Am I German? - Establishing German citizenship
Certificate of Citizenship., © Ute Grabowsky/photothek.net
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.
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”).
Applications must be handed in personally at the German Embassy Windhoek and only after booking an appointment through the following link: Online Appointment System
The online appontment system works optimal on the browsers Microsoft Edge and Firefox. If you cannot access the page properly, please read our information on trouble Shooting here:
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.
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.