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Dual Citizenship: Is it Worth It?

I believe I’ve mentioned it here before, but a couple of years ago during my genealogy research I discovered that my brothers and I were born dual U.S.-German citizens. And for more than two years, I’ve been cutting through bureaucratic red tape trying to get a German certificate of citizenship to prove it.

Now let me be clear. We were definitely born dual citizens. We meet every requirement. But there is still a chance the German government will refuse to approve the application for my certificate (therefore denying me any rights related to that citizenship).

The process has been frustrating to say the least. It has involved trips to NYC to visit the German Mission, a lot of German-English form translations, and even more digging into family history documents, getting notarized copies of those documents, and mailing them to the NYC office so they could in turn review them and mail them to Germany. And then there’s the waiting. Oh, don’t get me started on the waiting. Let’s just say there have been breaks from a few weeks to over a year in between me sending documents they’ve requested and me hearing anything in return.

Worth the Hassle?

I could just forget about this, know I was born a dual-citizen regardless of whether or not they give me a piece of paper, and leave it at that. But there are real benefits to going through this hassle:

  1. It would give me the right to live and work in EU nations.
  2. I can travel a bit more freely around Europe for future family history research.
  3. If this is settled before I have a child and they reach their first birthday, then I can make sure citizenship passes along to them too. (Update: I was wrong about this. My children will be dual-citizens regardless of whether or not I register their births within their first year. That would only apply to my grandchildren and any later generations.)
  4. My children will be better prepared for the increasing global economy, able to more easily study abroad without having to worry about things like student visas, and see more of the world after school if they want to. This is one of the biggest concerns for me.
  5. It’s about my birthright and the tie to my family’s history.

That’s not to say there wouldn’t be complications too. But they’re more than manageable to me. Yet the process itself is starting to feel unbearable. Why? I’m back in another “waiting” phase. Here is what the process has looked like so far:

  1. I assembled the documentation requested of me — my birth certificate, my father’s birth certificate, my grandparents’ marriage certificate, my grandfather’s German passport to prove his citizenship, and my grandfather’s naturalization papers proving he was still a German citizen when my father was born. I drove to NYC to hand-deliver these to the consulate. I was assured by the person there that it was alright we didn’t have my grandfather’s birth certificate  because the passport was enough to prove his former citizenship.
  2. I waited a while and then received a letter from Germany asking me to fill out a supplementary form about my great-grandparents past in Germany. Despite the fact that their website mentioned no such thing (nor did the employee of the consulate), they said I had to prove their citizenship back to a certain date (I believe 1914, but I can’t recall for certain right now).
  3. I filled out the supplementary forms. I know they meet those requirements, because I know both great-grandparents were born in Germany and remained there even after they were forced to relocate after WWII. They never gave up their citizenship or moved away from the country. Of course we don’t have any records to that fact — only notes from my grandfather noting where they were from.
  4. I sent the forms in and waited for a few months before hearing that they did, in fact, want my grandfather’s birth certificate. I informed the person with the consulate (who really has been a dear about helping me through this process) that to the best of my family’s knowledge one didn’t exist any longer. You see, the birth town of my grandfather was pretty much leveled by the Russian military during WWII. People were forced to flee from their homes with only a few hours notice. They even buried possessions they hoped to return for. We don’t know of any birth certificate that my grandfather himself may have had — I have to assume his German passport was enough proof of identity for the U.S. government when he moved here. And since those records used to be kept in churches, and the birth town really doesn’t even exist anymore post-war, I can’t imagine a copy exists (although I would love to be wrong about that). She said she would inform the German office of that fact. And I offered to get a copy of a U.S. government document — his SS-5 application for a social security number — which is the only other government document in existence that lists his parents’ names. I got a certified copy and sent that in.
  5. This is the point where I waited more than a year with no response. Talk about frustration….
  6. I emailed the woman with the consulate and asked for an update a few months ago. She said that she sent the documents to Germany and once things were in their hands, there was nothing she could do or say about it.
  7. Another few months of waiting….
  8. I emailed her again noting that it had been over two years since I started the process and I’d really like an update, and I offered to re-send any info they might need to speed up the process.
  9. She responded saying that two years was the average time this process takes, so she would contact the German officials on my behalf for an update since we had already exceeded that average timeframe.
  10. A little while later she sent me another set of forms to fill out — information I already provided. They wanted updated personal information to make sure I didn’t relocate, get married, etc. since the time the process began.

And that’s where things stand. I’m waiting again. I’m choosing to be optimistic though. If they refused to accept the SS-5 form proving my grandfather’s parents’ names were what I declared on the supplemental form they requested, I have to imagine they would have issued a denial for the certificate. Instead they asked for updated information to make sure nothing else changed about my personal situation (nothing has). My hope is that this form was the last formality, and that I’ll receive the certificate of citizenship before long. Cross your fingers (and toes) for me!

What about you? Would go through a process like this if you found out that you were born a dual-citizen? Or would you just ignore the fact and not pursue the paper trail? Why? Leave a comment below to share your own similar stories or thoughts on why you would or wouldn’t pursue this if you were in my shoes.

Major Update:

As of July 2012, I was officially recognized as a dual U.S.-German citizen. I received a letter stating that my application for a certificate of citizenship was approved at that time — after approximately a 3-year wait. The certificate was in NYC at the time, so I paid a FEDEX fee to have it delivered to me rather than making the trip there again. I have not bothered to get my German passport yet (as of the end of 2013) as I have to sort out some married name issues on my U.S. passport first. As I have no specific trips planned, it’s not a rush for me. But the process was most definitely worth it! 🙂

*Image credit: tjuel (via Flickr)

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811 Responses to “Dual Citizenship: Is it Worth It?”

  1. Heinz says:

    Hi Jenn I was wondering if you could send an update. I just started the process and was wondering if the consulate was correct when they told me the certificate should be here in a year. I hope all goes well for u!
    Best regards
    Heinz

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Unfortunately no updates yet. But it’s possible your process will be faster. Likely it depends on the records you have. The problem here is that we didn’t have my grandfather’s German birth certificate because his family literally had 2 hours to pick up and leave their home during the War before the Russian army stormed into town. A lot was left behind and buried, but never recovered. I was told that was fine as long as we had his German passport (which also proves his citizenship). But later they changed their story and insisted on the b.c. So we had to try to find an alternate record with his parents’ names.

      They’ve taken several months to get back to me every time, and they continually request more information — I must have had at least 3 sets of forms to fill out (no idea why they couldn’t just send them all at once and speed things along). I was told by the woman with the NYC consulate that the average time for these applications is 2 years, if that helps. I hope yours is a quicker and easier process, but at the same time I just wouldn’t make any plans that require your certificate of citizenship until you have it approved and in your hands.

  2. Karl says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I do feel for your situation! I’m sure the holdup is the result of being unable to supply your grandfathers birth certificate.

    Going through the process myself and reading other people’s stories, it seems the average wait time is around 1-2 years. I wouldn’t assume because you haven’t heard anything that nothing is being done. Most likely they are investigating and attempting to track down his birth certificate.

    You have provided the authorities with as much as possible, if the document cannot be found it should not jeopardize your chances. It will however delay the process a lot!

    Don’t give up mate, keep fighting and savor that extra sweet moment when your certificate arrives

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Thanks for the encouraging comments. 🙂

      I was in touch with my contact at the consulate again about a week ago. She had no updates and no idea why it was taking so long, but she said she would contact Germany and request that they expedite my claim. The strangest part is that the last time I heard from them they asked me to submit information I’d already submitted (just in case it changed). That was fine. I let them know I’m still single, still at the same address, etc. So for another couple of months to go by without them really asking for anything new, it seems strange to me.

      They won’t likely find the b.c. either. Back then they were kept in the parish churches. The ones in the town where he was born were leveled by the Russian military during the War. So as far as we can tell, they no longer exist. The odd part about that is that when I first visited the consulate a couple of years ago, they flat out told me I wouldn’t need his birth certificate because his German passport would be enough. And I supplied another government document listing my grandfather’s parents. So it’s baffling that they’re taking so long (more than 2.5 years at this point).

      My biggest concern is that there will be another long delay if they don’t get this taken care of soon. That’s because I plan to move before the end of this year with any luck, and I should be getting married next spring. This really needs to be finished before we have our first child too, because new rules mean I only have a year after their birth to ensure that citizenship passes on to my own kids. And my brothers’ first child will likely miss out on that opportunity because they’re waiting on my process to finish before my two brothers submit their own paperwork (apparently easier if they can provide my case number when they go).

      So frustrating. But I’m still hanging in there. It’ll be worth it. 🙂 Good luck with your own process, and let us know how it goes! 🙂

  3. Karl says:

    yeah the waiting is always the worst part.

    I know you have already contacted the consulate. Putting myself in your shoes, I would probably try contacting Koln direct.

    A letter asking them to explain what stage the application is at. it might at least shed some light on whats happening behind the scenes?

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      That’s a good point. I’ll see if I can get a specific contact name, and if I don’t hear back by the end of this month I’ll try reaching them directly. Thanks. 🙂

  4. Jenn Mattern says:

    I just heard back. Apparently the folks in Germany are waiting for some inquiries at some office in Berlin still. So no denial (good). But it doesn’t look like it’s going to be settled in the very near future either. Still remaining hopeful. 🙂

  5. Karl says:

    Thats great! Like most things German, the process will be thorough and methodical. And take forever because of it. Keep the blog updated when you hear more.

  6. Heinz says:

    Hi Jenn I hope all is well, I thought I would give an update too.

    I went to the consolate and needed another paper so I submitted both mine and my daughters papers on June 21,2011. Then on the 15th of aug I received back a letter from Germany throught the embassy. The said they got it and would make a decision in the future but due to a large volume of requests it would take a long time.

    I still haven’t heard anything else but it has only been abt 8 months.

    Do u have an update on your application?

    Best wishes
    Heinz

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Sadly no. 🙁

      I recently contacted them to give them my new address and to let them know I’m getting married in May. They had no update for me yet and just told me to send my marriage certificate when I get married (so clearly they don’t expect it to be dealt with by then).

      All they’ve been telling me lately is that there are still enquiries with Berlin, and they’re waiting to hear back from them.

      I guess the positive is that they still haven’t said no. 🙂

      Good luck with yours, and do let me know how it turns out! 🙂

  7. Karl says:

    Hopefully you’ll hear something soon, the both of you.

    If anyone needs a run down of how I went:
    I applied in January 2011, submitted my birth certificate, mums birth certificate, grandfathers birth certificate, grandparents marriage certificate.

    I heard back in may 2011, they requested my parents marriage certificate, their divorce certificate, my mothers and grandmothers naturalization certificates, and a certificate showing my grandfather never became a Australian citizen.

    I received my German citizenship certificate in October 2011.

    The process was straight forward, probably because I had access to every document they requested.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      I’m glad to hear someone had an easier time of this. 🙂 Congrats!

      I had every document they requested too. In the beginning they even flat out told me that I didn’t need my grandfather’s birth certificate as long as I had his German passport to prove that he was a German citizen before coming to the U.S.

      Maybe it has something to do with what office you use. I know NYC was a big port for German immigrants into the U.S., and the NE of the US in general seems to have much higher German populations (like in PA where I live). The mission in NYC serves that whole region. So maybe they’re just bombarded with a lot of requests. But I don’t know.

      I think my biggest frustration right now is that I need this to finish before I start having children. With the new laws, I’d have to file my child’s birth within one year for citizenship to pass to them. If this continues for a fourth year, that might not be possible (getting married in May and we’d like to start trying for children shortly after).

      • Michelle says:

        Jenn, I just wanted to let you know that you won’t have to register your children within a year after their births. I’m in a similar situation (I have a German passport, although I’d like the certificate of citizenship just to make things easier), and I’ve got two little ones who were born after 2000. I thought they were ineligible because I didn’t register them, but come to find out, it only applies to THEIR children. In other words, it’s future PARENTS who were born abroad after 2000 who will have to register their children. But since you and I were born before 2000, we’re under no obligation to register our children.

        Hope that makes sense! 🙂

  8. Karl says:

    The embassy staff deal which many types of enquiries, and probably not experts in nationality laws. Especially since the German laws have changed so many times!

    I think your problem is that although a passport is an indicator of nationality, it is not conclusive proof. You must dig into this town/village history and find anything you can. You will get results quicker than Koln I think.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      We’ve unfortunately already established that local records were destroyed. That area is now a part of Russia, and the churches where the records were kept at the time were destroyed when the Russian military invaded the area. 🙁 That’s why I went out of my way to verify what records they would require at the start of the process. And they told me the passport would be sufficient. So I was beyond disappointed when they changed their story (as soon as I made the trip to NYC to deliver the paperwork).

  9. Josef Senf says:

    Hello Jenn!
    Any updates in your case?
    I am in a similar situation but i just have 8 months waiting.
    Greetings!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Sadly nothing yet Josef. 🙁 These waiting periods are the hardest, and they can be so long! My case will get slightly more complicated too, because I’m getting married in a little less than two weeks. Once that happens, I have to send in a copy of my marriage license and my name change information after it’s processed here. I hope that doesn’t slow down any of the progress in Berlin.

  10. Josef Senf says:

    I am sure that soon you re going to have your certificate in your hands!

  11. Josef Senf says:

    Hello Jenn
    I just received a email Where they say that they are working very hard in my case and they already have a big part of the investigation ready and when they receive the rest of the results they are going to confirm the day when i must to my Embassy and get my german citizenship certificate.
    What about you?

  12. Heinz says:

    Hello Josef,

    I am very glad for you. I am about 10 months in and are still waiting. After you submitted all your required documents did they ever sent you a letter other than the acceptance letter untill now? Or was this the first one and a surprise?

    Best Regards
    Heinz

  13. Josef Senf says:

    Hello Heinz
    It was not a surprise, i asked for a update ay the consulate! And they aswered like 15 data later with this information.
    This is the second email, the first one was the acceptance of my documents 8 months ago and now this update.
    Greeting

  14. Josef Senf says:

    Hello Heinz
    It was not a surprise, I asked for a update at the consulate! And they aswered like 15 days later with this information.
    This is the second email, the first one was the acceptance of my documents 8 months ago and now this update.
    Greetings

  15. Josef Senf says:

    Jenn ?? Heinz?? WhAt about you? Many greetings

  16. Heinz says:

    No updates on my end. but I’m afraid to email or ask Koln for an update. I don’t want to upset someone and have them say “fine now it will be even longer”.
    The thing that worries me is I have to travel there in three months and I’m afraid they will get me my paperwork the day before I’m supposed to fly and the German government will get upset because I don’t have a German passport. They get stinky if you enter or exit Germany on a US Passport if you are a German citizen.

  17. Josef Senf says:

    Heinz if you were born in the USA there is no problem about using your USA passport, Germany allows dual citizenship if the other is from the country Where you were born. I went to germany with my venezuelan passport because i was born there, the people from the Embassy told me this. And about ask for a update to koln, feel yourself free, they dont get upset if you write to the correct email address to ask for uddates! If you need It just let me know. Germans are very kind and helpfull! Many greetings

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      I’ve also read that both the U.S. and Germany require that you enter their country with the corresponding passport if you have one. In other words, I’d need to use my German passport to enter Germany and my U.S. passport to re-enter the U.S. That’s because when you’re in the U.S. you’re treated only as a U.S. citizen. And in Germany you’re treated as only a German citizen (even though both countries acknowledge dual citizenship). Here’s a good link with info about both, which specifically mentions the U.S. side of the passport issue.

      http://germany.usembassy.gov/acs/dual_nationality/

      I know I read something similar on the German mission’s site in the past, but I can’t remember where.

      As for asking them questions, I wouldn’t worry about it Heinz. I’ve followed up numerous times, and they were always very polite. There just isn’t anything the mission can do because they’re waiting for another government office to research things. I was told the average time to process this stuff is currently around two years.

  18. Heinz says:

    Thanks for the advice. I have the email address for the person in Köln who is working on my paperwork. It was included on my original acceptance letter that I got from Germany. As well as a specific number for my case. The letter told me all correspondence has to be in German only.
    I am just a chicken about asking for an update. The embassy told me when I originally submitted my paperwork that it’s takes about a year so I figured I would wait untill that time is up and email for an update.

  19. Josef Senf says:

    Hi jenn
    It is true that you must use your German passport to enter germany, but if you have one! You dont have your German passport yet!. You can go to germany if the USA passport. And the Embassy told the same than heinz, the average time is 1 year. All my beSt whisses in your wedding!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Yep. That’s what I meant. Sorry if I wasn’t clear. It’s only an issue if you have both. Then you aren’t supposed to use your U.S. one to enter Germany (and vice versa).

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      It’s interesting that you were told 1 year. They told me it was 2 on average (I’m personally going on 3). So frustrating.

      And thanks on the wedding comment. It was lovely. 🙂

  20. Josef Senf says:

    Hi guys!
    Updates?
    Many greetings!

  21. Heinz says:

    Do you have any updates Josef?

  22. Josef Senf says:

    Hello Heinz!
    No updates! Still waiting too…..

  23. Josef Senf says:

    Any news guys?

  24. Heinz says:

    I wish i could say “yes” but sadly no news. I sent the last of my paperwork in last year on the 21st of June and the archives accepted it and sent a letter dated the 8th of August. So I’m comming up to the archives 1 year anniversary.

  25. Jenn Mattern says:

    No news. And that isn’t likely to change any time soon. In my experience, you’re lucky to hear from them one a year while they consider your application. And that’s usually to request more information rather than to give you any updates. I can’t even follow up at this point because the consulate doesn’t know anything, and they made it clear they won’t know anything until the folks in Berlin finish investigating.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Well, I suppose I need to eat my words!

      I just got a letter from the consulate today. And my claim to dual citizenship was finally verified! 🙂 It took around 3 years, but it’s finally happened. I’m so excited. 🙂 And I hope it works out equally well for everyone else here who’s trying to get through this process.

      Once I pay the processing fee and Fedex fee, they can send me the certificate of citizenship. But I’ll need to look into name change issues first because I just got married and changed my name. If I run into problems on that front, I’ll update.

  26. Heinz says:

    That is great!!!! Congrats!!!!

    It is very nice to see the process works. Yes please kee us updated on your name change and how it goes.

    Check back in if you will and you can encourage us as we wait and let us know how kühl you documents are.

    Heinzi

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Thanks. 🙂 I’ll certainly be back. In fact, I hope to revive the blog soon with new posts. I took a hiatus because of my move and then my marriage — it was a hectic time.

  27. Josef Senf says:

    Congrats!!!!!!!!!! I am really happy for you. Now you are a full mouth German citizenship. Tell me what the email exact said please. Again congrats!!!!!!!!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      It wasn’t an email, but instead a physical letter that arrived in the mail. The entire letter is too long to reprint. But it starts like this:

      “It is my pleasure to inform you that your application for a Certificate of Citizenship has been approved.”

      I need to pay the administrative fee (25 Euros) before they can release it, so the letter also gives me their account information because they require payment as a wire transfer. I went to the bank Saturday to initiate that, and the wire transfer should be processed today (although they’ll receive it in Germany Tuesday).

      Then it says I can travel to NYC to pick it up or I can pay extra to have them send it to me via certified mail or Fedex. I’m going to have it sent via Fedex so I don’t have to make the trip.

      • Jenn Mattern says:

        My certificate of citizenship arrived via Fedex today. Yay! It feels so good to close that chapter of my research — 3 years in the making, and so much left to discover. 🙂

  28. Karl says:

    Congratulations!

    See, now the long wait has made it even better 🙂

  29. Josef Senf says:

    Congrats !!!!!!!
    Finaly you have It
    Now stay with us in our waiting jajaj
    Congratulations again

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Has anyone else received any updates on their applications yet?

      • Heinz says:

        Nothing to report. Just 14 months and counting.

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          Just hang in there. I know it seems to take forever, but it’ll work out. 🙂

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          The way I used to like looking at things was this: if they were going to reject you, it probably wouldn’t take this long to do it. It’s just taking time for them to find what they’re looking for over there, and it’s easier for them to do it than you.

          • Heinz says:

            Thanks, I hope so. I just clicked another month and I talked to my cousins about it while I visited them in Germany. They gave me a copy of our family tree documents that were required to have during World War Two.
            They are the documents for my great grand parents back to the late 1700’s.
            So I hope köln finds what they need.

          • Jenn Mattern says:

            I’m very jealous that you had the opportunity to visit them in Germany. 🙂 It’s wonderful that they were able to get you some more documents! I really hope that helps. 🙂

  30. Josef Senf says:

    Nothing to report yet. Now i have moré than 1 year waiting. I was in Germany for 1 month and now i am back. I went to koln and i visited the citizenship office. But nothing about news, just that my case is in the lást step to finally get my respond. I Will let you know guys! Have a good week

  31. Nina says:

    Hey, all fellow German dual citizenship aspirants: I am brand new to this this blog, and despite reading what you all have gone through/are going through, am seriously considering starting down this road myself. Jenn, double congrats and thanks so much for starting this and continuing to check in; I have had little success us finding other specific feedback on this. I’d like to put forth my line of descent re: German heritage/ancestry so as to compare it to yours and/or the knowledge you’ve gleaned on this subject to see if it’s worth my going forward and applying or if it would just be a fruitless effort. I’m an oldster here so don’t let the 19th century dates make you think you’re seeing typos. Ha. Here goes nothin’:
    Both grandparents born (1890’s) in different parts of Germany, immigrated to US in early- to mid-1910’s, met in NYC, married, settled in Chicago.
    Father, born in 1917 in Chicago.
    Self, born Chicago area, 1962
    Kids born USA, 1989, 1990, 1994.
    What documentation do I absolutely need? I don’t have much, but I have seen a 1920 census document going my grandparents were born in Germany. A relative has a document proving the ship my grandmother name over on.
    Any helpful hints, guys?

    *Thanks ever so much, all!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Hi Nina!

      I’m certainly not an official authority on the subject, but here are a few things I’d suggest keeping in mind.

      1. Having your grandparents born in Germany isn’t enough. They still had to be a German citizen when your father was born. So you’ll have to prove that. For example, you would want to look for their application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen or their certificate of naturalization. I found this for my grandfather through Ancestry.com. They would have had to be in the U.S. for 5 years (I believe) before becoming citizens. So if your father wasn’t born until after that time, you should be fine. But you’ll still need to prove it. Unfortunately a census document won’t help much either. They were notoriously inaccurate.

      2. I know you have to prove descent back until at least 1914. It sounds like your grandparents were covered by that.

      3. Because of the year you were born, I believe descent can only pass from your grandfather and father. So your grandmother’s information wouldn’t be taken into account. You’ll want to verify those years on the German consulate’s website though. I don’t remember the exact years the rules changed.

      Here’s a list of the documentation I had to provide:

      — My birth certificate
      — My mother and father’s marriage certificate (because rules can vary if you were born in or out of wedlock depending on the year I believe)
      — My father’s birth certificate
      — My grandmother and grandfather’s marriage certificate
      — My grandfather’s German passport
      — My grandfather’s U.S. naturalization records

      They later asked me for my grandfather’s birth certificate which was lost during the War. So we didn’t have that, hence the long delay. Fortunately they were able to find whatever records they needed in Berlin to get things approved.

      You’ll also need to know where your grandparents lived in Germany, and when. That will be asked on one of the forms they’ll have you fill out.

      I hope that helps!

      Jenn

  32. Josef Senf says:

    Hello!
    Any updates?

  33. Heinz says:

    I typed a big one last night but it didn’t post.

    This is my update: as of December 21st it will be 18 months since all my paperwork and reply from Köln that this is a long process. I am too big of a chicken to email or call to as for an update. I figure I will wait 3 years like Jenn and if I don’t hear anything by then I will email. I do have the man who is handling my papers email and phone number in Köln.
    That’s my update. Any new news?

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      lol It may have taken 3 years, but I didn’t go that long without updates. 😉 I emailed my contact at the NYC mission periodically to make sure they were still on top of it. It’s worthwhile, and they were extremely nice when I contacted them. They can touch base with the folks in Germany and get you additional forms if it turns out they don’t have info from you they need.

  34. Josef Senf says:

    Helo guys!
    Good news!
    Today i received a call from the Germán embassy And my citizenship certificate arrived today after 14 months waiting!
    I am soooooo happy! It does takes so long but it does works And worst it!
    Any updates from You?

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Wow! Congratulations Josef! 🙂

    • Heinz says:

      Congrats!!!! I’m glad it’s about wrapped up for you.

      I called the consulate today and was told that the person handling my application information does not work there anymore.

      So they asked me to send copies of all correspondence I’ve had with him and the consul to then again.

      They told me that they would get back to me as soon as they can find something out from Köln.

      So I still have to wait and see.

