consequences are still relevant today. It’s not a question of “applying” old laws, but of accepting that the question of citizenship was decided differently in different times.
      Depending on where your great-grandfather lived at the time, we would need to find out the closest German Consulate and inquire with them if they still have the “Konsulatsmatrikel”. Unfortunately, many of them got lost or destroyed, and even more unfortunately, courts in Germany have ruled that this does not shift the burden of proof (because you could prove registration by other documents, for example if you have German passports of your great-grandfather from that time).
      In reality, most Germans never registered because they didn’t know about this law or they didn’t care, often because there was no idea of ever returning to Germany. The farther they lived from the city with the German Consulate, the more unlikely it is that they rode or took the train to New York or Chicago to register. If they bothered about citizenship law at all, they knew that their children would be born as US citizens and that was fine with them.
      Statistics from places where the consular lists are maintained show that a minuscule percentage of Germans registered (which is the reason why the German courts refuse to change the burden of proof even in cases of destroyed archives).

      So this is unfortunately the first big hurdle that we need to overcome. Because your grandfather was born in 1913, we would need to prove that your great-grandfather registered with the German Consulate by 1894 (10 years after immigration) and 1904 (another 10 years).

      If we take that hurdle, let me already address the issue of your grandfather’s military service:
      At the time of WW2, § 28 RuStAG was worded differently as the current § 28 StAG and did not lead to an automatic loss of German citizenship. At that time, the German authorities could revoke someone’s German citizenship if that German citizen was serving another country and did not stop doing so after Germany asked him to. (Here we have an example where a previous law is more lenient than the current law, and the effects are still relevant for today).

      So the next step would be to find out where your great-grandfather lived (trickier if he was moving around a lot) and which German Consulate he would have visited and then contact them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear Andreas,
      Your blog is brilliant and all the information here is very useful. Congratulations!
      You mentioned according to the citizenship law from 1871 the registration in the consulate had to be renewed every 10 years. Are you sure about that?

      There seems to be conflicting information about this requirement. As an example, at the end of paragraph 10 on this case (https://openjur.de/u/455731.html) there’s a claim the matriculation didn’t have to be renewed if the citizen hadn’t changed his Konsularbezirk.

      Kind regards,

  9. iyadshami says:

    hello i am us citizen , i born in wuppertal Germany in 1977 i left wuppertal Germany in 1984 with my parents the have that time preeminent resident for 10 years they live in Germany about 12 years since 1967 if any chance can i get my German citizen ship !

    • Sorry, but there is a special clause to disqualify people with bad grammar.

    • iyadshami says:

      I was born in Germany in 1977 and my family was in Germany at that time. I lived in Germany legally with ten years, but in 1984 I decided to return to Jordan. Can I ask for German nationality?

    • I’ll be happy to help once I receive a donation to keep this blog going or a book from my wishlist.
      Thank you very much in advance!

  10. Now I am going away to do my breakfast, afterward having my breakfast coming yet again to read more news.

  11. Thanh Dang says:

    Hi, I was a naturalized German citizen thru my parents when we lived in Germany. I was a child back then and was naturalized with my whole family. In 1998, my family migrated to the US and been living there since. I had to go to Vet School in 2006 and they required me to have the US citizenship to do so. So I gained the US Citzenship in 2006. I wasn’t aware the dual citizenship is an option back then. Is there a way to regain my german citizenship now – as a dual citizenship? I currently still live in the US. Thanks

  12. kwaaikat says:

    Hallo Andreas,

    Danke für deine cool Seite. Also, ich finde auch deine Reisen sehr interessant. Obwohl ich Deutsch lesen, verstehen und sprechen kann, ist mein Wortschatz im Gebiet Staatsangehörigkeit (noch) nicht so gut. Darum schreibe ich leider noch auf Englisch..

    We have a proven paternal lineage of birth and marriage certificates linking my wife to her great grandfather, who was born in Germany in 1875. We also a certificate from our (South African) authorities stating that the first immigrant (her great grandfather) never
    naturalised, the exact one recommended the local German embassy.

    The only thing complicating the matter is the the loss of citizenship law (that was repealed in 1914). As would be expected from that long ago, we do not have any travel documents. As far as I understand the 10 year counter towards lapse of citizenship started upon expiry of the last travel document. In other words, we need something to take proof of the ancestor being German
    past 1 January 1904?

    The ancestor in question boarded a ship to South Africa in October 1901 (we can get a certified copy of the ships register) and would likely have arrived in South Africa in January 1902. His son, my wife’s grandfather, was born in South Africa in 1911.

    I mention the dates, due to the date of arrival being so close to 1904. I heard a staff member
    at the embassy say clearly that documents used in 1901 would almost certainly have been valid in 1904. I am not clear (and I was unable to clarify) whether this was applied as an assumption, in the absense of documents, or whether it was just a matter of fact observation of travel documents, meaning we still needed to locate one.

    Assuming it is not applied as an assumption, can you perhaps suggest something we could do? I’ve heard of a consular correspondence database search, which sounds like an expensive shot in the dark. Are there records of passports issued? I have contacted various Stadtsampten, but so far I was only able to locate a fairly old 1880 residence record, and a testament of the ancestor’s father at the time the ancestor would have been 17 years old. (I have ordered a certified copy, but have not s seen it yet. I expect nothing more than a mention of the son, which we have any way from the birth certificate). We also have proof that the woman (my wife’s grandmother) that the first South African born son (my wife’s grandfather) married, grew up in Germany, from an original church confirmation certificate. The argument (and truth!) was since the place of confirmation was very close to where his ancestor was born, the family must have kept active ties with Germany, for at least 37 years after the first ancestor immigrated.

