Applying for German Citizenship (Naturalization)
This page will introduce you to the requirements of obtaining a German passport, or more in the legal thinking, German nationality.
What are the requirements for getting a German passport?
You have to
- have been lawfully living here and having your habitual residence for eight years, or seven years after having passed an integration course,
- pledge to uphold the free, democratic system defined in the German constitution,
- declare that you do not pursue and have not pursued any activities hostile to the German constitution,
- be able to secure your living expenses, without welfare or unemployment compensation, unless you are not responsible for requiring that relief or if you are younger than 23,
- have sufficient command of the German language,
- have no serious criminal records,
- prove the loss or surrender of any previous citizenship – unless you are exempted (e.g. if the second nationality is EU).
When do I have sufficient command of the German language? Do I have to speak almost as well as a German?
You have to prove your command of German in order to be naturalized. Be aware, even though you might fulfill every other condition, you will not be naturalized if you do not have sufficient German language skills. You can prove your command by having
- obtained the certificate “German as a foreign language” (Zertifikat Deutsch als Fremdsprache [ZDaF])” or an equivalent diploma,
- successfully visited a German school for four years,
- achieved a Hauptschulabschluß (main upper primary school diploma) or an equivalent degree,
- passed 9th grade of a transmitting school (Realschule, Gymnasium, or Gesamtschule),
- successfully studied at a German university, specialized institution of higher education, or successfully obtained a German vocational training, or
- successfully passed a German language course for mothers.
I have just been granted German citizenship after living here for nine years. I married my non-German wife two years ago having a gorgeous daughter from a previous relationship. What about my wife and child? Do they have to meet all the conditions?
No, your wife and daughter can be naturalized under fewer requirements. But they still have to meet all normal conditions, except for living in Germany for at least eight years. Children under 16 are exempt from making any pledges to German constitution or its democratic order.