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Applying for German citizenship

Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, 31600 British nationals have been granted German citizenship up to 2019. The vast majority have retained their British citizenship which is possible with all applications accepted up to 31st December 2020.

German law states that dual citizenship should usually be avoided. However, there are some exceptions, for example, for EU citizens. Whilst Britain was an EU member, British citizens who gained German citizenship could do so without losing their British citizenship as they benefited from § 12 Abs. 2 of the Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (StAG).

There’s good news if you already have dual British and German citizenship. You can keep both and after the Transition Period has ended you will not have to choose one over the other.

So is it too late now to get dual citizenship? What happens to people who apply for German citizenship during the Transition Period or applied before Transition started and are still waiting for a decision?

As the UK is now no longer an EU Member State, § 12 Abs. 2. StAG no longer applies. But there is still a chance to gain German citizenship without losing your British citizenship.

The Bundestag passed a law (Brexit-Übergangsgesetz) in 2019, which gives you the right to keep your UK citizenship if you apply and meet the other usual conditions for German citizenship before the end of the Transition Period. So if you think you meet the conditions and would like to get dual citizenship, now is the time to act.

Below is an unofficial English translation of the relevant part of this Brexit-Übergangsgesetz, § 3 Abs. 1 BrexitÜG. Please note, however, that the original German version is the only legally valid text.

§3 Naturalisation of British and German citizens 

(1) For British citizens who make an application for naturalisation in Germany before the end of the Transition Period, the otherwise applicable requirement under the Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (Citizenship Law) to renounce British citizenship will be waived, provided that all other naturalisation requirements were met by the end of the Transition Period and continue to be met at the time of naturalisation.

How long does the Transition Period last?

The Transition Period began on 1 February 2020 and is due to end on 31 December 2020.

The Withdrawal Agreement contains a provision (Article 132) which potentially allows a single extension of 1 or 2 years if that is requested by July 2020 but the British government’s position currently is that it will not request such an extension.

How can I find out about the requirements to apply for German citizenship?

Generally, you will need to have been resident in Germany for 6 or 8 years depending on your language ability. If you are married to or in a registered partnership with a German citizen then a shorter residence period is required.

You can find more information about the residence and other requirements and how to go about applying for citizenship on these BAMF website pages: https://www.bamf.de/EN/Themen/Integration/ZugewanderteTeilnehmende/Einbuergerung/einbuergerung.html

https://www.integrationsbeauftragte.de/ib-de/service/fragen-und-antworten/612466-612466?index=612512

If I want to apply for German citizenship, what do I do?

If you want to apply for German citizenship (Einbürgerung), you first need to contact your local Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde) to get advice. You can find your office via the following link:  https://www.bamf.de/DE/Service/ServiceCenter/BeratungVorOrt/Auslaenderbehoerden/auslaenderbehoerden-node.html

The process is basically the same in all parts of Germany, but the time it takes to get appointments and to process your application may differ.

What is the advantage of getting German citizenship? Surely my rights to stay in Germany are covered under the Withdrawal Agreement.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides a lot of rights for those of us who will be living in the European Union at the end of the Transition Period. These include the right to continue to reside in our host country, i.e. Germany, but that right is limited to our host country. So you will lose the entitlement to move to or work in France, Spain, Sweden or elsewhere in the EU. As a German citizen, you would maintain that right. Another example is the right to vote in national German elections or to stand for political office at local and national level. This is only available if you have German citizenship.

A decision about whether you would like to apply for German citizenship is personal. It will depend on a lot of factors which are different for each individual.

I have citizenship of Ireland (or another EU country) and UK citizenship. Why would I need German citizenship?

Irish or other EU citizenship will mean you keep your EU rights including onward freedom of movement after the end of the Transition Period.

You will not have the right as an EU citizen to vote or stand in national elections in Germany. But you can vote and stand in some local elections.

Is there a difference in the law on citizenship depending on the German Federal State where I live?

No. Citizenship law is a German Federal competency and the law is the same everywhere in Germany. However, each State (Land) is responsible for the process for naturalisation. This means there may be differences in the details of the application form or the name of the office you need to go to.

There is also a degree of discretion as to whether, for example, a recent Germany-issued certificate of language competency is required or whether qualifications gained at school in the UK are considered acceptable.

I already have dual German-British citizenship. Will I have to give up my British citizenship at the end of the Transition Period?

No. If you already obtained German citizenship whilst the UK was a member of the European Union or during the Transition Period, then the rules that were valid at the time you obtained your citizenship apply. You do not need to renounce your UK citizenship.

I will not qualify for German citizenship before the end of the Transition Period. Can I apply later?

