A lifestyle expat travel blog about culture, history, Brexit, the Royal Family, travels around the world, Europe, and being British in Berlin!
So a fortnight (two weeks) ago, was a really great day.
As you all know, I’m a very proud British person.
However, after the very disappointing result of the Brexit Referendum in 2016, many of my fellow British citizens began to wonder whether the discussions and talks would lead to a better understanding of British / European relations, or a hardline stance.
I’ve always been determined to remain British to the core.
Indeed, I even told a reporter of the Bloomberg newspaper that the only way you would get me out of this country, would be kicking and screaming!
But the writing on the wall was crystal clear, that British – European relations was not going to get better anytime soon, but effectively worse.
So at the end of 2016, I changed my mind, and decided to apply for double nationality.
There is no doubt in my mind that regardless of the dismal politics, I love both England – my original birth country, and Germany – my adoptive new country, and I don’t see why I should have to choose, as I have spent a lot of my life and money, in both.
In fact, I’ve written about both how to be British and how to be a German.
And, I’m not alone!
Basically, I want to be both British and German, and to effectively have the best of both worlds!
And while the UK is still in the EU, I certainly can!
Now for British citizens living on the European continent, and European citizens living in the UK, what’s next, is a constant worry, and I attend many a meeting, press sessions and network groups, on this very question.
If you are British, and have the opportunity to apply for European citizenship anywhere in the EU, do so as quickly as possible, as the clock is ticking, and even though 2018 has only just begun, 2019 will be upon us sooner than you or anyone else anticipated, and then it will be too late.
If you’re a British national of Irish descent or anybody born in Northern Ireland, you have the right to acquire Irish citizenship, so if there’s a whiff of Irishness in your ancestral tree, go and get it!
I can’t tell you what to do and where to choose, but I can give you some simple tips and guidelines as to how to apply for German citizenship, if you’re British.
Before we go any further, let me make it clear that I am not a lawyer, so if you need legal advice, go ahead and contact an expert specialised in naturalisation / citizenship matters. This post is based on my personal experience. I assume no liability for the accuracy of the enclosed data.
Right, now that’s out of the way, let’s go on.
Then there is naturalisation.
WHAT DOES NATURALISATION MEAN?
Legally, naturalisation (or naturalization) is the documented act or process, by which a non-citizen, may acquire citizenship or nationality, of another country. This may be done by statute, without any effort on the part of the individual, or it may involve an application and approval by legal authorities.
Britain opted to leave the EU, therefore, after March 2019, no UK citizen will have automatic free access to the EU, and no EU citizen will have automatic free access to the UK either.
This has brought about a Pandora’s box of conflicting problems.
This also means as a UK citizen, if you live in the EU and wish to ensure a continuation of EU rights, then the path to go down for legal certainty is either naturalisation, or double nationality.
WHAT DOES DOUBLE NATIONALITY / DUAL CITIZENSHIP MEAN?
Double Nationality or Dual Citizenship, is the concept where an individual is a national or citizen, of two countries at the same time.
In Germany, it’s the norm to give your nationality up, in order to get German citizenship. However, German law permits certain people to hold two citizenships if:
If you have Double Nationality, under German law you are viewed as a German citizen, and have the same rights as any German National. However, you lose your right to claim German consular protection if you chose to live in your original home country, (or any other country where you hold citizenship). In this case, you will be viewed by that country as one of its citizens, and their own services will apply
I chose double nationality.
Either way, there’s a lot of red tape to get through.
There was a time, when there was an unwritten thing about fast-tracking Brits who wanted to become German citzens before the Brexit Referendum, but that’s stopped now…
According to the BAMF – Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge, otherwise known as the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, the process of Naturalisation is extremely challenging, and can only occur under certain circumstances and conditions.
You have a right to Naturalisation, if you fulfil the following conditions:
It is however possible to obtain “discretionary naturalisation.”
This means that the naturalisation authority can agree to naturalisation if there is public interest in your Naturalisation, and some of the basic requirements have been fulfilled.