    Is your feeling that it is worth applying if we don’t get anything else? Or is the chance of success so
    remote that it is futile and may complicate matters if new evidence comes to light, and better to hold out in the hope that we can find something better? The proof of non-naturalisation (the letter says he never applied either) would suggest to me that if he ceased to be German, he would in fact be stateless, as there is no other candidate country. The ancestor in question had 4 first names, which meant that none of documents that we have referring to him (including the proof of non-naturalisation) raise any questions as to whether it’s the same guy.

    Any advice on where to take it from here would be appreciated.

    Do you provide a service of producing a cover letter that refer to circumstantial evidence to argue a case that the ancestor was very likely German at the time of the birth of his son?

    Thanks in advance. There is a little token of gratitude in your PayPal account.

    • Ron says:

      Hi kwaaikat! Were you able to make any progress? Did your local embassy go with the assumption of the travel document still being valid in 1904? I’m curious since my great grandfather immigrated to the US from Germany in 1901 too :)

  13. Jessica says:

    I am in the process of regaining citizenship due to my grandparents loosing theirs during holocaust. I understand my future child will have citizenship however is my husband eldigable due to association through marriage?

  14. David says:

    There is a Facebook group for descendants of German Jewish mothers born before 1953 to discuss restoration of German citizenship. If interested in joining, email a description of your background to: GermanCitizenshipRestoration@outlook.com

    • Thank you for the recommendation!
      But that sounds like I would have to answer even more questions, so I’ll rather stay away from it. ;-)
      (Also, Facebook groups of lay people discussing legal questions are the most depressing thing for lawyers.)

  15. yassin says:

    Hallo Andreas,

    i am yassin i live in egypt all my life i was born in 1996 i took my german passport in 2015 with no problems untill we have a problem that when my sister and my brother went to apply for german passport they knew that my father have dual citizenship thats why they said to us they need some kind of a paper that my father is only german and thats not possibe because my father own the egyptian citizenship and the german so what we can do about this if my father lost his german citzenship will i also loose my citzenship and my brother and sister will not get their passport and if i lost it can i get it back again please help me and if u need the email which is sent by them to us i can show it to you

  16. Wilko says:

    Hallo Andreas,

    My situation is that I can trace my lineage back to Germany through my father, grandfather and great-grandfather. But it is quite a complex case and I do not know if citizenship was lost and can be easily regained or not.
    1. My great-grandfather was born in Germany and moved to German South West Africa (GSWA) in 1904 as a soldier.
    2. My grandfather was born in 1809 in GWSA. I assume as a German citizen.
    3. GSWA became a protectorate of South Africa after WWI. Not sure how this affected citizenship?
    4. After 1920 my great-grandfather moved with the family back to Germany for a few years (his first wife died). He moved back to SWA around 1922. I can get certified copies of ship logs as well as church registers to prove his second marriage in Germany. There is no history of him naturalizing that I can find.
    5. My grandfathers German passport were apparently lost during WWII in a South African internment camp.
    5. My grandfather did naturalize in 1949 to SA citizenship. Not sure if this was voluntary or forced as the SA citizenship Act changed in 1949. Also not sure if he applied to keep his German citizenship active. Any ideas where I can check for this info? Probably the German embassy in Namibia?
    6. My father was born in 1950 in SWA as a SA citizen. He was later conscripted into the SA Defence Force. He has not applied for German citizenship.
    7. I was born in 1978 in SA and have also not applied for German citizenship.

    Would it be worth pursuing this any further? If you can help I will gladly make a donation to obtain more info, so just let me know.


    • Once I receive a donation, I will gladly read your question and reply to it. Thank you!

    • Wilko says:

      Donation made. Thanks

    • Hello Wilko,
      thank you very much for your donation!
      That’s really quite a complex case, but let’s try to sort it out. The problematic point was in 1949 because your father hadn’t been born yet, so whatever your grandfather did with his citizenship had an effect on your subsequently born father.
      If your grandfather naturalized in South Africa in 1949, he must have had a different citizenship until then. Let’s assume that he still had German citizenship. Depending on when in 1949 this was, there wasn’t any German embassy at the time because (West) Germany was only founded in May 1949. I would find it highly unlikely that during that time of not knowing what would become of occupied Germany, someone would bother to apply to retain German citizenship. But if he did, he would have gone through the closest German consulate at the time and we would need to find the papers. If you know the exact time of your grandfather’s naturalization, we will see if the Federal Republic of Germany was already established by then, although I doubt they immediately established consulates or an embassy in Namibia. (Let’s keep in mind that West Germany only received full sovereignty in 1955.)
      If he didn’t file such an application (and receive permission!), your grandfather would have lost his German citizenship in 1949. Because your father was born in 1950, there were no more legal ties to Germany at that time.
      I am sorry that I don’t have any better news!

  17. Wilko says:

    Hallo Andreas, Thank you for the information. I have a SA government gazette entry [No 4321, 30 January 1950] that indicates the date of naturalisation under the SA Citizenship Act, 1949. The date is 1 September 1949. Note that the Act was only enacted in June 1949.

    Just to confirm – if he did not apply to retain citizenhsip, irrespective of German representation in then SWA, he would have lost his citizenship? I will have to contact the embassy in Namibia to determine if they have any such information.

