The acquisition of nationality is accompanied by gaining rights and privileges. However, suppose you wish to take on citizenship of another country. In that case, there is one thing you must do, as Germans generally lose their citizenship when they acquire a foreign nationality (§ 25 (1) StAG), and that is, apply for a German Retention Permit (“Beibehaltungsgenehmigung”).
The Beibehaltungsgenehmigung or German Retention Permit is a document according to § 25 (2) StAG. When granted before the acquisition of a foreign nationality, which is carried out on application, e.g., through citizenship by residency, 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.
At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte PartG MbB, our German citizenship law experts can advise you on all aspects of the procedure.
Conditions for the Granting of a German Retention Permit
When deciding on an application for a Beibehaltungsgenehmigung, public and private interests are weighed (§ 25 (2) p. 3 StAG), and it 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, 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. Instead, the applicant is very accessible in this respect.
The advantages or disadvantages must be concrete. For example, aspects of inheritance, tax, 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 applicant must present the reasons for retaining German citizenship similarly.
Finally, it is assumed that the other state allows dual or multiple citizenships. 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.
Therefore, a careful examination of the specific case must be carried out.
Applying for the German Retention Permit
The applicant must have received the retention permit before acquiring foreign nationality. The document must have already been handed over or served either to the applicant 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.
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 correctly and entirely in German.
After forwarding it to the Federal Administrative Office, the latter examines the application and decides on granting 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.
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.
Suppose you have not yet received the certificate before acquiring the foreign citizenship, or it is no longer valid at the time of the acquisition. In that case, you will lose your German citizenship. Therefore, a citizenship application should only be submitted if the conditions for validity are met.
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 evidence of ties to Germany and the reasons for acquiring the desired nationality.
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 business and professional connections may be considered in 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. A statement of opinion accompanies the application and is then forwarded to the Federal Administrative Office in Cologne. This office then decides on the application.
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. It is advisable to seek legal advice before applying to prevent this issue.
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 noted that a new application for retention can be made at any time after a legally binding rejection. A comprehensive review of your case should be carried out to take the proper steps.
German Retention Permit: The Fees
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.
Practice Group: German Citizenship Law
German Citizenship Law