Changes in naturalization: dual citizenship to become possible in 2024

Nationality is an elementary part of life. Everyone has one, some even have two or more. It determines which country we belong to, what rights we have, where we are at home. But the reality of life is often more complex: many people move away permanently from the country of which they are a citizen, whether for humanitarian, economic, professional or family reasons. For them, having two citizenships can be useful.

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People who have dual citizenship therefore hold passports from two countries. Until last year, dual citizenship was generally not permitted in Germany. Anyone who wanted to be naturalized usually had to give up their old citizenship first. However, this will change at the end of June 2024. The changes are based on a draft law passed by the federal government and now also the Bundestag. According to the draft, multiple nationality will be permitted in future. This means that anyone wishing to be naturalized in Germany will no longer have to give up their previous citizenship in order to obtain a German passport.

What exactly is to change with regard to dual citizenship, when the changes will come into force and who can benefit from them, we explain in this article.

Basis of dual citizenship

In order to understand the proposed innovations, it is helpful to know the current legal situation first. Currently, one of the requirements for naturalization under Section 10(1)(4) StAG is that the applicant must give up or lose his or her previous nationality. Section 12 of the StAG stipulates that this requirement is waived if the old nationality cannot be relinquished or can only be relinquished under particularly difficult conditions. For which countries this is the case, we have listed in our main article on naturalization. Citizens of member states of the European Union and Switzerland, as well as recognized refugees and people who are granted asylum in Germany, are also already exempt from giving up their previous citizenship. However, most naturalization applicants do not qualify for any of the exceptions just mentioned. They must therefore first give up their old citizenship in order to obtain German citizenship.

However, the Federal Government would like to change this. In the above-mentioned draft bill, it proposes removing the requirement to renounce previous citizenship from Section 10 of the German Citizenship Act altogether. The German Bundestag has already approved the draft in this form. This has far-reaching consequences: In future, no one will have to give up their former citizenship for a successful naturalization application. Instead, dual citizenship would become the new standard for naturalization .

The new law comes into force on June 26, 2024.

Advantages of dual citizenship

It is obvious that holders of dual citizenship enjoy many advantages over people who only have one passport: they receive the preferential treatment that citizens receive in many areas, not just in one country, but in two. This means that they can take part in elections in both countries and also stand for election themselves. They also often enjoy special rights, in Germany for example the basic German rights to which only citizens are entitled.

Furthermore, dual citizenship offers increased flexibility in choosing where to live. As a citizen of a country, you are entitled to move freely within the country at any time and settle wherever you wish. Citizens can enter the country at any time without having to apply for a visa or similar. For German citizens, these freedoms even extend to the entire territory of the European Union and to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Last but not least, dual nationality also offers advantages in terms of inheritance law. Art. 22 of the European Succession Regulation grants persons with more than one nationality the option of choosing which of the states' inheritance laws should apply in the event of their death.

Dual citizenship through naturalization

The changes proposed by the federal government will undoubtedly have the greatest impact on naturalizations. Many people who have lived in Germany for a long time are interested in naturalization, but do not want to have to give up their previous citizenship. For them, this obstacle will be removed in future by the deletion of Section 10 (1) No. 4 StAG and the admission of multiple nationalities. Naturalization will therefore become much more attractive.

The requirements will also become easier to understand: by removing the requirement to give up the old nationality, the associated exceptions for certain countries will also become irrelevant. This will make the application requirements much clearer and easier to understand. In addition, the draft law would mean that in future there would no longer be a distinction between EU citizens, refugees and other people. Quite simply, the same right would then apply to everyone who wants to apply for naturalization, regardless of their previous nationality. No one will have to give up their old nationality in order to be naturalized.

Dual citizenship by birth

Even beyond naturalizations, allowing dual citizenship would make many things easier. In particular, the legal situation would change for children who are born with two nationalities - German and foreign - because of their parents.

