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TIMELINE: When will Germany push through the new dual citizenship law?

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
TIMELINE: When will Germany push through the new dual citizenship law?
A German and Turkish passport are held up in parliament in Kiel. Photo: picture alliance / Carsten Rehder/dpa | Carsten Rehder

Germany's overhaul of citizenship and dual nationality laws was been green-lit by government ministers on Wednesday. Here are the next steps for the reform bill - and when the new rules could come into force.


People who meet the criteria for German citizenship are facing a tricky dilemma at present. Though long delays and bureaucracy make it tempting to get the ball rolling as soon as possible, many are also keen to wait until Germany's new liberalised laws come into place, allowing (among other things) the holding of multiple nationalities.

For those who don't quite meet the criteria yet, there are also plenty of reasons to count the days until the new law comes into force.

For one, the residence requirements will be drastically cut from eight years to five, meaning a far wider pool of internationals will be eligible for a German passport.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: The key points of Germany's draft law on dual citizenship

Nevertheless, it feels as if foreigners have been waiting endlessly for this hotly anticipated reform. And indeed, a full 21 months have passed since the plans were first announced in the coalition agreement of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP).

So when will these sweeping changes to German citizenship law actually become a reality? And where are we in the process right now?

These are the key benchmarks to look out for in the coming weeks and months.

Read more about applying for dual citizenship in our German citizenship guide.

The cabinet vote

In the run up to the summer break, the new nationality law was published on the Interior Ministry website and subsequently circulated among state governments and other stakeholders as part of a review and amendment process.

Following this process, the finalised bill was voted on by cabinet ministers on Wednesday, August 23rd, paving the way for a parliamentary vote.


The Bundestag vote

Now the cabinet has voted on the bill, it can make its way to the Bundestag, which is the lower house of parliament representing the federal government and MPs.

The Bundestag will return from summer recess on September 5th, though much of the agenda for this week has already been finalised.

That meaning a potential vote on the citizenship bill could be scheduled anytime from September 11th - and may even come as soon as mid-September. 

The Bundesrat vote

Once the Bundestag has passed the law, it can go to a vote on the Bundesrat, which is the upper house of parliament representing the federal states.

Since the citizenship law doesn't impact state law in a significant way, sources have told The Local that the government only needs a simple majority for the bill to pass in the Bundesrat, meaning it would be difficult for the conservative-led states to block the legislation.

The next full sessions of the Bundesrat are scheduled for September 29th and October 20th, so these will likely be the key dates to bear in mind for when the bill could clear its final legislative hurdle.

Once this stage is complete, all that remains is for the final bill to be signed into law by President Frank Walter Steinmeier (SPD). 

The exterior of the German Bundesrat.

The exterior of the German Bundesrat. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

The implementation phase

This is where things get a little bit less predictable: after signing the bill into law, the government will need to give local authorities a certain period of time to implement the changes.

If the government's Skilled Worker Immigration Law is anything to go by, this implementation phase would be around six months long - though nine is also possible for complicated legislation. 

However, if ministers are particularly keen for this to enter into force as soon as possible, they could also try and expedite this and get things done in much less time. 

New law enters into force

This is really the moment that foreigners in Germany are waiting for. It will mean that they can officially apply for citizenship after just five years of residence - or three in exceptional circumstances - and that they can keep non-EU nationalities after nationalising as a German.

People aged 67 and over will also be able to forego language tests, while the children of migrants will automatically gain German citizenship provided their parents have been in the country for at least five years.


Looking at the likely speed of the cabinet vote, parliamentary votes and implementation, this key date could fall anytime in the first quarter of 2024 - so between January 1st and April 1st next year. 

INTERVIEW: What is the biggest problem foreigners face when applying for German citizenship?

Should people submit their applications now?

This remains a tricky question for many, and depends quite a lot on where the application is submitted.

Anecdotally, there are some districts that manage to complete citizenship applications in just a couple of months - although these are definitely the exception rather than the rule.

Elsewhere, and particularly in the big cities like Berlin and Frankfurt, 18 months to two years tends to be the norm. That means that provided all goes to plan, most citizenship applications submitted now wouldn't be completed until after the new law comes into force.


In response to an enquiry from The Local, Berlin Mitte Citizenship Office clarified that, in these cases, people who applied before the law changes would still be able to keep their old citizenship after their application was processed. 

"The law that is applicable at the time when German citizenship is granted is the law that is applied," they explained. 

However, the only way to guarantee this happening is to submit your application only after the new regulations enter in force - since it's unlikely, but still possible, that your application may be processed in record time. 

READ ALSO: German citizenship: Can people who apply before the law changes get dual nationality?


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