Yes. However, you will no longer have the right to keep your UK citizenship so will probably have to relinquish it in order to take German.

It seems that there are different requirements for citizenship in different EU countries. How can that be?

The requirements for obtaining citizenship of an EU country are decided by each individual country rather than at EU level. So there are differences between the countries.

I have citizenship of another non-EU country (e.g. Canada, India, Australia) as well as of the UK. Will I be able to keep both if I apply for German citizenship?

German law states that dual citizenship should be avoided, but allows some limited exceptions, for example, for EU citizens. Usually Germany requires citizens of other countries to give up that citizenship when obtaining German. However, sometimes exceptions are made to this rule.  It is best to check for your specific case with the local Foreigners Office (Ausländerbehörde).

2019 UK in DE naturalisation numbers released

The German Statistics Authority (Statistisches Bundesamt) released the 2019 citizenship figures on 3rd June 2020.   

You can read the press release below in German and English.   The headline figures are that the largest number of British citizens were naturalised in 2019 (14600), which was more than double that of 2018 (6600).   Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, 31600 British nationals have been granted German citizenship.  

Press Release in German

Press Release in English:  (shortened version)

These numbers are unprecedented in British German history.  They present a large shift in social and citizen identity for around a third of British citizens living in Germany, the large majority of whom will have chosen to keep their British citizenship.  At present application for dual citizenship is possible until December 31, 2020 after which you may be asked to give up your British non-EU citizenship in order to be granted German citizenship.   **Note, application and not decision on application.

Prior to the Brexit referendum, the annual naturalisation numbers were a few hundred each year:  2015 –  600, 2014 – 500, 2013 – 500,  2012 – 300, 2011 – 300

Below some British media reports on the numbers:

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/03/britons-applying-for-german-citizenship-up-2300-last-year

The Times: (firewalled)

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/auf-wiedersehn-brexit-surge-in-britons-moving-to-germany-55jxt2kzs

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/thousands-settle-brexit-doubts-by-becoming-german-swkxlb5f7

Withdrawal Agreement and Transition for UK citizens in Germany

The transition timetable

With a large Tory majority, the UK Parliament passed the October 2019 version of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) in January 2020 and it was also ratified by the European Parliament. The UK then formally left the EU on 31st January 2020. From 1st February 2020, the WA came into force. The Agreement provides for a transition period to run from 1st February 2020 until 31st December 2020. It also contains an article (Article 132) which would allow an extension of 1 or 2 years – provided that a request were made by end of June 2020.

Citizens’ rights and the WA

The citizens’ rights section of the WA remained almost entirely unchanged from the earlier version negotiated by Theresa May, and it is this part of the Agreement that covers the future legal rights of British people who are legally resident in an EU27 country on the last day of the transition period (however long that turns out to be). The Agreement is EU wide and, although each EU27 country will institute its own procedures for things like residence cards etc, each individual EU country must respect the WA’s set out provisions.

Under the WA, most of our rights remain wholly unchanged until the end of the transition period, so at least until 31st December, 2020. This includes freedom of movement meaning it is still possible for people to move freely from the UK to the EU, or within the EU during that period. We did however lose the right to stand and vote in local and European elections from Brexit day, i.e. as of 1st February 2020.

**What’s important to note is that now that the Withdrawal Agreement is in force, we will be covered by it for our lifetimes whatever happens with future negotiations.  So please don’t think that the rights the WA provides for us are temporary – they are not; if you are legally resident in an EU country at the end of the transition period these rights will cover you for your lifetime.

Citizens’ rights in the WA

Crucially, the WA ensures not only the right to live and work in the country of residence at the end of the transition period, but also covers areas such as S1 healthcare rights, together with aggregation and uprating of pensions.   The WA agreement also says we will be able to leave our host country for up to 5 years without losing our right to return.

The WA does not cover everything, however.

For excellent readable summaries of what is and is not included in the WA, please look at the guides produced by British in Europe  https://britishineurope.org/

Dual citizenship in Germany

For those of us in Germany who meet the conditions to apply for German citizenship during the transition period i.e. up to 31st December 2020, there is an additional benefit. The German government passed a law which entitles us, if we meet the conditions and apply for German citizenship during that time, to keep our UK citizenship as well.  This is normally only an option for EU citizens. For more information: Applying for German citizenship

And finally, for the avoidance of any doubt or confusion here are 3 important points:

