German Citizenship: main principles and applicable law

German citizenship legislation is mainly contained in the Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz or StAG, which underwent a major legislative reform in the year 2000.

The discipline of German citizenship is regulated by a set of rules contained in four special laws:
• the Citizenship Law (Staatsangehorigkeitsgesetz - StAG) of 22 July 1913;
• the Provisions on naturalization (Einbürgerungsrichtlinien) of 15 December 1977;
• the Law on foreigners (Ausländergesetz - AuslG) of 9 July 1990;
• the Citizenship Reform Law (Gesetz zur Reform des Staatsangehörigkeitsrechts) of July 15, 1999, which came into force on January 1, 2000.

As a general rule, the German citizenship law establishes the principle of descent or Jus sanguinis, according to which a person born of German parents is a German citizen. This rule is different, in this sense, to the Jus soli, which gives relevance to the place of birth.

Actually, in the current legislation the principle of descent is balanced by that of the place of birth in the presence of certain conditions.
Another general principle which is foreseen is that of the prohibition of "multiple citizenship", under which whoever wants to obtain German Citizenship, must renounce to the one of origin.
There are, however, exceptions (§87, Ausländergesetz), in particular for EU citizens, who in turn admit multiple citizenship (principle of reciprocity).


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Note: Information provided in this Knowledge Database is for orientation only and not binding.