Am I German? - Establishing German citizenship

Certificate of Citizenship.

Certificate of Citizenship., © Ute Grabowsky/photothek.net

01.04.2021 - Article

If you would like to find out if you are eligible to apply for a German passport, there are some basic principles of the German law of citizenship that you should familiarize yourself with first.

Determining German citizenship

German citizenship is mainly acquired and passed on through descent from a German parent. The parent had to be a German citizen at the time of the child's birth. Children born to former German citizens do not acquire the German citizenship.

For children born before January 1st, 1975 to parents who were married to each other at the time of the birth, it was mandatory that the father was a German citizen at the time of the child's birth in order for the child to acquire the German citizenship.

If you were born before January 1st, 1975 to parents who were married to each other at the time of the birth, and your mother was a German citizen, you may be able to apply for German Citizenship. German language skills are one of the requirements for this application.

Persons who were born in Germany before the year 2000 to non-German parents did not obtain German citizenship at the time of their birth and are not eligible for a German passport. Currently, only children born in or after the year 2000 to long-term residents of Germany could or can under certain circumstances receive the German citizenship.

The German rules on citizenship are based on the principle of avoiding dual citizenship. This means that a German citizen who voluntarily applies for and accepts a foreign nationality on principle loses the German nationality automatically. This rule does not apply to Germans who receive the other citizenship by law (e.g. children born in Namibia to parents that hold German citizenship at the time of the birth of the child may be dual citizens by law), or who applied for and received a citizenship of a member state of the European Union or Switzerland after August of 2007.

Am I entitled to a German passport?

German passports are issued only to German citizens. To determine whether or not you might be eligible for a German passport, research in your family history may be necessary.

Ap­pli­ca­tion for the es­tab­lish­ment of Ger­man cit­i­zen­ship

For ap­pli­cants liv­ing abroad, the Fed­er­al Of­fice of Ad­min­is­tra­tion in Cologne, Germany, is the com­pe­tent au­thor­i­ty to deal with cit­i­zen­ship mat­ters. The Fed­er­al Of­fice of Ad­min­is­tra­tion (BVA) car­ries out spe­cif­ic pro­ce­dures to de­ter­mine whether or not ap­pli­cants are Ger­man cit­i­zens.

It as­cer­tains when and by what means you have be­come a Ger­man na­tion­al and whether or not you have lost your Ger­man cit­i­zen­ship. Many events in the ap­pli­cants’ and their an­ces­tors’ lives can be sig­nif­i­cant for the ac­qui­si­tion or loss of the Ger­man cit­i­zen­ship, in­clud­ing per­son­al and fam­i­ly events (e.g. birth, mar­riage, or adop­tion) and/or po­lit­i­cal, le­gal de­vel­op­ments (such as col­lec­tive nat­u­ral­iza­tions dur­ing World War II or the ac­qui­si­tion of a for­eign na­tion­al­i­ty).
Ap­pli­cants whose Ger­man cit­i­zen­ship has been es­tab­lished are is­sued a cer­tifi­cate of na­tion­al­i­ty. It can al­so be es­tab­lished that you are not a Ger­man cit­i­zen. In such cas­es, a so-called neg­a­tive cer­tifi­cate is is­sued.

Please note that the whole ap­pli­ca­tion process must be con­duct­ed in Ger­man.

The German Embassy Windhoek forwards the application to the BVA for processing. Communication from the BVA will usually be forwarded to the applicant by the German Embassy Windhoek.

Application procedure

Usually, applications for establishment of the German citizenship are very complex and need many supporting documents. To make sure that you have all documents with you when you come to the Embassy or send it, we recommend to contact the Consular Section beforehand and present your case via e-mail: Contact the German Embassy Windhoek

For all application documents and further information, please visit the website of the Federal Office of Administration (“Feststellungsverfahren”).

To hand in the complete application with all documents, please arrange an appointment online: Online appoinement system (nationality issues)


The fee for a certificate of nationality is 25 EUR, the fee for a neg­a­tive cer­tifi­cate is 18 EUR. It is to be paid after the processing is completed.

Processing time

The processing time is in average 1 to 2 years. Please understand, that due to the complexity of the matter, BVA may ask for additional information or documents at any point during the process.

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