  1. The media doesn’t always help by using interchangeable terms for things that are quite separate. For example, reference is often made to a ‘deal’ to refer to the trade deal that still has to be struck during the transition period, and the terms ‘no deal’ and ‘crashing out’ to a situation where no trade deal can be agreed. Confusingly, these are the very same terms that the media previously used to denote the UK leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement, but the meaning is very different. Now that the Withdrawal Agreement has become law our future rights contained within it are guaranteed whatever happens with the future trade deal. So a failure to conclude a trade deal might be a ‘no deal’ situation for the UK, but not for British citizens living in the EU. This is important to be clear about and is still sometimes the subject of much confusion and concern.
  2. In the Bill that the UK Parliament passed in January 2020, the Conservative government inserted a clause barring any extension to the Withdrawal Agreement’s transition period beyond 31st December 2020. The WA contains an article (Article 132) allowing an extension of 1 or 2 years to the transition period if it’s requested by July 2020. Clause 132 remains in the WA even though Johnson’s Bill passed with the proposed amendment barring an extension, which means that the UK government could have asked to extend the transition period at any point up to 30th June 2020 by passing a new bit of legislation. However, the British government did not do that and did not request an  extension so as things currently stand, transition will end on 31st DEcember, 2020.
  3. Since the WA is now law, the ‘no deal’ legislation already passed in each of the EU27 countries is now defunct, and we are now waiting for each country to publish details of how it intends to implement the WA for its British residents. For the latest status in Germany, please see here: Latest on UK in Germany Post-Transition Status

Further information sources:

Become a member of British in Germany e.V. here for only 15 Euros a year to support BiG’s advocacy and campaigning work and  to get the latest up to date information on how Brexit will impact the lives of UK citizens living in Germany.

British in Europe explains the Withdrawal Agreement

Our colleagues at British in Europe have been busy looking at the details of the Withdrawal Agreement and providing the detail for you in a readable format.

The first in a series of explanatory articles covering what is it, what does it do and who does it cover is available on their website.

The second covers Residence Rights and Procedures and is now available on their website.

The third covers Health, Pensions and Social Security and is now available on their website.

The fourth covers Working Rights, Professional Qualifications
and Future Family Reunification and is now available on their website.

The fifth covers What is Not Covered and is now available on their website.

And the final one in the series, the sixth, provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions and is now available on their website.

Please also consider a donation to British in Europe to help them in their valuable work.

Upcoming Stammtisch Events

Here are the next British in Germany Stammtisch events that we are aware of, plus a list of past events for those interested in being in touch with established Stammtisch groups around the country:

Next in 2020:

Braunschweig

Time: Thursday 20 February, 2020 19:00 – 22:00

Place: Rheinische Republik
Neue Str. 10-12, 38100 Braunschweig
(look for the table with a Union Jack on it)

Register: Please let us know that you are attending on Facebook

Once you’ve recovered from Brexit day, meet up with like-minded Brits in Braunschweig to think positively about the British-EU identity and everything it stands for (and, despite everything, will continue to stand for). There will also be an update on the political situation and what to do if your status is unclear. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Berlin

Time: Sat 15 February, 2020 13:00 – 16:00

Place: Hüftgold Restaurant-Cocktailbar Neue Bahnhofstr. 29, 10245 Berlin, Germany

Register: Please let us know that you are attending on Facebook

Past Events

Hanover

Time: Thursday 12 September, 19:00 – 22:00

Place: Meiers Lebenslust (Osterstraße 64, Hanover)

Details: Facebook event

Berlin

Time: Saturday 14 September, 13:00 – 17:00

Place: BrewDog Mitte (Ackerstraße 29, Berlin)

Details: Facebook event

Berlin

Time: Saturday 11 May, 13:30 – 17:00 (approx)
Place: Brewdog
Ackerstraße 29, 10115, Berlin

Time: Saturday 13 April, 13:30 – 17:00 (approx)
Place: Brewdog
Ackerstraße 29, 10115, Berlin

Time: 19:30-21:00 – Brexit discussion (speakers tbc)
21:00 until very late – Music and dancing

Place: Freudenzimmer
Mehringdamm 61, 10961 Berlin

Price:  €4 online, €5 on the door
all profits go to British in Germany, e.V.

