As a member of the European Union, German citizens experience the many benefits of European Union citizenship. EU citizenship opens almost the entire continent of Europe as a place to live, work, study and retire and much more. Having EU citizenship allows German citizens to benefit from extra consular support when needed. At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, our German immigration lawyers advise our global clients regarding how to get German citizenship. As experienced experts on German citizenship law, our team will be in your corner. This article will outline the benefits of EU citizenship and German citizenship, outline routes by which a person can gain German citizenship and provide detail as to how our lawyers can support you.

If you require expert assistance with getting German citizenship, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

If you have a particular issue or legal question concerning German Immigration Law, you can contact our law office anytime. Our lawyers for German Immigration Law can be reached by phone, email and also provide video conferencing options. For more legal information, please visit our Immigration Information Germany Center.

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Benefits of EU Citizenship

There are many benefits of EU citizenship, and acquiring a German passport ensures that a person is entitled to them. Here are just some of the advantages associated with EU Citizenship:

  • European Freedom of Movement: European freedom of movement allows EU passport holders to move between EU countries. Under freedom of movement, EU citizens do not need a visa or residence permit to study, work, retire or live in another EU country. This right to live in another EU country is unlimited in terms of time, although some rules regarding income and the ability to sustain yourself may apply.
  • Ability to work in Germany and other EU Countries: Linked to European freedom of movement, having EU citizenship ensures that you can work in Germany without restrictions. EU citizenship provides that you will not need a residence permit to take up a job offer in EU states. Most qualifications achieved in another EU country will be recognised in other EU countries.
  • Start a Company in Germany and other EU Countries: It is more straightforward to come to Germany to start a company with an EU passport. As an EU citizen, there is no need to get a German entrepreneurial visa. Non-EU citizens need a visa for self-employment, as provided for under § 21 German Residence Act, to start a company in Germany. The application process can be challenging to negotiate. Applicants need to show that their company will bring an economic benefit and meet an economic need, and financing must be secured by equity capital or a loan commitment. Additionally, the German authorities will examine their business plan and experience in detail. German citizens and EU passport holders can avoid this pressure and complication.
  • Studying in European Universities: The European Union is home to some of the world’s best universities, and EU membership opens the possibility of studying in such prestigious institutions. Although students from outside the EU can also access these universities, the process is much more straightforward as an EU citizen. Often, applying as a non-EU citizen means higher tuition fees and reduced places compared to those for EU citizens. Students with EU citizenship can also participate in the Erasmus+ program, whereby they can study for a semester or two in another EU country.
  • Medical Treatment: Holding an EU passport ensures that its holder can be treated (at a similar price and reciprocal conditions to local residents) in another EU country.  These rights apply regardless of whether the EU passport holder resides in that country, is there for work or study purposes or even on holiday in the state.
  • Retirement: A significant benefit of the EU passport is that it allows its holder to retire in any EU state without getting a visa. Gaining a German passport means that you can retire to countries such as Spain, Portugal, Greece and, of course, Germany. Our lawyers advise on all issues concerning retiring in Germany with the retiree visa, as non-EU citizens need.
  • Consular Protection and Assistance: EU citizens can receive consular protection and assistance from consuls of other EU countries. This consular protection might be needed where the person’s own country is not represented by a consulate or embassy in the country they are currently in. According to Article 46 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: “Every citizen of the Union shall, in the territory of a third country in which the Member State of which he or she is a national is not represented, be entitled to protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of any Member State, on the same conditions as the nationals of that Member State.”

The above listed are just some of the benefits of EU citizenship; however, there are many more. Gaining German citizenship ensures that you will be able to experience these advantages.


Benefits of German Citizenship

German citizenship also brings benefits outside of those associated with EU citizenship. German citizenship provides easier access to over 180 countries worldwide with either visa-free access or visa-on-arrival access. Holding a German passport is enormously beneficial for those who need to move across borders regularly, and it is often ranked as among the most powerful passports in the world. German citizenship allows its holder to vote in all elections in Germany and to stand for public office. Citizens from other EU countries can vote in European and local elections. Still, they do not have the right to vote in German Bundestag (parliamentary) elections, as this right is reserved for German citizens.

Our article on the Benefits of German Citizenship examines these advantages in more detail.


How to Claim German Citizenship

The main routes to gain German citizenship are birth, marriage, descent and ancestry, and naturalisation through residence in Germany. Our article: “How to Get German Citizenship” outlines these areas in more detail; however, we will provide an overview here.

German citizenship by birth is outlined by § 4(1) StAG (German Citizenship Act), and it states:

A child acquires German citizenship by birth if one parent possesses German citizenship. Where at the time of the birth only the father is a German national, and where for proof of descent under German law recognition or determination of paternity is necessary, acquisition is dependent on recognition or determination of paternity with legal effect under German law; the declaration of recognition must be submitted or the procedure for determination must have commenced before the child reaches the age of 23.

It is worth considering that the child’s parents do not need to be born in Germany for them to gain German citizenship by birth, as it can still be claimed under the following conditions:

  • If at least one of your parents has lived in Germany for at least eight years before the birth of the child
  • If, at the time the child is born, one of the parents had a permanent residence permit.

Spouses of German citizens can claim German citizenship by marriage after three years of legal residence in Germany. This is a much shorter period compared to the eight years required in other naturalisation cases by residence.

German permanent residents can claim German citizenship once they have lived in Germany for at least eight years. This process of naturalisation is one of the most common forms of gaining German citizenship. The requirements for naturalising as a permanent resident are provided for under § 10 StAG, which outlines the following conditions:

A person can apply if they:

  • have an unlimited right of residence in Germany,
  • have been lawfully and habitually resident in the country for eight years,
  • can earn a living for himself and his family without needing 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,
  • renounce or lose their previous citizenship,
  • are committed to the German Constitution and does 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.

Our lawyers will support you in your application for German citizenship through the process of naturalisation.

The other means of acquiring German citizenship is by ancestry or descent. German citizenship by descent is a complex area, and the case’s facts are vital. German citizenship by descent applies in matters concerning the applicant’s direct line of ancestors: parents, grandparents and so forth. It is a time-consuming process and one where specific and authentic documents are required. Sourcing the needing documents can be complex, especially for those based outside of Germany. Advice from experienced professionals is strongly advised before beginning this application process.

Gaining German citizenship can often involve renouncing your previous citizenship, especially for applicants from non-EU countries.


Our Legal Expertise when Claiming German Citizenship

The immigration law team at Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte work with clients worldwide in claiming German citizenship. Our lawyers are very familiar with the different means of getting German citizenship – whether by descent or ancestry, naturalisation by living in Germany, through marriage or by birth. Our team of experts will carefully oversee your application and ensure that it avoids common mistakes, we will advise you regarding the necessary documents needed before making the application, and we will accelerate the process wherever possible. Mistakes made during the application can slow down the entire process and should be avoided.

If you believe that you have a claim of German citizenship by descent, please feel free to use our online eligibility check for German Citizenship by Descent. If you would like professional assistance from our expert immigration lawyers, then do not hesitate to contact us directly.


Representation in Immigration and Residence Law

At Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte, we are a full-service law firm with offices and conference rooms across the major cities of Germany. We advise clients worldwide regarding the benefits of EU citizenship, acquiring German citizenship and more. Our dedicated immigration law and German citizenship team is ready to support you. Our lawyers advise in English and German. For experienced legal counsel in legal disputes or to receive advice regarding citizenship applications, please do not hesitate to contact our lawyers directly.

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