German Citizenship Through Naturalisation
You can generally only take up German citizenship once you have been resident in Germany for at least eight years. If you fulfil certain conditions, then you have the right to become a German citizen. This cannot be refused. The following conditions must normally be fulfilled:
- You must possess a settlement permit ("Niederlassungserlaubnis") or a special residence permit ("Aufenthaltserlaubnis"). As a general rule the residence permit must have been issued for a specific reason that normally forms the basis of permanent residence. Thus it is not sufficient, for example, to have a residence permit that allows you to study or stay temporarily for humanitarian reasons.
- Your must be normally and legally resident in Germany for at least eight years. If you have successfully completed an integration course, the time period is reduced to seven years.
- You must be able to guarantee your livelihood and that of your dependants without recourse to social welfare or unemployment benefits (the so called "Sozialhilfe" or "Arbeitslosengeld II") (exceptions are made for people under the age of 23 or for people who are themselves not responsible for the need to claim social welfare or unemployment benefits).
- You must have adequate knowledge of the German language.
- You must pledge to respect the free and democratic values of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany.
- You must generally give up your previous citizenship (there are exceptions).
- You must not be guilty of any serious crime.
Find out as early as possible about what you need in order to apply for naturalisation and the preconditions that apply to you. It’s still worth finding out about this even if you only intend to stay in Germany for a few years.
Note: Not all citizens have to wait 8 years to be naturalised. Spouses and children can often be naturalised even if they have not been living in Germany for 8 years.
The cost of naturalisation is 255 euros.
A brochure entitled "Wie werde ich Deutsche/r" (How can I become a German) gives valuable advice on becoming a German citizen. It is available from the German Government Representative for Migration, Refugees and Integration ("Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Migration, Flüchtlinge und Integration") and on the Internet at www.einbuergerung.de
You can also obtain information from the local authorities.