Figures obtained by The Local show that after the Brexit referendum last summer, the number of Brits applying for German citizenship in major metropolitan areas increased by more than fivefold.
In Hamburg, 280 British passport-holders applied for German citizenship in 2016 – more than five times as many as the 52 who applied for citizenship in 2015. And just in the rough time period after the Brexit referendum vote on June 23rd, 206 people applied.
“Even though the reasons for naturalization applications are not collected statistically, for us there is a clear connection” to the referendum to leave the EU, a Hamburg city spokesman told The Local.
The Darmstadt regional government, which presides over the major cities of Frankfurt and Wiesbaden, reported on Thursday that 521 Brits applied for German citizenship between the Brexit vote and the end of 2016 – more than five times the total number of citizenship applications in all of 2015, 100. In total, 628 Brits applied to become German in the area in all of 2016.
“The most massive increase [in naturalization applications] was among British nationals and this trend is continuing,” the Darmstadt authority wrote in the report.
British people in the Darmstadt region were also the third largest group of naturalization applicants, after Turks and Moroccans and ahead of countries like Poland, Serbia and Croatia that usually have more applicants than Brits.
In the southwest state of Baden-Württemberg, the number of Brits who became naturalized German citizens in 2016 was also more than five times the number in 2015 – 386 compared to 68. Basically all (99 percent) of Brits who received German passports also kept their UK ones, as is generally allowed for EU member states.
Nationwide figures for 2016 citizenship applications have not yet been released, but a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry previously told The Local that it is logical to expect such increases in naturalization requests.
“It cannot be ruled out that in light of Brexit, more naturalization applications will be submitted in order to maintain the advantage of being able to retain British nationality when gaining German nationality,” the spokesman told The Local shortly after the June vote.
Germany makes an exception to its rule that new citizens must renounce their old passports for EU citizens.
Around 100,000 Brits live in Germany, and a survey by The Local ahead of the Brexit vote showed that the vast majority of UK expats in Europe supported the ‘Remain’ camp.
Julius Haswell contributed reporting.