German citizenship For Members

Can I lose my German passport even under the new dual citizenship law?

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
Can I lose my German passport even under the new dual citizenship law?
Serving in a foreign military may come with a loss of German citizenship - but there are exceptions. Photo: BOUREIMA HAMA/AFP.

The most common scenario for a German citizen to lose their citizenship currently is if they take up a foreign one. That will change under the new rules - but there's still a few caveats to be aware of.


German citizens who naturalise abroad in a non-EU country automatically lose German citizenship under the current rules - unless they apply for special permission to keep it.

This will change under a new law allowing dual citizenship - which recently passed the Bundestag and will go before Germany's upper chamber - the Bundesrat, on Friday.

READ ALSO: Germany's landmark dual citizenship reform passes final vote

Dual citizenship will be allowed and if you were to naturalise as German - but perhaps move somewhere else several years later and wish to naturalise there - you could retain German citizenship without asking for permission. This is of course, provided that the other country in question also allows multiple citizenships.

There will still be two main ways someone can still lose German citizenship.

READ ALSO:  What you need to know about Germany's citizenship law reform

Loss by renunciation

Under the new law, German citizenship can still be renounced voluntarily - provided the German citizen has another nationality, so that they're not rendered stateless by renouncing their German nationality.

Renunciation might happen if, for example, a German citizen abroad chooses to naturalise somewhere that doesn't allow dual citizenship. You'll need to make a legal request to renounce - likely through the responsible German mission abroad.



Voluntarily serving in another country's armed forces

If you are - or become - a dual citizen of Germany and another country, you may need to mind yourself about voluntarily serving in the other country's armed forces.

In most cases, a German with dual citizenship who voluntarily serves in the armed forces of a country other than Germany automatically loses their German citizenship. The key word here is voluntary, as some countries require their citizens to complete military service. If a German dual citizen is in this situation, they can complete their mandatory military service for their other country without losing their German citizenship. However, if a former conscript chooses to later launch a voluntary career in the other country's military - they may lose German citizenship.

There are exceptions to this, however. The first is that the German dual citizen gets the prior permission of the German Defence Ministry to serve in the other country's armed forces.

The other big exception is if the other country in question is also a member of NATO, the EU, or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA, which includes Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein). Non-NATO, EU, or EFTA members who are also covered include Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and Australia.

A German dual citizen who started serving in the militaries of any of these allied countries after July 6th, 2011 won't have lost German citizenship or lose it in the future.

READ ALSO: What documents should you get after obtaining German citizenship?


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