German Citizenship, Canadian Citizenship and Dual Citizenship Law
Whereas Canada is quite open to dual citizenship, Germany does not generally allow for it, however, there are some exceptions. For example, German law allows for dual citizenship between German citizens and those from other EU countries (and Switzerland) under § 25 StAG, and it also allows Germans abroad to retain their citizenship by applying for the “Beibehaltungsgenehmigung” (Retention Permit). As a German in Canada, it is necessary to apply for the Retention Permit before starting the process of applying for Canadian citizenship. As we will outline later, there are possibilities for children born to German parents in Canada and other particular circumstances where consulting with a German citizenship lawyer is strongly advisable.
Gaining German citizenship can be brought about in the following circumstances as outlined by § 3 Nationality Act (StAG)
Our German citizenship lawyers advise on all matters relating to German citizenship law.
Canadian citizenship through naturalisation can be gained by those who have Canadian permanent residency and have lived in Canada for 3 out of the previous 5 years. They must also pass the citizenship test on their rights, responsibilities and knowledge of Canada and have proven their language skills in either English or French. Having a criminal record will impact the citizenship application. Marrying a Canadian citizen does not automatically grant a person Canadian citizenship. If you were born in Germany but have at least one Canadian parent, including if your parents were naturalised as Canadians prior to your birth, you may be able to gain Canadian citizenship. However, without legal advice in advance you may risk losing your German citizenship by following this route.
The Retention Permit “Beibehaltungsgenehmigung” for German Citizens in Canada
The Retention Permit allows German citizens to maintain their German citizenship when applying for the citizenship of other countries. It needs to be applied for before formally starting the application process for the other citizenship. Please be aware that it can take 14 months of processing to complete the application; therefore, it should not be a “last-minute” consideration. When applying for the Retention Permit, the Federal Administrative Office will make a discretionary decision on the granting of the application in which the public and private interests of awarding the permit will be weighed up (§ 25 (2) p. 3 StAG). These public and private interests concern whether the applicant can justify holding dual or multiple nationalities. If they can justify these reasons for gaining the retention permit and there are no overriding concerns in its granting, the permit will likely be granted.
The Retention Permit application form needs to be filled out completely in German. From there. The application must be submitted to the competent authority with an original and a simple copy. The documents required for the application include the 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 reasons for acquiring the desired nationality. It is advisable to consult with an experienced legal professional when designing the document concerning the reasons for acquiring the desired nationality as they will outline the grounds which will most likely be considered by the relevant authorities.
Should your Retention Permit application be rejected, the decision can be appealed, and, if necessary, another application can be made.
German Citizenship by Naturalisation
Under § 10 Nationality Act, Canadians (and other foreign citizens) can gain German citizenship if they have lived in Germany for the required period of time (usually 8 years). The list of conditions to be fulfilled under § 10 StAG, to gain German citizenship by naturalisation includes the following:
- Has a German permanent residence permit,
- Has been lawfully and habitually resident in the country for eight years,
- Can earn a living for themselves and their family without recourse to social assistance or unemployment benefit,
- Has sufficient knowledge of German: for adults, language level B1 is required, for those under 16 years of age, language development appropriate to their age,
- Has not been convicted of any criminal offence,
- Renounces or loses their previous citizenship,
- Is committed to the German Constitution and does not support any anti-constitutional efforts or credibly distance themselves from previous support,
- Has passed the naturalization test on the German legal and social order.
Contact our German citizenship lawyers for further advice on how applying for German citizenship by naturalisation will impact your current Canadian citizenship, and for support in making the application.
Dual German-Canadian Citizenship at Birth
Children can acquire more than one citizenship at birth if they have a parent from both Germany and Canada and in cases where the child is born in Canada to German parents. In this case, the child will not need to choose one of the citizenship over the other one. However, there is an exception for children born outside of Germany where their parents were born abroad after January 1st, 2000. In this case, the parents need to register the birth with the German consulate before the child’s first birthday in order to apply for dual citizenship. In these instances, dual German-Canadian citizenship is possible and is without a time limit.
Why Use a Lawyer When Applying for Dual German-Canadian Citizenship?
Applying for dual German Canadian citizenship can be made easier by having our experienced German citizenship lawyers manage your application. The process of preparing for and applying for dual citizenship is time-consuming and, especially when you approach it without having worked with the relevant authorities before, there are many risks involved which can lead to the delay and even rejection of the application. Without expert management of the application it may end up being a wasted opportunity. This is where the service of our German citizenship lawyers come in.
Allow our lawyers to analyse your application, examine your documentation and advise you on whether you should make the application for dual citizenship. Whether it is for you or your children, our lawyers will determine the strength of the case. Working alongside our immigration experts ensures your application follows the stated requirements. Where possible our team will look to accelerate the process, allowing you to benefit from dual citizenship from an earlier date. The main advantage with working with citizenship lawyers is that we know what is involved with the application, we have seen it before. Our lawyers will ensure that your application is on track and progressing as it should be.
We would advise discussing the process with our legal team in advance of making the application, as mistakes made in the application process can lead to further delays and complications. As shown above, applications for Retention Permits should be made in advance if they are needed. There are other unnecessary risks involved with advancing such applications without expert support. Our team will also ensure that you are fully aware of the consequences of applying for dual citizenship.
What are the Benefits of Dual Citizenship?
The reason for pursuing dual citizenship may be personal. Depending on the circumstances, dual citizenship may allow its holder to connect with their home country or ancestors, or it may allow them to fully embrace their new home. There are many benefits to gaining dual citizenship and, where the option is available, it should be considered strongly by those able to obtain it.
Dual German-Canadian citizenship affords its holder the right to live, work and retire in Germany and Canada without restrictions. Additionally, as Germany is an EU member, that right is extended to the rest of the European Union for those based in Canada. There are many benefits to German citizenship, and especially for those who plan on moving there to work or open a business. For entrepreneurs, highly qualified professionals and investors, a German passport grants them access to one of the biggest markets in the world. This can contribute to lucrative results and opportunities.
EU citizenship extends these rights to other European countries around Europe. Thereby, if you have plans to start a business in France, retire in Spain or Portugal, or would like to have your children educated in Italy, German citizenship ensures that these options remain open to you. For students, German universities provide study options that are relatively inexpensive, available in English and at a very high standard. Being in possession of dual German-Canadian citizenship opens a huge number of doors.