German Citizenship Eligibility

Through Descent and Other Pathways

Did you know that if you have German ancestry, you might be eligible for German citizenship and an EU passport? This means you can live, work and study in any of the 27 EU member countries with no restrictions. German passports are considered one of the most valuable in the world as they offer visa-free travel to 177 countries.

How does it work?

The process of confirmation of German citizenship is available to eligible persons who meet certain criteria. You can reclaim your German citizenship successfully through descent, restitution, declaration or determination processes. These pathways are outlined below:

By Descent

You can apply to reclaim your German citizenship through descent by proving your heritage and by satisfying eligibility criteria set by the German government. Your application form needs to be accompanied by your ancestral and personal documents, translated into German. 

By Restitution

You can apply for German citizenship through restitution if you have an ancestor or ancestors who were persecuted in Germany due to their religious faith, political beliefs or other discriminatory grounds between 1933-1945. This law is relevant to German ancestors, as well as ancestors who gave up their German citizenship or never claimed it due to persecution. This includes non-German ancestors who had residence on German territory but had to flee due to persecution.

By Declaration

Since August 2021, you can now reclaim your citizenship by declaration if you have a German ancestor that couldn’t pass German citizenship down due to gender discrimination, usually from female lineage. This opportunity to reclaim your German citizenship is only available until August 2031.

By Determination

You can apply for determination of German citizenship if you have German ancestors that immigrated but were still citizens when the next generation was born. This pathway will mean you obtain a certificate of citizenship, which confirms and proves that you have always been a German citizen. This is usually obtained through your paternal lineage, if born in wedlock.

How do I know if I qualify for citizenship?

Many people whose parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were born in Germany qualify for German citizenship through descent.

In essence you can reclaim your German citizenship by descent if:

  • You have ancestors whose citizenship was taken away during the Nazi regime. This can be due to political, racial or religious reasons between 1933 to 1945.
  • You were born before May 1949 as the legitimate child of a German citizen father.
  • You were born after May 1949 as the legitimate child of a German citizen father or mother.
  • You were born after May 1949 as the illegitimate child of a German citizen father and paternity is proven before you turn 23.
 How can Polaron help me?
  • We offer a free and confidential eligibility assessment.
  • If you are eligible, we can provide you with a no-obligation quote.
  • Should you decide to proceed with us, we provide you with linguistic, administrative and legal support and navigate through German regulations on your behalf.
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