Other Pathways to German Citizenship
Through Restitution or Declaration
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.
If you have a direct German ancestor who was persecuted, deprived of citizenship on political, racial or religious grounds, fled the Third Reich or was listed in the Reichsanzeiger government bulletin between 1933 and 1945, you may qualify for German citizenship through restitution. The 2021 legislation also allows descendants of non-German citizens who meet eligibility criteria to apply through the same pathway.
The institutionalized, state-sponsored discrimination by Nazi Germany was aimed at Jewish people, Slavs, Sinti-Romas and others such as people with disability, LGBTI+ community and political enemies, identified as social outsiders in the Nazi worldview.
To be eligible for German citizenship through restitution, you need to prove your ancestors were deprived of German citizenship, persecuted by the Nazi regime and resided in Germany or other countries such as Austria, Czechia, Slovakia or Poland following their annexations into the Third Reich. The laws also cover people who were denied German citizenship through marriage, acknowledgement of paternity and collective naturalization of ethnic Germans. People were denied the opportunity to naturalize in Germany up to February 1955 can also apply.
The legislation includes provisions for people who gave up or lost their permanent residence within German borders as at end of December 1937, to restore their German citizenship, provided they established their primary residence in Germany prior to 30 January 1933, or later in the case of minors. It also includes descendants who were adopted by eligible persons prior to January 1977.
Evidence needed to apply for German citizenship through restitution includes your ancestors’ residential records, evidence of persecution leading to loss of citizenship and personal documents linking you to your ancestors. The right to German citizenship through restitution extends to every descendant in direct line with no limit on generations.
Polaron specializes in archival research to help you back up your claim for citizenship through restitution in Germany and other European countries, including former German Eastern Territories and Prussia. Our professional researchers and archivists are meticulous in their work, ensuring we leave no stone unturned to find all the essential documents needed for your application.
Under former German citizenship laws, not all children were able to obtain German citizenship by descent from a parent who was German at the time of their birth. Since August 2021, people born after 23 May 1949 whose ancestors couldn’t pass their citizenship onto them due to the superseded German laws, may acquire German citizenship by declaration.
If you were not granted German citizenship due to historical gender-discriminatory legislative rules, you probably qualify through this pathway. You do not need to speak the language or move to Germany but you must have a clean police record to be successful.
The processing body, Federal Office of Administration or BVA, takes several months to assess your application. If you are approved, your citizenship is backdated to the day you filed your application with the German government. You do not need to renounce your current citizenship if your German citizenship is acquired through determination but in order not to lose it in some countries, such as South Africa, you may need to request an exemption.
Citizenship through declaration can be passed onto your children or grandchildren as there is no limit on generations. This opportunity to reclaim your German citizenship through the process of declaration is only available until August 2031.
The rules on eligibility for German citizenship are complicated and whether you qualify or not depends on your family’s individual circumstances. We invite you to book a Discovery Call with one of our EU citizenship specialists today. Rest assured your query will be handled with utmost sensitivity and confidentiality by our German and English-speaking team members. They can take you through all the requirements, including essential documentation, timelines and pricing.
If you’re eligible, we can guarantee the outcome of your application for German citizenship through restitution. We’re proud of our track record of 100% success to date with our German citizenship restitution cases. We can also discuss other pathways to German citizenship, including through descent, declaration and determination.