NEW § 5 StAG Acquisition by declaration
NEW: Effective August 20, 2021, § 5 StAG allows under certain circumstances the acquisition of German citizenship by declaration. This includes persons who were not able to acquire German citizenship by birth or lost their German citizenship which they had acquired by birth because of gender – discriminatory laws formerly in place.
1. What is the new § 5 StAG dated 20th August 2021 all about and what is the benefit?
In order to finally and fully address gender discrimination under previous laws, the new law amends the Nationality Act, which now provides a procedure whereby anyone born after 23 May 1949 (the date which the Basic Law “Grundgesetz” entered into force) may be eligible to acquire German citizenship upon declaration. This applies to persons who were previously unable to acquire German citizenship by birth or lost their German citizenship due to these prior discriminatory regulations, and are thus, now afforded the ability to become citizens by way of declaration. § 5 StAG does not require any language skills and/or proof of financial disclosures.
2. Do I need to reside outside of Germany to make such declaration?
No, but in order for the Federal Administrative Office to have jurisdiction, you do need to have your residence abroad (i.e., outside of Germany). If you live in Germany, one should contact the local citizenship authority to obtain information on the procedures to apply for citizenship within Germany.
3. I was born after May 23, 1949, but prior to 1975 to a German mother and a non-German father, and my parents were married before I was born. Am I eligible?
Yes. If you were born after May 23, 1949, and prior to January 1, 1975, to a German mother who was German on the date of your birth and a non-German father, and your parents were married at the time of your birth, you are eligible to acquire German citizenship by declaration under the new law § 5 StAG. Children born before January 1, 1975, with a German mother and a non-German father did not become German automatically by birth. Between 1975 and 1977, a declaration could be made for these children with which German citizenship was acquired. In most cases, however, this did not happen.
4. Only my father was German at the time of my birth and my parents were not married at that time. Am I eligible?
If you were born out of wedlock to a German father and a non-German mother, you are eligible to acquire German citizenship by declaration provided that: (1) you were born after 23 May 1949 and before 1 July 1993; (2) your parents were not married to each other before 1 July 1998; and (3) your father’s paternity was recognized or the procedure for ascertaining your father’s parenthood was initiated prior to your 23rd birthday.
5. My mother lost German citizenship due to marriage to a foreigner. Can I make a declaration?
Yes. If you did not acquire German citizenship because your mother had lost her German citizenship due to marriage to a foreigner, you may be eligible to make a declaration if (1) you were born after 23 May 1949; (2) your mother’s marriage took place before 1 April 1953; (3) your father was not a German citizen on your date of birth, and (4) you were born after your mother lost her German citizenship. Please know that most, but not all, German women who married a foreigner prior to March 31, 1953, lost their citizenship. (Please contact us for a consultation for further details about this particular scenario.)
6. I was born after 23 May 1949 and before 1 April 1953 out of wedlock to a German mother only and my parents married after I was born. Can I make a declaration?
Yes, provided that (1) your mother was in fact a German citizen on your date of birth; (2) your father was a non-German citizen at the time of your birth and on the day of the subsequent marriage to your mother; and (3) your parents’ marriage took place after your birth but prior to April 1, 1953, which then led to the loss of your German citizenship. (Note: in this scenario, this did not always cause of loss of citizenship.)
7. I am the descendant of an ancestor who is entitled to make a declaration. Am I eligible too?
Yes, if your ancestor is entitled to make a declaration pursuant to items 3 – 6 then you are also eligible make a declaration as well. In other words, if you are the descendant of a person entitled to make a declaration in any the above categories, then you, too, are eligible to acquire citizenship by way of declaration. Importantly, your ancestor does not actually need to make a declaration in order for you to proceed. The key is their eligibility. However, this is subject to the generational cutoff date.
8. What is the generational cut-off point ?
The generational cut-off date is regulated in Section 4 (4) of the StAG and states in general that the first generation born abroad (outside Germany) after December 31, 1999, has the last opportunity to apply for naturalization.
9. Are there any deadlines or special forms?
Yes, the declaration must be made by August 19th, 2031. The relevant forms have been published and must be accurately completed with the relevant evidence.
10. Are there any other exclusions to apply for citizenship under the new law?
Certain serious criminal offenses will usually render a person ineligible to acquire citizenship. Also, some applicants who previously lost their citizenship on other grounds, may not be eligible to obtain citizenship by declaration.
11. Do I need to speak German and when do I acquire German citizenship?
No. There is no language requirement, and you acquire German citizenship on the day the Federal Office of Administration receives your completed declaration.
12. Do I have to give up my current citizenship on acquiring German citizenship?
No, not necessarily. The loss or retention of your existing citizenship is governed by the law of the country of your current citizenship. You may retain your current citizenship(s) as long as the law of your current home country allows dual/multiple citizenship. You must consult with the competent authorities in your country of origin prior to submitting your declaration to determine whether your existing citizenship will be affected by the acquisition of German citizenship.
13. I’d like to apply without a lawyer. Is that okay?
There is no requirement to apply with legal representation. However, the “simple” declaration involves a great deal of documentation and paperwork, as well as multipage forms that must be accurately and thoroughly completed, in order to ensure the Federal Office can make a proper decision on your case. Additionally, the eligibility categories and cut off dates often present challenges and are intertwined with other laws. We can determine whether the section 5 Nationality Act declaration procedure is the appropriate pathway for your individual situation. We have decades of experience in complex citizenship matters and have followed these new laws closely.
These FAQs reflect questions that have frequently arisen in our practice. Each case is different, and the FAQs do not replace legal advice.