Obtaining a German passport from abroad

There are two (main) cases in which you can get a German passport when living abroad:

I. You are already a German citizen, possibly without even knowing it. 

There are possibly millions of people in the world who are entitled to a German passport without knowing it. 

Some typical cases:

Your German ancestor has immigrated from Germany before 1904 and has registered with a German embassy or consulate after immigration. This has happened quite rarely. Without a registration the German citizenship was lost 10 years after immigration according to the citizenship law before 1914. 

Your German ancestor has left Germany  in or after 1904. He then probably lost his German citizenship, if he was naturalized in his new home country. But that was not necessarily the case for his children, especially in the US, as most of the US states have granted minors the US citizenship automatically in case of a naturalization application by their parents.  In this case the children kept their German citizenship and could give it to further generations. 

You were born to a German father or a German mother. In this case you may already have the German citizenship or you may have the right to be naturalized (see below). 

II. Naturalization 

In many cases you can obtain the German citizenship by naturalization, without having to give up your current citizenship.

The main examples are:

You or your ancestors were born to a German woman between 24 May 1949 and 31 January 1974. Until 1974 children born to a German woman, who was married to a foreigner at the time of the child´s birth, got the father´s citizenship. In these cases the children had the possibility to obtain the German citizenship by declaration, until 1977 (until 1991 for communist countries). Most people have missed that initial deadline.

You or your ancestors were born between 23 May 1949 und 1 July 1993 to a German man, who was not married to the child's mother. In this case the child only obtained the mother's citizenship. 

Since 20 August 2021 there is a 10 year deadline to obtain the German citizenship in those cases by declaration again, not only for the affected children (of German mothers and fathers), but also for further generations, grandchildren and so on. Don´t miss that new deadline! 

Another relevant case is immigration from Germany due to historical events. Descendants of German citizens and residents who have left Germany during the Nazi rule between 1931 and 1945 because of political events - usually people of Jewish religion - now can obtain the German citizenship by naturalization.

In any of those cases, you do not have to give up your current citizenship!

Since the German citizenship law is pretty complicated and  there have been many changes to it, let us review your personal situation.