    • I should specify one more aspect: § 25 StAG (and the previous versions of it) only apply if it was a naturalization based on the application of the German citizen. If someone was naturalized by law (without having to apply), then the German citizenship was not lost.

      But in the case of a naturalization after the individual’s application, it is as you say. If he did not apply to Germany for permission to retain the German citizenship and receive that permission, the German citizenship was automatically lost with the naturalization. We also have to keep in mind that the permission pursuant to § 25 II StAG is only granted if the applicant shows good reasons for dual citizenship, which is usually the case if someone is moving back and forth between both countries or for mixed couples who have children with dual citizenship.

  18. Natalia M. says:

    Hi Andreas, Donation made :) Question. We live in the US. I have a German passport and a green card. My husband is from Uruguay and just became US Citizenship by naturalization last month (He is not German at all). My son (born in Uruguay as well) just got the US citizenship automatically and instead of renovating the green card for him we just got a US Passport considering US citizenship for my son was automatically after my husband became American. Now here is the question. I want my son to become German as well (that is the reason I didn’t apply to a US citizenship because didn’t want to lose my German citizenship), but my concern is that when showing in the embassy that he is “American” now, the application for German citizenship will be denied for him, even though he didn’t voluntarily apply to any new citizenship. What is your recommendation here? Should I say in the form that he got that US passport by birth? Will they found out about that or there is no difference for the kids? Appreciate your guidance here.

    • Hello Natalia,
      thanks for the donation!

      If your husband did not include your son in his application and your son received US citizenship automatically, as you say, or by law, then you are fine.

      § 25 I StAG which mandates the loss of German citizenship in cases of obtaining another citizenship only covers cases in which the individual or his parents actively apply for his naturalization.

      Could you look at your husband’s application for naturalization to make sure that your son was not included there?
      If he was, we might have to argue that you did not approve of this and that your husband shouldn’t have been able to represent your son alone in such an important decision, and that thus it did not lead to a loss of your son’s German citizenship (which he always had as the son of a German mother, irrespective of holding the passport or not).

  19. L Williams says:

    Hello, I was born in Germany in 1957. I was brought to USA at the age of 2, and became a naturalized citizen. Is there a way for me to reclaim my German citizenship?
    thank you so much for any information,

  20. Can ALKILI says:

    Hello Andreas,

    Was born in Germany Hamburg in Feb 1973. My parents returned back to Turkey in 1984. So i have turn to Turkey when i was a child and did not decide for myself. Can i claim or do i have rights applying for a German Passport? Thanks in advance.

  21. Agustin Boehler says:

    Hello Andreas.

    My case is the following:

    Great great grandfather came from Germany to Buenos Aires, Argentina circa 1890 with his wife, a son and an Adoptive Son (his nephew)

    Had another son in 1899 (my great grandfather)

    Then Grandfather>Father>Me. All-male line and in weddlock. GG grand father never naturalized.

    The problem here is that I already asked for the Konsulatsmatrikel in Buenos Aires and they told me they do not have them anymore, that I had to ask the Political Archive. I did ask them and they told me they found no “Boehler” in the registry.

    Now here comes the tricky part. I luckily found the Konsulatsmatrikel in my cousine’s house of my great-great-grandfather’s son, the adoptive son which I mentioned before . So if He had his Konsulatsmatrikel how would his father (my GGGF) would not have done it?

    Therefore, if I have a Konsulatsmatrikel that they don’t have, probably they have lost most of my family’s Konsulatsmatrikels.

    My questions are: What do you think I should do next? Do you think I still have a chance?

    Thank you very much for your attention and help.

    PS: Have in mind that my GGGF had my Grandfather less than 10 years after leaving Germany. So he was born to a german citizen anyway (with or without the Konsulatsmatrikel). So in my case my great grandfather loss of citizenship would’ve been between 1899 and 1909 in case the Matrikel is not found/ granted as lost.

    • Hello Augustin,
      wow, what a rare situation to still find a Konsulatsmatrikel! Unfortunately, most of them really have gotten lost.
      I will be happy to look into your situation more closely, but because it is a bit complicated, I would appreciate a donation to my Paypal account at moser@moser-law.com. Thank you very much in advance, vielen Dank!

  22. Karl says:

    Hi. I am a second generation German Jewish immigrant in the uk. I can see that me and my children are eligible to apply for German citizenship. However please can you advise whether my wife is also eligible on the grounds of our marriage.
    Many thanks in advance.

    • Hello Karl,
      your wife is not eligible for German citizenship through your ancestry. After all, nobody knows how long you’ll stay married, and once citizenship is granted, it cannot be revoked. (Forgive the tactless remark, but I like to explain the reasoning behind a law.)

      But if you ever move to Germany together, your wife could of course obtain a residence permit. This is a relatively easy process in Germany, with no minimum income requirement. You would just need to show that as a family, you can support yourself.

      All the best with the application!

  23. Jacqueline says:

    Hi Andreas – did you get my e-mail please? I want to find out which book/s to choose for you, and check some other stuff.

    Also, I have a completely new legal q for you if you were able/willing to help? My father was a German Jewish refugee from the Nazis. He emigrated from Germany to England in 1936 and was naturalised as a British Citizen in (I think) 1947. Later – much later – he reapplied for German citizenship, which was granted. So then he had dual nationality. I have his German passport which expired in 2004. He died in 2008.

    I was legally adopted by him and his wife, my mother, also a German-born Jewish refugee (in 1939) in London, aged 3 days short of 4 months.

