German nationality law
|German Citizenship Act|
|An Act relating to German citizenship|
|Status: Current legislation|
German nationality law is the law governing the acquisition, transmission and loss of German citizenship. The law is based on a mixture of the principles of
Although non-EU and non-Swiss citizens normally must renounce their old citizenship before being approved for naturalisation (if the laws of their other countries of citizenship do not already automatically act to denaturalise them upon award of German nationality), there is a broad exception for when it would be "very difficult" to do so, and as of 2017, a majority of newly naturalised German citizens have been allowed to retain their previous citizenships. Under German law, citizens of other EU countries and of Switzerland may keep their old citizenship by right, however, some EU countries (such as
A significant reform to the nationality law was passed by the
The previous German nationality law dated from 1913. Nationality law was amended by the
Before the formation of the
On 22 July 1913 the Nationality Law of the German Empire and States (Reichs- und Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz, shorthand: RuStAG) established a German citizenship, either derived from the citizenship of one of the component states or acquired through the central Reich government.
On 13 March 1938, Germany extended the nationality law to
The Nazi amendments of 1934 and the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were revoked by Allied occupational ordinance in 1945, restoring the 1913 nationality law, which remained in force until the 1999 reforms.
Article 116(1) of the German Basic Law (constitution) confers, subject to laws regulating the details, a right to citizenship upon any person admitted to Germany (in its 1937 borders) as "refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or as the spouse or descendant of such a person." Until 1990 ethnic Germans living abroad in a country in the former
Article 116(2) entitles persons (and their descendants), who were denaturalised by the Nazi government, to be renaturalised if they wish. Those among them, who after May 8, 1945 take up residence in Germany are automatically considered German citizens. Both regulations, (1) and (2), allowed a considerable numbers of Poles and Israelis, residing in Poland and Israel, to be concurrently German citizens.