Luckily for us, The Tall Young Gentleman is half German (by virtue of his German father) – half British (by virtue of his British mother – me) by birth, and has always been entitled to both nationalities.
I’m extremely glad that I had the foresight to register him at the British Embassy in Berlin, at birth, and have it recorded on his birth certificate too!
As far as being British is concerned, point Nr. 8 above “you have given up your former nationality (exceptions apply, depending on the country of origin)” is extremely important, because the way to bypass that point as of now, is still double nationality. After 2019, if you are British, you’ll have to choose.
HOW DO YOU START THE PROCESS OF NATIONALISATION / DOUBLE NATIONALITY:
Parents can make an application for children who are under 16. Anyone over 16, must submit their own application.
You can obtain application forms from the following places:
To find out which authority handles the citizenship process in your area, ask your local advice office, regional advice office, or local foreign affairs office. The information and documents that are required for your specific case, will be provided by your local authority.
If you are applying for German citizenship while in the UK or abroad, you need to seek advice from your local German Embassy, German Consulate, or German Diplomatic Mission.
Before submitting your application, you should schedule an appointment for a free-of-charge advice session with your local authority office, so that you can ask any questions necessary, make sure that your documentation is complete, and also pay the Naturalisation Application fee.
I scheduled my advice session at my Regional District Office.
I live in Berlin.
Berlin is the capital of Germany.
It’s a very busy important city.
You won’t get it any other way.
My Naturalisation Office would only take appointments on two (2) days of the week, and so the next available appointment slot would usually be about 5 weeks ahead, and even then, you really had to be snappy with your fingers, ‘cos if you weren’t fast enough, that would be another week lost!
And right now, that office is so over-whelmed, consultation hours have been cancelled until the middle of February!
Some districts are flexible, and will take applications from anywhere in the city, via open consultation – offene Sprechstunde ohne Terminvereinbarung – but right now, many offices have enough worries of their own!
Oh, and don’t forget to take along your current passport!
Once the local authority office is satisfied that you fit the requirements for Naturalisation or Double Nationality, you might also be asked to provide evidence of the following:
If you have a Deutsche Sprachdiplom, a B1 Zertifikat Deutsch, a Deutsch-Test für Zuwanderer (DTZ) – German Test for Immigrants, were educated at a German High School, a German University, or a German institution of Higher Learning, you will not be required to do anything more than show proof.
If not, you might be asked to do a language test.
You can do that test, or find your German language ability, here.
WHAT IS THE NATURALISATION TEST?
The Naturalisation Test is proof that you have the knowledge of the legal, social system, and living conditions in Germany that you need, to understand, successfully integrate, and be Naturalised, in Germany.
HOW TO PREPARE:
The best way to prepare for the Naturalisation Test is by using the government’s Online Test Centre.
The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has more information about the test including how to prepare, free online tests, and where to take it.
There are many platforms that you can use to practice online.
I used this Einbürgerungstest online platform – which is totally free of charge – because not only did it provide the test from each Bundesland, but it also gives you the possibility to test yourself from Easy to Very Hard, and if you get them wrong, you’d be provided with the correct answer, and why!
Ha! Ha! Ha!
I started with Very Hard (obviously), and got all the answers right, but struggled with all the simple easy questions, so it was good practice!
WHAT DOES THE GERMAN NATURALISATION TEST CONSIST OF?
Again, it’s a bit of a long process and requires hours of queuing to register.
HOW TO REGISTER:
I allocated an afternoon to do this.
After waiting for hours, I approached an officer, who told me to go around the corner, and register with another office that had absolutely no one in it!
I was the only person there, and within 5 minutes, filled in the required form, paid the fee, and received a choice of dates.
I registered and sat my test at the Kultur- und Bildungszentrum Sebastian Haffner in Berlin.
I answered 30 questions correctly out of 33, so I was very pleased!
