Become a German Citizen - Process and Overview

How to Become a Citizen in Germany from the US

Published:   |  Updated:   |  Posted in: Citizenship
How to Become a Citizen in Germany from the US

Are you planning to move from the US to Germany? Wunderbar! Over 200,000 US citizens have found their second home in Germany. Soon, you, too, could join the vibrant community of American expats in one of the most diligent nations in Europe. So, let’s see what’s waiting for you across the river Rhine.

Germany is more than beer, sausages, timeless architecture, and the famous Berlin Wall; it symbolizes humanity’s technological skills and economic growth. So, find out how to become a citizen in Germany so that you can proudly utter the phrase “Ich bin ein Berliner” every day.

In this article, we’ll discuss how an American can become a German citizen and join one of the fastest-growing workforces on Earth.

Benefits of Obtaining German Citizenship

Germany attracts immigrants from all over the world who are seeking free education, a high standard of living, and better medical facilities. Many investors, entrepreneurs, and young Americans are relocating to Europe; some hope to create a new life, while others plan to retire comfortably. So, here are some reasons why German citizenship has become a lucrative opportunity for US nationals:

  • Right to vote: Become a part of Germany’s transparent democratic process and even vote in the EU elections to determine how your tax money should be spent.
  • Freedom to move: A German passport lets you explore the Schengen region freely and travel to neighboring countries for business, tourism, and other pursuits.
  • Better wages: You’ll get compensated generously for your labor and earn a minimum salary of €12 per hour before taxes.
  • Free education: German university students must pay a modest semester fee; otherwise, quality education is freely available to deserving applicants.
  • Robust healthcare: Taxes are higher in Germany, but in return, you get fantastic health benefits; health insurance covers doctor’s appointments and complicated surgeries.

Let’s discuss moving to Deutschland from the US in simple steps.

Moving to Germany: Know Your Options

Only six countries have the distinction of having the world’s strongest passport; Germany is one of them. Even before 2024, German citizenship was sought after by foreigners, especially non-EU residents. It has become even more attractive to US citizens after the ban on dual citizenship was lifted.

If you’re wondering how to become a citizen in Germany, the first step is to move there and obtain a PR (permanent residence) permit. Remember that Americans can travel to the Schengen region for 90 days within any 180-day period without a visa. The 180-day period is rolling, constantly updating over the past 180 days. So, if you spent 60 days in the Schengen area in the past 90 days, you would only have 30 remaining in your current 180-day period. However, if you wish to extend your stay, here are some available options:

National Visa

It allows you to stay in Germany for a year to work, study, get medical treatment, or reunite with your family. You can get this visa on your second trip to Germany, and it is suitable for a short-term stay.

Residence Permit

It’s valid for up to three years, letting foreigners work, study, reunite with their relatives, marry German citizens, or even start a business. However, the residence permit for businesses is usually different.

PR Permit

Staying in Germany for five years makes you eligible for a permanent residence permit, especially if you own/rent a place, make pension contributions, and have a good grasp of the language.

How to Become a Citizen in Germany?

Attaining German citizenship can be time-consuming, especially if you go by the naturalization route. We will discuss here some unique and diverse ways to become a citizen of Deutschland.

5 Ways to Attain German Citizenship

If you’re an American interested in German citizenship, here’s what you need to know:

  • Naturalization: It’s the standard way of claiming German citizenship. You qualify for this route if you’ve lived in Germany for the past five years or just three years if you have attended an integration course. Previously, applicants had to renounce previous citizenship and provide a B1 language proficiency certificate. But these requirements have been relaxed in 2024.
  • Marriage: If you’re married to a German citizen, apply for naturalization based on marriage. The residency requirements are flexible here, and you can apply for citizenship two years after tying the knot. But you still have to pass the naturalization test like other applicants.
  • Adoption: From 1977 onwards, children adopted by German nationals can apply for citizenship, as they have the same right to get citizenship as biological kids.
  • Birth: We can divide this category into two parts:
    • Jus Sanguini: If at least one of your parents is German, you qualify for the right-of-blood route. Remember that this method doesn’t work if your grandparents and not your parents were Germans.
    • Jus Soli: You can get German citizenship if at least one of your parents has lived there for five years. If you were born after February 2, 1990, you qualify for this route, i.e., the right of soil.
  • Alternatives: Here are some other unique cases qualifying you for German citizenship:
    • Legitimization: Children of a German father and a foreign mother born out of wedlock can claim citizenship if their parents are married. However, people born before 1975 are the only ones who can use this route to naturalization.
    • Ethnicity: If you’re a legitimate descendant of ethnic Germans from the former USSR or other Eastern European countries, you can claim citizenship based on this ancestry. But it’s only applicable to people born before 1993.
    • Nazi persecution: The descendants of the victims of Nazi persecution, such as Holocaust survivors, can apply for re-naturalization based on a law passed in 2021.

Let’s look deeper into getting German citizenship by naturalization and find out exactly which documents are needed.

