Does Germany Allow Dual Citizenship?[2024 Update] 

Does Germany Allow Dual Citizenship?[2024 Update] 
Updated on May 7, 2024

Holding dual citizenship in Germany offers both personal and professional advantages. In recent years, Germany has seen changes in its traditionally strict citizenship laws, especially concerning dual nationality. Here’s what you need to know about German dual citizenship. 

How Germany Approached Dual Citizenship in the Past 

Historically, Germany has had strict regulations for dual citizenship. In fact, Germany didn’t allow dual citizenship at all. Foreigners seeking German citizenship were required to renounce all other nationalities. 

There were rare exceptions to this, such as if their home country did not allow renunciation. Exceptions were also made for citizens of other EU countries and Switzerland. But for most people, German dual citizenship was out of the question. 

Because of this law, anyone considering German citizenship had to decide whether it was worth renouncing their other nationalities. According to a recent study from Greenback Expat Tax Services, 33% of US expats living in Germany were seriously considering renouncing their US citizenship. 

However, this may no longer be necessary. Why? Because Germany’s policies for dual citizenship have finally changed. 

New Changes to German Dual Citizenship Rules 

In a major shift from its longstanding policy, the German parliament has passed a law amending the rules for citizenship. The most significant change is that naturalized German residents will now be eligible for dual citizenship. This means that outsiders, such as US expats, will no longer have to renounce their original citizenship to become German nationals. 

The new law will also lower the requirements for obtaining citizenship through these measures: 

  • Simplification of the naturalization process: The new law will streamline the naturalization process, making it easier for foreigners to apply for citizenship. 
  • Faster pathway to citizenship: The residency period required before an outsider can apply for German citizenship will be reduced from eight years to five (and in cases of “special integration accomplishments,” just three!). 
  • Easier citizenship-by-birth: Children born in Germany will automatically become citizens if at least one parent has been a legal resident for five years (previously eight). 

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser stated that this reform will help Germany attract more skilled workers, saying, “We also must make qualified people from around the world an offer like the US, like Canada, of which acquiring German citizenship is a part.” 

To obtain citizenship, residents will still need to prove that they can support themselves and their relatives, among other requirements. To qualify for “special integration accomplishments,” they must demonstrate mastery of the German language and show “proof of particularly good academic, vocational or professional performance, or [proof] of civic commitment.” That may include: 

  • Holding a full-time job 
  • Earning a degree 
  • Completing German integration courses 
  • Volunteering for German charity organizations 

Benefits of German Dual Citizenship 

1. Voting Rights 

Obtaining German dual citizenship will give you the right to take part in Germany’s democratic system. You can vote in elections at every level: local, state, and national. This will allow you to help shape the country you’ve chosen as your new home. 

2. Visa-Free Travel 

As a German dual citizen, you can travel freely to over 190 countries without needing a visa. This includes all EU member countries. Dual citizens can also take up residence in any other EU country, quickly enjoying the rights of residency—including voting in local elections. 

3. Education and Career Opportunities 

With German dual citizenship, you gain access to world-class educational institutions and a variety of scholarship opportunities. You also benefit from the right to work in Germany and across the European Union without needing additional work permits. This opens up a vast market for employment and business opportunities, making it easier to pursue your career within a stable economic environment. 

4. Social Security and Health Benefits 

Dual citizens of Germany are entitled to comprehensive social security benefits, including health insurance, pension contributions, and unemployment insurance. Germany’s healthcare system is among the best in the world, offering extensive coverage and high standards of care to its citizens. These benefits ensure long-term security and support for your family throughout various stages of life, from birth to retirement and beyond. 

5. Property Ownership and Business Rights 

German dual citizenship removes many of the restrictions on property ownership and business operations in the country. You can purchase real estate and register businesses, much like any native German citizen. This creates opportunities for building wealth and investing, contributing to your financial growth. 

6. Cultural Integration 

Being a dual citizen allows for deeper cultural immersion and a more profound connection to German traditions, language, and community life. This integration enriches personal identity and enhances social inclusion, allowing dual citizens to live as true members of both their native and adopted communities. 

7. Family Reunification 

German dual citizenship can simplify the process of family reunification. Family members may find it easier to obtain residence permits and eventually qualify for citizenship themselves, fostering family togetherness across borders. 