    Am I eligible for German citizenship by virtue of adoption? I know I was not at the time of my adoption, but could I apply for it under current law, which I believe applied in 2004 when my father WAS (again) a German citizen?

    Many thanks for any help you can give on this matter, and as I said, do please check out if you have time my earlier mail so that I can organise some more books for you etc.

    Hope you are enjoying the beautiful Alice as much as she is clearly enjoying you!!

    Jackie x

    • Hello Jackie,

      I think we spoke about this already.
      German citizenship was only granted due to adoption by German parents from 1977 onward. There is no retroactive application of this clause to adoptions that occurred before 1977.
      Not that it matters besides that, § 6 StAG only applies to the adoption of minors and you were no longer a minor in 1977.

  24. Jacqueline says:

    PS and if so, can I have dual German/British citizenship? And again if so, would that be affected post-Brexit if I don’t get an application in, before that? Thanks again. x

  25. Pingback: Testing a Client’s Sense of Humor | The Happy Hermit

  26. Dear Andreas, I have been reading with a lot of interest your comments to many of your readers on acquiring the German citizenship. I am Mexican born in 1966. Here goes the history, and hopefully you can advise me on the next steps… my great-great grandfather, German from Hamburg, came to Mexico as business was boooming… my great grandfather was born in Mexico, and then moved in 1866 back to Germany, where he studied until he was 19 , moved to Brussels for some apprenticeship until 1885, when he decided to move back to Mexico to take care of the business his father established (hat makers :) ), married to a German descent Mexican born lady, and had 9 kids (my grandfather was the 3rd in line). My Great grandfather applied in 1915 to get the German nationality by Jus Sanguini, which he obtained in 1916, and he inscribed his sons in his Einburgerungsurkunde. The older ones were already “adults” (my grandfather one of them, born 1896) so they were not handed their urkunde as they needed to do the process themselves. The older brother (born 1893) did the process and had his Urkunde given, as he wanted to move to Germany for medical care, but the other 2 older brothers did not go and get it as Germany was at war and were afraid of being enlisted. My Dad never tried to acquire his German citizenship, even though he studied one year of Medicine in Germany. From my grandfathers brothers, 5 were male and 4 were female… the male brothers, 3 have already successfully acquired the German citizenship (the older one, and the 2 younger ones, born in 1906 and 1912). My cousins from those 3 lines have the German nationality. From the female lines, they all got married to Germans, so their lines have the German passport as well. With all these being said… do I have a good claim for the German nationality? My father had a sister born in 1934… can my cousins apply for the German nationality? I went to a German school in Mexico, my daughters speak perfect German, and my wife is first generation born in Mexico… she Does not have the German nationality as her grandfather naturalized Mexican, even though one year before that he asked to maintain his citizenship in Hamburg… her mother is German, but cannot pass her the nationality as my wife was born in 1967… could she do something with the document that his grandfather meant to maintain his nationality, and was naturalized to keep his job in Mexico? Thanks so much for your answers and perspective

  27. Oh, I did donate before asking 😉

  28. Michael McCartney says:

    I was born in Germany to American parents (father in the military). Can i apply for German citizenship?

    • No.
      According to the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, soldiers and spouses are not regarded as residents of Germany for the purpose of immigration or citizenship law.

    • Michael McCartney says:

      Andreas thank you for the fast response.

    • Thank you, Sir!
      I am sorry it wasn’t a positive one. But it might save you time and money, at least.

  29. ERIC says:

    Just for the record.. You dismissed the invitation to be involved with a facebook group working
    to secure citizenship for those of us born before 1953 from German mothers that left their homes in Germany leaving everything behind. That group succeeded in having BBC London show
    a good segment discussing our claims.. Pressure from the group is leading to changes in the guidance which will be made public very soon

    • That’s great! If you have a link, please feel free to add it.

      And regardless of subject or intention, I never join groups about legal issues where non-lawyers are admitted. Even less on Facebook.

  30. Jacqueline says:


    I am the Jacqueline (“baby Churchill”!) who, with my mother, was inter alia featured in BBC London’s piece tonight. It was initiated by the Article 116 group which encompasses descendants excluded from eligibility (till now) for a wide range of reasons.

    (Andreas, I’ll send you a link to the segment in a private email.)

    Andreas was incredibly helpful to me when I embarked on the issue of applying for restoration of German citizenship some years’ ago. I found his advice on the legal position invaluable in working towards getting these injustices remedied, as it sounds that hopefully they now may be.

    The Facebook group you mention does not represent everyone affected by these issues; my reason for being excluded, for example, is adoption, and there are several others.

    Isn’t the progress the German Government has made here great!


  31. Dean Rieger says:

    Hi. My father and the rest of the family had their citizenship revoked during the Nazi era. My sister and I coordinated application for reclamation of citizenship about six months ago; we were told to expect the process to take about two years. Just wanted to let you know the current timeline, in part due to increases in US requests and UK requests, the latter in front of Brexit. I have no question for you but wanted to let you know about the timeline.

    • Jacqueline says:

      I’ve been told the wait is now a three years :(

      Also, please be aware there are some exclusions via article 116 , but it now seems hopefully these are being addressed by the German Government.

      This report is from BBC LONDON on 13th July 2019:

    • Hello Dean,
      Thanks a lot for the update and I nonetheless wish you a smooth application process and hope you will receive German citizenship soon.
      As you pointed out, Brexit led to a surge of applications by people who wish to retain EU citizenship via the German citizenship. Of course they all could/should have applied sooner. But I don’t know why the German government hasn’t vastly increased the number of officials working in that field to tackle the caseload. Because these cases are rarely complicated enough to warrant such a long timeframe. If descendants have all the documents, these applications could be evaluated quite swiftly, if only the manpower was there.

