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01.12.2017 - Article

Non-acquisition of German nationality for children born abroad to German parents

Non-acquisition of German nationality for children born abroad to German parents (section 4 (4), first and third sentences, of the Nationality Act)

Children born abroad do not acquire German nationality by birth if their German parent(s) were themselves born abroad after 31 December 1999 and at the time of the child’s birth were ordinarily resident abroad, provided such children acquire another nationality upon birth.

Children that fall into this category may acquire German nationality retroactively from birth if their parents register the birth with the German authorities before the child’s first birthday. To do this, they must apply to the competent registry office in Germany or to the competent German mission abroad to have the birth of their child included in the register of births.

Case study:

Mr A relocates to Spain for work purposes in 1999. His daughter Klara is born there on 1 February 2000. The family returns some years later to Germany. In 2018, Klara meets an American citizen and moves to the US with him. Her son is born in the US on 1 January 2020. Although his mother is German, he does not acquire German nationality by birth, since he acquires US citizenship by virtue of being born in the US.

In order to obtain German nationality for the child, Klara or the father would have to apply to the competent registry office in Germany or to the competent German mission abroad to register the birth of their child. If the application is submitted on time and with all the necessary supporting documents, the child may be issued with a German passport upon application.

Please note: All Germans (expats and emigrants) who were born abroad and who give birth abroad, regardless of the reason for or duration of their residence abroad, need to be aware of this rule.

Frequently Asked Questions

Under what circumstances will my child not acquire German nationality automatically?

Your child will not automatically acquire German nationality by birth if

  • You (both German parents) were born abroad after 31 December 1999,
  • Your child is born abroad,
  • You (both German parents) are ordinarily resident abroad* at the time of the child’s birth and
  • Your child automatically acquires a foreign nationality upon birth.

 * If you are ordinarily resident abroad, it is immaterial that you have retained a residence in Germany purely for registration law purposes.

What do I have to do to obtain German nationality for my child?

You must apply for the birth to be registered in the register of births at the competent German registry office before your child’s first birthday. This deadline is deemed to have been met if the application is received by the competent German mission abroad within the one-year period. The application may be made by one parent alone if no declaration of name is necessary.

To apply to register your child’s birth you must submit the following documents:

  • A fully completed and signed application form
  • Your child’s foreign birth certificate
  • The parents’ birth certificates
  • The parents’ marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • The parents’ passports/ID cards
  • The parents’ Maltese residence cards or other proof of residence in Malta
  • other documents relevant to the marital status of the child (custody orders or similar), if applicable

Please note that all Maltese documents must have an apostille. These can be obtained from the Maltese Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion.

Please note that your child cannot be issued with German identity papers until a complete application for registration of the birth has been submitted. If you have any queries, please contact the consular section of the Embassy.

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