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Dual or multiple citizenship(s)

Dual Citizenship: a Namibian and a German passport

Dual Citizenship: a Namibian and a German passport, © German Embassy Windhoek

28.02.2018 - Article

While the German rules on citizenship are based on the principle of avoiding dual citizenship, this principle does not apply to children who receive dual citizenship through descent from their parents .

Basic principle: only one citizenship

German citizenship law is based on the principle of avoiding multiple citizenships. As a consquence anyone applying for German citizenship will generally be required to give up their other citizenship(s) and German citizens who apply for a foreign citizenship will automatically lose their German citizenship.

There are some exceptions to this principle:

If children acquire more than one citizenship at birth (e.g. through a German mother and a Namibian father or by being born in Namibia to German parents), they will not have to decide for either citizenship.

  • Example:
    German citizens Daniela and Peter came to Namibia in 1995. Their son Luke was born in 1998 in Otjiwarongo. Daniela and Peter were both permanent residents in Namibia when Luke was born. Luke received the German nationality through descent from German parents, and the Namibian citizenship through birth on Namibian territory. He will remain German-Namibian citizen for life, unless he (or his parental guardian(s), while he is still a minor) decides to actively change his citizenship such as for example applying for a third citizenship.
  • Children that receive a dual-citizenship this way do not need to make a decision for one citizenship once they reach the Age of 23.  

Important Information:

German parents which were born outside of Germany after 31. December 1999 do not automatically transfer their German citizenship to their children, if those are also born abroad - unless their parents register the birth with the German competent consulate before the child's first brithday.

A German citizen who voluntarily acquires a foreign citizenship, does not lose his or her German citizenship if he or she received official permission to retain German citizenship (so-called „Beibehaltungsgenehmigung“) before acquiring said foreign citizenship. Please note that you have to receive the „Beibehaltungsgenehmigung“ before accepting the foreign citizenship since permission cannot be given retroactively.

More Information on applying for a „Beibehaltungsgenehmigung“ can be found (in German language only): Beibehaltungsgenehmigung

Anyone applying for German citizenship will generally be required to give up their other citizenship(s). There are exceptions to this rule if the applicant is a citizen of another EU-member state or Switzerland or if the applicant has a German parent as well as in cases of restoration of German citizenship according to art. 116 of the Basic Law.

More Information on naturalization can be found here: naturalization

Please note that all information on this page refers to German Citizenship Law. If and under which conditions Namibian Law allows double citizenship can be determined only by the competent Namibian authorities.

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