German Citizenship - EuroCidadanias

German Citizenship

Germany is one of the countries which acknowledges citizenship by “jus sanguini”, blood right. That means that brazilian people who are of german descendance can apply for the dual citizenship.

How to get German Citizenship

The descendance/filiation principle:

German citizenship is granted by descendance/filiation, place of birth, adoption or naturalization.

The descendance/filiation principle (“jus sanguinis”) guides itself on the parents’ nationality: children of german parents are automatically granted german citizenship, even if only one of the parents are german. In many cases, when one of the parents has a different nationality, the child is entitled to a german dual nationality. That applies, for example, to a child of a brazilian mother and german father, or vice versa, without the child having to choose only one of the two citizenships when he/she becomes a legal adult.

However, if the parents aren’t married and only the father has german citizenship, he must legally recognize his paternity over the child before he/she turns 23 years old.

The “jus sanguinis” principle is applied no matter where the child was born.

Father ascendance

Obtaining the german nationality through father ascendance is possible if the german father was married to the mother when the child was born. If the parents weren’t married, usually the citizenship is only possible to obtain if the child was born after 30/06/1993 and the father has recognized his paternity. The same conditions apply to previous generations: if someone’s father/mother obtained german nationality through their grandfather, for example.

Mother ascendance

In case the mother is german, has german ancestors, the child automatically obtains german citizenship, no matter if the mother was single or married when the child was born, so long as the birth dates after 01/01/1975. In case of people born before 01/01/1975, if the mother was married at the time, it isn’t possible to apply for german nationality through mother ascendance. Exception: in case the mother presented a declaration on the matter before an authority or german representative in between 01/01/1975 and 31/12/1977. It isn’t possible to do such declaration retroactively. To previous generations, the same conditions apply. For example, if someone’s mother/father acquired german nationality through their grandmother.

At first, it is possible to obtain german nationality through someone’s grandfather/ great-grandfather, but a verification would be necessary to make sure that the german nationality was passed on through each generation. From someone’s great-grandfather, to their grandfather, to their father, etc.

In the cases of people born in Brazil who have/had german ancestors, it will be necessary to enter a german nationality acknowledgement process with Germany’s diplomatic representation in Brazil.

Place of birth

Since the year 2000, it’s also valid in Germany the place of birth principle. That means that a child born in Germany automatically receives german citizenship, even if both parents are foreigners, so long as at least one o the parents, when the child is born, were living legally and continuously for at least eight years in Germany and has a Permanent Stay Permit (unbefristete Aufenthaltsgenehmigung). In that case, the child automatically receives german citizenship. In case the child obtains another nationality in birth, at 18 he/she will have to decide between the two. Here, the dual nationality is only possible in exceptional cases.


Since 01/01/1977: a valid adoption according to the german legislation of a minor by a german adult. The nationality is given from the moment the adoption is effective.

Since 01/09/1986: the child must be under 18 years of age when applying for the adoption.


Someone who doesn’t have the right to german citizenship may ask for a naturalization in case they check the following conditions:

  • Retain the permit for permanent stay in Germany;
  • Have at least 8 years of living legally and continuously in Germany;
  • Have the conditions to support themselves and their families without social support (Sozialhilfe) or unemployment help (Arbeitlosengeld 2 ou Hartz IV);
  • Have enough knowledge in the german language;
  • Be approved by the Citizenship Test (Einbürgerungstest);
  • Not have criminal records;
  • Know, acknowledge and respect the german Constitution (das Deutsche Grundgesetz) and the free and democratic order of the German Federal Republic (die Freiheitlichedemokratische Grundordnung);
  • Have lost or renounce their previous nationality (brazilians usually don’t have to renounce brazilian nationality in order to have the german nationality);
  • The eight year period may be shortened to seven if the person has completed with success the integration course. If the person speaks good german or if they work as a volunteer in any philanthropist institution, the period may be shortened to six years.

German language

To require the naturalization, it is necessary to prove that the level of knowledge in the german language is at, at least, a B1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR), through the following means:

  • Successfully participating in a german course from the Integration Course (Integrationskurs);
  • Possess the Zertifikat Deutsch or other german language diplomas;
  • Have successfully studied in a german school for, at least, 4 years;
  • Have concluded a Hauptschule or Realschule or done the Abitur;
  • Proof of having passed on to tenth grade in a german school;
  • Have finished some kind of professional formation in german;
  • Have finished a superior course in german

The naturalization may be required directly after having completed 16 years of age. The requirement for children under 16 must be made by the parents.


  • Through marriage with a german citizen, one does not automatically acquire german nationality (this rule was only valid up until 31/03/1953). To obtain naturalization, the partner of a german citizen must have proof that they have legally and continuously lived in Germany for 3 years, that the marriage (or registered marriage) exists for at least 2 years and that the partner already had german nationality during this period — which means that these rules do not apply if the partner naturalized themselves german in that period. All the previous conditions also apply to this scenario (language, income — as a couple, in this case—, no criminal records, etc).
  • Descendants of german people who emigrated to Brazil before 1871 have no right to german nationality.
  • Germans who emigrated in between 1871 and 1904 and didn’t check every ten years in with the local german consulates with the intent of keeping their nationalities, lost it.

See also