      But I’m glad for Jenn and Josef

      • Jenn Mattern says:

        That sucks. I’m sorry you’re not having an easy time of it Heinz. 🙁 But hang in there. It might take a while, but eventually they’ll find whatever it is they need. 🙂

  35. Heinz says:

    I just got an email from the vise consul…..

    Köln said due to the heavy workload it will take several more months. And thanks for my understanding.

    It was a very nice email and they don’t need any more papers from me. I’m very happy and just need to keep waiting. 19 months and counting. Oh we’ll.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      That’s very similar to my last contact with the consulate before I got my approval. They said they had everything they needed and they just needed to wait on the folks in Germany to complete some research on their end.

      Then one day, several months later, another envelope arrived. I thought it would either be a denial or yet another request for more information.

      Instead it was a letter telling me they verified my citizenship. 🙂 And it gave me instructions on how I could get my official certificate of citizenship.

      So hang in there. Hopefully it’s a good sign and their in the final stretch. 🙂

      • Heinz says:

        Thanks, I was happy to hear back so fast that they just need time. Thanks again for your encouragement. I hope you are correct. I was just getting worried after Josef said he got his. But I’m glad for you and Josef having yours. I am applying for mine and my draughts at the same time so she won’t have to go through this like me in the future.

        🙂
        Heinzi

  36. Josef Senf says:

    Heinz everything Its going to be fine. Thank a for your words! Lást week i asked for my German passport too, And i Will get it next friday. Take it easy, i am sure that very soon You Will have your certificate in your hands. Its just about to wait! Let us know everything about your process!

  37. Marianne Jaeger says:

    Hallo!

    I am new to this blog and so was very interested to hear different people’s experiences with the application for certificate of citizenship. I applied early this year after spending 9 months collecting all the documents and being in regular contact with the consulate in London.

    I originally applied with the consulate in the UK because I was over there for 10 months. In my case it was a matter of proving that I had German nationality at birth and that I did not lose it when I became an American citizen. The consul in London was not optimistic that I could still claim German citizenship. He suggested that I contact the consulate in NY.

    She replied that he had already discussed my case with her and I just needed to wait to receive one document from the US — my father’s certificate of naturalization.

    The journey of finding all the documents was long and tedious but also very exciting. My parents were married 5 months before WWII ended. They are both now deceased, so I had to start with family photos to see where I could find my father’s birth certificate.

    Along the journey that involved looking at Pomeranian genealogy websites and two Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests to the US Citizenship and Naturalization folks, I found a long-lost cousin who helped me locate German documents.

    I don’t understand the lengthy process once you have all the documents and application together. Whatever documents my cousin got for me took days for him to find.

    Oh well…

    I shall return to see how Heinzi’s case is progressing, and will report on any progress at my end.

    Tschuss!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Hi Marianne. Best of luck in your journey towards German citizenship. And do let us know how it goes. 🙂

    • Heinz says:

      Im glad to hear that you are just starting. I hope it works out well for you. Please continue to update how your progress is comming. I hope to get mine soon but you never know.

      Heinzi

  38. Marianne Jaeger says:

    Thanks to you both, Jenn and Heinzi.

    The journey continues to be most interesting. Now that I’m back in the States I’m able to go through some old family records. While none of them can help me any further with the application for citizenship, it is wonderful to learn about the lives of my parents during WW2, their experiences after the war, and why and how we all left Germany after I was born.

    Your experiences have been so helpful to me, and I will continue to stay in touch to learn more about your lives and my own progress.

    Tschuss!

  39. Fabio Neipp says:

    I have just read everything and congratulations Jenn Mattern for your persistence and for your acquisition I have submitted all my papers, forms and documents translated into German language as they asked me to. The fact is, I have submitted everything on July 14th 2012. And I am still waiting with no answer.

    I received a letter that they confirmed they received all the documents and that was all. I am kinda afraid to contact them by e-mail because they have already told me that the process can take 2 years and it has ‘only’ passed 9 months. But I am totally anxious about this process, I mean, everyday when I get up the first thing I do is to check my e-mail to see if there is some answer or email from them.

    The waiting is definitively the worst part in this process, but I think as you did, if it was to be denied it wouldnt take too long. I intend to go on a trip to Germany next july, and I really would like to go owning my Reisepass. Gosh how it is difficult to wait with no response. If I tell you that I have eaten more than usually in this 3 months because of my anxiety, would you call me crazy? lol.

    Hope I can hand my staatsangehörigkeitsausweis soon because it will be one of the happiest day in my life.

    danke schön for reading.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      I don’t think you’re crazy at all. I was excited and nervous for a couple of years. I didn’t get the letter saying I was approved until I’d almost given up hope and forgotten about it for a while. And I wouldn’t worry about following up. I kept in contact with the NYC office via email on and off most of the three years. They were always very nice and helpful. And when it seemed to be taking too long, they followed up with the folks in Germany to see where things were in the process. You can always ask if they need additional information to make things easier. I was asked to fill out at least two additional rounds of forms, and it took several months to even get each of those requests. So I’d follow up if you’re concerned. As long as you don’t nag them constantly, they should be fine with it. 🙂

    • Heinz says:

      Way to go Fabio I’m very happy for you. Jenn has been a great support for me in my patiently waiting I also hope to hear soon and have been waiting about 21 months.
      Waiting is the hard part. To sound lame there are days I just had a feeling and couldn’t wait to get home and check my mail. Then nothing.
      Also when I contacted the consulate they have always been very nice to me.

      Bis später
      Heinz

      • Fabio Neipp says:

        I have already contacted the consulate twice and they were really kind to me.

        But I have never contacted the BVA in Köln to know about my process.

        I read on facebook that usually when anxious people keep on asking them things about the process, they usually ask a lot of documents that are not necessary and ask you to fill many forms and it makes the process even longer. That’s why I am completely afraid of sending them one e-mail. I sent everything they asked with all the documents and they didn’t ask me anything else.

        My process is ‘only’ 9 months long, but I feel like I can´t wait anymore to be recognized.

        Gosh why does it take too long?

        I have an ex secretary that worked in the consulate for more than 30 years on my facebook. She is retired and she told me that her children waited for 3 years to get their passport. She also told me that she usually asked people to wait for 6 years because BVA in Köln is receiving a lot of applications lately.

        🙁

        Hope I can come back here soon to tell you guys that I received mine.
        Hope it doesnt take too long 🙁

        thank you!!!

  40. Heinz says:

    Yes I want it done also. My daughter is also very excited to get an answer from them.

    I waited about 18 months from the time I got my reply saying they had all my paperwork until the first time I contacted them. I’m at 20 months from when they got my last paperwork.

    I listened to Jenn and talked to them for an update and I was told they had all the paperwork they needed they just need more time.

    Someday I too hope to get another email or a letter in the mail with two thumbs up!

    I understand your anxiety.

    Bis später

    Heinzi

  41. Josef Senf says:

    Hello guys
    I talk about my own experience And my family.
    They asked for the documents they need. Ir in the first 6 months You dont receive any email from Koln it does means that they dont need anything extra from You. Maybe just fill a new form to check ir You changed your residence, phone or status.
    So if You have More than 6 months, take it easy becauSe is just a fact of time And You Will get it in any moment.
    I wait exactly 16 months And i received my certificate And 8 days later my passport.
    They work in every case in diferents ways, depending or You especifits cases.
    Be pacient And good luck!
    JR Senf

    • Fabio Neipp says:

      You are so lucky for having received your staatsangehörigkeitsausweis after 16 months… and even thogh for getting your reisepass after 8 days because here in brazil it takes 90 days to be done. it means that after getting my citizenship certificate i will have to wait more 90 days for my passport. But you know? As soon as I receive an answer from BVA that my citizenship was approved, I will wait 90 happily.

      I really wonder how the investigation works in Germany… what do they look for? may i help them?

      well. congrats…

      danke schön

  42. Mark says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I’ve been following this blog for a few months & finally now have something to add.

    To anyone thinking about doing this, contact your consulate prior to over thinking the process! I spent months reading, researching, bothering my parents, thinking translators, certifications & apostilation of everything under the sun.

    Yesterday, I finally called the Consulate in NYC to make sure my whole process seemed plausible. They asked a few specific questions, said it would be great if I had #s of certain documents – the course of action depending on what I had. I called back today knowing I had my father’s expired passport under which I was born along with his US naturalization certificate – ( he became a citizen 2 months after I was born!) They also for some reason want his Flüchtlingsausweis (Sudetenland)- which miraculously was found this morning.

    Now it turns out, I just make an appointment for my passport & bring the paper work along!

    Born in ’66 – NYC – both parents were German.

    off to make an appointment!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Let us know how it goes Mark. It sounds like you might be one of those rare easy cases for them. 🙂

      I was originally expecting a similar process. They even specifically told me I didn’t need one document that we knew it was impossible to get (it was destroyed during WWII before my grandfather came here). Like you, I contacted them ahead of time and gave them a run-through of the details and what documents I had. Only when I showed up at the consulate did they change their story and insist I needed it. The next thing I knew, I was being asked to repeatedly provide information (often the same information but different forms), and it was three years before my application was approved. So getting the okay ahead of time is nice, but it doesn’t mean the person in the office will always agree.

      I certainly hope your experience is better than that. Do come back and let us know how it goes. 🙂

      • Linda says:

        Hi Jenn..
        I have read a little about what you have done & read many other articles online which are (very confusing)
        Seems like you know quite a bit.

        Can I ask question.

        i was born in US my mom is born in Germany & father born in Finland . They were married when I was born. . i was born in the 60s. Does this warrant dual citizenship fir Germany. All mothers side is still in Germany (exception: grandparents deceased)

        My mom is not an American citizen yet (after all this time, she is thinking about becoming one).

        Any info from anyone would be so helpful

        Thanks, Linda

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          Unfortunately you wouldn’t be eligible for German citizenship based on your mother’s status and the time you were born. If you were born to a German mother from 1975 onward, you would have been eligible. And if you would have otherwise become stateless being born from ’64 – ’74, you would have been eligible. But because you were born in the U.S. where you automatically have citizenship by being born here, you never were at risk of being stateless.

  43. Fabio Neipp says:

    Probably his relatives were Jewish. Koln has almost everything they need to prove nationality from a Jewish person. And normally this process is faster.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      That could be. The process is definitely a bit different for those trying to regain citizenship that was stripped from a family as opposed to inheriting citizenship through descent. It also might not be the case though as he mentioned having naturalization records for the U.S. That information wouldn’t really matter if you’re getting citizenship back for a Jewish family that lost it during the WWII era.

      • Fabio Neipp says:

        I sent one e-mail to the Consulate wondering how my process is and if I could help somehow.

        They just answered back (about 1 hour later) the following:


        Mr Neipp,

        Unfortunatelly we have not received any news from Bundesverwaltungsamt yet. It is not possible to give you a forecast, so, please, be more patient. As soon as we have some information we will get in touch.

        🙁

  44. Josef Senf says:

    Well I am Jewish but i didnt mencioned that fact at the consulate!

    • Fabio Neipp says:

      Well, you don´t need to tell them. They have every records that are necessary to know you are Jewish and to prove you are a German Citizen. Just be aware that: Your process was faster because of this reason and not because you had all of the documents they asked for.

  45. Mark says:

    The time ethnicity comes into play is if you or your parent’s citizenship was stripped away during the war. I would imagine also if you fled the country. Then it does not matter if you / your parents took another citizenship & you were born.

  46. Mark says:

    My father has a Flüchtlingsausweis (Google Sudetenland – lost everything, spent time in internment camps etc.) Although treated somewhat similarly in this process, I am not of Jewish decent. In my case, the ausweis comes into play as another form of identification confirming citizenship. The ausweis in lieu of a birth certificate in conjunction with a passport confirms citizenship. I think the authorities are looking to complete the puzzle – backing up one document with another – the Flüchtlingsausweis tells exactly how he appeared in the system. My parent’s marriage certificate along with my birth cert completes ius sanguinis. (“right of the blood”)

    When I applied for my kids American passports – I needed to supply birth certificates, marriage license & their social security cards – connecting the dots for ius soli (“right of the soil”) and ius sanguinis as well.

    I was born to two German parents who happened to be on American soil when I was born. I have all my documents & I am simply applying for my first passport. …..40+ years after being born…. (that’s the part that worries me)

    I am still planning on getting my certificate of citizenship – because after going through this, it seems a passport alone is not proof positive of citizenship.

    Check out this link to the Canadian consulate – I found it extremely helpful in outlining the process & required documentation. (cert of citizenship as well as passport)

    http://www.canada.diplo.de/Vertretung/kanada/en/02/passport/passport-first-time-applicant.html#topic2

    I have an appointment in NYC for July (kids will be off from school)

    • Fabio Neipp says:

      If your father is German and you have his Reisepass, probably you can get your Reisepass without the Staatsangehoerigkeitsausweis once your citizenship has already been proved by his birth certificate and his Reisepass. But it is recommended you to ask for your own.

  47. Marianne Jaeger says:

    The waiting is definitely the most difficult part.

    I have continued to go through old family documents and found proof that my father was in the military in WW2, in case his birth certificate and that of his father’s was not enough proof that he was German.

    I scanned those documents and sent them to the consulate. Their response was that my documents already look pretty complete, and that Koln would ask if they need further evidence for my case.

    I just hope that Koln understands the nuances of US citizenship law in force at the time I became an american citizen. That I became a US citizen derivitively when my parents were naturalized as US citizens when I was at the age of 9, that I personally was not naturalized at the age of 9, being too young to make a decision about citizenship..

    It’s very helpful to have this forum to see others’ experiences.

    Good luck to those waiting patiently.

  48. Marianne Jaeger says:

    I just heard from the consul in NY that the BVA need notarized documents relating to my marital status, which will not be difficult to provide.

    However, they also want a copy of divorce papers pertaining to my father’s first marriage (my mother was his second wife). This document has been impossible to find (he was divorced in a part of Germany that’s now in Poland in the closing months of WWII), and my cousin in Germany has been extremely persistent. According to the consul, I should be able to explain what we did to find this document and provide copies of our correspondence with Berlin and other authorities.

    At least I know that they’ve started to review my application, which is good news.

    • Fabio says:

      I know that the documents they have asked for are important because it proves that you were born in a legal marriage. In Germany things are quite different… have you already told them that this document is impossible to find?
      and for curiosity… how long have you been waiting for your process?

  49. Josef Senf says:

    Hello everyone! Long time without any news from You! How are You doing Jenn? What about the others And the aplications? Ley me know about your process! Greetings from Venezuela!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Doing okay here Josef. Just no more news to share on my end as my process was completed a while ago. I hope things are moving along smoothly for everyone else. 🙂

  50. Josef Senf says:

    I hope so too! Anyway Its good to hear from You. I have no More news to share as my process was completed too. Now i am plannig to move to Germany on September, thats the best part of my Dual citizenship. I am still Venezuelan but Im looking for a best future in Germany! So next stop BERLIN, You ll be very welcome over there!. Many greetings And for the rest of the group, best of luck to You guys! I know that the waiting is the bad part, but at the end everything works perfectly. Have a nice day!

  51. Mark says:

    My consulate appointment was a total success. I arrived with our documents and passport applications ( completely blank where they asked for my previous German documents) Between myself & my kids applications, the process took about 4hrs to get our passports & my kids German birth certificates recorded. After waiting 40+ years to apply, I should have my Reisepass in 4 to 6 weeks. They advised a certificate of citizenship for the kids ( I think 4.5 hrs was enough for one visit) Citizenship becomes harder to prove as each generation passes. (as you all know) My visit went very smoothly, parked across the street, passport photos for $5 inside. I wound up paying in US $ and credit card, they did not accept Euros.

  52. Fabio says:

    I have been waiting for 1 year and 1 month now. No news yet. I am worried, 🙁

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      I wouldn’t worry at all yet. A year is almost nothing in this process. They told me the average case took 2 years when I went through it. So while some will be faster, others will take even longer than that, and they can still be approved. Mine took over 3 years and was approved. So no worries. It takes some time, but it’ll happen. 🙂

  53. Heinz says:

    I have got news!
    Today I received an email from the consulate telling me my paperwork is finished! I have to transfer 25 euros each for ma daughter and myself and they will send my papers. So we are very happy. I have asked my cousin in Germany to pay it and I will send her money but I haven’t heard yet. If she doesn’t then I will try the wire transfer option.

    Happy day!
    Heinz

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Congratulations. That’s such wonderful news Heinz! 🙂

    • Fabio Neipp says:

      Congratulations!

      How long was the whole process for you?

      • Heinz says:

        I applied June 10th 2011, sent more documents June 21st 2011, Germany sent a letter accepting my request aug 5th 2011, I got the email saying it was finished July 31st 2013. And now I paid my fee and am waiting for my papers to come to me!
        It seemed it took forever but now I can’t believe it’s about done!!!

        🙂 Heinz

  54. Josef Senf says:

    Congratulations Heinz! It is good to know that everything is done for You!
    Enjoy your new Dual citizenship!
    Best of luck for the rest of the group.
    JR Senf

  55. Karl-Heinz says:

    Just read the entire blog – very interesting. As an FYI – I was born in Germany to German Parents in 1948 and was naturalized USA via my parents when we came to the USA in 1952 and waited the customary 5 years. I was never told nor was I interested in my German citizenship which I never lost as I was born there. A few years ago, I found out I qualified as a Dual Citizen and made my application to the Consulate in San Francisco. Yes, I waited about 2 years but I did get a letter stating that I had never lost my citizenship and, if interested, I can get a German passport. Got all that done in record time.

    Now, the interesting story starts – Trying to get my american born daughter dual-citizenship approval/varification. We completed the application which was accepted October 2011 and had received confirmation of receipt of all paperwork. To date, Nada information other than the application is in Köln.

    Interesting to me that, although I provided both US and German Passports, coupled with the fact that, by German law, my daughter is considered a Dual Citizen, I would have thought this would be a quick no brainer. Not the case.

    I do read, write and speak Hoch Deutsch fluently – think that’s helped me in the process? Nada.

    Sitting here almost 2 years into the process and wondering as all of you are. Time will tell

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      My guess is that your mistake was filling out the application for your daughter. From what I was told, they don’t need to apply for anything. You’re just supposed to go to the nearest consulate to register your child’s birth. You would need their birth certificate to prove you’re their parent, and you would need proof of your own citizenship. That should have been all there was to it. Or at least that’s what I was told by someone at the mission over this way.

  56. Karl-Heinz says:

    Oh – forgot to mention: Per both USA and German law, When you enter or leave USA, you MUST use your American Passport. When you leave or enter Germany you MUST use your German Passport. Problem you may now know about is that as a German Citizen, you MUST fill out a special form (aka VISA) before you leave Germany. For the life of me I can’t remember the special form but it should be easy to find on the German Embassy website(s). Cost is about 14Euro

    Hope this info helps

    • Heinz says:

      I believe you would be incorrect. Germany is part of the Visa Waver Program. This is atleast 27 different country’s that allow entry to the USA without a visa. Just like we from the USA are not required to have a visa to go to Germany.
      Here’s a link; http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/usvisit/usvisit_edu_traveler_guide_english.pdf

      Heinz I have come and gone to Germany with out a Visa.

      • Jenn Mattern says:

        I can’t say if there is perhaps another type of form that Karl was thinking of, but Heinz is right. You definitely don’t need a visa to visit the U.S. from Germany (or vice versa). You can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without one. Germany is one of the European countries that is party to the Schengen Agreement, which lets U.S. citizens visit as a tourist or for business reasons for 90 days out of any 180 day period. So normally you would just show your U.S. passport in Germany, they would stamp it when you arrive (to start your 90 day period), and they would stamp when you leave (so the length of your stay during that 180 day period is documented).

        That said, if you’re a dual citizen, that doesn’t apply. You wouldn’t be entering Germany as a U.S. citizen. You would be entering as a German citizen, and there wouldn’t be any restrictions on your travel or length of stay there. You would only show your German passport. When entering and leaving the U.S. you also wouldn’t have to be concerned with visas because you would enter and leave as a U.S. citizen with your U.S. passport.

      • Jenn Mattern says:

        Okay. He was talking about the online ESTA form for foreign travelers looking for the visa exemptions. But if you’re also a U.S. citizen, you shouldn’t need to worry about that. You would simply use your U.S. passport to enter the country. That gives you the right to enter freely here.

  57. David Olson says:

    Hallo alles! I am just starting this process and find all of your comments quite interesting and helpful! Best wishes to all!

    • Fabio Neipp says:

      Hello David! Welcome to our forum. I understand the feeling of starting the process. I have been waiting for 14 months now. Hope you can share your experiences with us!

  58. Jason Winkel says:

    Hi, I have been reading all of your posts on there and find them very interesting. I have been looking into getting my German passport, and certificate of citizenship

    I was born in the USA in 1982 to a German mother and American father, so according to all the research I have done, I would be a dual-citizen of both countries. I would ask your help in obtaining a certificate of citizenship:

    What forms do I need to fill out along with all the proper paperwork for proof? Thanks in advance

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Your best bet is to contact the German mission for your region. They’ll send you a form (I believe they just emailed me mine), and they’ll tell you where to deliver everything. I opted to drive everything to NYC personally so they could make their copies of my documents and some of my grandmother’s. If you prefer, you can get notarized copies of the documents and send those instead through the mail.

      You might be able to download the form from this link, but I can’t be sure which download link it is:

      http://www.bva.bund.de/cln_092/nn_2172950/DE/Aufgaben/Abt__III/Staatsangehoerigkeit/Feststellung/antraegemerkblaetter/antraegemerkblaetter-node.html?__nnn=true

      The biggest question is, did your mother ever give up her German citizenship (such as to become a U.S. citizen)? If she became a naturalized U.S. citizen before you were born, citizenship wouldn’t pass to you. If she was still legally a German citizen when you were born, it does indeed sound like you should meet the requirements. Best of luck! 🙂

  59. Jason Winkel says:

    She still has her citizenship now even, so it should work out for me. I really appreciate the help

    • Mark says:

      Jason, As Jenn indicated – call the consulate that serves your region. When I spoke with NYC they asked me a few specific questions after which it became very clear as to what I needed. FYI – Your mother’s pass is only an indicator of her citizenship, so it would be very helpful(needed?) if she has a certificate of citizenship. Once you have your documents lined up, make the appointment for your pass. At the appointment, the consulate will have all the documents in front of them proving your citizenship so its pretty simple for them to make the official (beglaubigte) copies & complete the cert of citizenship application as part of your pass appointment. If you are planning on working/attending school there, also apply for a German birth certificate. My passports arrived in about 3 weeks.

      • Jason says:

        I appreciate all of your help, I won’t be able to travel to the local Consulate for at least 6 months, but have been working on getting as much paperwork as I can. As a German citizen, do you have the rights to their Universities? My brother is going to apply for his passport and certificate at the same time also. How does one make an official copy of a Passport for review?

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          I’m not sure what the rules are regarding their universities. But as a citizen you would have the same rights and responsibilities as any other citizen. As for getting an official copy of a passport, just take the passport to a notary and have them make a notarized copy. It’s basically a special photocopy with the notary services seal and / or signature on it (they’re licensed to make these copies which carry more weight in an official capacity because a professional is verifying that the copy truly did come from an original document in your possession).

  60. Jason says:

    I appreciate all the help here! Did you have to get any of your English documents translated to German, such as my American birth certificate?

  61. Nick says:

    I was happy to read your blog and comments today as I’m going into the consulate office next Thursday to send off the documents to confirm German nationality for my father, myself, and my two children. We’ve been through the part of verifying that I’m eligible, but I didn’t even think of including my Grandfather’s birth certificate. Luckily, my Grandmother had the folded up original birth certificate of my Grandfather tucked into a ziplcok bag when we went looking for documents, so I’ll just have to make a certified copy of it. From the sounds of it, this blog likely saved me a few months or years of waiting.

    Congrats on your citizenship.

  62. Heinz says:

    Hey Friday the 16th I received my daughters and my certificates that say I’m a German citizen. So in a few months we are going to go to LA and order our passports and ID’s.

    Heinz

  63. Heinz says:

    I waited from beginning to end just over 2 years. Short version, long version is submitted papers June 9th 2011, my USA birth cert, my marriage cert, my fathers German birth cert, my fathers German passport, my USA passport, my mom and dads marriage cert. they suggested I submit my draughts paperwork at the same time. So when I got back home I sent my mom and dads divorce decree my daughters birth cert. They received my paperwork on the 21st. Aug 8th I got a letter from the consulate stateing it was accepted and it included a letter from Köln telling me if long wait times. Then I waited.
    Then in jan or feb of 2013 i called the consulate asking for an update they asked me to send them a copy of all letters I have received from them on the subject and I immediately did. They apologized and asked for patience and more time. Then on July 31st I got a call saying it was ready and to pay the fee. I did the next day and they were on my doorstep on Friday the 16th of August.

