Dual citizenship allows an individual to be a citizen of two nations at the same time. Germany restricts dual citizenship in most cases, but if an applicant meets certain criteria, Germany grants dual citizenship. Local branches of the German State Authority, the Staatsangehörigkeitsbehörde or the Standesamt, handle all dual citizenship requests.
Children Born Overseas to German Parents
A child born to German citizen parents usually acquires German citizenship at birth regardless of his place of birth. Some countries also grant citizenship on the basis of jus soli, or place of birth, and therefore a child born overseas to German citizen parents could potentially acquire two citizenships from the moment of birth. Exempt countries exist in the present German legal system.
As of January 1, 1990, all children born to foreign parents in Germany qualify for German citizenship if at least one parent possesses a German permanent residence permit or proof that she has legally resided in Germany for at least eight years before the child's birth. Because of the citizenship laws of other nations, the child may acquire dual citizenship at birth if her parents' home country recognises citizenship via jus sanguinis. Before turning 23 years old, the child must formally declare a choice of German citizenship or the citizenship of his parent or parents' home nation.
Foreign Children Adopted by German Parents
The German Nationality Act grants German citizenship to all children adopted by German parents regardless of the child's country of origin. Only children younger than 18 qualify for German citizenship via adoption. Germany does not require adopted foreign children to renounce their original citizenship, so many children adopted by German parents become dual nationals.
Naturalised German Citizens
Germany allows foreign residents to obtain citizenship via naturalisation, though most people who become naturalised citizens of Germany must renounce their original citizenship. Sometimes the applicant's birth country does not recognise the renunciation of citizenship, or the applicant may wish to retain their original citizenship for personal reasons. The German government handles applications for dual citizenship on a case-by-case basis.
German Citizens Obtaining Foreign Nationality
Like foreigners who attempt to obtain German citizenship through naturalisation, some Germans emigrants may wish to obtain citizenship in their new country of residence. Most countries, like Germany, require the applicant to reject his original citizenship, although exceptions do happen. If a German citizen wishes to retain his German citizenship while applying for new citizenship elsewhere, he must make a formal request to the German Federal Ministry of the Interior as well as the appropriate government entity in her new home country.