  32. Tim says:

    Hi Andreas, I have the german citizenship but been living in the USA since 1998. I have the green card. I’m thinking about getting dual citizenship (applying for US Citizenship and still keeping my German). Is that possible?

    • Hallo Tim,
      das ist gut, dass du vorher fragst! Es ist möglich, wenn du vom deutschen Generalkonsulat in deiner Nähe eine sogenannte Beibehaltungsgenehmigung nach § 25 II StAG erhältst. Allerdings nur, wenn das vor Erhalt der US-Staatsbürgerschaft geschieht.

      Für den Antrag müsstest du begründen, warum du beide Staatsbürgerschaften gleichermaßen brauchst (zB regelmäßige Aufenthalte in beiden Ländern, berufliche Tätigkeit in beiden Ländern, familiäre Bindungen in beiden Ländern).

      Ich helfe auch gerne beim Schreiben dieses Antrags, aber er muss natürlich auf den tatsächlichen Grundlagen deiner Umstände basieren. Ich berechne dafür 200 EUR inklusive telefonischer Beratung.

  33. max says:

    Hello Andreas,
    Great blog!

    My German Great Grandfather, b. Munich 1843, left Germany for France in 1881. He was the last of a long line of Germans. And then lived in France until his death in 1922. I understand that I need to prove he maintained links to Germany between 1904-1914 and did not break the 10 year rule, for example by finding the Konsulatsmatrikel. He did not serve the German military either.

    But the German Political Archives do not keep the records from France, and I doubt the Germany Embassy in France still has the records either. I

    It is possible he went back to Germany to reclaim his citizenship but I don’t know who would know about this. Is there a government body to ask, ‘was X considered German at this time, for example’?

    But if I cannot find anything, then could I still apply for German Citizenship on discretionary grounds and would you be interested in this case.

    Thank you very much

    • There is no central agency, so you would need to look for local archives of towns where your great-grandfather might have returned to.
      It’s not a foolproof method, as he might have gone to some town that you don’t know about. So you can really only check the places where he came from or where he went to school or that you know about other ties.

      The discretionary application is an option, but I would need to see if you meet the criteria. You need to prove very strong ongoing ties to Germany and fluency in German.

    • Thanks Andreas, sounds like a lot of digging I will need to do then. But happy to explore the discretionary option with you. If strong ties means lots of living relatives in Germany, then yes I do. German I’m learning. Although I would want to retain my UK passport.

  34. Adam says:

    My Great Great Grandfather came from Stuttgart to the UK in 1890.
    He married an Irish lady in England the same year and they had some children.
    On the last census before he died, he was registered as German.
    The family was also kidnapped during WW1 on suspicion of being German spies and spent 2 years in a British POW camp.

    My Great Grandmother was born in 1905 in England and lived until 1992.
    She gave birth to my Grandmother in 1927
    My father was born in 1967.
    All births happened during wedlock.

    I am wondering if by any stretch I may qualify for a German passport by my family history.

    Kind Regards,

  35. J. Sauer says:

    Guten Tag!

    There is a group that is trying to convince a change in the german laws to accept the people that cannot get the citizenship because of the consular register that was mandatory between 1871 and 1913.
    The link is this one: https://www.artikel116.com/en/
    Hope that will help the ones that, like me, cannot apply for a citizenship because of the missing document.

    Best Regards,

  36. Mark says:

    Hello Andreas,

    I wonder if you could offer some advice in return for a donation to your blog please?

    I am looking to pursue a claim for German Citizenship under Article 116. My maternal grandfather fled Germany and arrived as a refugee in August 1939 at Kitchener Camp, Sandwich, Kent, UK. He registered as an “alien” in 1939 an then joined the British Army in the same year. He met and married my Austrian grandmother (also an “alien”) in a London Synagogue in 1940. He was discharged from the army in 1943 and was granted British naturalisation in 1949. My mother was born in the UK in 1954. My grandmother did not receive British naturalisation until after 1964. I was born in 1978.

    I have quite a number of supporting documents already but given the current global situation, I have been slowed down in the document gathering process.

    In the meantime, I would very much appreciate your opinion on whether you believe it’s worth submitting a claim for German Citizenship? Specifically in relation to the fact that my mother was born to my grandfather after he gained naturalisation to Britain?

    Many thanks in anticipation of your response.

    Kind regards,


  37. 116 Wir Auch says:

    Hi Andreas, we would like to introduce you to our website regarding the infamous “Konsulatsmatrikel” requirement. Hope you find it interesting, in particular the fact that the nazis actually removed the right of former Germans to naturalize! Let us know what you think. Cheers.

  38. Karin says:

    Hi Andreas, What an incredibly helpful blog! (I just contributed as a Patron.) I went to law school, and even I’m having trouble parsing out the intricacies of applying to reclaim German citizenship under Article 116. Here is my particular question: My Jewish maternal grandparents fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and ended up in Chile, where my mother was born. My paternal grandparents were of German Jewish origin, but were from a German-speaking community that was located in Moravia, and they were Czech citizens at the time of the Nazi takeover; they fled to Palestine (Israel) in 1940, where my father was born. My parents, who both grew up speaking fluent German at home, met as adults in New York, where they married and where I was born in 1973. Here is my question: Because my father’s parents were originally Czech citizens, and I believe German citizenship carried through the father’s side for anyone born before 1975, does that mean I can’t reclaim German citizenship under Article 116? Would my sister, who was born in 1976, be able to? Thank you so much, in advance, for any guidance you may have!