According to the so-called Ius soli regulation, children of foreign nationals acquire German citizenship in accordance with § 4 Para. 3 StAG if one of their parents has been legally resident in Germany for at least eight years at the time of their birth and is in possession of a permanent right of residence. As many countries stipulate in their respective nationality laws that children of nationals of their country automatically receive the nationality of their parents at birth (the so-called ius sanguinis principle), it often happens that children born in Germany to foreigners have two nationalities from birth. As German law generally rejects multiple nationality, there is an option obligation under Section 29 (1) StAG. This states that children who hold a German passport in addition to a foreign citizenship on the basis of Section 4 (3) StAG, but who have not grown up in Germany, must decide after the age of 21 whether they wish to retain German citizenship or that of their parents. The new law removes this option in future. Children born in Germany to foreigners who meet the conditions of Section 4 (3) StAG can therefore retain their dual citizenship even if they do not grow up in Germany.

Advantages also for Germans

However, dual citizenship is not only an advantage for people who want to be naturalized in Germany and for children in possession of two passports. Germans who want to settle abroad permanently will also benefit from the new regulation. Until now, they have automatically lost their German passport if they apply for another foreign citizenship, unless they submit an application to retain it, which is granted. With the general admission of dual citizenship, this obstacle will no longer apply. If a foreign state grants its citizenship to a German, the latter will in future be able to hold both citizenships and will not have to surrender their German passport.

Outlook for 2024

The new Citizenship Act will enter into force on June 26, 2024, three months after its promulgation in the Federal Law Gazette. In summary, it can be said that the general authorization of dual citizenship contained therein is of outstanding importance for citizenship law. Firstly, the application procedure for naturalization will become simpler and easier to understand due to the elimination of complicated exemption rules. In addition, the admission of dual citizenship makes naturalization in Germany significantly more attractive. After all, no one will have to give up their old citizenship.

In addition to enabling dual citizenship, the new citizenship law will also reduce the minimum period of residence in Germany that must be fulfilled for naturalization from eight to five years (a detailed explanation of these and all important changes in citizenship law can be found here). All these changes obviously bring many advantages. However, it must also be expected that more applications for naturalization will be submitted as a result of these advantages. It can therefore be assumed that the increased rush will initially lead to significantly longer waiting times. Our experienced lawyers will be happy to help you if the authorities are taking too long to process your application. We will ensure that your procedure runs as smoothly and quickly as possible. Simply contact us if you have any questions.

Questions and answers - FAQ on dual citizenship:

If you want to check whether your naturalization application would be successful, you can do our naturalization check. However, this check only gives you a first overview. If you still have detailed questions or are unsure, then it is best to contact our lawyers.

The Act on the Modernization of Citizenship Law was passed by the Bundestag at the end of January 2024 and has also passed the Bundesrat. It will enter into force on June 26, 2024, three months after it was promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette.

In principle, yes. Since German law is to permit multiple nationality in the future, there is nothing to prevent this from the German side. However, the decisive factor is the law of the state whose citizenship one wishes to regain.

Strictly speaking, the forthcoming law on citizenship will not allow dual citizenship, but will lift the general ban on multiple citizenship. If this ban is lifted, it will also be possible under German law to have more than two nationalities.

We have explained this in detail in our article on naturalization.

Alternatively, you can complete our Naturalization Check.

Yes, at least as far as German citizenship law is concerned. In principle, dual citizenship will be open to all foreigners, regardless of their country of origin, once the new citizenship law comes into force on June 26, 2024. However, there may be laws in the country of origin that stipulate the loss of citizenship in the event that a citizen is granted citizenship of another country. Such laws exist in countries such as China, Austria, Lithuania, Estonia and the Netherlands. In any case, we advise you to obtain information in the country of your previous citizenship.

The Bundestag has passed the law to modernize citizenship law. When it comes into force on 26 June 2024, naturalization will be possible even if you want to keep your old citizenship. However, the law of the country of origin must also allow dual citizenship.

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