German Word of the Day: Untätigkeitsklage

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
German Word of the Day: Untätigkeitsklage
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

This hard to translate word might come in handy when you've really had enough with German bureaucracy.


What's an Untätigkeitsklage? Why do I need to know it?

Roughly translated, an Untätigkeitsklage is a legal action for an German administrative authority's "failure to act".

You can file such a complaint with a Verwaltungsgericht - or administrative court - if a German public authority hasn't responded to an application - or Antrag - from you within three months. In it, you name and shame the authority directly and they could be liable for your legal costs if they lose your case against them.

Foreigners in Germany looking to apply for German citizenship may become more familiar with Untätigkeitsklage in the next few years.

That's because you can file one for any process that's held up before a German authority. That can be a citizenship application, a building permit, a residence application, and more.

You can even file them against German embassies abroad if they take too long to process a family reunification visa, for example.


How do you use Untätigkeitsklage?

Untätigkeitsklage follows the tradition of long German compound words. In this case Untätigkeit - or "inaction" - combines with Klage - a noun meaning "legal action" that itself comes from the verb klagen, which means "to complain".

It's a feminine noun and uses the German article die in the nominative case.

EXPLAINED: When to consider legal action for your German citizenship application


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