Acquisition of German Citizenship through Long-Term Treatment as a German

Can German nationality be acquired by "usucapion" or “bona fide” when German authorities consider you as such for at least twelve years and it is their fault. The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig heard this case on March 30, 2021 (re BVerwG 1 C 28.20).  

German citizenship after authorities treated you as German for a long time

The first plaintiff, born in Brazil in 1982, and his second daughter, born there in 2011, are descendants of a "Prussian subject" who emigrated to Brazil in 1853. They want to be considered as German nationals.

The plaintiff's father, who had previously been exclusively a Brazilian citizen, had not acquired German citizenship by descent. This detail is out of question.

In April 2003, the Federal Administration Office (Bundesverwaltungsamt) had issued a citizenship certificate to him with a validity of ten years. In August 2014, the Consulate General of São Paulo had issued a passport to him that was also valid for ten years. The acquisition of citizenship by the plaintiff's father, who was not responsible for his treatment as a German citizen, had an effect back to the time of his birth in 1947. Pursuant to §3 II 4 StAG, in other words by operation of law, the two plaintiffs received German citizenship because their ancestor did. The father had acquired German nationality as a result of the fact that German authorities had erroneously treated him as a German citizen since April 2003.

The Federal Administrative Court upheld the complaint and confirmed the decision of the Higher Administrative Court. The plaintiff's father acquired German citizenship by "usucapion" (in German ‘Ersitzung’ retroactively to the time of his birth. The fact that the citizenship certificate issued to him lost its validity in April 2013 and that he was not issued a passport until August 2014 does not prevent him from being treated as a German citizen "for twelve years".

Related Articles:

German Citizenship for Children of Non-German Parents

Obtaining German Citizenship in Spite of Welfare

Residence Permit after Loss of German Citizenship

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