A British & German Passport

Germany’s New Citizenship Law

After the 2021 Bundestag election, the socially-liberal Ampel coalition led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz promised to modernise Germany’s citizenship law, including ending the restrictions on dual citizenship.

On 19 January 2024 the reform received approval from the Bundestag by a margin of 382-234 votes. The new legislation is designed to simplify the naturalization process, attract skilled workers to address labour shortages, and foster a more inclusive society.

On 22 March 2024 President Steinmeier signed off on the ‘Law to Modernize Nationality Law’ (Gesetz zur Modernisierung des Staatsangehörigkeitsrechts). It was published in the Bundesgesetzblatt on 26 March 2024 and will come into force on 27 June 2024.

The updated law reduces the length of time required to qualify for citizenship to five years, or three in the case of those who are especially well-integrated into German society. Children born in Germany will also automatically obtain citizenship if at least one parent has been a legal resident for five years.

Germany’s restrictions on holding multiple citizenships are being removed completely. Previously exemption to this was granted for example for EU citizens or to those unable to renounce their previous citizenship. UK citizens were able to benefit from this rule if they had submitted their application before the end of the Brexit transition period.

Now, Brits living in Germany who were not able to apply for German citizenship before Brexit will be able to join the tens of thousands who are already dual German-British citizens.

Becoming a German citizen has several benefits including the right to vote (or even stand for election), as well as having no restrictions on your residence. This would allow British citizens to move to the UK for several years, perhaps to care for relatives, without fear of not being allowed to return to Germany at a later date. German citizenship also means full freedom of movement in the EU, with the ability to live, work and study across Europe.

Here we answer some of the most common questions about these significant changes to Germany’s citizenship law:

What will the new law mean for me?
The new law removes the previous rules restricting dual or multiple citizenship.

If you are hoping to become a German citizen, under the new law Germany will not make you give up your previous citizenship(s). UK citizens will no longer be required to renounce their British citizenship as they have been since the end of the Brexit transition period.

Germans living in the UK will also be able to become British without losing their German citizenship or needing to apply for permission to keep it.

If you already have both German and UK citizenship then of course you will also be able to keep both.

Can I already apply for citizenship?
If you choose to apply now, it is likely that the new rules will be applied to your application as processing times are usually at least several months (and in many parts of Germany they are much longer).

I have already applied for German citizenship. Which version of the law will be used?
If you receive German citizenship after the new law comes into force, the new rules will apply to your application, regardless of the date of when you applied. Until the new law comes into force, the old rules continue to apply.

I am already at the end of the application process for German citizenship. I have received a Zusicherung and been told I now need to renounce my British citizenship before I can become a German citizen. What should I do?
You may wish to contact the local office who gave you the Zusicherung and ask if you can wait for the new law to come into force so that you can keep your British citizenship.

Will my future children be able to have both citizenships?
If you were born in the UK then your children will usually automatically be British at birth, even if they are born outside of the UK. If you were born outside of the UK, then the situation may be different. You can find out more information on the Citizens Advice website.

Under the new law here in Germany, if neither parent is German but they have been living in Germany legally for five years, a child will normally automatically acquire German citizenship at birth.

The so-called “Optionspflicht” (where some dual national children had to decide whether to keep their German citizenship or their other one at the age of 21) is being abolished entirely.

What about existing children?
You can include your underage children on your application for naturalisation.

I’ve already renounced my British citizenship, can I get it back?
It is possible to resume British nationality if you have previously renounced it. Unfortunately it is a costly process. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/renounce-british-nationality/resume-your-british-nationality

Do you have further questions or concerns?
Consider joining the British in Germany Facebook Group to connect directly and share experiences with others applying for German citizenship or those already going through the process.

More Information



How to get a German Passport

[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/1/19/germanys-parliament-approves-easing-citizenship-laws
[2] https://www.dw.com/en/germanys-parliament-approves-easing-dual-citizenship/a-68030714
[3] https://se-legal.de/german-citizenship-bill-2023-what-you-need-to-know/?lang=en
[4] https://www.germany-visa.org/german-citizenship/benefits-and-responsibilities/