    That’s all of it whew!
    Heinz

    • Nick says:

      I appreciate the story. I’m glad I’m not in a rush. Hopefully having all of the paperwork ready for them will help get things through a bit sooner.

      Thanks,

      Nick

  64. Josef Senf says:

    Hello Fabio!
    If the documents are in English, You dont have to translate it. Any other lenguage like Portuguese most be translate to German. In Koln they accept English documents. Im telling this because i sent a document from england And they told me that English was ok, but the rest of my documents from Venezuela were in spanish And translated to german.
    Greetings from Venezuela
    And Congrats ti Heinz!!!!!

  65. Nick says:

    Jenn. You mentioned that one of the reasons that the application process too so long was that the passport that you had did not confirm the nationality of your grandfather. Do you know if that document was a German Passport or a Temporary Travel Document in lieu of Passport? I have just sent in my application, but am unsure of whether or not there will be issues because the document is a “Temporary Travel Document in lieu of Passport for German Nationals” rather than an official German passport. These documents were issued by the Allied High Commission for Germany, and while I am sure that nationality had to be proven, I am unsure if the German government today will recognize the document as definite proof of nationality. Do you think this was the issue in your case?

    Thanks,

    Nick

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      My issue wasn’t related to the German passport. I had a certified copy of my grandfather’s German passport which proved his nationality. But (even though I was told otherwise originally), they still wanted his birth certificate from Germany in addition to that. We didn’t have that document due to the family’s sudden move in Germany after the War. They never told me what they finally found in Berlin, but I know it took quite some time for them to verify things there. But that was the only document they wanted from me that I couldn’t get access to.

  66. Kristin says:

    My father was born in Germany in 1962 to German parents (not married). My father and grandmother immigrated to Australia in approximately 1972 (ten years of age). They both gave up their german citizenship on becoming Australian citizens because it was easier than obtaining dual. My fathers father (my grandfather) still lives in Germany, he never immigrated over here. All great grandparents on my fathers side are german also. Not sure if I am eligible due to my father giving up citizenship?

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      If your father gave up citizenship before you were born, then you wouldn’t be eligible. If he gave up citizenship after you were born, you might be. My grandfather technically gave up German citizenship when he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. But my father was born before he could become a naturalized citizen, so he technically was born a dual-national and passed that down to us. Interestingly, he was the only child in the family to inherit that dual-nationality, so none of our cousins fell under that same umbrella.

  67. Jason says:

    I have been starting to gather documents to apply for my German Passport, I won’t be able to go to the Embassy until next March. Would it be a good idea to apply for a proof of citizenship in the meantime?

  68. Heinz says:

    I would say apply for the certificate ASAP. Even if you think you have proof the consulate doesn’t have to give you a passport. They will tell you a passport is indicative of citizenship but not proof of cutizenship. Either way you will want a certificate(which is proof) sooner or later, so since it takes so long to get the sooner you get it started the better

    Heinz.

    • Jason says:

      I have started to gather documents, and fill out forms, do you have any tips on making sure I have the right forms and documents? Thanks!

      • Heinz says:

        Go to the consulates website and review every needed document. Then anything you think of that you think might help prove citizenship also bring. I supplied my birth cert, my fathers german birth cert, my marriage license, and one for my parents, my fathers German passport, my American passport, my parents divorce decree, my fathers naturalization cert for US. I filled out the application before I arrived at the consulate.
        And my suggestion and I know you will be, never be demanding like its your right to be a citizen, be humble, respectful and nice. When I went to the counter I immediately told the my German is not great, appologised for it and I wasn’t sure I filled out the right form. I let them tell me I was a citizen first.

        Those are just some of my suggestions.

        Heinz

        • Jason says:

          Since I will not be able to go until next March, is it possible to mail the documents for proof of Citizenship? I will keep you guys updated on my progress

  69. Chris says:

    I am four months into the wait for the decision from the BVA. I’m a bit excited and I hope the certificate comes in soon. I was lucky I had all the documents they required easy as my mother’s sister has previously sourced them all out. Can’t wait.

  70. Jason says:

    I have tried getting mine and my mothers’s passport notorized, but they will not. You need to have all the documents notorized when you apply for a certificate of Citizenship?

    • Heinz says:

      The first time I tryed I ran into the same issue. I printed out the application and took it with me to a different one and showed them that it has to a notarized copy and they did it for all my documents. Lawyers always have to do this and my notary works for a lawyer. If you get a nice consulate employee you can take the original and a copy and they can certify the copy too. Also but to do it this way you have to take all the originals and copies to the consulate. As for handling any of this thru the mail you will have to call the consulate and ask.

      Heinz

      • Jason says:

        Do they run background checks on you? I will have to try to find someone else to notarize the copies for me then. I plan on applying for the certificate within a month or two, and I will be able to go to the Consulate in March to apply for a passport.

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          No, they don’t run background checks on you.

          Just try another notary. I didn’t have any problem getting notarized copies when I took them to a notary in NY. I believe you can also send the originals to the nearest German mission, they’ll make the copies, and they’ll send the originals back if you give them a self-addressed, stamped envelope. But check with them first. That might have changed or might vary from one location to the next. I physically took the documents to them for them to copy them, and then had notarized copies made for my brothers to use if they decide to get their certificate of citizenship.

  71. Mark says:

    I think a notary cannot legally notarize the actual copy of a US passport or certificate of US naturalization. The notary will loose their license. http://notarypubliccentral.com/Passports.htm

    Jason, since the consulate will clearly eye you as a German citizen, call them to find out what documentation you need to bring.(website is out of date) At your appointment (which is actually an appointment to enable you to sit in front of them) you can get everything done all at once (incl. beglaubigte copies) & complete the cert of citizenship & birthcert application as part of your pass appointment. This will save you lots of time & aggravation – (THEY CAN DO IT ALL FOR YOU!!) if somethings missing, you can mail it in.

    As far as I know & I don’t know what your plans are – but all you need to do almost any conceivable thing in Germany is your Reisepass or Personalausweis & a German birth certificate (important for school & applying for job) Importantly, the certificate of citizenship is in lieu of having to bring along all of your mom’s documentation every time you do anything citizenship related. (or if you go into politics)

    I had my and my kids Reisepass & my Personalausweis in ~3 weeks & my kids German birth certificates shortly there after.

    Reisepass or Personalausweis + Birth Certificate & you are just another citizen.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      I had my grandfather’s German passport notarized with no problem. Rules vary by each state. I didn’t try to get my U.S. one notarized as I took it directly to the consulate and they took care of making the copies (if you let them copy them it’s treated like they received a certified copy because they’re verifying that the document is true and original). I know some states will let you notarize the copy with a statement as a custodian of a document, and then they notarize your statement. You’ll have to check with the consulate in your region to see if that’s acceptable to them. But if you have to have U.S. passports sent in, you’ll likely have to go in person or send the originals for them to copy (I wouldn’t recommend mailing your original though). You can also order a certified copy from the government instead, but I think it’s around $50 per copy. You can do the same for most government records, but prices vary by state. My certified copies of the German passport were for my brothers in case they needed copies for their later applications as my grandmother moved further away and has the originals with her. But they shouldn’t even need them, as my certificate of citizenship is supposed to be enough for them (with their own birth certificate to show they were born to the same parents). At least that’s what I was told by the NY mission.

  72. Jason says:

    I have been working on getting documents, and filling out forms, where would be a good place to get the forms checked over before I call the Consulate

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      I didn’t have anyone check them over other than my contact with the NY mission. If I had questions, I asked and generally received a quick response. And if there were any problems or if they needed further information, they just requested it or sent me additional paperwork.

  73. Darr says:

    I’ve just read through the comments and I’m happy with the successes. I’m actually a 2nd year law student so I’ve studied the legislation with and without amendments and some case law commentary.

    My problem is that my grandfather was required to serve in the Nazi army under Section 26 of the German Nationality Law of 1913. Take note that you have to read the version as it existed in 1935 without the recent amendments. The 1913 law still applies today in Germany but it has changed a lot. So under Section 26 and Section 29, my grandfather would have automatically lost his German citizenship and that also applied to any claim my father may have had under Section 29. Because the loss automatically applies to the underage children. My father was only a 1 year old in 1935.

    I wonder whether that loss of citizenship still applies today or whether it has been revoked by retroactive legislation. Because it seems ridiculous that my grandfather would still be penalized for not joining Hitler’s army. Surely that rule does not apply anymore?

    I’m not a lawyer, just a law student commenting about what I’ve read. So don’t take my word for anything. I just want to be sure about whether my grandpa’s automatic loss of citizenship still applies today, or if recent legislation may have retrospectively reversed that..

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      My family was in a similar situation. They didn’t support the Nazi regime. And they lost their home after the war when Russia and Poland took over portions of Germany. That’s when my grandfather came to the U.S. No one ever questioned the family’s status related to the war. And I believe they have special rules about restoring citizenship to families who were stripped of it as opposed to those who gave it up willingly. At least they do for Jewish citizens who were stripped of their status. I’m not 100% sure about other Germans from that period, but it would be a good question to ask your region’s mission or consulate.

      • Darr says:

        Thanks that’s interesting. I’ll contact my local consul when I have time and if I learn anything which I think might be useful to others, I’ll let you know. Great to know that Fabio recently completed his claim for citizenship 🙂

  74. Fabio Neipp says:

    Finally my staatsangehörigkeitsausweis is with me. It took 15 months to finish my process.

    🙂

  75. Joshua Merchant says:

    Dear Jenn,
    I would like your help and feedback on my situation. I have a German grandfather who along with my Indian grandmother had my mom out of Wedlock.They have no marriage certificate.

    My mother never applied for German nationality cause she felt she was ineligible as she didn’t have his birth certificate or passport or any type of document proof.

    The only document I have with me is her birth certificate stating that he is the father, his nationality and that’s it.

    Do you think that I would stand any chance of getting German nationality or is all hope lost?

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Hi Joshua,

      I’m sorry I missed your comment and it was sitting pending in the queue for so long. I’m not sure how that happened.

      To your question, I’m not really sure what your process would be. All I can suggest is this:

      1. Check the year of your mother’s birth against the rules on children born out of wedlock. I’m pretty sure it would have passed because it was her father who was German. But make sure anyway. Things get a bit more complicated in that case.

      2. Talk to someone at your nearest German mission. You should be able to reach them via email, so no worries if you can’t travel to meet with them face to face (or you can call them if you prefer). Explain the situation. Give them the relevant dates. Tell them what documentation you have. And see what they say.

      Because you don’t have many of the usual records, it might be easiest to have your mother apply first. Once she applies, it should be easier for you to apply as well (assuming you were born after the changes where your mother’s citizenship grants the same to you at birth).

  76. Josef Senf says:

    Congrats Fabio!

  77. Michael says:

    I have been reading everyone’s comments regarding obtaining German citizenship. I was born in Germany to a German mother and American military father. We moved to the US when I was 6. Naturally I have traveled back and forth all my life to Germany to visit my family. Years ago I started researching if I could obtain German
    citizenship (dual). Because my father was not German at the time of my birth, I was not automatically German. My mother could have claimed me as a German citizen, but she had to do that by 1976 or so. Well she didn’t so I gave up the cause and went on. A few months ago I again did some research and found that the German nationality law has changed some in regards to citizenship with German mothers and foreign fathers. Paragraph 14 changed. I can now apply for citizenship, but what it actually is “German naturalization” made easier. The new law removes the residence requirement and allows someone to become a German citizen outside of Germany as long as you can show a relationship to Germany.

    I speak fluent German, and have many family members still left in Germany. So I assembled all the documents and application and headed to the Consulate. After a review of my application, a German language interview, my documents are headed to the BVA in Köln. The Vize-Consular told me the process will take about 2 years to complete and I would have to take a 30 question citizenship test.

    I asked several times about my American citizenship status after the process and have been told that I will be allowed under this law to
    keep my American citizenship as well. I did my research regarding this and found, that yes I can keep it even though it appears this is a naturalization process. Once I receive my German citizenship, I have to fill a form stating that it is not my intention to give up
    my American citizenship.

    So now I have to just sit back and wait, I hope it doesn’t take 2 years, but I am trying to figure out a way that the process might be sped up some. My German family may try to speak with some local politicians to see if their pressure might speed up the process some. I will keep you all updated on the results.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Wow. That sounds so much more complicated. I’m glad you were able to find a way around the citizenship-from-birth rules though, especially given that you still visit frequently and have family there. That’s wonderful news. And I hope it doesn’t take them the full two years to process things. 😉

  78. Jason says:

    I haven’t had much time to work on getting my passport and citizenship, but have slowly been getting paperwork. Can anyone lead me in the right direction to get things rolling. Thanks!

  79. Jason says:

    I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I am still working on getting my passport and citizenship

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Thanks Jason. Happy Thanksgiving to you too! 🙂

      I wish I had more advice as per your last comment. But really the best thing to do if you run into issues is to contact the nearest German mission. I found them to be nothing but helpful. 🙂

  80. Michael McClung says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! FYI, I received the first letter from Cologne/Köln last week that they reveived my paperwork and that there are many applicants and that the waiting period is quite extensive. Meaning it’s going to be quite a while before I get a final determination. Funny though, I have all of my German documentation, birth certificate, etc. So we’ll see, December of course with the federal employees, not much is going to happen. My cousin’s boyfriend is in the Bavarian Landtag (Parliament), so he is going try to put a little pressure on them and see if that helps. I’ll keep you all updated. Happy Holidays!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too Michael! 🙂

      Congratulations on hearing back from them. Even if there is a long wait (as they have to verify the documents on their end), it will be well worth it! 🙂

      When I sent my documentation, I heard back several months later with a request to show citizenship back to 1914 (I’m pretty sure that was the year). That date wasn’t mentioned at all in anything I read or heard from the mission when I originally started the process. They sent me a form, and basically I had to list information about the next generation back and where they lived during what periods. Things seemed to move a little bit better after that, although it still took quite a while for them to find whatever they needed about my Grandfather because his birth certificate was missing. So if you haven’t given them information back to that period yet, it wouldn’t hurt to send a follow-up early rather than waiting for them to request it.

      Beyond that, I hope your connections are able to help speed things along. 🙂

  81. Chris says:

    Jenn, I just want to let you know what an amazing person you are and your blog. You have no idea how much comfort and hope I get and probably others too get from reading other peoples experiences relating to German nationality. I’m 7 months into the wait for a decision from the BVA. Each time I loose hope I just have to come here to read about what others are saying and I get so filled with hope. Thanks a lot for starting this amazing post. Even after my decision is out I’ll still come on here to share with others my own experience and help advise others too.

    • Heinz says:

      I have to agree with chris. I remember Jenn being a little down too abt it and how long it takes, but after the wait is done she was such an encouragement. She helped me keep my chin up! Thanks Jenn for always helping the wait seem shorter!!!!

      :-). Heinz

  82. Peggy L says:

    I am considering dual citizenship to honor my mother. I was born here in the US and my Mother was a German citizen until the day she died. My father was a Latvian citizen who went to Germany during WW II and my parents met and married there. Then in 1957 my parents came to the US and sometime after my father became a US citizen. Can I get dual citizenship? Thank you for your help.

  83. Josef Senf says:

    Peggy:
    ¨Having German ancestors is unfortunately not enough to attain German citizenship. Rather, your father and/or mother have to have been German citizens at the time of your birth. If you were born before 1 January 1975 and your parents were married, you only attained German citizenship if your father was German at the time of your birth or if your parents submitted a declaration by 31 December 1977 stating they wanted German citizenship for their child.¨
    Greetings

  84. Jason Winkel says:

    Hi, how has the new year been for everyone? I am still working on getting my German Passport and Citizenship. I will try to make an appointment with the embassy within the next couple of months

  85. Josef Senf says:

    Hi Jenn! Good to hear about You! Happy new year! Many greeting to all of You. Keep in touch!

  86. Chris says:

    Hello guys, I got a reply from the BVA saying my application can’t be decided on because my mother filed an application on my behalf as a minor which was declined because she was unable to produce some documents or failed to produce the correct documents relating to my birth and her German father. This application was done without my knowledge. All these is as a result of the differences between my mother and father which lead to their separation. Because of the application she put in and her failure to appeal the decision the BVA says the previous application decision would stand and is binding.

    Does anyone think there is something that can be done because I think it’s really unfair for the BVA to make that decision because I knew nothing of the previous application and knowing fully well that I fied my own application propally and provided all the documents they asked for and I stand a chance of claiming my nationality only for them to make this unfair decision.

    Do you think involving an immigration lawyer in Germany would be a good idea? Because that’s the only thing I can think of as a possible solution.

  87. Josef Senf says:

    Hello Chris! I dont know the details of your particular case, but i think there is something about the natiolanity law that made the BVA reject your aplication. I think what they said is that there is already a close case on your name, even if your mother did it without telling You. What You should do first is check out all the law And try to figure out why they decline your aplication. I really dont think that it has nothing to do with the prior aplication, if your are german it is your rigth to Claim Your citizenship. You dont need a lawer because because the BVA is the Only authoroty in Germany who take this kind of desicion. Please let me know the year of your birth, your mother And your father were married at the time of your birth? Maybe if You give me some details i can help You. Anyway you can re apply for your citizenship again Anytime You want! It doesnt matter if theyreject it before! Many blessings And greetings

  88. Chris says:

    Thank you Josef. That is what they are saying that they have a close case relating to a certificate of citizenship with them already with my name which was never appealed. I was born in 1990 my mother and father were never married. Besides I have checked all the existing law out relating to my application and found none of the laws is against me. The only thing I can say is when my mother applied she applied without providing any evidence to the claim at that time and just abandoned the whole process carelessly.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      The only suggestion I have is to request the case number and see if your mother can still file an appeal.

      I’m assuming from your previous comment that you feel you inherited German citizenship through your mother. Is that correct? If it’s your father’s side instead, that could be the problem as you were born before 1993 out of wedlock.

      If it’s your mother who would have possibly passed down citizenship through descent, maybe the problem was with her own citizenship. She would have to prove her eligibility before it could be passed down to you.

      On top of that, she would have to prove that she didn’t give up that citizenship (such as by becoming a citizen of another country by choice) before you were born. It’s a little more complicated than just knowing your parent or grandparent was German. Unfortunately without all of the details, we can’t really help you figure out what the potential problem might be.

      For example, which one of them left Germany? Your mother or her father? If it was your grandfather, was your mother born before or after he left and acquired citizenship elsewhere (or otherwise forfeited his German citizenship)? If it was your mother, when did that happen?

  89. Chris says:

    Thank you Jenn, I am claiming citizenship by decent from my mother’s father. He left Germany to reside in Nigeria and never gave up his citizenship till he passed away in Nigeria. My mother was born with both Nigerian and and German nationality in 1968 to a Nigerian mother and a German father in Lagos, Nigeria. Her parents were married. She had me in 1990 to a Nigerian father out of wedlock and never got married. In 1998 she moved to London and acquired British citizenship in 2005 by ancestry through her father’s mother who was British.

    Sometime in 2007 she tried to trace her German nationality and decided to include her children with the application which she filed in London. Because I was under my father’s custody in Nigeria, she could not get my documents and she even failed to add enough supporting documents of her own father’s nationality with the application. It was an application she filed carelessly.

    Fast forward to 2012 I decided to apply for my citizenship here in Lagos properly. Everything went fine until just when I got an email saying I have previously filed an application that was refused in 2008 and because I failed to appeal the decision it is now binding. For that reason my current application won’t be decided upon.

    My mother has two older siblings who have been previously granted German certificates of citizenship along with their children so I dint think mine would be an exception since we fall under similar circumstances.

    Is there a way I can appeal that I knew nothing of the pervious application which is true and as of when my mother filed the application I was not a part of it and I could not have forced her to appeal it.

    Thanks

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      While I won’t pretend to know Nigerian citizenship rules, I can see at least one potential problem.

      You say that your grandfather moved to Nigeria and lived there until he died, but that he never gave up his German citizenship. But if he ever acquired Nigerian citizenship (based on whatever laws they have there), he would have forfeited his German citizenship whether he meant to or not. If you willingly acquire another citizenship, you give your German citizenship up. If something like that happened, and it happened before your mother was born, then neither you nor your mother would technically be German citizens.

      Because your grandfather left Germany permanently, you would likely have to prove that he never gave up his German citizenship (by somehow proving that he never gained Nigerian citizenship). Also, if he ever served in the military in Nigeria willingly, he would also have forfeited his German citizenship, so you would need to know that.

      Also, are you 100% certain that her parents were married before your mother was born? If not, she wouldn’t inherit her father’s German citizenship. If they were married at the time of her birth, you would have to have marriage records available to prove that. If she didn’t have those documents, that could be why her application was denied.

      The only other potential issue that comes to mind is the fact that you weren’t in your mother’s custody. Did she have any form of legal custody of you at that time (as in you were just physically with your father), or did she in some way have to give up parental rights for whatever reason? In the later case, you probably wouldn’t be eligible because you wouldn’t have become stateless — you still would have had citizenship elsewhere through your father’s side of the family.

      All I can think for you to do is have your mother get all of the necessary documents and file an appeal. If she’s no longer around or able to do that, see if you can file the appeal by getting the original case number. Work with someone at your region’s mission or consulate, and they should be able to guide you through things and let you know if there’s any way around your mother’s previous application.

  90. Chris says:

    Hello everyone, The German embassy in London was able to get a copy of the refusal notice from the application my mother made on my behalf as a minor. The main reason for the refusal was because my Grandfather was still legally married in Germany before he moved to Nigeria and married my grandmother. Although they were legally married in Nigeria, the marriage according to German law is null and void as he was still legally married in Germany. As my mother was born in 1968, She is taken to be born out of wedlock which according to German laws he would not have passed his German citizenship on to her.
    But then again, two of my mum’s older siblings from the Nigerian marriage have previously been granted German citizenship along with their children and both have certificates of citizenship. This brings me to wonder why this issue was not brought up in their case and its coming up in my case.

    I do not intend to give up at this stage and hopefully I would find a way around it and continue to update you guys. If you have suggestions on what next I can do please feel free to drop your opinions.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Wow. That sounds like a pretty complicated situation. While I wish you the best, I suspect you’re going to have a tough time. If the marriage wasn’t legal under German law, they don’t have to recognize it when it comes to granting citizenship.

      While it’s strange that other siblings were granted citizenship, unfortunately if that was a fluke that slipped through the system, it won’t likely be grounds to grant the same to you. They may have just gotten very lucky. In their cases there wasn’t a prior denial on record. That’s where you’re going to have a hard time.

      The best thing you can do is probably to have your mother apply for her own certificate of citizenship again, but this time bringing along one of her older siblings and their certificate to prove that the same lineage was already deemed acceptable. Once she does that, you should have an easier time with your own. You could attempt to do that yourself with one of those family members, but it would probably be easier to have relatives who are closer in situation (whereas you’re an extra generation removed from her siblings’ records).

      Best of luck. Let us know how it goes!

  91. Nick says:

    It’s been interesting listening to other people and their experiences on this blog. My application was forwarded to Koln at the end of 2013 and I’m settling in for what I believe will be a fairly long wait. After hearing the issues that other had in proving their grandfather’s citizenship, I was able to track down my grandfather’s German nationalization certificate and had it certified at the Bundesarchiv in Berlin. I’m hoping that helps things along, but I don’t want to get my hopes up for a quick reply.

  92. Tomie says:

    Hi everyone,

    Thanks Jenn for hosting this conversation and sharing your valuable information with us!

    I’m Canadian with a father who was German when I was born, and I am in (what appears to be) the final stages of this waiting game for my German citizenship.

    I moved to Berlin last April and submitted my application for recognition of German citizenship in June 2013. Two weeks ago (Feb 3, 2014) my documents were finally sent from the Rathaus Pankow (Berlin) to the Ministry of the Interior in Koeln. My notarised translator, who is German (and who has been an endless source of aid and support for me) tells me this should mean that it just needs to get final-approved, which is basically a formality, and my application should be closed (hopefully APPROVED!) within 5 or 6 weeks of that date.

    So, after ~9 months of waiting, I am supposedly on the last leg.

    Because I have been undergoing this process from Germany, I thought my experiences could be valuable to someone doing something similar or interested in trying it. If I’m honest it hasn’t been easy, but if anyone wants to know anything about visas (There’s a special visa for people in our exact situation called the Fiktionsbescheinigung, but it’s not the only visa possibility) or what it’s like to do this whole dance from inside Germany, please let me know if you have questions for me.

    The biggest advantage of doing this from inside Germany is that you should cut your waiting time approximately in half – reading others’ accounts here of waiting up to 3 years (!!!) makes me less impatient about my wait of (so far) 9 months – So, if my proof-of-citizenship actually does come in the next month, I will keep you all updated as it will “prove” that the waiting time is indeed less.

    One (quite significant) disadvantage is that you are NOT allowed to leave Germany while the process is underway, that is, you will not be arrested for leaving but you will probably be kissing your citizenship goodbye.

