New Citizenship Law

Published on February 15th, 2024

Germany is introducing a new citizenship law with a number of changes that are of relevance to expats in the country. There are currently over 12 million people living in Germany without a German passport. The naturalisation rate is also low compared to other European countries at just 1.1%. The reform is set to change this.

German citizenship sooner

To date, a foreigner had to live in Germany for at least 8 years before applying for citizenship. This has now been reduced to the much shorter minimum of 5 years. There is even an exception stating that application is possible after three years in special circumstances. This applies if the immigrant has particularly good German language skills or special achievements at work.

Dual nationality

Until now, only a minority of foreigners living in Germany were permitted to have dual nationality. This includes Swiss and EU nationals as well as those from countries where it is not possible to renounce original citizenship. This is changing with the new law. Foreigners will be able to keep their original nationality and have dual citizenship. This makes it possible to have German citizenship without having to give up birth citizenship, making it much more popular.

German citizenship for children

Another change is that children born in Germany to a parent who has been residing in Germany legally for at least five years will be entitled to German citizenship automatically. This is a reduction from the eight years required previously. These children will be entitled to German citizenship in addition to their parents’ nationality.

Older people

The new law will also benefit older people over the age of 67. Older immigrants will no longer have to pass a written naturalization test before obtaining citizenship. It will also be possible to prove language skills in an oral test rather than a written test. The idea here is to prove that these people who have lived in Germany for a long time can get by in day-to-day situations in the local language.

Future trend

Currently, only 3.5% of the population is recorded as having dual nationality. This figure is likely to increase significantly. This new citizenship law is due to come into force in April 2024. If you have any questions about it, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at Expats Guide, we will be happy to help!

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Jenny Leibe

Jenny is a British citizen who has been living in Germany (Heidelberg, Berlin, Marbach am Neckar) since 2008. She has also lived in Scotland, England, Sweden, and Spain. She has plenty of experience in moving to new countries and getting to know new cultures and is now putting these to good use in her work as a Relocation Consultant.

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