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TIMELINE: When might Germany’s delayed dual citizenship reform pass?

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
TIMELINE: When might Germany’s delayed dual citizenship reform pass?
A woman holds German citizenship test. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

Repeated delays in the expected passage of Germany’s planned nationality reforms – which would allow dual citizenship, among other changes – are frustrating plans for would-be applicants. Here’s what we know about when the draft law might actually pass.


Ever since the traffic light government of the Social Democrats, liberal Free Democrats, and Greens negotiated a reform to Germany’s citizenship laws in their coalition agreement after the 2021 federal election, long-time residents have played a waiting game that just seems to keep getting longer.

Many were overjoyed when The Local broke the news in October 2022 that the Bundestag would begin debating a draft law that would allow dual citizenship in December 2022 – one year after the government signed its coalition agreement.

That feels like a long time ago now.

December 2022 came and went. Another projected date of April 2022 for the law to hit the Bundestag for debate also came and went. Foreign residents of Germany have both written to The Local and sounded off on social media to openly wonder when their dual citizenship hopes would become the law of the land.

READ MORE: Germany’s eagerly-awaited citizenship reform hits delays


From now to June’s end: What’s the hold-up and where do things stand now?

Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser of the SPD began circulating the draft law among fellow cabinet ministers in January. The law hit a particular snag when Justice Minister Marco Buschmann of the FDP wanted certain caveats.

One such caveat would bar people convicted of hate crimes – for example with anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic, or other “inhuman motives” – from naturalising as German. Another caveat puts restrictions on people naturalising who are claiming certain social benefits.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser speaks at an event in September 2022.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) has been the main Minister responsible for getting the draft citizenship law through federal Cabinet. After that though, it's up to the Bundestag, which could take several months to debate and amend her draft. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

Having secured these, the German cabinet is reportedly close to a final deal on the now nearly 50-page draft law. In addition to allowing dual citizenship, it reduces the amount of time someone needs to have been resident in Germany from eight years to five. Some applicants with particularly good German skills and social integration may be able to naturalise after three years.

“The relevant departmental consultations on the draft citizenship law are now in their final stages,” Stephan Thomae, the FDP’s parliamentary rapporteur on the draft citizenship law told The Local, adding: “It’s not yet clear when Cabinet will vote on the draft.”

Federal government departments have just kicked off a four-week long consultation process with Germany’s 16 federal states on the law, although state governments already saw an earlier draft back in December.

After the consultation process ends – just before the last week of June – Cabinet will vote on the law. After Cabinet’s vote, the draft law gets sent to the Bundestag.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Why Germany’s dual nationality law is running behind schedule


Summer or Autumn 2023: Could the Bundestag pass the draft law before summer?

It’s possible. But there’s a very good chance the answer to this question is “no.”

The Bundestag will adjourn on July 7th for the summer period and not reconvene again until September 4th.

With consultations between the federal and state governments on the law scheduled to last four weeks starting this week, the earliest Cabinet would be able to vote on the draft and send it to the Bundestag would be around June 19th. It’s quite likely Cabinet will need more time, in order to implement certain recommendations they’ve heard from federal states.

Even if Cabinet passed it around this time – which is a big if – the Bundestag would only have about three weeks to both debate the draft law and to pass it.

L to R: The traffic light government's three parliamentary rapporteurs for Germany's planned citizenship reform Hakan Demir (SPD), Filiz Polat (Greens) & Stephan Thomae (FDP). These three may have their own amendments to the draft citizenship law once it hits the Bundestag.

For that to happen, a majority of parliamentarians would need to be more or less happy with the draft law as Cabinet presents it to them, without seeking to amend it too much.

If that happens, parliamentarians would need to pass the law before July 7th to avoid the legislative process on the draft dragging into autumn. That’s because Germany’s upper chamber – the Bundesrat – meets for the last time before summer on July 7th. After that, the Bundesrat doesn’t sit again until September 29th.

What’s more likely, however, is that members of the Bundestag will try to amend parts of the draft law after cabinet has voted on it. Hakan Demir, the SPD’s parliamentary rapporteur on the draft law, has already voiced concerns over the draft law’s stipulation that recipients of certain benefits have to have worked full-time for 20 out of the 24 months previous to their application. Demir has hinted that he may seek to amend this in the Bundestag.

Negotiating and building support for such amendments among parliamentarians obviously takes time. Ultimately, the more changes parliamentarians want to make to the government’s draft of the law, the more time they’ll need and the more likely it is that they won’t pass it before the Bundestag’s summer break.

READ ALSO: Who qualifies for German citizenship under the new draft law?


Autumn 2023: Might this still all get done this year?

Despite all the delays, there’s still a decent chance the draft citizenship reform law passes this year – provided cabinet votes it through by summer – as many parliamentarians expect.

Even as they debate amendments to the government’s bill, Bundestag members will have their eye on the following key dates: September 29th, October 20th, November 24th, and December 15th.

That’s because these are the dates when the Bundesrat meets in 2023 after the summer break and can pass the law after the Bundestag has approved it. Parliamentarians will be balancing their wanted amendments against this calendar if they want to see the draft law approved by a certain time.

READ ALSO: INTERVIEW: Germany on track to pass dual citizenship despite opposition

When might the law become effective?

This is a big unknown variable.

Once the Bundesrat passes the draft law, it’ll go to the Federal President and become law of the land, most likely very quickly after one of the Bundesrat sittings, as Germany’s President has a largely ceremonial role.


However, German bureaucratic authorities often get implementation times from when a new law is passed to when it actually goes into effect. Authorities use these times to do everything from create new application forms and public information, to train their officials on how the new law works and how they should implement it.

It’s not clear yet exactly how long this would take when it comes to this particular draft law, even as parliamentarians are hoping for the new rules to take effect at the start of 2024.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: What’s in Germany’s draft law on dual citizenship?

To hear more on German citizenship reform, tune into our Germany in Focus podcast episode released on Friday, March 26th. 


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Chris 2023/05/30 23:23
Would the new law allow for dual citizenship for someone who applies for citizenship through descent? For those who meet the requirement of having a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who was a citizen and born before 1914?
B 2023/05/25 19:16
Is there any specific word on how the new dual citizenship laws will affect those of us who are German citizens, but wish to naturalise outside the EU (in my case the UK)? I have assumed we would be treated the same, but have seen no specific mentioning of this. I am aware of the ability to get a Beibehaltungsgenehmigung, though these also aren't guaranteed to be granted, so I happily await the law reform.

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