  39. Hi,

    I hope you are doing well.

    Are you sure about point 4? I am pretty certain they got rid of this restriction. On the Merkblatt related to Art. 116 of November 2019, they mentioned the following:

    “In der Zeit vor 1975 konnte die deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit grundsätzlich nur vom Vater abgeleitet werden, nicht aber von der deutschen Mutter, es sei denn, dass Kind wäre sonst staatenlos geworden. Aus Wiedergutmachungsgründen wendet das Bundesverwaltungsamt Art. 116 Abs. 2 GG jedoch generell auf die im Zeitraum vom 01.04.1953 bis zum 31.12.1974 geborenen Kinder einer ehemals deutschen Mutter an. Vor dem 01.04.1953 geborene Kin- der deutscher Mütter können hingegen aufgrund Art. 117 Abs. 1 GG nicht berücksichtigt werden.”

    Furthermore, in the newest Merkblatt related to Art. 116 as of today (June 2020), it says “Anyone who after being deprived of their German citizenship acquired a foreign citizenship by application is entitled to have his/her German citizenship restored. This also applies to de- scendants.”

    It is my understanding that, under Art. 116, pretty much anyone that was persecuted can apply. Obviously, there may be some particular exceptions.

    Thanks for your time and attention!

    • Hello Rodrigo,
      indeed, the rules have been relaxed considerably since 2019.
      I haven’t gotten around to updating this article from 2017 yet.
      I wrote a separate article about the decision by the Supreme Court in June 2020, which was a milestone: https://andreasmoser.blog/2020/06/17/bverfg-116-ii/ , but I have yet to incorporate this in the older blog posts.

    • Thanks Andreas for your quick response.
      I didn’t find that article before you replied, so thanks for sharing it with me! I’ve read some of the comments from such article and I think many of your readers are still confused about children born between 01.04.1953 and 31.12.1974 to former German mothers (victims of Nazi persecution) and foreign fathers.
      Based on the quote from the (now old) information sheet of Nov. 2019 of Art. 116 I sent on my original comment, I am quite certain those children that were born between the aforementioned dates (to a former German mother and foreign father) were already eligible before the new changes introduced on 20.05.2020. Maybe that can help you for future cases of people that ask you such questions.

      I would’ve made a donation but now I am not in a position to do so. Keep up the good work!

      Best wishes,

  40. Kais says:

    Hello Andreas,

    I was born in German. My parents and I got the German citizenship (by naturalization) when I was 4 years old. My parents and I left Germany when 12 years ago (I was 5 years old). Is it possible to lose the citizenship in the future? I don’t have any other citizenship; I hold a Palestinian passport (but this is not a nationality).

    Thanks a lot in advance.
    Kind regard,

    • Hello Kais,
      there is no time limit on the German citizenship and you don’t lose it, even if you never live in Germany.
      There are a few ways to lose it, though. The most relevant one is if you apply for and receive another citizenship. If you are ever thinking of applying for another citizenship, you should consider this before and potentially apply for an exception under § 25 II StAG.
      Your Palestinian citizenship is no problem, because you already had that from birth. (I once got a German court to recognize Palestinian citizenship, by the way: AG Amberg, case no. 6 Ds 110 Js 10396/05)

  41. DJ says:

    Hello, Andreas!
    I came upon your blog while doing some research and am hopeful you can provide me with a bit of guidance. (I did make a small donation to the blog and am happy to continue doing so – it sounds like quite a life you’re living!)
    Is there any possibility of obtaining German citizenship as the descendent of German Saxons who lived in Transylvania? I am a US citizen. Here is the timeline of family/historical events, just to put the family history in context:
    1894 – Great-grandfather (Ethnic German) born in (what was then) Austria-Hungary; Sibiu commune of Transylvania
    1921 – Great-grandfather immigrated to the US in the aftermath of WW1
    1924 – He married my Great-grandmother in the US
    1927 – My grandmother was born in the US
    1940s (I am awaiting paperwork with the exact dates) – Great-grandfather became a naturalized US citizen
    1945 – My father was born
    It sounds like Romania only granted citizenship to Transylvanians who stayed in Transylvania after 1924 – which he did not. His travel documents identify him as Romanian, but I don’t think he actually had Romanian citizenship; he is identified on almost everything else as either German or Ethnic German, and he only spoke German. I honestly have no idea if he had citizenship anywhere during this period of time; perhaps you – with your study of history and knowledge of the area – might have a thought on that. I am hoping to have documents with his parents’ names on them shortly so that I can pinpoint their places of birth.
    I’m just curious if there is a recognition of Ethnic Germans in Romania as “German”, especially if they did not have Romanian citizenship and, if so, if that extends to descendants.

  42. Anjali Greenwell says:

    Dear Andreas

    This is a great blog!

    I understand that ex-Germans can move back in accordance with § 38 II AufenthG.

    Do you know if adult grandchildren of ex-Germans can move to German with a residency visa and study and work? In the UK we have something called the Ancestry visa which gives the person access to the labour market. Is there something similar in Germany ?

    My mother renounced her citizenship in the 60s to become Canadian. She is unlikely to move back but has strong ties to Germany. My children go to a German school and are fluent in German. I wondered if they could later study or work in Germany under some kind of Ancestry visa as explained above.

    Many thanks.

