There is a growing number of people applying for German citizenship. This should not come as a surprise based on the sheet number of benefits linked to German citizenship. Last year, the second-largest group of applicants came from the United Kingdom. Whereas in 2015 (one year before the Brexit referendum), 600 British citizens acquired German citizenship, the number during the last four years grew to roughly 32.000.  This increase is related to the decision in 2016 to exit the European Union. In this article, we will examine Dual German-UK Citizenship after Brexit and how to gain it.

On 31st January 2020, the UK withdrew from the European Union as the culmination of the Brexit negotiations. As of 2021, the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union has changed, and freedom of movement is now gone. Dual citizenship is a popular way for British citizens to keep enjoying the advantages of the European Union while maintaining their ties to the United Kingdom.

If you have a particular issue or legal question concerning Brexit and German law, you can contact our law office anytime. Our lawyers for Brexit Issues in Germany can be reached by phone, email and also provide video conferencing options. For more legal information, please visit our Brexit Affairs Legal Centre.

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Does Germany allow Dual German-UK Citizenship after Brexit?

Dual German-UK citizenship for UK citizens by naturalization was possible during the Brexit Transition period as EU citizens do not need to give up their previous citizenship to become citizens in Germany. As a citizen of the UK seeking to apply for dual German-UK citizenship, it was possible under these conditions:

  • an application for citizenship by naturalization must be made before 31st December 2020
  • you fulfil all naturalization requirements before 31st December 2020
  • all requirements remain fulfilled until the moment of naturalisation

Please note, however, if you file your application after 31st December 2020, you are required to give up your UK nationality to be eligible for naturalization. The same applies if the requirements for naturalisation are fulfilled only after 31st December 2020. For more information on naturalization, please visit our page on the topic of “German Citizenship by Naturalization“.

In the circumstances involving non-EU citizens, it is possible to benefit from German dual citizenship by naturalization where there are the following elements:

  • cases of hardship,
  • there exists an inability to renounce previous citizenship,
  • where the applicant is fleeing persecution or is a refugee/asylum seeker.

Seek professional legal advice if you fulfil any of the following conditions.

German Citizens Living in the UK: The Retention Permit

German citizens living in the United Kingdom who are thinking of applying for UK citizenship following Brexit should be aware that it will likely lead to you needing to renounce your German citizenship. Although the UK allows for dual citizenship, Germany does not generally provide dual citizenship with third countries. However, per § 25 StAG, there is the possibility of applying for a Retention Permit. The Retention Permit allows its holder to keep their German citizenship if public or private interests can justify the retention permit. This decision is at the discretion of the German Federal Office of Administration.

The application for the Retention Permit needs to be made before the application for the other citizenship. Several documents need to be provided as part of the application including, proof of possession of German nationality (e.g., identity card), proof of entitlement to reside in the country of residence (if applicable), and proof of ties to Germany and the reasons for acquiring the desired nationality. Processing of the application can take 14 months or longer, and mistakes in the application can lead to further delays.

If you are granted the Retention Permit, you will benefit from holding dual German-UK citizenship. However, refusals are not uncommon, and the individual can challenge this decision. Throughout this procedure, it is advisable to work alongside experienced German immigration lawyers aware of what is considered important by such bodies.

Under what Conditions can I acquire German Citizenship?

There are several conditions that must be considered wh German citizenship by naturalization.  These conditions are listed under § 10 StAG, where it states that the application for citizenship by naturalization is to be granted if you:

  • have an unlimited right of residence in Germany
  • have been lawfully and habitually resident in Germany for eight years
  • can earn a living for yourself and your family without recourse to social assistance or unemployment benefit
  • have sufficient knowledge of German
    • for adults, language level B1 is required; for those under 16 years of age, language development appropriate to their age
  • have not been convicted of any criminal offence
  • are committed to the German Constitution and do not support any anti-constitutional efforts or credibly distance themselves from previous support
  • have passed the naturalisation test on the German legal and social order
    • this will not be necessary if you have attended a German high school or completed vocational training in Germany

If you fulfil these requirements but require more information or further guidance regarding the requirements, please contact our legal team.  Our lawyers have helped our global client base achieve their immigration goals in Germany. Contact us directly, and our lawyers can then provide you with specialised guidance.

Other options for gaining German citizenship include German citizenship by descent and citizenship through marriage.

UK Citizens in Germany Post-Brexit

UK citizens in Germany post-Brexit must acquire the Aufenthaltsdokument-GB if they resided in the country before the start of 2021 (01.01.2021). This document demonstrates that you came to Germany per your rights as an EU citizen, and Germany is now your primary residence. This document should be filled in and given to the local immigration authorities in Germany before the deadline of 30.06.2021. After the beginning of Brexit, UK citizens arriving in Germany need to look for appropriate visas and work permits to work in Germany, such as the EU Blue Card or the ICT Card.

Legal advice post-Brexit is crucial for both private individuals and companies, as becoming a “third country” has complicated many aspects of life in Germany for UK citizens. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our legal team will support you.

What are the Advantages of Dual German-UK Citizenship?

While the exact impact of Brexit is not yet entirely foreseeable, one thing is certain: UK citizens will no longer enjoy the full rights of EU citizens. As will be seen below, there are many benefits of German citizenship. While it was previously possible for UK citizens to work and live in other states of the European Union without limitations, the situation has become more complex.

However, through dual German-UK citizenship, the benefits of EU membership will be maintained. This means that naturalisation will, amongst other things, allow you to:

  • enjoy full working & residential rights in Germany
  • enjoy full working & residential rights in any other EU member state
  • travel throughout the EU without a visa
  • enjoy subsidised tertiary education & scholarships
  • vote and hold public service positions at the EU level
  • enjoy guaranteed data protection through GDPR

These are only some of the benefits of dual German-UK citizenship, and there are many more for you and your family.

Legal representation with Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte

Our law firm Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, with offices in Cologne, Aachen and Düsseldorf, as well as conference rooms in Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich, is at your disposal nationwide and serves you as a reliable and competent partner in all questions of immigration law, in particular in applications for German citizenship. If you require any further assistance in gaining your dual German-UK citizenship, please do not hesitate to contact our lawyers directly.

The international team of lawyers at Schlun & Elseven can advise and represent individuals and companies in English and German. Call us at +49 221 93295960, send us an e-mail at or use our online form. We will be happy to explain your opportunities and possibilities as part of our initial assessment.

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