German citizenship For Members

Foreigners in Germany celebrate as long-awaited dual citizenship law enters into force

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
Foreigners in Germany celebrate as long-awaited dual citizenship law enters into force
People celebrate the German national team at the Euros with German flags in Berlin. Germany has relaxed its citizenship laws. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

Foreign residents in Germany have been waiting for this moment for years. And on Thursday it became a reality. The new naturalisation law - which allows people to hold multiple nationalities - came into force.


Under the new law, residents are able to apply to become German after five years instead of the previous eight-year residency requirement. 

Some people will be able to apply for German citizenship after just three years of residency if they have exceptional integration achievements and C1 level German. 

And one of the biggest changes is that restrictions to holding multiple nationalities have been removed. It means that all non-EU citizens are able to hold on to their previous passport or passports when becoming German, if their origin country allows it. 


Previously, Germany only allowed people to hold dual nationality in certain circumstances, for example if they were an EU citizen, if someone had refugee status or if they successfully filed an exception. 

Matt Bristow, a volunteer with citizens rights group British in Germany, told The Local's Germany in Focus podcast this week that the law change meant different things to foreign residents. 

He said being able to fully take part in democracy and vote was a significant factor for many.  

"There's, of course, added benefits as well of being a German citizen in that you're also then European citizen," he added.

"And for some people, they may be thinking of not staying in Germany for the rest of their lives, but want you to move elsewhere in Europe. And so for people who aren't already EU citizens, that's another bonus.


"But on the other hand, there's also the emotional side, that sense of belonging, that you're not a foreigner anymore. You're a German like everyone else. And I think that's something which shouldn't be underestimated."

READ ALSO: What would German citizenship mean to foreign residents?

Bristow said being able to hold German citizenship - alongside their previous nationality or nationalities - is key for many people.

"That's a really important aspect of being able to have both your original nationality and German citizenship and not having to choose between one identity or the other," he said. "I think that was one of the things which was most unfair about the previous rules that people were given this choice, which was a horrible choice to make.

"Where do my loyalties lie? Can't they lie with both? And so that's something I really welcome that people don't have to make such a horrible decision anymore. And that all aspects of their identity can be valued by Germany."

However, it is expected that the road to citizenship will be long for applicants. Many citizenship offices in Germany are already overrun and struggling to deal with inquriries.

Some authorities have vowed to take on more staff and tackle the issue - but delays are expected. 

READ ALSO: The citizenship waiting times and backlogs in major German cities



The Local has been covering this issue for our readers for several years. Learn everything you need to know about German citizenship law, and how to apply, on The Local's citizenship news page.

Here is a selection of recent stories put together by The Local Germany team that we recommend you check out:


Comments (1)

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David 2024/06/28 12:26
I think the headline is a little misleading. Personally, I don’t know any foreigner who is celebrating this. The truth is the German government went ahead with plans they designed themselves. I doubt there was input from the local offices or the foreigners themselves. If there was, they would realise that nobody was really advocating for a quicker pathway to citizenship. A number of people advocated for dual citizenship but I don’t know anyone who complained about the 8 years it took under the previous law. The local offices are not prepared for the new law. The German government knows this, the offices know this and we know know. Rather, resources should have been allocated to streamlining the current backlog of applications, digitalising the offices, increasing staffing by letting foreigners work in local offices. I have many foreigners I help (who just moved to Germany) on almost a weekly basis because anytime the offices hear them speak English, they hang up the call. This is the daily reality of many foreigners. This is where true change is needed. It’s also the same with the opportunity card. The German government claims to have understudied the Canadian Government. Tell me why anyone in their right senses will decide to come to Germany on an opportunity card when you still need a blocked account, you will only get a visa and the visa will only permit you to work part time. While with Canadian express entry, I enter as a PR holder, can already work any job full time and i don’t need a blocked account. Half backed solutions not properly thought out. To me it’s worse that no solutions at all.

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