Changes to German citizenship eligibility under new law

Were you or your direct descendants a victim of Nazi persecution? If so, you might be eligible for German citizenship. In August of 2021, the German federal parliament amended the Nationality Act, resulting in changes to restitution, declaration and determination laws for obtaining German citizenship.


Victims of Nazi persecution and all their direct descendants can now apply for German citizenship through naturalization (pursuant to Section 116(2) & 15 Nationality Act, StAG). This includes individuals who were previously excluded from being able to claim German citizenship through marriage, legitimisation or the collective naturalization of ethnic Germans. People with German ancestry who had their citizenship taken away under Nazi rule on political, racial or religious grounds between 1933 and 1945 also qualify. For individuals who gave up or lost their ordinary residence in Germany within the 31st of December 1937 borders can now apply on these grounds.

This restitution further extends to the following areas, where collective naturalizations occurred between 1938 and 1943:

  • Yugoslavia (Untersteiermark, Kaernten, Krain)
  • Lithuania (Memelland)
  • Poland and Gdansk (integrated eastern territory)
  • Ukraine (Reichskommissariat Ukraine)
  • Czechia (Sudetenland, Protectoriat Bohemia & Moravia).


In addition to restitution, all individuals who were previously excluded by gender-discriminatory regulations from acquiring German citizenship at birth may now acquire it by way of declaration (pursuant to Section 5 StAG). If your German ancestry runs through the female line from 1949 onwards, you can now apply for German citizenship through declaration. This application process only takes (on average) 6 months, but the opportunity expires in 2031, so contact us now!

Determination (German citizenship through descent)

You can reclaim your German citizenship by descent if:

  • You or your ancestors were born before 1975 as the legitimate child of a German citizen father
  • You or your ancestors were born between 1949 and 1975 as a child of a German mother who was not able to pass the citizenship to the next generation due to gender discrimination. This also applies to children born out of wedlock to a German father.
  • You were born after 1975 as the child of a German citizen (father or mother).
  • You were born after June 1993 as the illegitimate child of a German citizen father and paternity is proven before you turn 23.

Territory changes after World War I can also be taken into consideration for German citizenship eligibility in the following areas: Belgium, Lithuania, Denmark, Poland (Oberschlesien, Posen-West Prussia and Gdansk), Czechia (Hultschiner country).

This is a complex area of German law so it is best to contact us so that your eligibility can be assessed, free of charge. Our EU citizenship experts will review your family tree and available documents and map out your plan of action. Contact us at citizenship@polaron.com.au today or by clicking the button below to begin your journey towards German citizenship.

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