How to Obtain Dual Citizenship in Germany 

1. Determine Eligibility 

The first step is to determine whether you are eligible for dual citizenship. This includes criteria such as: 

  • Residency duration: Most applicants must have lived in Germany for at least five years (three years if they have completed an integration course). 
  • Financial stability: Applicants must demonstrate financial independence without the need for social assistance, except in cases of hardship. 
  • Clean criminal record: A clean criminal record is essential for citizenship applications. 

2. Gather Documents 

Gather all necessary documents needed to apply for citizenship, including: 

  • Valid passport 
  • Birth certificate 
  • Proof of residence 
  • Proof of income 

If necessary, provide evidence of German language proficiency, integration course certificates, or other documents. 

3. Apply for Citizenship 

Next, complete the application form for naturalization, available at your local naturalization authority, and submit it. This will incur an application fee, which varies depending on your situation and locality. You can use this tool to find a naturalization authority in your area here. 

Don’t forget to attach any required documents when submitting your application! 

4. Take the Citizenship Test 

Most applicants are required to pass a citizenship test that covers German laws, history, society, and culture. The test consists of 33 multiple-choice questions. You must answer at least 17 questions correctly to pass. 

5. Demonstrate Language Proficiency 

Demonstrating proficiency in the German language is crucial to obtaining German dual citizenship. Applicants need to have at least a B1 level of German according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

6. Attend a Naturalization Ceremony 

Once your application is approved, you will be invited to a naturalization ceremony, where you will receive your naturalization certificate. This ceremony is often seen as a formal welcome into the German community. 

7. Obtain a German Passport 

After receiving your naturalization certificate, you can apply for a German passport, which is the final step in the process. This document officially recognizes you as a German citizen, allowing you to enjoy all the rights and privileges of dual citizenship. 

Related: Want to learn about an American who found a new home in Germany? Check out Paul’s inspiring story today! 

Possible Challenges When Applying for German Dual Citizenship 

Applying for dual citizenship in Germany can be a complex process. Understanding the potential hurdles can help you prepare. Here are some common challenges that applicants might encounter: 

1. Navigating Bureaucracy 

The German bureaucratic system is known for its strict adherence to rules and regulations, which can often be difficult for applicants. Gathering the correct documentation can be a meticulous process, as applicants must provide numerous forms, certificates, and personal records, often requiring official translations and notarizations. 

2. Waiting Periods 

Applications for citizenship can take a long time to process, sometimes extending up to two years or more. This duration can be stressful and may impact other life decisions. 

3. Language Barrier 

Language proficiency is a critical requirement for citizenship, which can pose a significant barrier for anyone not already fluent in German. Mastering the language will require extensive language study and practice, which can be time-consuming and costly. 

4. Application Costs 

Applying for German dual citizenship can be expensive for many. Application fees are substantial, especially for families applying together. Other possible expenses may add up as well, such as: 

  • Language courses 
  • Translation services 
  • Legal assistance 
  • Document procurement 

Taxes for US Citizens with Dual Citizenship in Germany 

Both the United States and Germany tax their citizens on their worldwide income, which can lead to double taxation for dual citizens. This is because: 

  • All US citizens, regardless of where they live, must file a US tax return every year. This requirement includes reporting all income, no matter where or how it was earned. 
  • As a resident of Germany, a dual citizen must also report and pay taxes on global income according to German tax laws, which might include wages, self-employment earnings, investment income, and rental income. 

Fortunately, Americans living abroad in Germany can claim several tax benefits to reduce their US taxes. This includes: 

By using these tax breaks, many US expats are able to erase their US tax debt entirely. 

Take Note

As a German dual citizen, you will likely have to file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) and a Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) report.

Are You Interested in Obtaining German Dual Citizenship? 

While German dual citizenship is becoming more accessible, it’s important to weigh the benefits and obligations carefully. This is never a decision to be taken lightly. But if you do decide to pursue dual citizenship, we can help you manage your finances! 

At Greenback Expat Tax Services, we help Americans around the world file their taxes accurately and on time. We also specialize in minimizing your tax debt through the various overseas tax benefits offered by the IRS. 

Contact us, and we’ll be happy to assist you in any way we can. Let’s talk! 

Who doesn’t love a tax break? Use our handy calculator to learn what you can save using the FEIE.

Use our simple excel calculator to get an estimate of how the foreign earned income exclusion will save you money. It will make your day!

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