    Another advantage of doing it from here is that you can personally go into the Staatsangehoerigkeitangelegenheitenbuero at the Rathaus (City Hall Dept. of Citizenship) and speak to them – namely, persistently ask after your case to show your interest. This is a lot more effective than I would have expected! I used to bring a friend or my translator with me until my German improved, and I think my case was sped up a LOT by my persistence in going physically into their offices.

    One key story: the last time I went to the Rathaus Pankow was about a month ago, around the middle of January 2014, because my address had changed and they had asked me to notify them whenever I moved. Well, while I was there the woman responsible for my case (who by this time recognises me by face and is very kind to me) pulled out my file and told me “We still need another document, your file has been halted until you provide this paper” – It turned out to be quite convoluted, I can elaborate if anyone is interested, but basically the German consulate in Vancouver had refused to accept one of my documents (on ridiculous grounds). I was a bit shocked that they hadn’t informed me that my process had been stalled, but immediately went home and did some more research, had a nightmare of a week visiting everyone from the Auslaenderbehoerde to the Canadian Embassy and phoning the German Embassy and Canadian Citizenship office in Vancouver, and finally, my translator friend phoned the Rathaus personally and after one quick conversation, convinced the Frau that my documents WERE sufficient. That same day, my file got sent off to Koeln to be (hopefully) final-approved.

    My point of course is that if I had not gone in to the Rathaus for an unrelated reason, I may have been waiting who knows how long before they told me my file wasn’t moving. I still don’t know how long it had been sitting like that before I went. Additionally if my awesome translator hadn’t phoned them and been pushy, they still wouldn’t have sent it off by now. The folks at the Rathaus have a stack of applications up to their throats of people trying to prove their German citizenship, and they really will not give YOUR case any attention unless YOU are pushy about it and show your interest.

    For obvious reasons not everyone can just up and move to Germany in order to pursue this. Calling and being pushy from outside Germany can be tricky because a) you have to speak decent German and b) they generally (understandably) refuse to give out information over the phone, especially if you have a friend/translator call on your behalf. But if you are interested in doing so from inside Germany I might be able to help you.

    Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences and I hope I can help someone.

    If anyone else has successfully received their German citizenship from Germany I have some questions for you…namely, what is involved with the “aftermath” – do I have to stick around and sort out anything like tax numbers, insurance etc or am I allowed to leave Germany immediately? (I want to plan a trip away as soon as I receive my magical piece of paper, since I have not been allowed to leave since last spring.)

    If anyone knows the answer please speak up!

    Thanks & regards,
    Tomie

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Apologies for the slow approval. I saw this one in my inbox and thought I approved it the other day. 🙁

      It sounds like you have an interesting story and a pretty unique experience! Do you know what the reason is for them not letting you leave during the process? Is this something else than proving citizenship from birth? Usually residency requirements are related to naturalization proceedings to become a new citizen. I’ve never heard of that happening with anything else. I’m not sure how they could insist on someone staying in the country. Either you really are a citizenship from birth, in which case you’re entitled the same rights as other citizens (including free movement), or you’re not in which case they don’t have any grounds to tell you where you may and may not go. I wonder if you went in to pursue one process and somehow there was a communication fault where they processed the paperwork differently. Either way, that sounds like a crazy situation, and I hope it’s all sorted out soon for you! 🙂

  93. Karl-Heinz says:

    It’s been a few months since I posted but have been keeping up with this great forum. Suffice to state, a little update for my quest(s) I was born in Germany to German Parents and we immigrated to the USA in 1952.

    My parents eventually were granted USA Naturalization/Citizenship in 1957 (I was about 13 then) and we continued on as US Citizens for years. About 5 years ago, the bell sounded and I found out that I was still a German citizen.

    Long story short – I put in all the necessary paperwork etc, submitted all to a very helpful German Consulate in San Francisco, waited almost 2 years, and was finally granted my German Passport.

    Now the best part – My 25 year old daughter decided she too would like Dual Citizenship as we visit Germany so often. So we did the usual paper thing and the long wait. Time passed slowly and I found this website. Read the forum and asked a few questions. The lightbulb came on when Jenn asked me if I tried going straight to the Consulate and bypass the paperwork (I was already German Dual so it fit)

    I made a few calls and went to the German Consulate in San Francisco along with my daughter. We provided about 4 pieces of paper, a picture or two and… in 40 minutes, she too walked out of the consulate as a Dual Citizen. We then asked to cancel the initial request we initiated 2 years earlier. As we left the Consulate, we both were walking on air!!

    Many thanks to Jenn and you all for making this a fun and informative forum. Good luck to you all

    Just curious – what does getting dual citizenship really mean to you i.e. why are you interested and perhaps benefits etc if any do you “expect”?

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Congratulations! That’s so exciting for both you and your daughter! 🙂 I wish my brothers would do the same, but they haven’t cared much about it yet. I know when I have children I’ll be taking them when they’re infants to have their birth registered with the German mission.

      As for the benefits, the main one I’m concerned with is travel. Dual citizenship gives me the right to live and work in EU nations. I run my business from home (professional blogger, business writer, and author), and it’s something I can do from anywhere. So I can work and travel if I want to without having to worry about giving up hours or dealing with limited vacation time.

      Right now I don’t do that because my husband doesn’t have the same luxury. But he started his own business last year and is already quite successful even part-time. In a few years he plans to quit his full-time job and focus only on his own home-based business (software development).

      At that time, we’d like to travel to Europe for a while — anywhere from a few months to a few years. That will be largely so I can dig deeper into my family’s history, including my German family. Dual-citizenship will make that so much easier. It’s just a shame my husband isn’t eligible, so he’ll still have to deal with more complicated visas.

      But the real benefit to me is what it means for my children, if I’m lucky enough to have them.

      We live in an increasingly global economy, so the freedom to travel and work abroad more easily will give them a competitive advantage when it comes to education and employment. And of course it’s a way to keep them connected to their roots.

      • Karl-Heinz says:

        Jenn – I couldn’t have stated it better… Excellent especially what it means to my daughter and her future.

        What I do want to share is that “moment” where I realized I found “home”

        In 1985, I visited my hometown of Hannover, Germany and decided to get my original Birth records from their Rathaus. THAT was an interesting moment for me in that reality struck – YES I WAS born in Germany and all those childhood memories were true.

        The next “shocker” was when I visited my uncle in Hamm on that same trip. Early in the morning I was walking alone in the quiet neighborhood and heard kids playing in the street… the closer I got, the more I clearly heard their laughter and chatter.

        For whatever reason, it suddenly dawned on my that I could easily understand them WITHOUT having to translate German to English and – the biggest thrill was that magic moment I realized I was “Home”

        With tears I continued on my walk with thoughts of realizing I had really never “fit” into the American culture subconsciously.

        For me, German citizenship really means a deep down feeling of belonging… roots in an incredible place on earth called Germany. The full realization is still hitting home not only for me but for my daughter. School, education, travel, people, family… the list goes on – and all with that overwhelming feeling of having finally found “Home”

      • Karl-Heinz says:

        Jenn: You wrote: I know when I have children I’ll be taking them when they’re infants to have their birth registered with the German mission.

        My Daughter is a Dual as you are, are you saying that if you have children, you would not necessarily have to give birth to them in Germany? I was under the impression the dual citizenship ended with my daughter i.e. she would not be able to have it extended to her children unless she went to europe to have them. Hmmm

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          No, she doesn’t have to give birth in Germany. As long as she’s still a German citizen when the baby is born, they’re born with German citizenship (even if they inherit another citizenship due to their place of birth). If your daughter was born after a certain period (1990 I believe, though I’m not 100% sure without looking that up), then she would have to register the baby’s birth with the German consulate before its first birthday for citizenship to stay with the baby. But if she was born before that point (your daughter, not the baby), she doesn’t even have to do that. She can wait and let the child apply for their citizenship papers if they want to when they’re older (similar to the process I had to go through as an adult).

  94. Jason says:

    I am still working on setting up a appointment to hopefully get my password and citizenship proof

  95. Jason says:

    I want to be able to say I am a dual citizenship. What kind of benefits do you mean?

  96. Chris says:

    Hello Everyone,
    The Embassy in London finally provided the direct contact of the person handling my case file at the BVA. I have also got a lawyer in Hamburg to write to him. Fingers crossed right now that all goes well. All I can wish for now is luck. I really want to be able to associate back with my roots in Germany, Learn the culture and most importantly for my future kids. In this world of Global competitiveness, the best thing I can do for them is transfer EU citizenship to them.

  97. Heinz says:

    Hello all, and Jen,

    You can read about everything I did earlier to get my passport in all my prior posts but this is my quick up date.

    First week in March I went to the consulate in Los Angeles and filed for my passport. Everybody was very nice my daughter and myself both like the security guard he’s Kühl. Well the photo machine was down so they directed us to go next door and get our pictures taken and the guy cost more but did a great job. We filed and then the waiting started. One week, two, three then on exactly four weeks they came in the mail. We paid extra as we live 10 hours away. My daughters reissepass was perfect, but mine… Mine said I was a female.
    I called the consulate and they pulled my file the very nice man said ” yes you are a male, might you possibly have a wig to wear when you travel.”? He was joking!!! A German government worker was joking! Wow I found the best consulate ever. Well I sent my passport back and three and a half weeks later it came all new and fixed! Well we are all done for now. We both love having all our German citizenship documents done and in a few months now my daughter wants to go a German personal ID. Let’s see what sex I turn out to be this time! Hey thanks for all the support and keep applying and we will continue to have positive posts!
    Heinz

  98. Jason says:

    That is good news Heinz! I am still working on getting my passport for my brother and I. I plan on setting up an appointment at the consulate in Chicago within the next couple of weeks. How did you get your other citizenship documents, where is a good place to start? Thanks

  99. Heinz says:

    I had access to all the documents I needed except one. The documents I gave the consulate was my marriage and birth certificates, my fathers German birth certificate, German passport, and US naturalization certificate. The only document I was missing was my parents marriage license which I had to send for from out of state. Then I sent them all the documents and waited a little over two years. That was the hard part. But worth it.

  100. Ghris says:

    Hello Guys, I have some great news.. I got a mail from the BVA in German saying they have reopened my application for a certification of citizenship and they would be taking into account the circumstances surrounding all the applications. They went on to say they would be making a final decision in July and asked me to reconfirm my residential address. After all I have hope once more. I just pray it comes out positively.

  101. Josef Senf says:

    News??????

  102. Chris says:

    Looks like I’m not the only one excited @Josef lol. Decision day is on the 15th according to the mail the BVA sent me. Trust me to update you all on Tuesday. I’m praying hard I get positive news.

  103. Chris says:

    Hello Everyone,

    I got a mail on Thursday from the person handling my file at the BVA saying he has made a decision and sent the result to the German embassy in London. He did not say what the outcome was but advised me to wait for the embassy to communicate the decision to me. Hopefully the embassy would get in touch with me next week and i’ll update you all on the outcome.

  104. Chris says:

    I finally got the letter from the German embassy in London. Unfortunately it was a notice of rejection. Apparently, they admitted my mum’s sister was granted a certificate of citizenship by the city of Hamburg in 1990, but they went on to hold on to the fact that my mum did not appeal the first application she made within the legal time frame made available and as such they declined the request to “Resumption of Proceeding” for my application. On the bright side they gave me another right of appeal which I am suppose to file within one month. I intend to use that right of appeal and see where it leads to even if it does not work out I’ll be satisfied I went all the extra mile.
    On this note that I’ll like to say a big thank you to everyone who contributed to this amazing blog. You guys are the best and I wish every other prospective applicants the best and favorable outcome.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Chris,

      I am so sorry to hear that things didn’t work out in your favor. 🙁

      But I hope you do keep at it. It’s a unique situation to be sure. And it’s best to try all of your options and know that you did your best rather than wondering “what if I had just tried one more time” down the road. Hang in there! 🙂

      • Chris says:

        Hello Again,

        Just want to give an update. I sent the appeal letter just for the sake of sending one and I have gotten an update from the BVA that the case as been opened again and investigations are on going. Just going to wait and see what the outcome is like this time. I cant even be bothered to worry about it anymore. If they like they can eat their citizenship and passport.

        • Chris says:

          Another update in. Got a message from the Embassy in London to transfer 25 Euros to an account to get the decision on the appeal. Don’t know what it may be but likely another refusal as I would have expected them to ask me to pay 50 Euros to cover the fees for the appeal and the certificate of citizenship. I shall update you when I get the letter.

  105. Eden says:

    I have been reading through everyone’s posts and Jenn, you have provided a great service to everyone here by posting this on your blog. Kudos to you!
    I am starting to fill out my application for the certificate of citizenship. My father was born in Germany in the 40s to German parents, both born before 1914. They moved to the US in the 50s and stayed, none of them ever became US citizens, including my father. My father married my mother, a US citizen, and had 3 children, myself included. From what I understand, I and my brothers received Dual Citizenship upon birth. In researching my father’s family history, I have acquired my grandparents marriage certificate, my grandmothers birth record and her parents marriage certificate. My father also had in his possession, his childhood passport and his mother’s passport. My grandfather on the other hand has been the problem, similar to you Jenn, except the area is in Poland. I sent an inquiry to the Berlin Archives for his birth record but received a letter back stating that it was missing and they do not have it. I have my grandfather’s death certificate but nothing else on him. Should I apply for his SS-5? I am waiting on his Alien File from the USCIS. I’m currently number 3168 out of 12461 in line for the file. I’m hoping something in there will tell me about his birth. I also have copies of my fathers birth certificate and his marriage license, plus my own. Is there anything I could be missing document wise?
    Thanks,
    Eden

  106. Karl-Heinz says:

    The Next Step…(?)

    An open question for this group:

    Once you have your Dual Citizenship, anyone considering moving and living in Germany/EU? I’m thinking about getting an apartment for an extended stay in Germany and wondering what the duties and responsibilities are as a citizen.

    I have my personal German ID card – does one still have to contact local authorities and get an address added to the card?

    – What responsibilities would one have once registered at that address?

    – Suppose you live 6 months in another country and 6 months in German – would you still have to register as a resident?

    – would it be better simply to not register with the local authorities if you live in a relative’s home?

    I’ve been doing some research on line – just wondering if any of you have too.

    • Fabio Neipp says:

      Yes, some months after I got my German Citizenship recognized I moved to Germany.

      I am living here for six months now, and yes, you must register your address if you stay more than 15 days. It is law.

      Another thing to pay attention is that here in Germany there is no public hospitals, so if you don’t have an insurance here, it’s going to be very expensive for you to go to a hospital if you need. That’s why this registration that we call “Anmeldung” is important.

      And as soon as you register, you receive a letter with you personal tax number and a bill to pay for open television. (Open television is paid here)

      If you don’t register, you can not buy an insurance and you can not even open a bank account here.

      So, do it. 🙂

  107. Jon says:

    Hi all,

    I’ve sent my documents and forms off to Germany around a month and a half ago, however I’m yet to receive any reply or notification that they were received.

    Can anyone tell me how long it took between sending off their documents and hearing from the BVA that the documents were received and the process would begin?

    Thanks,
    Jon

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Is there a reason you sent the documents to Germany rather than taking them to your nearest mission / consulate? That’s what I was instructed to do, and I delivered the documents personally so they could make their copies immediately. That said, there were several times where there was a wait of several months between sending something they requested and hearing any kind of update.

      • Jon says:

        Hi Jenn,

        Sorry I should have clarified, I sent them to my nearest consulate (still a 5 hour flight away from me) who then forwarded the documents via mail to the BVA in Germany. Although I was advised that I could have also sent the documents directly to the BVA in Cologne.

        It has been a month and a half since the german consulate forwarded the documents on to Germany, and I’m yet to hear anything from the BVA. Mostly I’m just worried that all of my certified copies of documents won’t make it safely to Germany and I will have to organise to get everything copied and certified again.

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          In that case, I’m sure you’re fine. You just have to be patient with them. They told me there was a 2-year average wait time for the entire process to be completed, and they didn’t really worry about it much until you exceeded that time frame. Obviously it won’t take that long just to receive your documents. But a 3+ month wait was pretty normal in my case after any kind of correspondence being sent to Germany. And that was with a rep from my local mission taking care of most of that for me. If you’re really nervous, contact your closest mission and ask if they can find anything out for you. They were very helpful in my case.

  108. Jason says:

    Hi, how has everyone been? I finally have an appointment this next Monday to try and get my German passport. Does anyone with experience have any pointers? What documents should I make sure to bring along.

    Thanks!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      How did things go Jason? Were you able to get your passport? I’m sorry I missed this comment earlier. Unfortunately I haven’t bothered to get my passport yet — just my certificate of citizenship. So I wouldn’t have had much helpful info to add anyway. I hope it went well! 🙂

      • Jason says:

        Hi, I could only get one appointement, because the Chicago embassy is closed for a couple of months because of construction. I sent my brother to get his first, and it seemed like it went ok. Is it worth getting the certificate of citizenship also?

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          You’re supposed to need the certificate of citizenship before they can give you a passport (and that’s what took 3 years to get in my case — the passport should be very fast once you have that). It’s possible your situation is unique or that they did both at the same time for your brother, but from what I’ve seen that’s definitely not the norm. You would need proof that you’re a citizen first (the cert of citizenship) before they can issue a passport. That would be standard in most countries.

          • Jason says:

            the lady told my brother everything looked good from the documents he gave her.

          • Jenn Mattern says:

            I’ve only heard of one other person who’s been able to do it that way — going right to the passport. Did you already have some other document that proves you’re a citizen (like a German birth certificate)? If so, that could be the reason, but wouldn’t be typical of folks in this thread.

            Otherwise, you should definitely apply for a certificate of citizenship in addition to a passport. A passport alone doesn’t prove citizenship (the German mission in NY made that very clear to me after someone else said my grandfather’s passport would be enough to prove citizenship — it wasn’t). So if you’re in Germany and you need to prove citizenship for any reason, it would certainly be a good idea to have that. On the plus side, if they’ve already approved a passport, you probably won’t have the several-years’ wait some of us have had trying to get theirs.

  109. Jason says:

    No I didnt have any German Birth certificate, just my Mother’s. What documents do I need for the proof of citizenship document, etc. Thanks!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      If your mother was a german citizen, you’ll probably need her birth certificate again, your birth certificate, and possibly your parents’ marriage certificate. (In my case citizenship passed from my grandfather, so I needed documents for the next generation as well.)

  110. Jason says:

    I have one other brother that also wants to get his certificate, do they do background checks?

  111. Heinz says:

    If you are ever going to live or work in Europe it will be a lot better to have a certificate of citizenship. I got mine first then I ordered my daughter and my passports. Once you have the certificate everything else, residency, job, passports, id’s, health care or bank accounts are easier.

    Heinz

  112. Andrew says:

    I guess my story is like a few others here. It’s actually my 2nd Great Grandfather (grandfather’s father) that came from Germany, but it’s male line all the way down to me. I found all of the original images online, everything going back to Biensdorf. So proving descent is really easy. I also can’t find any naturalization records.

    Here is the issue: I’m MARRIED to a Brazilian and we have a child together, and that’s the whole reason I applied for naturalization in Brazil. This was more than 2 years ago before I had any clue as to what a German birth record was. My process has been approved, but I have still haven’t taken the oath yet. I would happily give up the Brazilian passport for a German passport. So the question is, does taking another citizenship on grounds of marriage disqualify someone??

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      A second great grandfather would be much further back than most, without any of their descendants having proof of German citizenship. Citizenship rules in Germany have changed several times over the years, and with an ancestor that far back, you could be subject to several different rules. For example, there are situations when only the father can pass on citizenship, and there are situations where only the mother can pass on citizenship. And you will probably need official / certified copies of marriage records going several generations back in order to prove German citizenship by descent. Basically, you’ll need more official documentation than most of us did. And images online won’t cut it. You need to apply for official copies from the organizations that have them (birth records, marriage records, etc., and you might have to prove that they weren’t naturalized elsewhere — simply not finding something to that effect in an online search shouldn’t be enough).

      While you should always check with your closest German mission for official information, it’s my understanding that you lose your German citizenship as soon as you willingly take on another citizenship that you’ve applied for (doesn’t impact cases where you didn’t apply — such as those of us born with another citizenship alongside German citizenship). You would have to seek permission from the German government in order to keep both. But I’m not sure when you have to do that (before being naturalized or before applying for example).

  113. Andrew says:

    That last paragraph is good, thanks.

    It wasn’t that long ago– late 1880s immigration.
    I’ll probably try with a different country that was -1 generation. If all else fails, I’ll try Portugal through the wife that is 3rd generation. Good luck to everyone!!

  114. Maria says:

    Thanks for your informative blog. I was born in the 1960s in the U.S. to German parents and I went to the NYC Consulate in September to apply for a German passport. I was born with dual citizenship through my father and had all the necessary documents to prove it: father’s green card (showing he never became a U.S. citizen), father’s German passports, parents’ marriage certificate, father’s birth certificate. Though I went to get my passport, they suggested I apply for my Certificate of Citizenship at the same time using the documents I provided. I got my German passport within a month, but regarding the Certificate of Citizenship, so far I only received confirmation that the application has been received in Germany. I’m not sure how that will go, since my forms weren’t particularly well filled out and I definitely didn’t prove my ancestry back to 1914 (I know I can do it, but since I wasn’t prepared at the time, I only submitted the documents I had with me). My question is, when you get the Certificate of Citizenship, does it show that you have been a citizen since birth? My adult children are definitely interested in getting their dual citizenship and I am wondering if my Certificate of Citizenship will be enough documentation for them to get theirs. Can I register their births as German citizens even though they are now adults? Or will they have to go through the whole Certificate of Citizenship process? My concern is that since I have siblings and nieces and nephews that all want to pursue dual citizenship, if everyone has to present the original documents from my parents, it will be messy handing those documents around: we live all over the place, and since there is only one set of originals, we wouldn’t want to risk mailing them, so we would have to hand them off to each other.

    That said, can we just have copies made and will the various consulates around the country accept those as long as they are certified or notarized? Can anyone clarify what the difference is between certified and notarized? Can any attorney do this? Thanks.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Certified copies should be fine (but you would have to order them from official sources for them to really be certified). But here’s what I was told when I asked about my siblings going through the same process:

      Once your certificate of citizenship is approved, they shouldn’t need all of the documentation you needed. You would give them your case number and your certificate of citizenship (in the case of children and siblings), and then they would only need documentation to prove they were your child or they shared the same parents (so their birth certificates). Once you’ve gone through the longer process, it’s supposed to be much quicker for them. But my brothers haven’t done it yet, so I can’t confirm that that’s really the case.

      For more extended family, they might have to show more. But referencing your case number and making it clear who your common ancestor is should help the process along.

      As for proving descent back to 1914, I wasn’t asked for documentation for my more distant ancestors. Instead, they sent me a form to fill out naming those people, their birthdate information, and known locations in Germany (and for what periods). That was enough in my case. Perhaps they would ask for more if they had a difficult time verifying any of that though.

  115. Jason says:

    My brother got his German Passport, now I will be going to do the same thing! What steps should I take to get a Certificate of Citizenship having the passport now?

  116. Jon says:

    Hey guys, just a quick question. During the citizenship verification process, if the BVA requires further information or need to contact you for any reason, what is their method of contact? Do they email, send physical mail, telephone, or contact you through your local embassy/consulate?

    • Maria says:

      I was told by my local consulate that the BVA contacts them and then the consulate sends you an email–my understanding is that the local consulate acts as the intermediary. Therefore, if more information is needed, you would hear from the consulate and then provide them the information and they will pass it on. When and if your Certificate of Citizenship comes through, it is sent to the consulate where you can pick it up or pay to have it FedExed to you.

      • Jenn Mattern says:

        That’s how it worked with me. The NY mission was an intermediary. They handled any emails I sent, advised me about the process, etc. But most requests for additional information came via snail mail.

  117. Marianne Jaeger says:

    Hallo again.

    First I want to congratulate Jenn for being recognized as a German citizen at long last. I also want to congratulate all who have told their successful stories in this blog.

    In my own case, it’s been 2 years since I applied. In that time there were only 2 communications from Germany — a form to fill out and a request for certified copies of my marriage/divorce/marriage documents.

    In that time, the nice lady at the NY consulate has left and those with whom I’ve communicated since (for a total of 2 times in the last year) have informed me that it takes 2 years on average and no they have not heard from Germany.

    The wait with no news can be so frustrating. Any tips/words of wisdom would be greatly welcomed.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Thank you Marianne. 🙂

      I was told the same thing during my waiting period. I simply followed up every few months, offering to provide any new information they might need. Sometimes they would request something, and at other times I was simply told there weren’t any updates from Germany yet. When I got closer to the three-year point, they offered to follow up with the folks in Germany for me because it was well past the average time. It was after that follow-up that things sped up significantly.

