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German Retention Permit – die Beibehaltungsgenehmigung

The acquisition of nationality is accompanied by the acquisition of rights and privileges. However, if you wish to take on the citizenship of another country, there is one thing you must do. This is because Germans generally lose their citizenship when they acquire a foreign nationality (§ 25 (1) StAG). In order not to lose German nationality, you must apply for a German Retention Permit (“Beibehaltungsgenehmigung”).

The Beibehaltungsgenehmigung or German Retention Permit is a document pursuant to § 25 (2) StAG. When granted before the acquisition of a foreign nationality, which is carried out on application, e.g., through naturalisation, it protects against the loss of German nationality. The Federal Administrative Office is responsible for granting a retention permit. A Beibehaltungsgenehmigung is not required if the citizenship of another EU member state or Switzerland is accepted.

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What are the Conditions for the Granting of a German Retention Permit?

When deciding on an application for a Beibehaltungsgenehmigung, public and private interests are weighed up (§ 25 (2) p. 3 StAG). This is a discretionary decision by the German Federal Administrative Office. If public or private interests can justify the retention permit and no overriding concerns stand in the way of it, the permit is granted.

On the one hand, the public interest in avoiding multiple nationalities is considered. On the other hand, the private interest in establishing dual or multiple nationalities is also crucial to the decision. The German Retention Permit applicant must provide the reasons for acquiring the new nationality. It must be possible to demonstrate credibly why the intended acquisition brings advantages in the specific case or leads to the avoidance or elimination of significant disadvantages. There is no exhaustive list of possible reasons. Rather, the applicant is very free in this respect.

The advantages or disadvantages must be concrete. For example, aspects of inheritance law, tax law or business law may be considered. Disadvantages in financing a course of study, impairments in career development or reasons in connection with family reunification are also possible. Furthermore, the reasons for retaining German citizenship must be presented in the same way.

Finally, it is assumed that the other state allows dual or multiple citizenships at all. Otherwise, permission to retain German nationality cannot be granted in principle. Where appropriate, a state which does not generally allow dual nationality may provide for exceptions. A careful examination of the specific case must, therefore, be carried out.


What are the Special Features of Habitual Residence Abroad?

If the applicant has their usual place of residence abroad, it must be considered in particular whether continuing ties to Germany can be shown to be credible. Relationships with close relatives or professional, business and other relationships may be considered in making this decision. For example, a relationship may continue to exist if the applicant’s habitual residence is only temporarily transferred abroad for professional reasons, while family or part of the business remains. Land ownership in Germany is also an option. The ties described must justify the retention of German nationality to be considered for the Beibehaltungsgenehmigung.

If the usual place of residence is abroad, the person must apply to the competent German mission abroad, i.e., to the respective embassy or consulate. There the application is accompanied by a statement of opinion and then forwarded to the Federal Administrative Office in Cologne. This office then decides on the application.


The Validity of the German Retention Permit

The applicant must have received the retention permit before acquiring foreign nationality. This means that the document must have already been handed over or served either to the applicant themselves or to an authorised person. However, it is not sufficient if the document has only been issued or if it has only been notified that it will be issued shortly.

Moreover, the validity of the retention permit may not have expired at the time of foreign nationality acquisition. The authorisation is limited to a maximum of two years from the date of issue and loses its validity on expiry. If your naturalisation procedure is delayed, you should, if necessary, apply for a new retention permit (so-called “Anschlussurkunde”). This application is usually made in good time if submitted around six months before the expiry date.

If you have not yet received the certificate before acquiring the foreign citizenship or it is no longer valid at the time of the acquisition, you will lose your German citizenship. Therefore, an application for naturalisation should only be submitted if the conditions for validity are met.


What must be Considered when Applying for the German Retention Permit?

The application for a German Retention Permit must be submitted before acquiring foreign nationality. It can be submitted informally. The Federal Office of Administration provides forms that simplify the application process. These are available on the website of the Federal Office of Administration. A distinction is made between application forms for persons aged 16 and over, for persons under 16 and applications for a certificate of affiliation. The application form should be filled out properly and completely in German.

Finally, the application must be submitted to the competent authority as an original and a simple copy. Documents required for the application are 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.

After forwarding it to the Federal Administrative Office, the latter examines the application and decides on the granting of the Beibehaltungsgenehmigung. Currently, a processing time of approximately 14 months from receipt by the Federal Administrative Office can be expected. However, the processing time depends on many factors and can not be precisely determined in advance. In cases of particular urgency, a reduction of the processing time may be considered.


What are the Fees for a German Retention Permit?

The application for a German Retention Permit is a fee-based procedure. The fee for the certificate of retention is EUR 255 for applicants of full age. In the case of a certificate of retention for a minor child, i.e., until the age of 18, the fee is 51 euros. If an adult has been issued with a certificate of refusal, the fees amount to 191 euros. There is also a fee for the application for a certificate of affiliation, which may be lower.

The fee is charged when the decision on the application is taken. If the application is approved, the certificate of retention will be handed over to you or sent to you against proof of payment of the fee.


Refusal of a German Retention Permit: What Next?

If the requirements are not met, or the applicant has not sufficiently explained the reasons for obtaining a maintenance licence, a refusal will be issued. To avoid this, it is advisable to seek legal advice before making an application.

If a refusal of the Beibehaltungsgenehmigung has already been made, it may be advisable to have the stated reasons for refusal checked by a lawyer. If necessary, an appeal procedure can be initiated. It should also be borne in mind that after a legally binding rejection, a new application for retention can be made at any time. To take the right steps, a comprehensive review of your case should be carried out.

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