    Kind regards


    • Hello Anjali,

      there is nothing similar in Germany, although anyone can apply to a German university and study for free if accepted.

      But unless your children have a claim to German citizenship (which depends on whether you were born before or after your mother renounced her German citizenship), they would need to apply for a student or work visa.

  43. Hannah says:

    Hi Andreas! Thanks for such an informative post.

    My mother was born in Germany in 1947, as a child of Jewish refugees (both her parents were in Concentration Camps). She has a birth certificate that states she was born in Munich. However, she was not given German citizenship then, as her parents were refugees and not German (Polish). She remained in Germany throughout most of her childhood and teenage years, going to school etc there.

    Is there a path for us to obtain German citizenship through her? Thanks!

    • Hello Hannah,
      the only way would be if your mother (or her parents on her behalf) ever applied for German citizenship during her time of living in Germany.
      If not, however, you might have a path to Polish citizenship, which for the purpose of living in the EU has the same value.

  44. John says:

    Hi Andreas,
    This blog is so informative. I was wondering if you were aware if the 2011 law regarding the entering of NATO armed forces is at all retroactive. My father’s father was a German citizen. My father, born in America, served in the US armed forces.
    Would he have any path to German citizenship given that he had signed up for US military service voluntarily before 2011? He has never renounced German citizenship.
    Thank you.

  45. Deborah Markus says:

    Hello Andreas,

    Your blog is very informative! Thank you for the information. I have sent a donation and have a question about FAQ 9. It seems there is conflicting information, and I am looking in every corner to figure out if I am eligible for a German Citizenship Certificate. Some of the information I have come across contradicts what you are saying about children of naturalized parents, so I want to check with you directly.

    German Missions in the U.S. says, “If you willingly apply for a foreign citizenship and obtain it, your German citizenship is automatically lost. If you obtain a foreign citizenship without an application for naturalization, you remain a German citizen.”

    My German father obtained his US citizenship in 1957 at the age of 10. His mother petitioned for naturalization for herself, and by law, my father was automatically granted US citizenship when she naturalized. No application was made on his behalf. He did not even receive a naturalization certificate. Minors cannot apply for naturalization, and parents cannot fill out naturalization paperwork for a child. However, my father later applied for a Citizenship Certificate as proof of his US citizenship when he wanted to work and needed a social security number to do so. His certificate looks different from his mother’s. It says he “became” (does not say “was naturalized) a citizen on November 25, 1957. Also, it does not list a former nationality, that is only something that is included on naturalization certificates.

    I believe that Certificates of Citizenship (both US. and German) are only given to people who received their citizenship involuntarily. So, my question: if an application was never made, but citizenship was derived by relationship, does that mean he still has his German citizenship?

    Many thanks for your information,

  46. Hansjurgen Peter Dubbels says:

    What is my status regards getting to renew my Germen passport I was born in Dresden Germany 29th Oct. 1940 (father’s family lived in Germany since 1529). My mother remarried and I moved to the UK in 1947 and become a nationalized UK citizen 18th Aug 1965 also what is the status of my son born 27th May 1970 in the UK.

  47. Hi Andreas, Donation made 😀
    I am researching my Volga German ancestors.
    Details I have:
    My maternal grandfather’s family is all German and likely all Volga German (I am getting stuck past the Great-great-grandparents). My Great grandparents emigrated from Talovka, (German name Beidek/Beideck) Russia around1904 (I am assuming they walked but I could be wrong), arriving in NYC from Glasgow in December, 1908 (and settling in Newark, NJ), around the time of the Russian Revolution. They were married in NYC (but I suspect they were already married in Russia, but got married again for documentation purposes). They were from the same village and arrived on the same ship, that’s why I am assuming they were already married. All of their 7 children were natural born US citizens. They naturalized in 1937. I have no way of knowing for sure but a couple of questionable things pop up. They ‘believed’ they were German but my understanding is they were stateless when they emigrated. The impetus to naturalize *may* have been the impending war, I don’t know. Also, they listed the birth dates for the two oldest children incorrectly as they were teens. I am not sure any of this is relevant and maybe only fascinating to me, BUT with direct lineage through stateless Volga Germans do I have a path to German citizenship (if I learn German)? They both died in the 1960’s. Thank you so much!

    • Also, sorry, on my paternal side, my grandmother’s mother was 1st generation American, prior to that the whole family is German and her father, though he emigrated to the US, never naturalized as far as I can tell. I can trace the whole family in Germany back really far. If the Volga side is not an option, is this side an option for a path for me?

    • And on your paternal side, this is really tricky as well.
      Because on the one hand, until 1975, German citizenship could only be passed down through the father. On the other hand, it’s possible to retroactively claim German citizenship for the cases where it was hitherto denied due to that gender discrimination.
      But as this is based on the current constitutions equal protection clause, which has only been in place since 1949, this cannot be applied to cases that date back further. So it depends when your grandmother was born, and even then, we would need to look at this very closely. It would be a long shot.

    • Do you have any recommendations (if you know) of services like Polaron, that specialize in helping ppl research and determine their ability to get citizenship or not?
      I contacted Polaron and nothing. Just wondering. Thanks for all your answers.

    • Hello Amy,

      thank you very much for your donation and for the fascinating family history!
      It’s almost impossible to say anything with certainty because there are still so many unknowns and ifs in the story.

