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Reader question: Do all children born in Germany automatically receive German citizenship?

The Local (news@thelocal.com)
The Local ([email protected]) • 1 Nov, 2022 Updated Tue 1 Nov 2022 14:59 CEST
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A German passport on a desk in the home. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

If a baby is born in Germany, does the child become Deutsch? The answer may not be so straightforward, for both foreign and sometimes even German parents.

In the US, stories abound of expecting parents who travel to the country on the brink of giving birth, and then have a baby who’s automatically granted American citizenship. 

But does the same rule - when foreign parents receive citizenship for their child in the country it’s born - also apply in Germany?

The short answer is no – at least not automatically. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to German citizenship by descent and how to apply for it

Contrary to what some people might assume, if a baby is born to two foreign parents in Germany, the child does not receive German citizenship upon birth, according to Germany’s Foreign Ministry. 

But there are a couple of ways in which the child can still become a German passport holder.

Parent(s) who are long-term German residents

Any child born in Germany after January 1st, 2000 to at least one foreign parent who has resided continuously in Germany for at least eight years and is a permanent resident, qualifies for German citizenship in addition to the citizenship of the parents.

But there’s a catch: according to the German Optionspflict, "the child must decide at some stage between the age of 18 and 23 whether to retain his or her German nationality or another nationality acquired by birth," wrote the German Foreign Ministry.

The requirement to choose is only in place, however, for children who received German citizenship through a parent who’s a long-term resident of Germany.

If the parent holds a German passport, the child doesn't need to choose, unless it's required by the other country of which they're a passport holder.

That means that if a foreign parent gets German citizenship after their child is born, they can also receive a German passport for their offspring.

READ ALSO: How foreigners can get fast track citizenship in Germany

A man holds a German passport in his hand.

A man holds a German passport in his hand. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

Loopholes even with a German parent 

It may seem like a given that having one German parent would grant citizenship to a child born in Germany, but that’s not always the case.

If the parents are not married and the father is German, he will need to make sure to fill out a Vaterschaftsanerkennung (recognition of paternity) before the citizenship can be claimed.

Families in which one parent is German and the other foreign also often assume that only one passport is needed, but things can get a little tricky.

Let’s say the mother is a British passport holder and the father possesses a German passport. While their offspring can easily travel to the UK without an issue, they may encounter difficulties reentering Germany unless their kid has an official deutschen Reisepass.

And it goes without saying that a child born to a German parent abroad, whether the father or mother, is also required to officially apply for a German passport in order for German nationality to be recognised.

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The Local ([email protected]) 2022/11/01 14:59

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