Naturalization in Germany: A Step-by-Step Process

More and more individuals are getting German citizenship in the 2020s. As an American, you can easily pass the naturalization test and become a citizen. In 2022 alone, 168,545 people passed the test. So, if you are wondering how to become a citizen in Germany, follow these steps:

  • Check your age: You can apply for naturalization in Germany after turning 16, provided you meet the requirements. Parents will apply on behalf of their children if they aren’t 16 yet. Likewise, marrying a German citizen also means you qualify for naturalization in Germany.
  • Get the form: Grab a naturalization application from a city/town council or immigration office and start filling it out. Even a regional district council in your area can provide you with it. Attach the relevant documents with it before applying.
  • Pass the test: Now comes the hard part, i.e., passing your naturalization test. You’ll get 33 MCQs and must score 50% marks to get the naturalization certificate. People can opt out of it due to aging, sickness, or disability. Similarly, you don’t need to take this test if you have an advanced degree in law, politics, or social sciences from a German university.
  • Pay the fee: You can submit this naturalization application after paying a modest sum. The cost is €255 for adults applying for naturalization and €51 for a child aged below 16 whose parents are applying on their behalf. An extra €25 is for the naturalization test, and another €25 will get you a citizenship certificate. The entire process cost a little over €300.
  • Submit and wait: All that’s left now is to submit your application and wait for approval. You can submit it to the same place where you got it; the approval process may sometimes take half a year. In the end, however, you’ll become a legal German citizen.

Documents Required for Naturalization in Germany

Attach the following documents to your naturalization application:

  • A valid passport
  • Your residence permit
  • American birth certificate
  • Language proficiency certificate
  • Background check (criminal record certificate)
  • Your partner’s marriage certificate (if applicable)
  • Parents’ or ancestors’ birth certificate (if applicable)
  • Evidence that you’re supporting your dependants financially
  • Proof of payment of the required naturalization fee (€255 for adults)

Germans are a proud people who care about protecting their values, culture, and language. Even though 56% of Germans can speak English – making Germany the country with the largest non-native English-speaking population in the EU – you need to learn the local language to survive there.

So, ensure your English-language documents are in German before submitting them with your naturalization application. Learn to recognize high-quality language translation when you see it, and only hire ISO-17100-certified professionals to work their magic on your important documents.

Recent Amendment in the Citizenship Law

At this point, you might wonder about dual citizenship in Germany and whether you must give up your American citizenship. Good news! The Deutsch government has lifted the ban on dual citizenship, and now US citizens moving to Germany don’t have to break ties with their homeland.

Germany had some of the strictest naturalization laws in Europe at the turn of the century. However, the new government has introduced flexible naturalization laws, welcoming more potential citizens worldwide. Before 2024, dual citizenship was a privilege only EU nationals could enjoy in Germany; that’s why Germany has a meager naturalization rate (1.1%) compared to the rest of the EU (2%).

But becoming a citizen of Germany isn’t a chore anymore. Here is how this new law will help Americans seeking German citizenship by naturalization:

  • You can apply for naturalization after legally living in Germany for five years, unlike the previous requirement of an eight-year-long stay.
  • Grounds for ineligibility to obtain citizenship have been described concretely, such as polygamy, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and others.
  • After three years of residence in Germany, you can showcase “good integration” instead of the previously stipulated seven years.
  • B1 proficiency in German won’t be mandatory if you demonstrate enough oral German skills.

So, grab your stuff and take the first flight to Germany, a country fit to be your second home.


Here’s the key takeaway from this article – you can become a German citizen after living in this country for ten years. You must have proper residence, the ability to speak German, and the means to support your dependents. Then, pass the naturalization test, and you’ll soon get citizenship. Also, you don’t have to abandon your American passport to become a German citizen.

Ensure you have submitted all the necessary documents and translated your English certificates into your native language. Get help from TranslateSwift if you need help finding German translators.

Remember that flawlessly translated documents can fast-track the naturalization process. So, save your precious time and order a seamless, culturally sensitive, and easily understandable translation.

FAQs – How do you become a citizen in Germany?

How long do I have to live in Germany before becoming a citizen?

Foreigners and migrants must be legal residents of Germany for five years to apply for citizenship, as per the new law.

Can I keep my US citizenship after becoming a German citizen?

Yes, the new citizenship law allows non-EU nationals to retain dual citizenship. So, you can remain a US citizen even after becoming a citizen in Germany.

What is the fastest route to attaining German citizenship?

Employment-based immigration (such as Ausbildung) is the quickest way to become a German citizen; if you’re a skilled worker, apply for a residence permit for a job search (valid for six months).

Can my German citizenship be revoked in some cases?

It’s rare for someone’s German citizenship to be revoked; it happens in extreme circumstances, i.e., if a person has attained citizenship through fraud.

How can my children become German citizens?

The new naturalization law grants your children citizenship by birth if you or your spouse have lived in Germany for five years.

What kind of questions do they ask in the naturalization test?

You get 30 questions about German laws, German society, and living in Germany in general. The remaining three questions will be about the region where you live.