Details: jonworth.eu/fuxit2/

Stammtisch March Time: Saturday 16 March, 13:00 – 17:00 (approx)
Place: Brewdog
Ackerstraße 29, 10115, Berlin

Bremen

Time: Tuesday 28 May, 19:30 – 23:00

Place: Loft Bremen, Bahnhofsplatz 5 – 7, 28195 Bremen

Details: Facebook event

Stuttgart

Time: Friday 29 March, 19:00 – 22:00 (approx)
Place: Grand Café Planie
Charlottenplatz 17, 70173 Stuttgart

Nuremberg

Time: Friday 29 March, 19:30 – 23:00 (approx)
Place: O’Shea’s Irish Pub & Biergarten
Am Wespennest 6, 90403, Nuremberg

Munich

Time: Friday 29 March, 18:30 – 23:00 (approx)
Place: Paulaner im Tal
Tal 12, 80331 Munich

Hamburg

Time: Friday 29 March ,19:00 – 23:00 (approx)
Place:Simian Ales
65A, Langelohe, 25337 Elmshorn
Resister at Eventbrite

Frankfurt

Time: Friday 29 March, 19:30 – 22:30 (approx)
Place: Fox and Hound,
Niedenau 2, 60325, Frankfurt

Hanover

Time: Friday 15 March ,17:30- 19:45 (approx)
Place: Meiers Lebenslust
Osterstraße 64, 30159 Hanover, Germany

Time: Friday 17 May, 19:00 – 23:00

Place: Ständige Vertretung (Friedrichswall 10, Hanover)

Köln

Time: Thursday  14 March ,17:30- 19:00 (approx)
Place:Tasty Pasty Company
Mauenheimer Str. 28, 50733 Köln

Münster

Time: Friday  8 March ,19:00- 21:00 (approx)
Place: Spook’s
Hammer Str. 66, 48153 Münster

Berlin

Time: Saturday 2 March, 13:00 – 17:00 (approx)
Place: Brewdog
Ackerstraße 29, 10115, Berlin

Bremen

Time: Saturday  2 March ,17:30- 20:30 (approx)
Place: Loft Bremen
Bahnhofsplatz 5 – 7, 28195 Bremen

Hanover

Time: Monday 28 February ,18:00 – 21:00 (approx)
Place: Duke Irish Pub, 
Raschplatz 6, 30161 Hanover

Frankfurt

Time: Monday 25 February ,19:00 – 21:00 (approx)
Place: Daheim im Lorsbacher Thal, 
Große Rittergasse 49, 60594 Frankfurt

Hamburg

Time: Thursday 21 February ,19:00 – 22:00 (approx)
Place: Alles Elbe
Hein-Hoyer-Straße 63, 20359 Sankt Pauli

Berlin

Time: Saturday 16 February ,13:00 – 17:00 (approx)
Place: Brewdog
Ackerstraße 29, 10115, Berlin

Berlin

Time: Saturday 2 February ,13:00 – 17:00 (approx)
Place: Brewdog, Ackerstraße 29, 10115, Berlin

Stuttgart

Time: Thursday  31 January ,19:00 – 22:00 (approx)
Place: Academie der schönen Künste, Charlottenstraße 5, 70182 Stuttgart

Bremen

Time: Thursday  31 January ,19:00 – 23:30 (approx)
Place:Loft Bremen, Bahnhofsplatz 5 – 7, 28195 Bremen

Frankfurt

Time: Wednesday 30 January ,19:00 – 21:00 (approx)
Place: Daheim im Lorsbacher Thal, 
Große Rittergasse 49, 60594 Frankfurt

Also see our Events Calendar.

All Welcome this Friday night – BiG Berlin Stammtisch Brexit Day

A table has been booked for an event to mark Brexit day.

The theme is a Table for Europe.  You are invited to bring a dish from an EU27 country so that we can celebrate our diversity and European-ness. We will always be European.  Then we may head over to the BB Gate for midnight to hear the Embassy Singers sing the European National Anthem.

Please pass this onto all friends/contacts/colleagues you have in Berlin.

All nationalities welcome, the more the merrier. 

Be great if you could let us know via the Facebook registration page if you are thinking of attending to give us a rough idea of numbers for the venue. If you can bring some food to share please bring a list of ingredients for any attendees that may have allergies.

Time: 20:15 – 00:15

Place: The Castle
Frankfurter Tor 7, 10243 Berlin, Germany

***AGAIN, PLEASE SIGN UP ON THE FB PAGE TO GIVE US AN IDEA OF NUMBERS AND HOW MUCH SPACE WE SHOULD RESERVE AT THE VENUE.

Details and sign up here: Facebook Event

 

Embassy Facebook Live Q+A

The British Embassy will be holding another Facebook Live event, giving you a chance to get a direct answer to any Brexit-related questions you might have. The event will take place on the British Embassy Facebook page next Monday (21st of October) at 18:00-19:30. Any questions submitted during this time will receive an answer by Friday 25th at the latest.

BiG will also be monitoring the event. If you are unable to join at that time or would like to ask a question anonymously, you can submit it to us at info@britishingermany.org, and we will post it for you.