  118. Karl-Heinz says:

    Well, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted mostly because my daughter and I have accomplished our Dual Citizenship goals. Been a rather interesting ballet of sorts through the processes. Had it not been for Jenn Mattern and her forum here, I might still be in the long que.

    Been to Germany many times these past few years and have actually found many new family members. What a wonderful feeling. So now, after years of “nagging” my sister, she finally relented and wants her dual citizenship as well. Long story there but suffice to say that this Thursday we have an appointment with the German Consulate in San Francisco.

    This effort may prove to be interesting in that my sister was born in Austria in 1944 which, at that time was considered German territory. We managed to find most of the papers the Citizenship process requires and had them notarized. If you do have originals and are able to get to a consulate, they do have free notary available (I didn’t know that – lol)

    So, my hope is that, after reviewing all the papers we submit, the consulate will acknowledge her birth as a German Citizen via our German parents and hopefully bypass the super long process. I was the only one of our family to be born on German soil in 1948 (yeah… I’m an old guy 🙂 but I’m damn proud of my heritage and absolutely stoked to be a dual citizen.

    Wish us luck that we can be certified at our meeting on Thursday and my sister can then get that special feeling one gets when you actually become a citizen.

  119. Eden Bendorf says:

    I’ve been collecting certified copies of the records I need to file. My question is that I’m unsure if I should file now that I have the paperwork filled out and papers needed as I am currently expecting. I would like to file on behalf of this baby when it is born but was wondering if I start the process now for myself would it be easier to just add the baby later or should I file everything at the same time and wait to do both of ours when it’s born? I hope someone understands what I’m trying to say and not confusing everyone.

    Thanks,
    Eden

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      File now, then simply register your child’s birth with your nearest German mission after they’re born (and after your citizenship is confirmed of course). On one of the missions’ sites, it says birth registration itself can take up to 24 months.

      The real issue will come for the following generation — your grandchildren. Because your own child is being born after 2000, they must register the births of their children within their first year or citizenship won’t pass to your grandchildren (obviously not a concern yet, but good to know). To the best of my knowledge, there’s no limitation like that now — so even if your citizenship isn’t confirmed within your child’s first year, you can still register their birth once your own paperwork comes through.

      • Eden Bendorf says:

        Thanks Jen! That’s what I thought to do as well but wanted a second opinion. I didn’t know that it would take a year after birth though. Guess I should get started huh?

  120. Joao says:

    Hi Jenn! Great post, and definately worth the hassle 🙂

    I still have a doubt that I couldn’t sort out anywhere: We are brazilians, but in the same situation as you, and we have already applied and sent all the documents required. But nowadays I’m living in Berlin, and it’s being a year since I applied, do you know if there anything I can do over here to make the processes move faster? Currently I’m on a student visa.

    Thank you 🙂

  121. Peter Sokler says:

    HI Jenn,

    I am now in the process of obtaining German citizenship via descent. I have all the necessary (certified) documents, however I was wondering if the German consulate in New York required each document to have an Apostille? And if so, must the Apostille be translated as well? (Obviously the actual document must be, but was just wondering about the Apostille).

    Also- Did the German consulate in New York require Death certificates of the people in the German line of the family?

    Thank you!

    Peter

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      All I had to do was bring the original documents to the NYC mission. I didn’t have to have them translated. Because I had them make the copies personally, I didn’t have to worry about anything else. I was told a certified / notorized copy would also have worked. But that’s all I know about the document requirements.

      The only death certificate I had to provide was my grandfather’s. They didn’t need to see any from relatives who died in Germany. I only had to tell them the birth and death dates and provide residence information for those ancestors.

      • Peter Sokler says:

        Ok, thank you! I actually spoke with someone from the consulate today and they confirmed what you said. No translations, apostilles or death certificates necessary.

        Also, for your application did you have to submit proof of when your German ancestor emigrated to the United States? I have done Naturalization record searches of mine for both the state of New Jersey as well as with the National Archives in NY, and on each of those letters from both Archives it has the year of arrival as the start date of the search. So this is the only proof I have for when they emigrated over here, do you think it will be enough?

        Thank you for your time!

        Peter

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          I didn’t have to show when my grandfather came here (they might have asked on a form, but I didn’t have to provide any documentation). But I did have to show when he became a naturalized U.S. citizen, to prove that he didn’t give up German citizenship before my father was born.

  122. Lee says:

    Hi! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am about to begin my “proof of dual citizenship” journey. I know that I will need to provide copies of my birth certificate, my mother’s birth certificate, as well as my mother’s naturalization paperwork to prove that she was still a citizen when I was born. A have a few quick questions:
    1. Do you know if a notarized copy will work or if I will need to submit a “Certified True Copy”?
    2. Does the naturalization certificate have to be translated to German or can I submit an English copy?
    3. I have found a few lawyers who specialize in Dual US-German citizenship. Do you recommend hiring one or doing it myself?
    Thanks again for any advice and congrats!

  123. Marianne Jaeger says:

    Hallo again, all.

    Good luck to all those just beginning their journey in search of a certificate of citizenship. And once more, congrats to all who have managed to get it.

    My experience has been that I did not need to submit an English translation of my parents’ naturalization certificate. And the consulate appeared to accept a notarized copy of other English and American documents (marriage/divorce certificates).

    I don’t know whether a lawyer would help — it appears that everyone here who was successful did it on their own.

    Having started the process in Feb 2012 and provided additional documentation in April 2014, I am still waiting. Upon my most recent request for information, the NY consulate indicated that they would make inquiries to Koeln. After 2 weeks I asked again and they had not heard back.

    And so I try to be patient. A recent weekend in Berlin drove home to me how much Germany is still in my veins.

  124. Logan says:

    Hi everyone,

    First, that you all for keeping this thread alive and updated for so long, a very interesting read.

    I know that advice will be hard to come by here, but after some research into my own family history I found myself here at the bottom of the comments. I discovered that my great grandfather was born in Manhattan to a German immigrant who had not yet applied for naturalization. I know that’s a little far back (perhaps only my father will be able to make a case) but the road block I’m hitting is that the generation born in Germany was Jewish and born in the 1800s… I’m having trouble finding birth records and am concerned they would have been destroyed in WWII.

    Any advice?

    Thanks!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      I could be completely wrong about this, and if so I hope someone will correct me. But I believe when I was doing my research, I read that you could only apply if your grandparent or parent was a citizen. Again, I could be wrong. If that’s the case though, your father would probably have to make the case, and then you could be approved in much quicker fashion.

      That said, there are special rules about displaced Jewish families, so it’s very possible you might have an easier time than some of us. I don’t know the process in that case, and I believe it’s died only to the WWII period, but this might help depending on when your great grandparents came here:

      http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/05__Legal/02__Directory__Services/02__Citizenship/__Restored.html

    • Groszmann says:

      Logan,

      A young athlete born in the USA, successfully claimed German citizenship based on his great grandparent. He then became an athlete for Germany. I think he was a football/soccer player. I read articles about him last year and now I am having trouble finding them again.

      I have seen the application forms and from my understanding, applicants need to provide ancestral details going back to the Reichsdeutsch (German born in Germany). Extra pages are used depending how many generations are in the line.

      I am not a lawyer, as a disclaimer, none of the information I have provided here should be taken seriously or relied upon by anyone for any reason.

      Please let us know how it turns out for you.

      • Jenn Mattern says:

        I believe 1914 was the year we had to prove citizenship back to. My grandfather was a German born in Germany, but his information wasn’t enough. We had to go another generation back. I’m pretty sure that was the year. I couldn’t find it on a quick search, but I believe it was on the German mission’s website somewhere.

      • Logan says:

        Hey Jenn and Groszmann,

        Thanks for the information. I did notice on the application form that it goes back to great grandparent. I’ll still give it a try, even if it’s a long shot. I plan to fill out an application for my father with the appropriate Appendix Vs filled out and include my application with it.

        Worth a try I think.

        Does anyone have any experience trying to find Church birth records? The town my family is from doesn’t have them dating back as far as I need.

        Thanks!

        • Marianne Jaeger says:

          Hello again after all this time.

          From my own experience, it is the status of the immediate parents that determines one’s citizenship status. To determine that status you need to go back to your ancestors and what they were considered to be in 1914.

          If your parent (in my case my father) was a German citizen at the time you were born, then you can claim citizenship, provided you did not voluntarily give up the German nationality.

          In the case of a great grandfather:
          1) assuming he was considered a German citizen on 1914 and did not voluntarily give it up (through naturalization) before your grandfather was born.
          2) he can pass on citizenship to your grandfather. Your grandfather would be considered a citizen, provided he did not give up his German citizenship BEFORE your father was born. If Grandfather was born in the US, he would have his US citizenship by rights of birth so he could be considered a dual national.
          3) If your grandfather didn’t give up his German citizenship your American-born father could then be considered a German national because he did not voluntarily give up his German nationality.

          If ANY paternal ancestor (father, grandfather, great-grandfather) became a US citizen through naturalization BEFORE you were born, logic suggests that you are not a citizen.

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          Hi Logan,

          I had a similar issue. The town my family was living in during the War was pretty much destroyed by Russian troops shortly after people fled (burying their important posessions in the hope of going back for them).

          In my grandfather’s case, he didn’t have his birth records anymore because of how quickly they fled, and the fact that he came to the U.S. shortly after that. I couldn’t find anything locally either — that part of Germany became a part of Russia, complicating things further.

          This is a big reason my process took 3 years instead of the average 2 years. The folks in Berlin actually did the digging and must have found whatever records they needed (they didn’t tell me what), because they did ultimately approve my citizenship status.

          I would discuss the issue with someone at your nearest German mission. Now, I was able to prove my grandfather’s German citizenship with a passport, but they still needed birth records which I didn’t have. If you don’t even have a passport, that might complicate matters. But I’d let someone w/ the mission help you sort that out. I found them to be extremely helpful.

        • George says:

          Regarding whether your father needs to do anything, I can tell you for sure that the answer is no. A vice consul told me that my father does not need to complete a form F. All I need is to complete a form V for him. Likewise, if my 20 year-old nephew applies, his father doesn’t need to do anything. Also, Germany, unlike Italy, does not limit the number of generations back that you can make a claim of citizenship.

          Since you said that the last generation in Germany was Jewish, I’m confused about your request for advice finding church records. Do you mean churches in the US? If you mean churches in Germany, I did obtain records for another purpose. The Catholic church in my grandfather’s village only had records back to my great great grandparents. Records further back are at the Archive of the Archdiocese (Archiv des Ertzbistum). On a related note, I just obtained a German birth certificate from the town registry (Standesamt).

          Going back into the 1880’s might introduce a new concern. I think that a German abroad had to periodically complete some sort of registration in German in order to not lose citizenship (every 10 years?). You should contact your consulate and ask whether there are additional requirements for the time period before 1914 that concerns you.

          Just a thought, you could join Ancestry.com for free for two weeks. Create a family tree. It will then offer “suggestions” from trees that might match yours. You might get lucky and discover that somebody else has located the records that you need.

        • George says:

          Logan,

          Continuing with concerns about rules prior to 1914: From 1870-1913 citizenship was granted by states in the German Empire. But, there was an Empire-wide law that a German who lived overseas for then years would lose his citizenship unless he had certain documents or special permissions that would be difficult to prove. See page 164 in this book The German Empire. Hope this link works…
          https://books.google.com/books?id=wdgOAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA155&ots=6onFABRiRL&dq=citizenship%20german%20empire&pg=PA164#v=onepage&q=citizenship%20german%20empire&f=false

          • George says:

            Logan,

            This is important. Page 165 in the above referenced book states that the ten year clock applies to the wife and minor children. So, unless you can produce a bunch of old passports or citizenship documents, it looks like you might be out of luck. Sorry!

          • George says:

            Sorry for belaboring the subject. But, the website of the German Mission in the UK explains it very clearly (whereas I didn’t): “German citizens who had their permanent residence abroad for more than 10 years before 1914 automatically lost their German citizenship unless they registered themselves in the “Konsulatsmatrikel” (consular register) of the German consulate. This reason for loss of German citizenship is particularly important in case you wish to trace back German citizenship to ancestors who emigrated Germany before 1904. If this is the case, they would have lost German citizenship after 10 years and could not have passed it on by descent to future generations.”
            http://www.uk.diplo.de/Vertretung/unitedkingdom/en/07/German-Citizenship/Loss-of-citizenship/Loss-of-citizenship.html#topic24

  125. Anthony F says:

    Hi Jenn,

    I want to thank you for having this open forum for this topic. I am curious about once you have established your German citizenship (while simultaneously keeping your American citizenship) do you have any tax liability to Germany? It seems to me if you only work and live in America, being a German citizen as well shouldn’t make you liable for German taxes. If you lived in Germany, it would then make sense that you would have to take part in their tax system (as well as the IRS).

    What was your experience like after obtaining your German citizenship in terms of taxes? My father is from Germany and I am looking into pursuing my dual citizenship, but my wife is concerned about the prospect of owing taxes to Germany (even though we don’t work or live there). This blog entry has proven useful in my research.

    Thanks,

    TONY

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Hi Tony,

      Taxes are an area where I never give advice. I highly recommend talking to a tax attorney if you’ll be getting any kind of income from Germany while living in the U.S. (always a good idea anyway). I’m a special case in that I’m not traditionally “employed.” I’m a business owner. And in that case the treaty states that your business profits are only taxed in the state in which you have an actual presence and do business. I don’t have a business precense in Germany.

      If you’d like to review what the treaty says, you can find it on the German mission’s website:

      http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/05__Legal/02__Directory__Services/07__Taxes/Income/__Taxes__Income.html

      Basically, the US is one of very few countries that taxes citizens when they’re working abroad. It’s not quite the same on the German side. I think you’d have bigger worries if you were a U.S. citizen earning your living in Germany than your situation where you’re earning it in the U.S. and therefore paying taxes on it here. But again, I’d see if you can find someone who specializes in this area. I haven’t found anyone near me, so take anything I say with a grain of salt. It’s simply my understanding of the treaty and all involved in my own case from the research I did during my own process.

  126. Marianne Jaeger says:

    At the home stretch, hopefully.

    After 28 months of waiting and supplying additional information, it appears that my own application is in the home stretch.

    The lack of any official information about what happened to my father’s first wife kept the Federal Office of Administration from coming to a conclusion on my case.

    My dad was married before he married my mother. According to my mother, my father divorced his first wife AND she died in a bomb attack in Vienna during WW2. Despite the letters that my German cousin sent to numerous authorities in both countries, there’s no divorce certificate or death certificate. Meanwhile my father was a Medical Officer in the German army during WW2 and he needed to prove to the authorities of the 3rd Reich that he was marrying an Aryan. You would have thought that the authorities as the time would also have checked to see that this marriage was not bigamous.

    However, it appears that the FOA would view my case favorably because many records were destroyed during WW2 in what is now the Czech Republic and Poland. (Father born in Prussia, now part of Poland; parents married on Jan 3rd 1945 in what’s now part of the Czech republic.)

    Needless to say I was very relieved to hear that.

    BUT, they came back again because they want me to prove that I never became a British citizen (lived in UK as permanent resident for 12 years married to British citizen, returned to US). So more certificates, this time from the UK Border Authority.

    Need to get an authorized translator to make a notarized German translation along with notarized copy of the document. Just wrote to NY consulate for recommendations of authorized translators.

    I have learned patience throughout this process.

    Good luck to the rest of you.

  127. George says:

    Hi,

    A while back, I don’t know how long ago, I discovered by accident on Ancestry.com that neither of my grandfathers were naturalized Americans when my parents were born. It took me a long time to realize what it meant. I am a German citizen who was born to two German citizens who were both born to two German citizens. Wild!

    So many people have incorrect ideas about dual citizenship, and a few have been nasty. I wish I had known my whole life that I have dual citizenship, and hope that I can still do something cool in Germany.

    I ordered an international birth certificate (internationalle Geburtzurkunde) from the registry (Standesamt) of the village where my grandfather was born prior to 1914 (free). I’ve received a certified copy of his naturalization records from a National Archive ($25).

    Right now I’m just waiting for certified marriage and birth records to arrive from the US city where all of my family lived and I was born. I plan to have an honorary consul notarize all the photocopies. Since I’ll have everything they want and my family all have German surnames, hopefully I will get approved in four months like Karl did.

    I hope to submit my application in a couple of weeks.

  128. Marianne Jaeger says:

    Hi George,

    Best of luck! Hope your journey is a lot shorter than mine (I’m coming up to Jenn’s record).

    In my experience, I had not only to prove that I have German citizenship, but also that I did not lose it along the way.

    So, even though I was born in Germany of German parents:

    1) I had to prove that my American citizenship was derived through my parents when they became naturalized US citizens. So I had to get my US certificate of citizenship through the Freedom of Information act, to show that the date I became a citizen was the date they were naturalized (at age 6), not when I received my US certificate of citizenship (at age 13). The FOIA request was free of charge, BTW.

    2) After 2 1/2 years of waiting I was just informed that I also had to prove that I didn’t become a British citizen when I married a British subject and lived in the UK for 12 years. To do that I needed to get a certificate of non-citizenship from the UK Border Authority and to show that the last time I entered the UK, I did so as a visitor and not as a resident.

    Still getting those documents translated into German (as well as notarized and certified).

    Hope your granddad wasn’t in the US military before your dad was born, or that your dad wasn’t in US military before you were born. The former event could cause your granddad to lose his German nationality and the latter could cause your dad to lose his German citizenship. Timing is key here. Also key is ‘voluntary’ service.

    It might make sense to email the consulate to find out if the documents you mention are all the ones you need before submitting them. Like you, I thought my case was straightforward,but I still had to submit new documents after 2 1/2 years.

    Viel Glück!
    Marianne

    • George says:

      Thanks, Marianne.

      I’m sorry that your case is so complicated, and I’m sure it will all get sorted eventually. My case is very clear cut.

      I first contacted the consulate in the US city where I was born. They were very positive, and referred me to the consulate that serves where I live now. I have exchanged several emails with the vice consul, and all were affirmative that I have German citizenship. The honorary consul, too, says that I’ve got it.

      I was aware of the issue of military service. My grandfathers both received waivers from serving in WWII. My father also never served.

      I’m perplexed why people are writing about the need for translations. My consulate very clearly said that short documents in English do not need to be translated. And, I have read in several places that the German government accepts documents in English without translations.

      Best wishes

      • Marianne Jaeger says:

        Thank goodness you’ve covered all your bases, George! And thank you for your optimism in my case.

        I’m getting the two documents showing that I’m not a British citizen translated because the NY consulate explicitly requested certified/notarized translations in an email to me.

        I did not have to submit German translations of all of the other English language documents I’ve submitted over the years, as you’ve indicated. For these last two documents, I’ve decided to submit notarized copies of the English documents as well as notarized/certified translations, just to make sure nothing else goes amiss.

        Alles Gute!
        Marianne

  129. Jon says:

    Hi all,

    This week I received my first communication from Germany since submitting my application. They have asked me to supply documents for my ancestors (Mother and Grandparents) showing that they lived in Germany. As part of the application process I already provided my mothers German birth certificate which states the town of residence (in Germany) of my Grandparents, and I also supplied my Grandparents’ German marriage certificate, which also states their respective towns of residence (also in Germany).

    The consulate has suggested that possible documents I could supply would be old passports, certificates of registration or ID for expellees. Unfortunately these documents have all been lost over the 50 or so years since they left Germany.

    Have any of you also been ask to supply documents which you no longer have access to?

    • Marianne Jaeger says:

      Hi Jon,

      I found myself in a similar situation, not having access to several documents I needed from 50 years ago and even longer. For example, I had no idea where my father was born to start out with. By noting the location on an old photo when my father was very young, I started to google that location and soon found where he was born and found a cousin in Germany as part of the process.

      With the help of that cousin, I was able to get a certified copy of my father’s birth certificate, a certified copy of his parents’ marriage certificate, and a certified copy of my paternal grandfather’s birth certificate.

      As in the case of George, these documents were provided by going to the registry (Standesampt) of the city/town where my father was born, where my paternal grandparents were married, and where my paternal grandfather was born.

      The difficulty is when records are lost/destroyed in WW2, as happened with some of the documents I needed. In that case, I was able to produce certificates from the local authorities that no such records existed to show that I/my cousin had gone to considerable trouble to find these records. These included statements from Poland and the Czech republic since important events occurred when these locales were under German rule/occupation.

      So, long story short: Even if you no longer have access to the originals of these documents, there’s a good chance you can get certified copies of those documents from Germany even from well over 50 years ago.

      Good luck with your sleuthing. I learned a great deal about my family history even though my parents are long gone.

  130. Karl says:

    Hey guys! What a great thread. I will be applying, hopefully soon, for my certificate of citizenship. I have been in contact with the consulate in Houston and they have been very nice. I do feel as though I have quite an uphill battle. My great great grandparents arrived in the 1880s and I have been able to locate all birth, marriage and naturalisation records. The line of decent works perfectly, however, I think my grandfather may have lost his citizenship during WW2 as he was in the airforce. I spoke with the embassy staff and they couldn’t give me a straight answer as they said the laws have changed so much. As my grandpa only served from 1942-1945, they said it may be worth applying. I also asked about the registration as my great great grandparents emigrated before 1906 (or whenever the date was) and was away from Germany for so many years and they said they didn’t have any of that information. So I was wondering how anyone would know if my great great grandparents did register. Also, I know my great great grandfather didn’t naturalise until he had been in the states for over twenty years, so could he have been left stateless? Were there laws back then that prevented that as they do now? (Sorry if that’s a stupid question).

    Anyway, I know it’s a long shot but since I’ve got all the proper documents I thought it was at least worth a shot. This site has been an amazing help. I hope to update everyone soon!!!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Hi Karl,

      Regarding the WWII service, I’m pretty sure most if not all of that would fall under required service during the years you mentioned. Only voluntary service, to the best of my knowledge, would basically renounce German citizenship.

      • Karl says:

        Thanks Jenn!

        I have another question someone might be able to answer. The German nationality laws are retrospective, correct? So it was whatever law was in place at the time that meant you lost or gained citizenship? Well, even if my grandfather enlisted during those years, I can’t find anything in the Nuremberg laws (or Reich citizenship laws) that stated one lost citizenship if joined a foreign army. That all changed after Hitler I think.

        Anyway, I would love to hear if anyone can further explain that to me! Thank you!!

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          I’m not sure what the specific rules were at that time, but I do believe you’re right about the laws of that time governing the status of your relatives at that time (as opposed to today’s rules).

  131. George says:

    I’d like to point out a bit of history, as well as share a bit of my family history, in order to help people understand what things were like one hundred years ago.

    Passports were not required to travel to the US until the 1920’s. Most immigrants were poor, and it was common to have only four years of education. Many received money to pay for their journey from a relative such as an uncle who had previously immigrated. Many immigrants arrived with a few dollars and a note pinned to their shirt asking for people to point them to their uncle’s address.

    Most immigrants wanted to initiate the US naturalization process as soon as possible. They had no intention of ever returning to Europe. Very few would have gone to the German consulate, passport in hand, asking to be registered in the Consul’s book.

    My maternal grandfather didn’t naturalize for over thirty years. This was not because he was clinging to his German citizenship. It is because he did not possess a birth certificate from Europe. I imagine that many others were in the same situation.

    It is mostly not due to the foresight and benevolence of our ancestors that some of us can obtain a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis. My heart goes out to those who can’t.

  132. Michael says:

    Hallo Leute! I just submitted all the papers I need to get my German citizenship last week at the NY Consulate for me and my mother who was born in Germany but moved to NY when she was 5. Nothing too complicated with my case–I have birth certificates of my mother, my grandfather, my great-grandfather, marriage certificates, divorce certificates. Wondering how long it has been for people lately to get their Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis? Anyone? I can’t imagine it will take 2 years if I have all documents with no complications.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Hi Michael,

      It’s possible that they’ll still need more information from you. You have to show citizenship dates all the way back to 1914. So if your grandparents were born later than that, you’re probably not finished yet.

      Also, you might have to prove that your grandparents didn’t become naturalized U.S. citizens before your mother turned 18. The documentation I read wasn’t clear on this, but U.S. law prior to 2001 (I believe) stated that if the parents both naturalized, the child automatically became a U.S. citizen.

      Now, normally, you have to choose to acquire another citizenship to lose your German one. However, there’s a clear exception for adopted children — if they leave Germany and acquire other citizenship from their new parents, they lose German citizenship. There’s no clear mention of non-adopted children, but it would make sense for similar rules to apply if their parents willingly took on another citizenship, because the parents essentially have the legal right to make that decision for the child as well.

      Basically, it’s the same situation. The child would no longer be in the custody of legally “German” parents, and they would have automatically acquired another citizenship because of that fact.

