Reader questions For Members

Can I get German citizenship and immediately move abroad?

Paul Krantz
Paul Krantz - [email protected]
Can I get German citizenship and immediately move abroad?
The old town district of Alfama in Lisbon, Portugal. As of 2022, there were 20,500 German nationals residing in Portugal. Photo: picture alliance / Turismo de Lisboa/dpa-tmn | Turismo de Lisboa

German citizenship comes with perks, including freedom of movement in the EU. But some foreign residents are wondering if newly naturalised Germans get to enjoy these rights immediately or if they have to wait for a period of time before moving abroad.


For those whose work and family lives allow it, freedom of movement and the ability to live and work in other member countries can be one of the best perks of European Union (EU) citizenship.

German citizens with the ability to work remotely may choose to spend the coldest months of the year near a sunny beach in Spain, for example. Likewise when summer heatwaves start to come on, they can move up to the Nordics, and all without applying for any visas or work permits.

Ahead of Germany’s new dual citizenship law taking effect on June 27th 2024, some readers are wondering if it really is possible to naturalise as a German citizen and then immediately move to another European country - or even further afield. 

Here’s what is allowed with German citizenship regarding movement and employment across the EU:

Can I leave Germany as soon as I get citizenship?

The basic answer is yes, once citizenship is granted you can legally move to another European country indefinitely if you want to.

Asked how EU rules apply for foreigners who naturalise, immigration lawyer Sven Hasse told The Local, “With their naturalisation, third-country nationals also acquire EU citizenship in addition to German citizenship and thus freedom of movement rights within the EU in accordance with the Freedom of Movement Directive.”

There are no unique terms and conditions that apply for foreigners or dual citizens, nor is there any sort of probation period on citizenship once it is granted.

In fact, after citizenship is granted it can only be repealed for a few very specific reasons, such as joining a foreign military or it being revealed that you lied on your citizenship application.

READ ALSO: When can your German citizenship be revoked?

So, theoretically, if you gained German citizenship today you could move to Italy tomorrow, and there would be no reason, at least from a legal perspective, that you would need to return.


What are EU citizens’ residence rights?

EU citizens have the right to move to any EU country to live, work, study, look for a job or retire.

According to the European Union’s official website, “You can stay in another EU country for up to three months without registering there”.

After three months, depending on where you are staying, you may need to register your residence there. But provided you register according to the local regulations, you can then continue to reside there for longer.

In many EU countries, you may need to carry your German identity card or passport with you. In some cases you could be fined or temporarily detained if you’re caught without your identity documents, but it is not reason enough to make you return to your home country.

Additionally, in most cases, if you live legally in another EU country for a continuous period of five years, you'll automatically acquire permanent residence there.

READ ALSO: 8 reasons why German citizenship trumps permanent residency 

Flight over Germany

A flight over Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Stratenschulte

Indeed, freedom of movement is a huge benefit to millions of EU citizens who are therefore free to travel much more easily and also to seek work internationally within the EU region.

The popularity of benefits such as this could be one reason why far-right parties have stopped talking so much about leaving the EU in the current election cycle.

READ ALSO: From Swexit to Frexit - How Europe's far-right parties have ditched plans to leave EU


Perks of the red eagle passport

Along with the ability to live and work across the EU, German citizenship comes with a sought-after passport. 

Passports are ranked by the number of countries they allow you to travel to without needing a visa.

In 2024, the German passport is the second most powerful in the world after the United Arab Emirates passport, according to Passport Index - Germany shares its 2nd place status with France, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, Austria and Switzerland.

Currently, German citizens get visa-free access to 143 countries, and another 43 countries offer a visa-on-arrival for Deutschland Reisepass holders.

In comparison, the UK passport has the 5th most powerful ranking - along with Singapore, the Czech Republic and South Korea – granting entry to 174 countries. The US, Canada and Australia all share the 7th most powerful passport ranking with access to 172 countries.


Lower down on the list, Kenyan passport holders have access to 100 fewer countries than German passport holders, for example. Similarly, India’s passport has the 66th ranking and allows entry to 73 countries.

On a practical level, having a powerful passport ranking simply means there are more places that you can travel to with relative ease. So, even if you don’t plan on moving elsewhere with your citizenship, the German passport is not a bad one to have.

Coming from countries with weak passports can make moving abroad, or even traveling, very difficult. For some citizenship applicants, being granted a German passport could significantly improve their mobility and access to certain countries.

READ ALSO: Passports - what are the rules for dual nationals travelling in Germany?

Editor's note: We amended the implementation date for German citizenship from June 26th to June 27th 2024 after confirmation from the German government on May 16th. 



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