      But generally, it’s highly unlikely – for a multitude of reasons – that your ancestors would still have had German citizenship after living in Russia for more than one generation.
      In the multi-ethnic Russian, Austrian and Ottoman empires, many people thought of themselves as German, Armenian, Croat, Jewish, whatever, but they didn’t have that citizenship. (Indeed, some of those ethnicities didn’t even have countries of their own at the time. Germany itself was only formed as a nation state with German citizenship in 1871.)

      Volga Germans and other Germans who had once lived in Russia and/or the USSR did have a chance to receive German citizenship under a special law, but that only applied to people who moved to the Federal Republic of Germany.

      So, this sounds more like a case where further research might bring interesting historical details to light, but it won’t be of any relevance for your claim to German citizenship. Sorry!

    • Hi Thanks! So Germany doesn’t have any type system for restoration due to stateless status?
      And what about the other side of the family that I mentioned?

    • There is a way for stateless people to get citizenship, but only if they live in Germany.
      (Also, I am not sure they were stateless. Maybe the had Russian citizenship without knowing it? It would depend on the laws in place in Russia at the time.)

  48. Ulfy says:

    Hi Andreas,

    Hope you can give some insight (donation made), as things seem much more hopeful after this particular hurdle. My German ancestor (17yr male) boarded a ship in Bremen, and arrived in the USA towards the end of 1902. This is my direct patrilineal line, and all descendants including myself, are male & born in wedlock; I only mention this because I know it avoids a number of pitfalls.

    He married to a 1st generation German-American woman in 1906, and their son was born in 1908; at this time he was still a German citizen (had not been gone for 10 years yet), and so his son would’ve been as well.

    Things get tricky because as far as I understand it, loss of citizenship due to the 10yr expiration also affected minor children, so his son would’ve lost his as well?

    So I think at this point, I need to find some document proving contact with German officials, either in a Matrikel or Passregister. The family lived in Milwaukee, and the nearest Consular would’ve been via the train to Chicago. I searched on Invenio for these documents, and see a Chicago Matrikel for 1877-1901, and again for 1912-1938. Unfortunately, he would’ve most likely made such an action within the gap between books, since he arrived in 1902 and expiration would’ve probably been 1912.

    Can you confirm I’m understanding the laws correctly, and going down the correct path? Do you have any recommendations for trying to find such a record to at least extend us past the 1914 mark?


    • Hello Ulfy,

      thank you for your donation, and you are right:
      § 21 para. 2 StAG 1870 (in the relevant version valid from 1896) also extended to male children IF the father had custody AND IF they lived with him at the time. (Which due to the young age of the son was probably still the case, until the parents had gotten separated or divorced before.)

      Possible exceptions are:
      – Having registered with the German Consulate, as you are aware of. In reality, only very few German immigrants knew about this rule and registered. It was usually those who were sent overseas for a limited time, like salespeople or preachers or such.
      – If your ancestor held a German passport or a similar travel document, the 10 years are only counted from the time of expiry of that passport. For this information, you would need to contact the archive of the municipality from where your ancestor was.
      – Lastly, it’s also worth looking at the Ellis Island immigration records to see if your ancestor maybe traveled back to Europe and returned to the US later. A surprising number of immigrants crossed the Atlantic several times.
      (I write about one such example from my own family, one of whom also traveled from Bremen, coincidentally: https://andreasmoser.blog/2022/07/27/june-1922-vogl/ )

    • Ulfy says:

      Thanks for the response. Yes, they remained married and their children lived with them. I know they were living together (renting) when they married (from family history), and I see them on the 1910 Census as such.

      It sounds like my best bet is to see if he held a passport – perhaps prior to leaving Germany, or traveled back to Germany. I had no idea the 10yr limit started after an expired document. That at least gives me some other avenues to explore… thanks for that!

  49. Edgar Schaffarczyk says:

    I came from Germany in 1970 and became an US citizen in 1975. US required me to give up my German Citizenship. I guess no dual US/German Citizenship then. I lived in Germany for 24 years and even served in the German Airforce from 1964 to 1970. Can I get my German citizenship back? I yes, what would I have to do?

    • Hello Edgar,

      thank you very much for your generous donation!

      There is a possibility to apply for your German citizenship to be reinstated, pursuant to § 13 StAG.
      The requirements are that you can financially support yourself, that you still speak/read/write German, that you have continuing (family, professional, business or other) ties to Germany, and no serious criminal record.

      But there are two problems with this route:

      First, the current German citizenship law would require you to give up your US citizenship in the process. The current administration has already announced plans to make dual/multiple citizenship easier – https://andreasmoser.blog/2021/11/25/new-government-eases-path-to-german-citizenship/ -, but so far, this has not been turned into actual law.

      Second, § 13 StAG is a discretionary (re)naturalization. This means that the German government can grant German citizenship, but doesn’t have to. In cases where the applicant lost their German citizenship before 2000, like in your case, this is only granted where there is a special public interest in your (re)naturalization. This is usually the case if you are to take up a job in Germany that is deemed important enough and which no one else could do. Or in the case of great academic or artistic contributions to German society.
      The bar here is very high, and most applications are not successful.

      Therefore, if your goal is to move to Germany, you might want to use § 38 II AufenthG instead. According to that provision of the Immigration Act, former German citizens can obtain a residence permit if the still speak/write/read German.
      With that, you could settle in Germany, and then apply for the normal (re)naturalization based on residency in Germany. (With up to 5 years of your previous residency being considered, § 12b II StAG).
      But that option, too, currently requires you to give up your US citizenship.

      I am very sorry that there is (currently) no easy, quick and certain way to re-obtain your German citizenship.

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