      I’d talk to someone at the mission about it and find out which rule would apply in this case, if your grandparents did indeed become naturalized U.S. citizens. You could be asked to show that they haven’t. I’m not sure exactly what documents you might need to prove that. Maybe someone else here can give you more information about that. 🙂

      Here are some links to reference:

      (Look at section C) http://www.uscis.gov/policymanual/HTML/PolicyManual-Volume12-PartH-Chapter4.html

      http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/05__Legal/02__Directory__Services/02__Citizenship/Citizenship__Loss.html

      • Michael says:

        I was able to miraculously get the birth certificate of my great grandfather (on mothers side) who was born in 1907 and my grandfather (on mothers side) who was born in 41. The Consuls said I am good and had everything I needed. Mom was born in 67 in Germany and moved here when she was 5 and she never became an American citizen. I have had to do this for her too so she can finally get a German passport as she never Got one. Höffentlich it will be fairly quick. I can’t think of any issues that could impede this process.

        • George says:

          I concur with Jenn. You are going to be asked to prove that your mother never became a US citizen. That can be shown in different ways depending on the situation. You might need to request a certificate from the US government that she is not a US citizen, for example. You might need to show that your grandparents carried valid German passports when your mother reached the age of 18. I would raise this concern with the consul so that you can start working on it, if necessary.

          • Michael says:

            Forgot to mention that too–I did also get that document from the U.S. govt that says my mom never became a citizen.

          • George says:

            Actually, it sounds a bit complicated. Your mother has been continuously in the US since 1972. And, her German passport expired prior to 1982, at which time she would have been 15. By age 15, as a minor, she somehow obtained a Green Card, although her parents were both German citizens. Since she doesn’t have a passport, she’s not here on a visa. I don’t understand how your mother was in the country legally between the age of 15 and, presumably, when she became married. I think the German authorities can still think up things that require clarification.

  133. George says:

    Hi,

    I finally have all of my documents. It took only five days to receive my grandfather’s birth certificate from Germany, free of charge. But, it’s been nearly two months and $75 to get records from a major US city. Regarding that birth certificate from Germany, it was free and has no sentimental value. I’m willing to part with the original. But, are people sending certified copies of those?

    Regarding the naturalization documents from the National Archive that are bound with a red ribbon to prove that they are certified, are people sending those items as they come? The honorary consul spoke like he might certify copies of those copies. Also, I was thinking to cut out everything but the Petition and Oath (i.e. the Arrival and Intent).

    Thanks

  134. Karl says:

    I just got my certified copy of the immigration/landing documents of my great-great grandparents. It was from the national archives and also arrived with the red ribbon with attached certification.

    As I told Jenn before, my biggest worry is my grandpas military service from 1942-1945. However the consulate in Houston seemed like it was more important to show my ancestors were indeed German (which I suppose makes sense, because if that can’t be proven then the rest is irrelevant) will the birth certificate, immigration/landing document and naturalisation documents be enough to prove German citizenship? Side note, he was born in the 1800s.

    Thanks!!

  135. George says:

    I met the Honorary Consul three days ago to have my application certified. I was surprised to hear him say that he’s never seen these before. But, that’s likely because I live in a Hispanic community.

    He thought citizenship by descent was impossible. When I told him Jenn’s story, he conjectured that it had something to do with forced removal and not merely descent.

    Now I’m just prodding my relative to do his form F and V.

    I sort of wish the German government would charge a $1,000 deposit that is refundable only if citizenship is confirmed. Or perhaps there should be some type of pre-screening. From reading other websites, I get the idea that a lot of people submit hopeless applications, which is why the processing time is so long.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Hi George,

      That was not at all the case for my family. They do have special rules for Jewish families that were forced to leave. But my situation didn’t fall under those rules. It was simply a case of descent. And there’s plenty of published information out there from the German government (including on the consulate’s website) about this, so I find it a bit disheartening that the one near you would know nothing about it. That said, I’m sure it’s more common in New York due to the German immigrant population there after the war.

      I would hate to see a huge fee like that. Remember, these are people who were born with German citizenship. This is just a formality to officially register ourselves and get a piece of paper to prove it. There were already fees involved, and anything significantly higher would risk alienating actual German citizens. No one should be forced to give up benefits of citizenship simply because they can’t afford to pay some ridiculous fee.

      The waiting time isn’t always about the number of applications either. A lot of documents were destroyed and moved around WWII, which means the folks in Berlin sometimes have to do a bit of digging to verify things. That’s what happened in my case. For those lucky enough to have everything and who can get to a mission office in-person, it can move much faster. I read on a forum a few years back about a woman who had her application approved on the spot when she went to the mission because she had everything they needed. I’m not sure if that can happen anymore or not.

      Mine would have gone faster if I hadn’t been told by a mission employee that I didn’t need my grandfather’s birth certificate because I had his passport (and there was no mention of documenting back to 1914 until I was probably six months in. There’s simply a lot of paperwork to deal with. If you know all of these things up front, you can avoid a lot of the waiting I had to deal with by having that information ready before the German government comes back to ask for it.

      The best thing people in our situation can do is read everything we can about the requirements and go in better prepared. Clearly not all mission staff understands this process well (between your situation and me being given misinformation about necessary documents). So while they can be very helpful during the process, we need to be as proactive as possible in order to speed things along.

      • George says:

        Hi Jenn,

        Sorry for not relating my experience with the Honorary Consul more clearly. I did previously understand that your citizenship claim was purely made based on descent, but he doubted it due to his lack of experience with such cases. I didn’t think that your ancestors were Jewish, either. I sometimes encounter that, myself, because my grandfathers naturalized after the Nazis took power. I live in one of those places that the Spaniards colonized over four centuries ago. German ancestry is rare here. And, as in New York, most Germans arrived before 1904. So, most ethnic Germans here do not hold German citizenship, although many still speak German as they live in rural religious communities.

        You’re right that using a deposit as a mechanism to reduce frivolous applications would wrongfully bar people who truly have citizenship from applying. That was a bad idea that I had. And, you mentioned that you didn’t learn about needing to document things back to 1914 until six months after you applied. Along with that, I think that they need to be clear about the requirement for ancestors to have registered with a consulate if they left Germany prior to 1904.

        I’ve read a lot of posts on other sites by people whose ancestors arrived prior to 1904. Other posters who are unaware of the requirement to register often encourage them to apply. And, when they eventually receive a letter stating that their ancestor failed to register, they become upset. One person thought that they should receive a waiver because their ancestors lived far from a consulate. Another thought that they should receive a waiver because their ancestor was busy working. The decade with the most immigration from Germany was the 1880’s. So, the consulate should make this rule highly visible. Your and my ancestors arrived later when immigration from Germany was much lower and registration was not required.

        I’m lucky that my paternal grandfather was from a village in present-day Germany that was virtually untouched by the wars. The Standesamt there has met members of my family in recent decades. This is probably why I received a birth certificate in only five days. Also, I was born in the same US city where my parents were born and married and my grandparents were married and naturalized. So, my case is likely going to be relatively easy, although adding my nephew might cause things to take longer.

        Maybe it’s not unrealistic for me to dream of having an answer in five months? Between now and whenever, I’ll try not to ramble on about things…

        • Alex says:

          Hi George, could you link to any of the other sites you mentioned where claims of descent were denied on the basis of immigration before 1904? I would like to see what they have to say. Thanks!

          • George says:

            I know that there were several conversations about this on Quora.com toytowngermany.com and reddit.com

            I’ve never seen it mentioned whether those pre-1904 registration books of the consulates can be somehow searched by the public. Perhaps they’ve all been sent to Germany and digitized?

            I suppose that a person fluent in German could contact the BVA in Cologne directly to ask them how registration is verified.

            We aren’t asked to prove to them that we never served in the military, but they are definitely checking that somehow, probably by enquiring with the office in Saint Louis that maintains service records.

          • Karl says:

            I’ve actually called the Houston Consulate regarding this issue and they said they have no records or books regarding the registration. As many Germans moved to Texas, I thought they would have some information, but nothing. I was told to apply anyway. They didn’t seem to be to concerned with it.

  136. Marwan says:

    Hi everyone, my name is marwan
    I get started with process….but the Honorary consul told me it will take minimum two year ?

  137. Marwan says:

    Hi Jenn
    This is Marwan and i am living in the middle east….my father is German and after the WWII, he left germany to serval countries until get settled.
    One year ago…i have applied for german passport and around 30 days later i received my German passport
    After that, the embassy called me to inform me that there is something wrong in my file and i must submit an application to the BVA to confirm my German nationality since my father became Dual citizenship.
    While i am doing my search on the same thing, i found your blog and it was interesting for me because a lot of you had/have same concern.

  138. George says:

    Karl,

    This was posted on Quora by a person whose situation is similar to yours:

    “Now the embassy is saying my great grandfather should’ve told Germany that he still wants to be German, but I argue that is unreasonable….”

    By “should’ve told Germany” it seems that they mean: to have registered with a consulate prior to 1914.

    Although he says “the embassy is saying”, the embassy was probably merely relating a decision from the BVA.

    Embassy staff are very diplomatic when answering questions, and it is not within their jurisdiction to approve or disapprove an application.

  139. Wes says:

    Hi Jenn and folks,

    I wish I had found this post at the beginning of my process instead of the end; it would have helped me pass the time during my waiting. 🙂 Since I did find it, and for some reassurance for those who come after, I thought I’d note that my process was almost identical to Jenn’s. My only difference was not needing the six-month detour through providing a grandparent’s birth certificate. I was fortunate that my mother’s and biological grandmother’s (my mother was adopted later) certificates were accessible. That got me lineage back to the year 1920 and I included e-mails stating “no results” from the two Standesämter that I contacted asking about records for my great-grandparents. My biological great-grandfather was born in an area that could now be a part of three possible countries, so it’s no surprise that his records couldn’t be located, and my biological great-grandmother was not listed. (In my case, my mother was born to two unmarried parents so citizenship could pass through the mother. That’s fortunate for me because my biological grandfather was not German.)

    In my case, I had everything translated by a certified translator including my U.S. birth certificate and other U.S. documents (like marriage licenses and so forth). There is also an Honorary Consul near me so I took every copy and translation I had to her for a second notarization before sending it off to the Houston Consulate. I don’t know if this greased the skids for my process, but it seemed like the right idea. The entire timeline from initial “we got your stuff” confirmation letter through “here’s your Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis” took just under 18 months. I even got the “please tell us if you moved or got married or served in the military” form as my last communication from the BVA. My certificate arrived two months after I returned the form and another document they requested.

    Good luck to everyone in your steps. For me, I’m diving back into my German studies on Duolingo and Babbel.

  140. George says:

    I stumbled onto something interesting regarding the need to go back to 1914. Apparently, if a person can show that their ancestor was regarded as German on or after the first day of 1950, they usually won’t be required to go back to 1914. Here is a link to a wiki article about the Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis that is in German.

    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staatsangeh%C3%B6rigkeitsausweis

    • George says:

      Sorry this should be together with the above. Individuals with German passports whose families have always lived in Germany need to obtain a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis if they want to work for the government, adopt a kid or a few other things. For them, they usually only need to go back to 1950. Some Germans are scandalized by this, and ask why a passport doesn’t prove citizenship. Crazies have suggested conspiracy theories that make for entertaining reading.

      • Wes says:

        That’s rather interesting and I wondered that myself as to why a passport wouldn’t be considered proof of citizenship. The English Wikipedia page for “German passport” also says that it establishes a “presumption of German nationality.”

        There has to be a reason and I can’t figure out what it is. For someone who lives or was born overseas, I could see the point. Still, what happens if the certificate is issued to someone and *then* that person loses German nationality, either through accident or intent? They still have the certificate…

        • George says:

          Some people in Germany, I’m guessing that they are right wingers, are concerned that there are different degrees of citizenship, that you’re only a “real” German if you have the Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis, which they call the “Gelberschein”, which is a reference to both the document’s yellow color and the similar “Heimatschein” that were issued by the German Reich, which existed from 1871 to 1918.

          To me, it seems that, generally speaking, Germans who do NOT possess a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis are more likley to be full-blooded Germans who speak German than the typical person to whom a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis has been issued. So, the notion of a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis making you a “real” German seems silly.

          These conspiracy theorists will apply for a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis in order to claim that they are citizens of the Reich, and call themselves Reich citizens. Their applications are frivolous, and I read that some offices have posted signs saying that they will not accept applications for Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis that are not urgently needed.

          When they fill out their From F, they will list that they have something like Prussian or Bavarian citizenship alongside of their German citizenship. This is because citizenship was decided by the individual German “Staaten”, now called “Laender”.
          They claim that the requirement to go back to 1950 is insufficient, but this might only be because they enjoy making the claim back to the Reich era.

          One concern of theirs, which I tried to verify, is that a German passport lists nationality as German (Deutsche), whereas other EU member passports list nationality as the name of the country, e.g. France, Belgium, etc. They interpret this as Germany not legally existing as a country.

          My head hurt after reading all of this. It reminded me of an elderly gentleman who began talking to me in a store a few weeks ago. He said that the US doesn’t exist anymore. We are not US citizens, and the government has purchased a huge number of body bags in preparation to disarm the populace, etc. Apparently Germany has its fair share of crazies.

          • George says:

            I have summarized more information about the interest that conspiracy theorists in Germany have for the Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis.

            They believe that the German government is a company that was created by the allies to manage Germany. Most Germans living in Germany are, according to them, stateless people managed by the company.

            A person cannot be a citizen of a company, and that is why the German passport says Deutsche instead of Deutschland.

            The Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis provides for them a way to make a claim on citizenship in a German Staat (now Laender), such as Saarland.

            When the Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis is processed, an entry is made at the BVA into a register called ESTA that is in the person’s EPPO file. Of great concern to them is how the claim for citizenship was denoted.

            The goal is to have it denoted by a code that means descent prior to 1913. It doesn’t always happen when it seems like it should. It’s free to check how it was coded, and I provide that link below.

            They’re also very concerned about how the Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis was signed. If it says something like “for section 126“, they are disappointed. It must be signed by a person.

            Only individuals whose Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis are properly signed and are properly coded in the ESTA register are regarded by the conspiracy theorists as proper citizens, and they consider themselves citizens of the Staaten that existed prior to the Laender.

            These people hope to join together to reorganize Germany into Staaten that previously existed without the ruling “company“ created by the allies.

            Also, they sometimes hope to avoid paying taxes as citizens of the “company“. They try to achieve this by claiming to be citizens of a Staat such as Saarland, and requesting that their “company“ citizenship be taken away.

            As previously said, Germany appears to have its fair share of crazies. Here is the link to request how one’s “Gelberschein” was coded.
            http://www.bva.bund.de/DE/Themen/Staatsangehoerigkeit/RegisterEStA/registeresta-node.html

          • Wes says:

            Wow, George, that’s pretty deep and it does seem to show that every country has its share of “are you serious?” folks. My certificate is signed above a person’s name–the last name of the person who sent me the letter with payment instructions, and that letter said “I have determined that you are a German citizen”–though it has the signatory message of “Im Auftrag” or “on behalf.”

            You make an excellent point: citizenship is less defined by the legalities than the *realities*, and the reality is that almost everyone whom anyone would expect to be German does not hold a certificate of nationality. The reason the certificate exists is the same reason why the US issues one, and why many countries do: to document edge cases–such as us here–or to be absolutely sure for sensitive postings.

  141. Sarah says:

    This has been one of the best sources of information for me since wanting to start the process of proving my dual citizenship acquired at birth.

    My mother is a German and was German until I was 6 (born to an American father) and from what I understand, I acquired dual citizenship at birth, regardless of location of where I was born, simply by being born to a German mother. Apparently one never loses this dual nationality when acquired at birth.

    Just a quick question – did you have to take the Einbürgerungstest?
    Did you have to prove fluency in the German language?

    I have been slowly learning German but just recently sent in my application and feel pretty stressed about having to test (if I do).
    However, if I already hold citizenship, I would be exempt from taking it, correct?

    Many thanks to you all and great thread. 🙂

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      That’s correct. You don’t have to take any tests or prove fluency if you acquired citizenship at birth. That’s only if you weren’t previously a citizen but wanted to move to Germany and become one after the residency requirement I believe. You shouldn’t have to worry about it. 🙂

  142. Marianne Jaeger says:

    Hallo all!

    I just received an email with a pdf of the letter indicating that my application for certificate of citizenship has been approved.

    I am, as the Brits say, gobsmacked. I was getting ready to craft another email to find out about any updates after I sent my documents proving that I never became a British citizen. So this news took me totally by surprise.

    My journey started almost 4 years ago not even knowing where my father was born, let alone his parents (my grandparents). Along the way, I found a cousin of mine on line through a Prussian genealogy website. With his help, I was able to get most of the German documents I needed.

    During the journey there were a couple of times I thought it wasn’t going to happen.

    The first was whether the Germans would understand that my US citizenship was derived through my parents’ naturalization as American citizens. When I received a copy of my US certificate of citizenship through a US freedom of information request, I learned that I became a US citizen on the date they were naturalized (and I was 8 years old). So here was proof that I did not voluntarily give up my German citizenship when I became a US citizen.

    The second time was when I was unable to find proof that my father divorced his first wife before he married my mother. This could have meant that my parents’ marriage was bigamous and that I would be considered illegitimate. In the latter case, my nationality would have been determined by my mother’s nationality.

    Now to prove that my mother was German at the time I was born would have been difficult because most of her papers were lost during the war when she and her parents escaped the Soviet Union. While her marriage to my dad ordinarily would have meant that she became a German citizen by marriage (it was before 3.31.1953), if the Germans considered their marriage to be illegal, that route to her German citizenship would have been closed.

    In the end, the Germans seemed to accept me as born in wedlock.

    The last bump in the journey was the last-minute request to prove that I didn’t have British citizenship. My first marriage was to a Brit and I lived in the UK for 12 years. However, I lost my permanent resident status when I left the UK for more than 2 years.

    I want to thank you, Jenn, for starting this website. Hearing everyone’s stories helped me to travel this road with patience. To those whose journey was successful, I send congratulations (again!). To those just starting out, I wish you much success.

    Tschuss!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! 🙂 I know you had a more complicated journey than most. And I’m glad that your patience paid off and things worked out as you’d hoped. 🙂

      • Marianne Jaeger says:

        Thank you so much, Jenn!

        I do have a question for you all. Will the certificate of citizenship be enough to apply for a German passport or will I need to show all my documentation all over again when applying?

        I had hoped to apply for a German passport while in the States, but I left some of the documentation I had for the certificate back in the UK.

        Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

        • Wes says:

          Yes, your Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis is evidence of citizenship and is what you use to apply for a passport (Reispass). Here is English-language information on how to apply at a Consulate or (in some areas) Honorary Consul in the United States:

          http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/05__Legal/02__Directory__Services/03__Passport/__Passport.html

          You cannot apply for one by mail, showing up at a location is required.

          • Marianne Jaeger says:

            Many thanks, Wes. I will definitely apply in person to the NY consulate.

            This forum has been such a help to me… And I’m touched by the stories that have been shared here.

            Jenn has been the glue to bring us all together. I’d like to acknowledge the support that she’s been giving up over the years!

          • Jenn Mattern says:

            Thank you Marianne. You know, I’m a professional blogger, and this is actually one of my smallest blogs. But in all my years doing this, I’ve never seen a post take on a life of its own in quite the way this one has.

            I’m so happy that my story was able to help even one other person. I never anticipated there being so many people in a similar situation. So thank all of you ladies and gents for sharing your stories and helping to turn this one blog post into a community in its own right. 🙂

  143. Eden says:

    Anyone have opposition from family members and friends to getting the German citizenship?

    • George says:

      My brother, who joined the military in 1983, initially told me that seeking German citizenship is illegal and that I would lose my US citizenship. Eventually, he looked into it, and started sending me links to sites that showed that it is not illegal, as if I were concerned.

      Then, despite me telling him initially that his military service made him ineligible, he started bothering me to let him apply with me! After weeks of that, he must have finally contacted a consulate, which I had been telling him to do, because he gave up.

      I have five older brothers. The oldest two aren’t interested for themselves or their children. The third oldest never responded. And, the son of the fourth oldest is applying with me, but just for fun. I have over ten nieces and nephews, many of whom are over 18.

      I was surprised that my brother in Asia wasn’t interested for himself or his sons. Many people think that I am mistaken that I have German citizenship, even highly educated people who have repeatedly gone to Germany. And, I have avoided telling some people whom I know would ridicule me.

      One line that you could try on the haters is to say that you’re not “getting German citizenship”, you were born with it. You’ve always had it.

    • Wes says:

      One of my family members, unrelated to the process, was upset with me because that person was of the opinion that claiming another citizenship was unamerican. However, that person was one of the first people to comment on my post to a family discussion area with the words “that’s really cool,” so feelings can change. I didn’t mind one way or the other; that family member and I disagree on a lot of things and I wanted to whether I am a dual citizen more than I cared for that person’s “good opinion” of me.

      • George says:

        My ex-military brother was wildly angry at first, saying that my very wealthy brother in Asia and I are unpatriotic and will take whatever citizenship benefits us. But, he later wanted it for himself, primarily for the educational opportunities that it would make available to his kids.

    • Marianne E Jaeger says:

      On the contrary, most of my friends have been incredibly supportive.

      My sister is very interested in German citizenship, but she was born in the US AFTER my parents were naturalized as US citizens. At the time they were naturalized, they had no desire to keep their German nationality, so my sister may be out of luck.

      If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know.

  144. Eden says:

    My father (whom I derive citizenship through) sees no benefit to it. Even though he has refused to get a US citizenship after living here for over 60 years. My mom on the other hand thinks that I’m taking her grandbabies from her. My husband is all for it. Haven’t told anyone else yet.

  145. Eden says:

    This might be a stupid question but do I make an appointment for a passport or something else if I want to apply for citizenship? Thanks.

    • Wes says:

      If you are doing the process we here did, you will apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. No appointment is needed and the whole process is by mail. Have a look here: http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/05__Legal/02__Directory__Services/02__Citizenship/__Citizenship.html

      • George says:

        If her father is cooperative and can sufficiently document that he is a German citizen, I don’t think she has to go the citizenship certificate route.

        • Wes says:

          My mother was cooperative and we could document her citizenship but the consulate still advised us to go through the certificate process. Might be worth an e-mail to the nearest consulate to ask.

          • George says:

            I should give less advice. In my defense, I’ve been looking at posts on other sites that are from years ago, when things were probably easier. A guy wrote that he went to the consulate with his son and his father’s documents. Twenty minutes later, the staff member returned to announce that Germany had two “new” citizens.

    • Marianne E Jaeger says:

      One does need an appointment to apply for a German passport, and they expect that you would be able to supply all supporting documents at that time.

      While the application for certificate of citizenship can be carried out on line, the application for a German passport requires an in-person interview.

      Pls see the attached link for the requirement for applying for a passport:

      http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/05__Legal/02__Directory__Services/03__Passport/__Passport__Adult.html

      • Eden Bendorf says:

        Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. I would like to go to the German Consulate and hand in my paperwork for the Certification of Citizenship. I don’t want to send it by mail. I was told I need an appointment but I am unsure of how to make one. What did everyone else do?

        • Maria says:

          For the New York City consulate, I was able to make an appointment online. I went to the appointment to apply for my German passport, using documentation showing that my father was a German citizen when I was born. While there, the woman who helped me advised me to apply for the Certificate of Citizenship at the same time – I did not have documentation showing German ancestry going back to 1914 and I did not even fill out the paperwork for the Certificate in full. I expected to hear from Germany that I would need to provide more info, but approximately 10 months later, I was informed that the Consulate was in possession of my Certificate. I was advised that having that certificate would simplify the process for my children should they want to pursue dual citizenship.

          • Maria says:

            I forgot to mention, I got the passport within 3 weeks of applying for it.

          • Maria says:

            When you are at the consulate, they make copies of your originals (I didn’t need to have anything translated, either), this way you don’t need to turn over (and possibly lose) your originals.

        • Marianne E Jaeger says:

          When I first inquired about applying for a certificate of citizenship through the German consulate website, I received a response from someone at the consulate.

          I continued email correspondence with the same person and through email made an appointment with that person to bring my documents in person. At the appointment I was able to raise additional questions that were answered on the spot.

          I’m certain if you contact the German Consulates General responsible for the region in which you live, you should be able to make an appointment to bring your documents in person. Just use the following link to find out how to email the appropriate consulate, and a real person, who is very knowledgeable, will respond. My situation was quite complicated, but that person was able to advice me through the whole process.

          http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/03__Consulates/00/__Consulates.html

          Hope that helps!

