- Berlin -

Acquisition of German citizenship through naturalization in Berlin

There are numerous advantages that come with holding German citizenship. For example, the right to unrestricted freedom of movement within Europe and the possibility to enter many countries of the world without a visa. The German citizenship opens the free access not only to the German, but also to the European labor market and one is able to start the way to a civil service.

According to the German Nationals Act, a German nationality can be obtained in various ways, such as by birth, the expellee procedure, declaration or naturalization.

Requirements for naturalization in Berlin

There is a legal entitlement to naturalization in Berlin if the following requirements are met:

  1. Capacity to act
  2. Ordinary and legal residence in Germany for 8 years
  3. No ambiguity about previous nationality and identity
  4. Commitment to the free democratic basic order of the Basic Law
  5. Possession of a permanent right of residence or a specific residence permit
  6. Secured livelihood for you and your family members
  7. Willingness to renounce or lose current citizenship, if applicable.
  8. No felony conviction;
  9. Sufficient knowledge of German
  10. Sufficient knowledge of the legal and social order as well as living conditions in Germany

Requirement of the ability to act

To apply for naturalization in Berlin, you must be capable of acting. In terms of the Citizenship Act, a person is capable of acting if he or she has reached the age of 16. Upon reaching the age of 16, an application for naturalization can be made independently. However, minors under the age of 16 may also apply for naturalization. In such a case, however, a legal representative must file the naturalization application in Berlin. The legal representative is usually the minor's parents, who then act on behalf of the minor in the naturalization process in Berlin.

Ordinary and legal residence in Germany

One of the main requirements for naturalization in Berlin is linked to previous residence in Germany. In order to be naturalized, the applicant's habitual and legal residence must have been in Germany for more than eight years, as a rule. In certain situations, however, this required duration of habitual and legal residence can be shortened.

For example, there is the possibility of shortening the time limit to seven years by acquiring the "Integration Course Certificate". For this, an integration course must be successfully completed, with a language test at level B1, as well as the orientation course "Living in Germany".

For certain special integration achievements, the period can even be shortened to six years. This requires language skills at the B2 level, particularly good professional, vocational or educational achievements, or special civic commitment in the form of sustained voluntary work.

However, a new law will come into force on June 26, 2024, which will reduce the required period of residence from eight to five years. The possibility of shortening the period if you have completed an integration course or have particularly good language skills will remain, so that in some cases naturalization will be possible from a stay of just three years. You can read more about the upcoming changes here.

Identity verification

For naturalization in Berlin, it must be possible to clearly establish identity and nationality. Difficulties may arise if the home country does not have a state structure, for example, and reliable information is therefore not possible.

Verification of identity and citizenship can be done in a three-step process. The easiest way to provide proof is by means of a passport, passport replacement or other official identity documents with a photograph. If it is impossible or unreasonable to obtain these documents, in the second stage the identity and nationality can also be proven by means of other suitable official proof, such as a driver's license, service ID card, military ID card, birth certificate etc.

If this is also not possible, in the third and most difficult stage, the proof can also be carried out by non-official documents or possibly also by witness statements.

In case of ambiguities and complications, we will be happy to advise you.

Commitment to the free democratic basic order / Declaration of loyalty

In the process of naturalization in Berlin, it must be proven that the naturalization applied for is not detrimental to the free democratic basic order of Germany. This requires a commitment to the free democratic basic order. In addition, there is an obligation to declare that one does not belong or has not belonged in the past to any anti-constitutional or extremist group, nor does one support or have supported such a group.

In principle, such an avowal and the corresponding declaration must already be made when applying for naturalization in Berlin. At the latest, however, this is possible before the naturalization certificate is presented. This obligation does not apply in the case of incapacity to act.

Permanent right of residence or special residence permits

The prerequisite for naturalization is the possession of a settlement permit at the time of naturalization. Otherwise, the possession of a temporary residence permit is also sufficient, provided that it serves a permanent, or at least not only temporary purpose. Which temporary residence permits allow naturalization can be found in the adjacent box.

Special residence permits

Secured livelihood without state funds

In order to have the application for naturalization in Berlin approved, the livelihood of the applicant and the dependent family members must be ensured. The livelihood must be secured without recourse to state assistance benefits under the Social Code II (SGB II) and Social Code XII (SGB XII ). However, state assistance benefits in this sense do not include public benefits such as unemployment benefit I, child benefit, child supplement, child-raising benefit, parental benefit or BAföG.

State assistance benefits include unemployment benefit II (SBG II) or social assistance within the meaning of SGB XII.

However, the receipt of welfare benefits only has a negative effect on your naturalization application if you are also responsible for it. This means: If it is not your fault and you cannot help it that you are dependent on social benefits, then the receipt of the benefits has no influence on your naturalization.

Overall, the requirement of secure livelihood is future-oriented. This means that the Berlin authorities use your current situation and past history to make a forecast as to whether you are likely to be dependent on social benefits in the future. For this reason, you must also be able to prove that you have made sufficient provisions for your old age - i.e. paid into the statutory pension insurance.

Abandonment or loss of previous citizenship

In order to avoid dual citizenship, it is generally a prerequisite for naturalization in Berlin that the previous citizenship is renounced or lost. However, the law mentioned above stipulates that this requirement will no longer apply in future. From its entry into force on June 26, 2024, dual citizenship will also be possible for all applicants in Berlin. All information on dual citizenship can be found here.

In practice, there are already numerous exceptions that exempt the applicant from the obligation to surrender his or her previous passport. For example, if the home country regularly refuses to release the applicant or if the release from the previous nationality is unreasonable.

Thus, dual citizenship is accepted under two circumstances. In the case of legal and actual impossibility. Legally impossible is the renunciation of the previous citizenship in states that...

  • do not make this possible in any case. This is the case in Bolivia and Argentina, for example.
  • do not allow renunciation of nationality by birth: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Uruguay.
  • do not provide for abandonment in special constellations: Brazil and the Dominican Republic, for example

It is actually impossible to renounce citizenship in countries where this is legally possible, but in reality is denied or at least almost never approved: For example, Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Eritrea, Iran, Cuba, Lebanon, Maldives, Morocco, Nigeria, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia (as of 2024).

No conviction as a felon

As part of the naturalization process, it is checked whether the applicant has been convicted of a criminal offense in the past. There is an obligation to provide truthful information.

This requirement does not take into account convictions for fines of up to 90 daily rates or prison sentences of up to three months that have been suspended and remitted after expiry of the probationary period. Convictions that have already been served are also not taken into account.

In detail, we explain the requirement of impunity here.

Language skills and knowledge of the legal and social order

In order to be naturalized in Berlin, you must also have cultural and social knowledge. A language test and a "naturalization test" must prove that your language skills correspond to level B1 and that you have sufficient knowledge of the German legal and social system.


When applying for naturalization in Berlin, it is possible to have spouses, registered partners and minor children naturalized as well under lower requirements. In particular, this is also possible if their residence has not yet been lawful in Germany for 8 years.

If you intend to apply for naturalization in Berlin, please feel free to contact us. We will be there to help and advise you throughout the process as experienced lawyers in migration law.