Once you have the Einbürgerungstest – Naturalisation Test Certificate, you then send a copy of it (do NOT send the original document, as they can’t send it back) to the Naturalisation Office, you applied to.
Referring back to your original advice session at the very beginning of your application:
Remember to make it crystal clear that you’re applying for Double Nationality rather than full Naturalisation, so that you don’t have to give up your British passport, and there’s no misunderstanding later on!
Then pay the fee.
Once you have the Einbürgerungstest – Naturalisation Test Certificate, send a copy of it (do NOT send the original document, as they can’t send it back) to the Naturalisation Office, you applied to.
Then you wait.
The average process time takes between 6 months and a year, depending on where you live, and the number of applications.
British citizens applying for German citizenship, have increased tenfold!
My advice is to stay in touch with your Naturalisation Office, and give them a quick call every 3 to 6 months, just so that you know how far they’ve got, and if they need anything else.
They really don’t have the time or resources to contact YOU, so make sure that you do everything you can to make their work easier, as in my Regional District Office, only two (2) officers were allocated to Naturalisation and Citizenship, and it’s such a huge task, it’s over-whelming!
Once you get the lucky letter that your application is accepted for Double Nationality, this is what happens next.
YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!
You’ll receive a letter with the appointed time and date, when German Naturalisation will be conferred upon you.
On getting to the Naturalisation Office, you’ll be required to bring your current passport, one (1) biometric passport photo, and to pay the remaining €64.00 Application Fee, at a special automated machine.
You’ll also have to sign a few more documents, and get your passport photo verified, and stamped.
There will then be a small pledge ceremony.
I was extremely excited and very much looking forward to a fanfare ceremony akin to this one.
My husband – The Music Producer – told me to not to expect drums and whistles in Berlin, and sadly due to a lack of personnel, he was right!
Mind you, I signed a petition asking for a proper Swearing-in Ceremony, sometime in the future!
I’m proud to be a German, so I want my bells and whistles!
At least, I got a pledge ceremony, in which I had to cite my allegiance and loyalty to the Federal Republic of Germany, and tried not to stumble over my words!
My German Nationality Certificate / Einbürgerungsurkunde, was given to me, and my German Permanent Residency Document taken back, (I received this 5 years after I arrived in Germany, and it was always in my British passport…) and returned to the Foreign Office!
We shook hands, then I went to collect my new passport, and pop the champagne!
Not so fast Missy!
I was given a waiting number and sent to another department!
We waited for about 30 minutes, and then went to another office in which I had to:
This is also the time to apply for a German I.D. card / Personalausweis, too because as a British citizen, I only ever had a passport as a legal form of identification, which I was always supposed to take out with me.
And which I never did!
Now I’ll be able to have a German Personalausweis too.
I applied for a German I.D. card / Personalausweis, for both myself, and The Tall Young Gentleman, who will be 16 this year.
He will be pleased.
So there you have it.
I’m a real British – German now!
CAN I GET GERMAN CITIZENSHIP, WITHOUT NATURALISATION?
IF I WANT GERMAN CITIZENSHIP, DO I HAVE TO GIVE UP MY FORMER NATIONALITY?
Sorry! Under normal circumstances, you do!
However, you can keep your birth nationality, if:
DOES MARRIAGE ENTITLE ME TO GERMAN CITIZENSHIP?
It certainly helps of course, and once married to a German national, the spouse is usually entitled to a residence permit. However, the legal stance is that if you want German citizenship, you’ll have to:
ARE CHILDREN BORN IN GERMANY, AUTOMATICALLY GERMAN?
I’m afraid not.
IS IT POSSIBLE NOT TO TAKE THE NATURALISATION TEST?
Yes, it’s possible if:
HOW EASY IS IT TO GET GERMAN CITIZENSHIP?
For a newbie, Germany is one of the most difficult countries to move to, on a long-term basis.
The British Berliner will be a British – German not just in name, but on paper too.
I’m still British of course, but I’m German too.
Because I deserve it!
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