  146. Eden says:

    Hello everyone,
    I went to the consulate this morning and the lady told me that I didn’t need to apply for citizenship and I only needed my fathers green card and since I am married I need to fill out the name declaration form for a passport. I asked several times about the citizenship and she kept saying no I didn’t need it but gave me someone’s phone number to double check. Unfortunately that said person is on vacation so I won’t find out for a week or so. Has anyone tried or know someone who tried to establish citizenship because of being Jewish? I hope I said that right. My husbands grandfather immigrated during the war and his parents eventually naturalized but I am unsure what to do for this type. Also if I don’t need a certificate of citizenship, am I allowed to move to Germany and get permanent residence, a job, etc. without the certificate?

    • George says:

      Consider yourself lucky that you can apply directly for a passport! Most German citizens have never had reason to apply for a certificate. With a German passport, you don’t need any sort of visa (like permanent resident) to live or work in Germany or any of the Schengen countries.

    • George says:

      At the bottom of page found at the link below are links to “Information…” and “Application for Naturalization…”. It looks like your husband would still be subject to the rules that apply to everybody here who has applied for a citizenship certificate. His father needs to have been born before his grandfather naturalized in the US. Nobody can have voluntarily served in the US military, unless they received a waiver, which in the past few years hasn’t been required. I imagine that the “Application for Naturalization..” results in a Citizenship Certificate.
      http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/05__Legal/02__Directory__Services/02__Citizenship/__Restored.html

  147. George says:

    Would somebody please tell me how long it usually takes to receive the letter that acknowledges acceptance of the application? Wes’ experience would be especially relevant.

    • George says:

      Clarification: I should have written “receipt” rather than “acceptance”. I lodged my application about two months ago, and thought that the letter of receipt would arrive one month later.

    • Wes says:

      I sent my first packet of documents off to the Houston consulate on 8 Oct 2013, received 11 Oct 2013. The reply from the BVA confirming receipt–received through the consulate, as in the consulate got it and sent it on to me–was dated 31 Oct 2013 and my “case number,” as it were, is dated 28 Oct 2013.

      After that letter, I heard nothing at all until Jan 2015 when the BVA wrote to ask for a copy of another vital record and sent me the same form that Jen received which asked whether I had changed marital status, address, naturalized elsewhere, or served in the military since I filed my request.

      • George says:

        Thanks, Wes. I suppose that the delay could be due to people vacationing during August. Maybe I’ll contact Houston next week.

    • Michael S. says:

      I went to the German Consulate in NY on 7/17 of this year to submit my citizenship application. I received a letter with a case number from the Bundesverwaltungsamt dated August 6, 2015, and they emailed me a scanned copy on August 13, 2015. Still waiting…. I hope it doesn’t take too long for me to get the citizenship.

      The Standesamt in Bonn that I worked with to obtain copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates of my grandfather, great-grandparents, and great-great grandparents was so efficient that I received all the documents I needed within 3 weeks dating back to 1911. I don’t understand why it takes so long for the Bundesverwaltungsamt to approve people for their citizenship.

      • Wes says:

        Based on what I’ve read around the Internet, the BVA takes a while for two main reasons: First, they are diligent about verifying records and they do some legwork to fill in vague items before asking the original requestor. Second, the BVA seems to get a *lot* of bogus requests from people hoping they can “sneak through” the process. That overloads a rather small part of the office and makes everyone else wait longer. (Seriously, go search for some of the forums that George has mentioned here. I found one thread in particular that’s long, like this one here, but is full of people who are discussing how to make a legit-looking-but-fake set of forms.)

        Considering the Houston consulate told me the normal turnaround time is two years and they’ve seen applications take well over three, I’m impressed that mine was done in a little over a year and a half. So far, best 25EUR I’ve spent.

        • George says:

          In addition to applying through Houston, I, like Wes, had my application stamped by an Honorary Consul, which cost five times more than I was expecting. My application is perhaps a little less complicated. It would be nice to go to Germany by next October, but I guess I won’t have it by then.

    • Jon says:

      I sent off my forms in September 2014 and never got any letter confirming that the application was received. It may be the case that it was sent to the Consulate General and was never forwarded to me.

      Nevertheless, the application must have been received by the BVA as they requested more documents from me in July of this year.

      • George says:

        Thanks, Jon. Since I am served by the same consulate as Wes, it seems like I should have received a letter, as he did. But, it’s good to know that perhaps nothing is wrong.

  148. Maria says:

    I also heard that my application was received a couple of weeks after my visit to the NYC consulate. I just got my Certificate of Citizenship (took not quite a year), but mine was a pretty straightforward case.

    • George says:

      Maria, Thanks. I hope mine is straightforward. My grandfather was born before 1913, came to the US in the 1920’s, and had my father before naturalizing in the 1930’s. I have every record they want, plus threw in his death certificate and my mother’s birth certificate, along with a family tree, since my mother seems to also have German citizenship. Does mine sound as straightforward as yours?

      • Maria says:

        My dad was a German citizen (my mom as well, but I was born before 1974 when it only went through the father). I had documents showing that he never became a U.S. citizen (German passport, green card). If your documents show that “unbroken” line, you should be in good shape. The funny thing for me was, I was not planning on applying for the Certificate of Citizenship the day I went to the consulate (was just planning on getting my German passport), but the woman who helped me urged me to do the Certificate application at the same time. I did not have the necessary proof going back to 1914 (I assume they eventually got my German grandfather’s birth certificate) and I barely filled out the application (I just didn’t have all the info on me). I was sure they would come after me for more information, so I was pleasantly surprised when the Consulate notified me that they had my Certificate.

        • George says:

          Thanks, Maria. I was also born a little before 1974. But, my father never knew that he had German citizenship. I think that you don’t have to go back to 1913 if you can show that an ancestor has continuously held valid German documents since 1949. In that case, the law under which the certificate was issued is coded differently in the database in Koln. Anyhow, glad you received one rather quickly.

          • Jenn Mattern says:

            My grandfather had German documents from before 1949 and I still had to go back to 1914. They don’t need records going that far back (only to my grandfather since he emigrated). But I had to fill out a form with details going back that far — names of my great grandparents, where they lived during which years, etc. Luckily I had a lot of information on their relocation within Germany from my grandfather before he passed.

  149. Roberto says:

    A few months ago I started collecting information on my wife’s german ancestors. She is considering submitting an application for German nationality, if viable.

    One motive for concern is proving the german-born ancestor (her great grandfather) held German nationality. A few things point to that being the case. For example, a passenger document from one of his trips, stating german nationality; and the ancestor’s parents also being born in Germany.

    From what I’ve read until now, the “indicator” of nationality by excellence is a citizenship-certificate/passport, but we think it will be nearly impossible to get a hand on such documents. German birth certificates on the other hand, seem relatively straightforward in this case.

    Does anyone know of an application in which nationality was approved without the ancestor’s passport/certificate?

    Would german birth certificates going back a “long period”, in this case, say, great great grandparents, be of worth in proving that the great grandfather was actually a german citizen?

    I’m under the impression that Marianne Jaeger may have faced a similar situation, from a comment she posted in April 11, 2013. But I can’t be sure, of course.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. Enlightening indeed.

    • Wes says:

      “Does anyone know of an application in which nationality was approved without the ancestor’s passport/certificate?”

      Yes, mine. All I had were birth certificates and an unrelated court order from a German court that identified one of the people in my heritage as “a German citizen.”

      You collect together whatever information you have and send it to the BVA. They will tell you if it is sufficient or if they need more, assuming they don’t go get other documents themselves. If your ancestors lived in other countries, you will need to demonstrate that none of them were naturalized in another country prior to the next generation being born. (For example, your great-grandparent could have naturalized but *not* before your grandparent was born. If naturalization was prior to your grandparent being born, your grandparent would not be a German citizen because your great-grandparent lost German citizenship at the naturalization.)

      • Roberto says:

        Hi Wes,

        Thank you for your reply.

        As you mention, I would expect other legally binding documents (e.g. a court order) to have an important amount of weight on the nationality issue, if the standard passport/ certificate were not available.

        However, my question was not stated properly. What I meant to ask was if there was any known case in which the application was approved, despite the fact that the applicant’s only attempt to prove the ancestor’s German nationality was based on birth certificates.
        Assume please the applicant has gone through the trouble of trying to find other documents, and that he can provide proof of that.

        This is also related to another question: how far will BVA go to acquire documents/info that was not submitted by the applicant?

        I still haven’t read much about BVA, but from what I have, I infer it takes its time verifying what the applicant sends, but also, trying to find new information that sheds light on the case.

        Thanks.

    • Marianne E Jaeger says:

      Hi Roberto

      Wes described experiences similar to my own. What I needed were birth certificates, marriage certificates and, where necessary, divorce certificates to ensure legitimacy of the offspring.

      I also had to show that I was born before my parents were naturalized as US citizens and also to show that my US citizenship was derived through my parents’ naturalization — that I myself did not voluntarily give up my German citizenship as an adult.

      Now I’m once again waiting patiently, this time for my German passport, having applied through the honorary consul in Philadelphia. Although I paid for expedited service, it’s been 3 weeks. The consul thought there might possibly be an issue because my birth certificate shows my surname spelled Jäger, while my recently acquired Certificate of Citizenship spells my surname Jaeger. Haven’t received any emails about potential problems yet, so maybe no news is good news.

      • George says:

        Marianne, That’s interesting about the umlauted ‘a’ in your surname. I was unable to make an umlaut in the Forms F and V. So, I requested that my certificate not have the vowel plus an ‘e’, which might have been pointless. I was hoping that they use German orthography. I once read that a passport will show the Anglicized spelling by the photo but will have the German spelling in the machine readable area. Sorry to learn about your plight.

        • George says:

          I need to correct myself, again. I meant to say that the Anglicized spelling would be in the machine readable area…

      • Roberto says:

        Hi Marianne,

        Thank you for your reply.

        What I understand is that you did not submit passports, citizenship certificates, or any other document that _explicitly_ proves your ancestor’s German nationality. Would that be a correct interpretation?

        This relates to my wife’s case: she has birth certificates that go back to her 2nd great-grandfather, also some border-control/ immigration cards from several of his trips stating the ancestor is German, but no official document (for the time being) that confirms it.

        I do think we can find something that could be “definitive” in the weeks/months to come, as we are only starting to make contact with civil registries in Germany, but I guess I’m just wondering how strong a proof of nationality a birth certificate is. Technically, I know the answer to be “not strong at all”, but for example, if BVA complements with its own research, than I presume the birth certificates alone carry some potential.

        I hope your passport issue is resolved quickly.

        Bests,
        Roberto

        • Marianne E Jaeger says:

          Hi Roberto,

          Good luck on your wife’s quest. I was advised to show continuity of German nationality to the best of my ability.

          In addition to the birth certificates, I submitted just about anything I could lay my hands on where my father’s nationality was referenced. In my case these were:
          1) marriage certificates
          2) military records
          3) registration/de-registration documents from the town where I was born
          4) US naturalization records, showing that he was considered German until he was naturalized (and voluntarily gave up his citizenship)

          For the first 3, it was relatively easy for my cousin in Germany to obtain certified copies from the relevant authorities, and for the latter I had to put in a US Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of his naturalization certificate.

          Proof that one had unsuccessfully tried to find documents is also very important. I had to show that my father’s first marriage had ended before my parents married. My cousin and I tried to find out what happened to my dad’s first wife, and I submitted all official letters from Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) that showed no record of divorce papers or death certificate.

          I believe I was given the benefit of the doubt because such records could have been lost/destroyed during the closing months of WW2.

    • George says:

      Roberto,

      If an ancestor was born in what was The German Reich prior to 1914, they were regarded as a German citizen. But, if they left Germany prior to 1904, there might be a problem. There was a rule that a person lost their German citizenship after being absent from Germany for ten years. But, it was abolished around 1914.

      It’s crucial to show that the immigrant ancestor did not become a naturalized citizen prior to the next generation being born. If they came to the US, you can search for that record at FamilySearch.org or Ancestry.com for example.

      German citizenship can be lost if a person voluntarily joined the military of another country.

      This is a good website with links to the forms that need to be submitted to the consulate, along with a link to a PDF of instructions. As you can see, obtaining old passports or citizenship certificates aren’t necessary. Germany essentially had a ‘jus soli’ citizenship law prior to 1914.

      http://www.kanada.diplo.de/Vertretung/kanada/en/02/citizenship/determining__citizenship.html

      George

      • Roberto says:

        George,

        Thank you for the information!

        I find the claim of ‘jus soli’ prior 1914 interesting and surprising. I will try to look up some additional information on that. My wife’s ancestor was born in the late 1880’s.

        I am aware of the 10-year restriction before 1914. I believe the German citizen was exempted if (s)he registered before the German consulate/embassy in the foreign country, but read that only a very small fraction of emigrating Germans did such a thing. This is one thing I still need to verify.

        In the meantime, I’ll take a look at the link you shared.

        Again, thank you for the help.

  150. George says:

    I’ve looked into the rules for the spelling of names in passports. There looks to be a law that allows a person whose name was assigned outside of Germany to choose to Germanize their name in their passport (link follows):

    [Art. 47
    First and Family Names

    (1) Where a person under an applicable foreign law has obtained a name and the name is henceforth governed by German law, the person may, by a declaration given before the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths,
    5. accept a German version of his or her first or his or her family name…]

    The procedure is to submit A Declaration of the Adaptation of a Name prior to applying for a passport.

    This would allow a person (like Marianne and me) whose ancestors spelled their surname with an umlaut to request that spelling, it seems. Also, I could Germanize George into ‘Georg’.

    Whether the request is placed into a long queue at the BVA, I don’t know.

    http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/englisch_bgbeg/englisch_bgbeg.html

    • Marianne E Jaeger says:

      Hallo Georg,

      Thanks for this link. Having already applied for the passport, I’m just in a wait and see phase at the moment. Perhaps, when the passport is up for renewal.

      Not sure that this would apply to me because I was born in Germany and lived there for 3 years before my parents and I emigrated to the US. All references to me spelled my surname, Jäger, including my birth certificate and emigration documents in Germany. The passenger list of the ship we took over also spelled my surname with the umlaut.

      But it would be a plus if I could return to my original spelling!

  151. George says:

    The consulate has informed me that a letter from the BVA confirming receipt of my application is in the mail. They explained that receiving confirmation in only three weeks is impossible for two reasons. They send things to the BVA every two weeks. And, they forward letters from the BVA every two weeks.

    Yesterday while I was on a sunset stroll near my home in the desert, a German family in a rental car stopped to ask me for directions. I was so concerned with trying to dissuade them from taking the road that they wanted -because it’s boring- that I didn’t think to tell them that I believe that I’m a German citizen. It might have made a good story for them.

    • Wes says:

      Since George and I are going through the same consulate, I can back him up here. My letter confirming receipt at the BVA was dated 31 October but I didn’t get the e-mail from the consulate with the letter attached until 13 November.

      • Karl says:

        Hi Wes and George, I am planning to book my appointment for the Houston Consulate within the next week. I will have to fly down…which I am not happy about but luckily I have some other things to do in Houston. I am sorry if you have already answered this, but I see you dealt with the honorary consulate? Did they then send it on to Houston? I was planning on going directly as I have been in correspondence with a lady there. I have a mixture of certified and original copies. How was your experience? Does the consulate take copies and then certify them? I wasn’t aware they would charge for that? Sorry for all of the questions, I am just making sure I cover all my bases before I email for the appointment. Thanks!!

        • George says:

          Hi Karl,

          I met with an Honorary Consul because I live 875 miles from Houston. I was thinking that he would certify my application and two photocopies, which I thought would cost around $35. He wanted to stamp everything, and I didn’t think to ask whether there is a fee. When he was almost finished, he said that they charge a fixed price per document. I paid one hundred eighty-five dollars. I used priority mail to send everything to Houston.
          George

          • Karl says:

            Thank you George! I just got an email back from the Houston Consulate and it looks like the girl that was the Vice-Consul that was so very helpful before, doesn’t work there anymore. This new girl said I need to have my English documents translated?! I thought if they were in English that would be ok? I am making that up?

          • George says:

            Hi Karl,

            Yes, Vice Consul Kerstin Waiditschka is no longer there. I have since communicated with Consul Jochen Olbricht. I was told that short and commonplace documents in English are acceptable.

            I don’t think it was necessary for me have the Honorary Consul certify anything. A notary public is probably okay. But, the German seal with the eagle does look cool.

            I later learned that you might be able to send originals with photocopies and a return envelope -to have the originals sent back to you, or bring originals with photocopies to the appointment.

            One crucial thing is to have photocopies notarized as “true and correct copies”. Some notaries don’t like to do that. If one refuses, ask another. In some states, they have to use language like “I certify that this is a true and correct copy of a document in the possession of ___”.

            George

          • Karl says:

            Thank you! Hopefully she will agree with that. I am dealing with Vice-Consul Heike Jirari. Most of my documents have been sent as certified copies from the government authorities from which they came. I should think that would work. You can’t get anymore formal than that! 🙂 She said I could meet with the Honorary Consul in Dallas to have the documents certified and he would then send it to Houston. I thought being there in person (the actual consulate in Houston) would look better for my application, but perhaps this doesn’t matter. Anyway, thanks George, you’ve been a real help! I’ll keep you posted!

  152. Jon says:

    I sent an email off to the BVA last week to ask for an update on the status of my application. Today I’ve received a reply stating that the outcome of my application has been decided and I will be notified of the outcome by the Consulate General.

    Those who have received the outcome of their applications – were you informed via email or post?

    • Wes says:

      I received an e-mail from my Consulate stating that they had “received letters” from the BVA regarding my application and asking where I would like it mailed. No information was given as to whether or not it was a favorable outcome. I had to wait for the BVA’s letter to arrive via post from the Consulate in order to find out that my application had been approved.

      My guess is that they do the same for every outcome, positive, negative, or “more information needed.” Only my first confirmation of receipt was scanned an e-mailed to me; all the rest came through the regular mail.

      • Jenn Mattern says:

        In my case they didn’t email me about it. My letter just showed up one day, much to my (pleasant) surprise. I assume she didn’t follow up because we’d talked shortly before when I asked about progress and she said she’d talk to the folks over there because my case had taken so long. But no hints either way when she had the document to send.

        • Jon says:

          Thanks Wes and Jen for your replies.

          I guess I’ll just wait for a letter to arrive in the mail. I’m not feeling confident regarding the outcome of my application – considering it’s such a complicated case and the (relatively) short time they’ve taken to process it.

          • Wes says:

            Did you get a questionnaire asking you if any of your information (address, marital or military status, etc) had changed? Jen and I both did before being told we were approved.

          • Jon says:

            No, I have not had a questionnaire asking that information. Did your questionnaire come from the BVA or from your Consulate/Embassy?

            I’ve only had one communication from my local consulate since applying, and that was to pass on a message from the BVA asking for extra documentation.

            Other than that, I contacted the BVA (directly, not via the consulate) to ask for an update regarding the status of my application. That’s when I was advised by the BVA that my case has been closed and a decision made, and I would soon be advised by the consulate regarding the outcome.

          • Wes says:

            I never contacted the BVA directly as the letter I got confirming receipt was rather…strident in its instructions to not do that. The Consulate forwarded all requests from the BVA, so my questionnaire came from the BVA via the Consulate. (It was in German, along with the letter from the BVA asking for the form to be completed, and the Consulate translated parts of the BVA’s cover letter.)

            What information did the BVA ask for? Perhaps the questionnaire isn’t sent for straightforward cases or ones that don’t take very long to approve (so it may not be a “bad” thing).

          • Jon says:

            I wish I would have known that the BVA requests in the letter that you don’t contact them directly. Their website however does state (in German) that you can ask for an update on your application at any time.

            The extra documentation that the BVA asked for were things like old passports, certificates of registration in Germany and ID’s for exiled persons (Flüchtlingsausweis). Unfortunately such documents were impossible for me to locate.

  153. George says:

    Today I received the letter from the BVA in which they acknowledge receipt of my application. It’s dated September 17, which is five weeks after my application was delivered.

    It’s longer than I imagined. They explain that applications are processed in the order that they are received, the test for citizenship is individual and complex, the processing time can be lengthy because they sometimes initiate investigations at other institutions, …[several more things followed by]… I will tell you my decision without being asked. Please do not make progress inquiries.

    On the fun side, the consulate in their cover letter spelled my name “Georg” in one place.

    • Jon says:

      Out of curiosity, as I never received an ‘acknowledgement of receipt’ letter for my application – is the letter from the BVA in German or English?

      • Wes says:

        The BVA communicates solely in German. The Houston consulate was nice enough to translate the gist of the letters for me in their cover letters.

        • George says:

          Mine might be a big different from Wes’ in that the consulate’s two-sentence letter in English doesn’t instruct me not to make status inquiries. It just says, “The [BVA] will contact you again once the decision regarding your application has been made or if additional documents are required.”

          The BVA’s longer letter in German says, “Von Sachstandsanfragen bitte ich daher abzusehen.” However, I did see on the BVA’s web site where it says that applicants can make status inquiries but they will not hasten the process.

  154. Jon says:

    Good news from me today – I received an email from the Consulate General that my case has been closed and my Certificate of Citizenship is ready to be mailed to me, pending my payment of 25 Euros. I’m extremely happy and excited to finally have a result, the waiting seemed endless!

    Best of luck to all those awaiting responses, I hope you receive positive outcomes. Thanks also to everyone on this site, your support and responses have been most appreciated! 🙂

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Congratulations Jon! That’s great news! 🙂

    • George says:

      Jon,

      That’s great! Please tell me whether I’m reading the old posts correctly.

      You sent your application directly to the BVA in September of 2014, just thirteen months ago? Three months ago, in July, they asked for documentation of your ancestors’ residence in Germany?

      I hopefully have the residence issue covered by my grandfather’s Petition for Naturalization, which states that his last foreign residence was the village in which he was born.

      Thanks,
      George

      • Jon says:

        Hi George,

        Yes, I applied in August/September 2014 (can’t remember exact date, I would need to check my calendar). However I didn’t apply directly to the BVA, rather I sent the documentation to the Consulate General which then forwarded the documents on to the BVA.

        The extra documentation they asked for wasn’t proof of my ancestors’ residence in Germany (this I believe was already proven on birth and marriage certificates), but rather they wanted proof of how my ancestors acquired German citizenship. My case is rather complicated as I’ve explained to Roberto below.

        • George says:

          Hi Jon,

          Thanks for clarifying, and no need to know the exact date.

          Coincidentally, my paternal grandmother was brought to the US as a child before WW1 from a German-speaking village in what was then Hungary.

          Best wishes for your plans.

          George

    • Roberto says:

      Congratulations Jon! Excellent news.

      I have one question.

      On October 17, 2015 at 6:07 pm you were pessimistic, and stated

      “I’m not feeling confident regarding the outcome of my application – considering it’s such a complicated case and the (relatively) short time they’ve taken to process”

      Can you say exactly why you considered your case “complicated”?

      Thanks.

      • Jon says:

        Hi Karl,

        Thanks for the congratulations!

        I believed (and was told by the consulate) that my case was difficult as my Grandparents were ethnic Germans and were expelled from Hungary at the end of WW2 due to their ethnic German status. They were rendered stateless and were sent to Germany where they then received German citizenship.

        This was even further complicated with my Grandparents and Mother later taking on other citizenships.

        This issue is covered in a number of laws (e.g. German Basic Law – Art. 116(1) and paragraph 40a of the StAG), however not being a lawyer and having received mixed messages from the German Embassy/Consulate, I was not confident in receiving a positive outcome. Nevertheless, the BVA has obviously determined that there were grounds for my claim to citizenship.

    • Karl says:

      Congrats Jon! How amazing that must feel! All of your hard work and perseverance paid off! I too hope to feel that way one day!

      I have an appointment and will be submitting my application next week. It’s funny, it takes, what seems like forever, to organise and collect all the proper documents and fill out the proper forms…and it’s only the beginning. I have a long road ahead but hearing you had a positive response when at times you seemed discouraged gives me hope. 🙂

  155. Eden says:

    It looks like I’m out. I went back to apply for a passport and they told me that I can’t even file for citizenship let alone a passport since my father doesn’t have a valid German passport during the year I was born. Good luck to everyone else!

    • George says:

      I’m very sorry, Eden, that you were told that. Given that most of us here do not have a father who had a valid German passport when we were born, I urge you to think about how you might still have inherited German citizenship.

      Very important: ask how your father lost his German citizenship!!! Think about whether you can do what most of us are attempting. Your father’s father or grandfather was likely born in German territory before 1914, which automatically made a person a German citizen (no passport required) via “jus soli”. From that individual, citizenship was inherited “jus sanguinis”.

      Until you understand EXACTLY how your father lost German citizenship before you were born, please don’t give up.

    • Karl says:

      Eden, I agree with George. I am submitting my application this week to the consulate and it would appear that I am telling them things they have never heard of. Consulate staff aren’t always well versed in these matters. And to be fair to them, they don’t actually process this stuff as it is sent to Germany to the BVA. Definitely don’t give up! 🙂

  156. Marianne Jaeger says:

    My German passport has arrived, so the issue of “ae” vs. “ä ” in the spelling of my surname did not appear to be an issue. Yay.

    The experience of gathering the information in support of my application was long and sometimes frustrating, especially when a needed document could not be found. And the waiting for months/years for some news. I can hear a similar frustration among those who are awaiting responses from the BVA.

    I do hope that you all find some pleasure along your journey. For me it was learning about my family on my father’s side long after he died, and reconnecting with a cousin in Germany without whom my journey would have taken much much longer.

    Good luck to you all. And Eden, I agree — don’t give up!

    • Karl says:

      Hi Marianne. It hasn’t even been a week since I submitted my application and I am still anxious/nervous. I suppose it dies down a bit as the months/years (gulp) pass by. But I wanted to ask you a question. What happened when they asked for a document you couldn’t get? I wasn’t able to submit a marriage document or a birth record as they no longer exist. I submitted birth records from Germany and immigration papers stating man and wife for my great grandfather. I even wrote on a separate sheet of paper everything I thought they might ask and tried to answer it before they needed to ask it. (hoping that would speed the process up).

      • Marianne Jaeger says:

        Sorry for just responding now, Karl.

        If you cannot get a document, you will need to show what efforts you made to obtain the document and officially stamped response from the relevant authority.
        For example, I tried to find divorce papers from my father’s first marriage. My cousin in Germany wrote to officials in Germany, Poland and the Czech republic. They wrote back to him indicating there were no records in their files. My cousin sent me all the correspondence (in paper form) with the required official stamps.

        I then sent all this correspondence to NY consulate who forwarded them to Germany

  157. Karl says:

    Just submitted my application and documents at the honorary consulate today! It will go to the Houston consulate and then on to Cologne. So the counting begins…..

  158. Alexander says:

    I just wanted to clarify for anyone contemplating applying for their Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis in Germany that there is no need for any kind of visa to do so. In fact, applying for a visa as a German citizen (e.g., a Fiktionsbescheinigung as one poster mentioned above—actually a bridging visa for naturalization applications) could be construed as visa fraud. A born-German citizen is not actually eligible for any kind of visa in Germany, but of course mistakes can be made. All that is necessary to apply for a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis at a Standesamt in Germany is residency, which is very easy to do—you just go to the Einwohnermeldeamt and request Anmeldebestätigung, and this usually requires that you have some form of identification and a letter from someone who is already registered at that address that you are living there.

    As far as documentation is concerned, it would be wise to bring with you duly translated (i.e., by a court-sworn German translator) apostilled/legalized birth and marriage certificates (n.b. that Germany does not automatically recognize foreign divorces of German nationals) of your ascendants, any German-citizenship–related documents you happen to be in possession of (e.g., an expired Reisepass, Soldbuch, or Wehrpass), immigration records, and military records (or letters of non-existence). If everything is in order, most Standesämter will process these applications within two weeks.

    • Sam says:

      So… I can get on a plane and go to Germany and get proof within two weeks?! You have no idea how happy that makes me if this is true! But isn’t that risky somehow? Going into a country with no proof that I’m actually allowed to be there?

      Sorry I’m asking you so many questions, but I speak very little German and google translate doesn’t always do the best job.

      I’m 100% certain I’m a German citizen. I’ve spoken with my dad, and he for certain, never naturalized. I have his birth certificate, as well as my German grandfather’s birth certificate. My grandfather was born in 1913. Both were born in Germany.

      I also have my own Canadian birth certificate and Canadian passport.

      Do you think I would be able to go to Germany with all that and get things sorted out? I would be able to stay with my grandparents while I’m there.

      • Jenn Mattern says:

        Sam, I’m not sure I’d get my hopes up about sorting things out in 2 weeks. But you could certainly go to Germany to work on this without it being “risky.” You’re allowed to travel there like any other tourist, and you’d be visiting with family so you’ll have a valid reason to be there. You would just travel there on your Canadian passport. If you have family there though, why not ask them to help you get any documents you need from Germany? They speak the language and are already there.

        • George says:

          Sam and Jenn,

          I question Alexander’s claim that an application lodged in Germany would be processed in two weeks.

          Alexander was incorrect to advise people to obtain translations. We know that isn’t a requirement.

          And, his instructions to submit a copy of the citizenship laws from the duchy from which our ancestors emigrated is a bizarre.

          I have read that it takes over a year for an application that is lodged in Germany to be processed.

          So, Sam, I would do some more investigating before flying to Germany. Sorry.

          • Jenn Mattern says:

            Ahh, I must have missed the original claim. I was wondering where that assumption came from.

            I definitely don’t recommend going to Germany simply in the hopes that it’ll be faster. I highly recommend contacting the nearest mission. You can always go there in person to speak with someone and ask them to review your documents first. I found mine to be very helpful.

            While my process took 3 years, I was told the average was 2. So I agree that 2 weeks, no matter where you begin the process, sounds highly unlikely. If you have an interest in going to Germany anyway, such as to visit family, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to file your paperwork there, but you’ll still probably have to wait a while. It’s nice having a contact at the mission you can follow up with during that process, so even if you do go to Germany, I still recommend meeting someone with the mission near your first (or at least getting in touch with them).

          • Sarah says:

            Just want to chime in and say that it doesn’t matter where you are living, the process is still the same and goes across the same desk as everyone else’s applications. I live in Vienna, Austria and I traveled to Köln recently for a trip unrelated to my application. I stopped by the BVA (and I am even lucky they obliged to see me!) and they were quick to tell me that it does not matter where you live, that it is a simple matter of when your paper work enters the queue.
            They do mention, however, when the paperwork is received, someone initially looks it over and that if your paperwork is correct, on-point, and completely to their liking when received, it may be looked at sooner in order to free-up the queue for new applications.
            When I turned my paperwork in at my consulate in Vienna, Austria, I was told it can take up to a year in most cases, but looking at how correct and through my paperwork was, she told me it was very likely there was a chance it could take only 4-6 months.

            Before you submit, make sure you have everything in order to avoid any delays! It is super helpful and you will thank yourself for taking the extra time to get what is needed. Even if you are not sure you need something – send it off anyway! Better to be sure!
            Viel Glück! 🙂

          • Sam says:

            Jenn, thanks. 🙂 I suppose it was just too good to be true, haha!

            I’ve been working with the Canadian consulates for nearly a year now, but it’s been incredibly frustrating and I’m not very happy with them. 🙁

            I first told them what documents I have and asked if I needed more, and if so what could I order from Germany.

            They said it was not enough and there was no possible way for me to get citizenship.

            After googling I found out that getting my father’s BC may help, so I asked if I should get that and they said yes. I was happy there was a way to go forward, but not happy that they had told me “there is nothing you can order that will help” when there clearly was.

            That first consulate said that my documents were now sufficient to apply for a passport and I applied at the local office Great!

            Then in my next e-mail he suddenly said he was not handling my case any more and it was going to be transferred to another office.

            Now the other office has said the documents the first consulate had were in fact *not* sufficient. 🙁

            I was told to order a search of citizenship from the Canadian government (to prove my German father hadn’t naturalized prior to my birth). Apparently the 1st consulate had done this search himself, but neither of them have told me what the result was or if he ever heard back at all. I have ordered the search myself as instructed, although I’m hoping the first consulate will tell me what happened when he did the search himself. My best guess is he is still waiting for a response (though why they would tell me to order a search when one is already in progress is beyond me.)

            At this point I really don’t trust anything they tell me. =/

            It’s only thanks to the many people online discussing this that I’ve been able to get anything done at all. Between all three consulates they’ve barely offered a word of suggestion, they just give me “yes” or “no” when I ask questions. And the same questions get a different answer from each consulate. @_@ Gah!

            (Ahh, I probably sound so bitter here. I guess I am, but I was so mad when my application was turned down after I was told I had enough documents! Sorry for the ranting, lol!)

        • George says:

          I just looked for how long it has been taking for people in Germany, whose families have always lived there. Somebody applied in Hamburg on March 30th, and received a positive response on August 3rd. That’s just over four months. Two weeks sounds extremely doubtful. A lot of Germans who do this are nationalists. The aforementioned person asked to know what law was used, and learned that the BVA did not code any law. We are all trying to use the 1913 RuStag law, which might be a longer approval process.

          • Alexander says:

            You are correct that some areas are faster than others. Berlin, for example, seems to be currently averaging 3–4 months. Translations of English documents is most definitely a requirement at most Standesämter in Germany.

            Also, I did not suggest submitting the laws, merely bringing them along with you in case of a perplexed official.

          • Alexander says:

            In response to Sarah, the BVA is not the national authority of persons living in Germany.

          • George says:

            Alexander,

            If a Canadian or American were in Germany on a visit with no visa, they would not be considered a resident by a Standesamt, would they? Wouldn’t the BVA still be considered their competent authority?

          • Alexander says:

            George, a mere visit would not be acceptable for residency. You would have to have to be registered at the Bürgeramt and intend to stay for at least six months, I imagine, for the local Staatsangehörigkeitsbehörde to consider taking your case. p.s. I should also clarify that I’ve successfully assisted many people with this process in Germany.

          • George says:

            Alexander,

            Thanks for your reply. Sorry to have misperceived you to be somebody visiting the website once and giving incorrect advice, which is easy to do since the requirements are different for applicants in Germany.

            Do you perceive there to be many right-wing people requesting certificates because they believe that citizenship hasn’t existed since the time of the Reich? On youtube, there are a bunch of videos by Rico Hanta. And, there are blogs entirely devoted to the idea. These people ask for their file at the BVA to make sure that their certificate was issued on the basis of RuStAG 1913. It seems crazy.

          • Alexander says:

            George, yes there are a lot of people like that unfortunately. The reason they apply with the BVA is also because the local Standesämter largely will not process applications deemed to be frivolous.

  159. Alexander says:

    The reason that they work so quickly in Germany to process Staatsangehörigkeitsausweise in these kinds of cases is in order to comply with Abs. 1, § 1 (1) of the Personalausweisgesetz and various local Meldegesetze. Basically, all German nationals resident in Germany are required to have either a passport or a national ID, but you need to have proof of German citizenship in order to get a passport or an ID. A Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis is the only definitive proof of citizenship.

    It’s clear that the aforementioned poster, Tomie, bungled things up pretty seriously. I’m pretty sure that he miscommunicated himself to the official at the Standesamt, and that they thought he was trying to naturalize in Germany. For this reason, it would be a good idea for anyone trying to do this in Germany to bring with them copies of the relevant German citizenship laws (e.g., the RuStAG 1913, the 1942 amendment to the RuStAG that rescinded § 26—which caused a foreign-resident German subject to lose his citizenship and that of his dependents for non-military service (conscription had been restored in Germany in May 1935; the amendment also retroactively restored citizenship to Germans who had lost their German citizenship for non-service in that time period)—and the 1974 amendment allowing citizenship to be passed on to all legitimate children of German citizens irrespective of the German parent’s gender). It would also be advisable to try to locate the pre-1913 constitution of whatever Duchy your ancestor emigrated from as most were Ius soli.

  160. Michael S. says:

    May I make a suggestion I wish someone told me about sooner? I had to order several birth certificates and marriage certificates online in order to trace my lineage back to the proper dates–so easy! They mailed me the documents I needed within three weeks as well as invoices.

    I am in America and instead of paying bank wire fees of $45 or more through your checking account, I used Western Union online & I only had to pay the price on the invoice + $3 in fees!

    This will save you a ton of money if you are going through this citizenship process, which for me, has now turned into a geneology project.

  161. Thomas says:

    Hi

    So glad to have come across this forum!

    So I am just starting this process and before I go too far down the road I thought I’d see what insights
    folks have here.

    Anyway I was born in the US to my German born mother in 1965 – out of wedlock to an American father. I was never
    legally adopted by the my father before that relationship ended. She then married a German who adopted me which was before 1977. Both of them are still German citizens and have not even taken on a second US citizenship.

    The question I have is should I just pursue my German citizenship certification through my mother only? It seems like that path alone is sufficient and straightforward in obtaining my citizenship. Adding my German adoptive father into the process only complicates things, and I don’t think it provides any benefit.

    Thanks

    Tom

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      I don’t believe you would be eligible through your adoptive father anyway. I believe you only become eligible for citizenship through adoption if the adoption would otherwise leave you stateless. Being adopted wouldn’t remove your American citizenship, so his German status wouldn’t have any influence over your own. Because you were born out of wedlock to a German mother before 1975, you would be eligible through your mother as long as she didn’t become an American citizen before you were born (meaning she would have lost German citizenship). If she did, you wouldn’t be eligible at all unfortunately. So you’ll need to look into your mother’s naturalization records.

      • Thomas says:

        Thanks for the quick reply! My Mom has never given up her German citizenship but I’ll know to consider any naturalization records regarding that when I submit my application.

    • George says:

      Tom,
      You were a German citizen at the moment of birth, it sounds like, since you were born out of wedlock to a mother with German citizenship. You did not acquire German citizenship when you were subsequently adopted. So, leave question 3.3 on form F blank.
      George

  162. Thomas says:

    Should we be going through our regional German consulate (SF for me) or directly to Koln? Does it matter? Is one way better than the other? I would assume the consulate makes the process slower, but they likely can navigate the ins and outs, and interpret things to English. My Schwabish German works in daily conversation with my family but it won’t flow as well on a technical level.

    • George says:

      It might save three weeks to send your application directly to the BVA, as some consulates take a few weeks to forward applications to Germany. But, the BVA seems to correspond through consulates as a rule. And, you probably cannot avoid having your application placed in the same queue as ours, which has a backlog of about nine months until it is first reviewed. Applying via a consulate might be beneficial in that it establishes a relationship with them. I would contact SF.

    • George says:

      Tom,

      I forgot something important:

      If you can produce a valid passport for your mother from the year that you were born, you might be able to apply directly for a passport without first obtaining a citizenship certificate. Your consulate would be able to advise you about this.

      • Sarah says:

        Hi, just wanted to jump in on the posting and say that I tried applying for passport with my mother’s German passport from the year of my birth through my consulate (Vienna, Austria) and they told me I must have my citizenship certificate first.
        The BVA told me that I could apply for a passport without it, but my consulate insisted and would not issue me a passport without the certificate.

        Not sure if it is different from consulate to consulate, but that was my experience.

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          That could be Sarah. I had a similar experience with the NYC office. They wouldn’t even discuss passports until I had the certificate of citizenship first.

        • Thomas says:

          I finally got my mother’s German passport from the period that I was born, along with her German birth certificate.
          The passport was issued in 1961. It has travel and renewal stamps in it from after my
          my birth since she remained a German citizen. I assume this would serve as the proof I need to submit along with my own birth certificate and US Passport to get my German citizenship certification? Also, does the BVA typically get the documentation you submit all back to you at the conclusion
          of the process?

          Thanks

          Tom

          • Wes M says:

            That sounds quite promising, Thomas.

            Also, you won’t send originals. Make certified copies–either through your local consulate or an honorary consul in your area–and submit those with your application. The BVA will request originals only if they need it. They never asked for any original documents from me.

          • George says:

            Wes,

            Haven’t some people had success with using only a notary public? The Honorary Consul in New Mexico charged me $186 to certify my application. I wonder whether I could have avoided that. However, an application might look more trustworthy if it’s been stamped by the Honorary Consul. And, it sounds like Thomas has a good shot at receiving a certificate based on the 1940’s law rather than having to document things back prior to 1914. At any rate, be prepared, Thomas, to be asked for $186 cash on the spot.

          • Wes M says:

            @George: I believe some people here have had success using copies that are notarized by a U.S. notary or are certified solely by the U.S. authority that issued them. The Houston consulate did tell me that a U.S. notary “should” suffice.

            In my case, I had to have stacks of documents translated and my translator wasn’t local so she didn’t work directly from the source documents. I scanned them and e-mailed them to her; when she finished the translations she mailed me notarized translations but stapled to the scanned copies. Since no U.S. notary will touch authenticating that kind of document, I had the whole stack of papers stamped by the honorary consul here. Then again, she only charged me $33 for one set and another set was free, so it does seem to be at the honorary consul’s discretion.

          • George says:

            @Wes,

            The honorary consul told me that his fees are set by the consulate in Houston. They were so many euros per document and an extra amount for the signature. I wish that he had told me that up front because most of what he stamped had already been certified. However, the German stamps probably look reassuring to a person in Cologne.

            @ All: Changing subject: After the euphoria of discovering German citizenship wore off, I became aware that some people, both Germans and others, will resent that I can apparently so easily obtain a German passport. I think we all need to be ready to don a thick skin.

            And, I’ve encountered no end of educated, well-traveled people who authoritatively declare that dual citizenship was not allowed until a few years ago and/or that I will have to take a language exam and/or identify sponsors in Germany. One German told me that Germany should accept more refugees rather than give passports to people in our situation.

            So, I think we need to be careful when presenting the history of our German citizenship.

          • Thomas says:

            Thanks for the responses! Another related question in this is can all of the required notarizations and stamps be handled
            by the Honary Consulate then? I read in the instructions for the application process (CitizenshipHelpMerkblatt_PDF.pdf) that
            non-German documents needed an apostille based on the 1961 Hague Convention as well. Have any of you had to include this certif-
            ication along with such documents as your non German passport or birth certificate? I am understanding this is that the apostille
            is something that is in addition to the notarization of any certified document copies?

          • George says:

            Thomas,
            Documents from the US do not require an apostilles or translation into German. An apolstilles is a certification that a notary public has the authority to notarize things.

          • Thomas says:

            Thanks! That is really good to know. So why no translation required for documents from the US?

          • George says:

            Thomas,

            I think translations aren’t required from the US for two reasons. Many Germans who work in offices have a good grasp of English. And, the US has relatively less corruption than many other places.

            Regarding the apostille, it’s only if you were using photocopies that the apostille would be a certification of the notary’s signature. Then, indirectly, the apostille would be a certification of the signature on the original (e.g. the state director of health). You could also have an apostille on an original document, in which case the apostille would be directly certifying the signature on the original (e.g. the director of health). But, for US documents we fortunately don’t need to purchase an apostille.

          • Thomas says:

            Thanks again for the reply! I almost made this process more complicated, and very expensive as well! I also talked to the Honorary Consulate here in Portland this morning. They are going to make copies of all my original documents and certify them for me. I just have a few more documents to acquire and I’ll be all set to get my application rolling!

  163. Karl says:

    Just a quick update. I submitted my application at the honorary consulate on October 30th, it was then forwarded to the consulate general, who sent it to Germany on November 2nd. I received this update after I sent an email to the consulate to ensure it was sent. They informed me applications are taking a minimum of 6 months.

    I am still waiting on the official message that Cologne received it.

  164. Roberto says:

    As you probably know, and for several reasons, immigrants are likely to start using some local version of their original name. For example, a German named “Eduard Wilhelm”, might start using “Edward William” after arriving at his destiny.

    Does anyone have experience with, or know about an application where this was the case?

    I’m specially interested in cases where the German ancestor is located rather far away in time, so that local authorities issuing an important paper such as a wedding certificate wouldn’t mind the difference, and proceed anyway. Far away in time may also mean it is relatively difficult to make a correction to such a document.

    If so, can you please share the difficulties and solutions this implied, if any?

    Thank you.

    • George says:

      Assuming that you’re in the US, have you obtained any naturalization documents from the US Archives, such as the petition to naturalize? My grandfather’s states that he entered the US as Franz, but was then going by Frank, as well as spelling his surname more English-friendly.

      • Roberto says:

        Hi George,

        Thanks for the quick reply.

        I’m not in the US. Either way, no naturalization papers have been found and I suspect he didn’t naturalize. In fact, it’s quite an interesting situation because after marrying, having children, and living in Venezuela for many years, he returned to Germany, remarried, and died there shortly after. (The “why” is still a mystery to me.)

        I do have a marriage certificate (the Venezuelan one) that uses a modified name (Spanish version). I’m wondering how this will look in the eyes of the embassy and BVA.

        • George says:

          Hi Roberto. Sorry, that’s difficult. The marriage certificate doesn’t say Alemania? Could there be a ship’s manifest to prove his travels?

          • Roberto says:

            The marriage certificate states his Country and city of origin, as well as his parent’s name, so in my opinion, identification is straightforward.

            I’m just wondering if such a technicality can cause major trouble.

          • Wes M says:

            @Roberto: Unlikely to cause a problem, in my opinion. The BVA staff are intelligent people and deal with this sort of thing every day so they should understand that names change over the years. As long as your ancestor’s name is “changed” to one that is a common change, you should be fine. Worst case is they ask for more information…

        • George says:

          When I met the honorary consul, I expressed a concern about a name issue regarding my grandmother. He told me that the BVA is used to such things because they are common. It sounds like you have good proof.

          • Roberto says:

            That’s good news.

            Thanks for the feedback, George.

          • George says:

            Roberto. Sorry I didn’t remember the honorary consul’s comment right away. Only my grandmother’s middle name is on my grandfather’s petition. On their marriage certificate, she used only her middle name and last name from her stepfather. And, on my father’s birth certificate, she used only her first name and last name from her stepfather. It could look like two different people! I’m terrified that the BVA will ask for her birth certificate from what used to be a German village in Hungary but is now in Serbia. Otherwise, I have excellent documentation and a very simple history. Good luck!

        • Jenn Mattern says:

          I suspect it will be fine. Shortly before I found out they validated my citizenship claim, I let the NYC mission know that I discovered a possible name change. It wasn’t an Americanization of the German name, but a complete change. And I discovered it related to my great grandfather’s brother — meaning either they both changed their name or he was never really his brother to begin with. It wouldn’t be surprising if the family completely changed its name, especially because my great grandfather’s brother was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the war. The name change happened after that, but before he joined the U.S. military after moving here.

          The only records I had were photocopies from a genealogy database showing his name at different times — not even proof of the actual name change taking place. It was a weird situation. I only let them know about it because I knew there were issues finding my grandfather’s birth certificate (if the whole family changed their last name, his would have been different at birth). They thanked me for the information and didn’t mention it again. But just a few months later I got my approval (after a much longer wait before that without any updates). No idea if it played a role in them finding what they needed, but a name change certainly didn’t concern them in any way.

    • George says:

      I just looked at some petitions online. My grandfather’s is from 1935, and specifically asks what name he entered the US under. Older petitions don’t do that. So, my experience probably doesn’t apply.

  165. Wes M says:

    (Moving this to a new set of replies, we’re becoming a regular multi-thread forum here. :D)

    @George – The only time I’ve encountered someone who seemed to passionately object to my “easily” (if you can call a multi-year process of documenting exactly who I am and where my relatives came from “easy”) obtaining recognition of my German citizenship was blowhards on discussion sites like Reddit. Those who complain would do the exact same thing were it an option for them so I chalk it up to jealousy, not any actual concern for Germany as a country. What we accomplished is on the level of someone figuring out she was born to a U.S. citizen–or even on U.S. soil, something Germany doesn’t do–and claiming a U.S. passport.

    “One German told me that Germany should accept more refugees rather than give passports to people in our situation.”

    Certainly, and I think that Germany should give out ponies rather than make cars. As it turns out, both of us can say silly things even if we’re being absolutely genuine. 🙂

    I’m happy and maybe a little proud of being able to accomplish this. Then again, I’m also a sucker for genealogy and digging through things that others find to be a hassle.

  166. George says:

    In hindsight, Wes, you are correct to attribute the hostility that I have experienced -in response to stating that I discovered my German citizenship- to jealousy.

    Still, if I know that I might make a person (especially a new acquaintance at work or school) jealous, it might be prudent to not immediately share that my German citizenship was discovered 79 years after my grandfather naturalized. I think we should be vague. Let people assume that we always knew about it.

    Perhaps I’m exacerbating things by also stating that it’s “bittersweet” to discover it after age forty. Imagine growing up with the knowledge of it and going to university at age 18 in Europe.

    My application was extremely easy to assemble. We always knew that my father was born before his father naturalized because my grandfather changed the spelling of his name when he naturalized, to get rid of the ‘e’ used to indicate an umlaut. But, he didn’t change my father’s! For 79 years, nobody realized what that meant.

    Fortunately, my circumstances make it possible for me to move to Europe. And, I’m looking for an opportunity.

  167. George says:

    Thomas,

    There is this less-frequently applied law that allows a citizenship certificate to be issued when you have ancestors who carried valid (continuously unexpired) documentation from 1950 to your birth. But, you should ask a consul whether that documentation needs to be a citizenship certificate.

    Your mother’s passports by themselves might not even guarantee her to receive a certificate. You might have to document everything back to 1914. It would be better to figure that out now rather than wait 6-9 months until somebody in Cologne reviews your application.

    It seems like the rules are being more strictly applied as time passes. Some commenters in Germany say that even people in Germany usually have to go back to before 1914. If you decide to submit what you have now, I would spend my time waiting by gathering documents to prove my line of descent back to 1914 in the event that you are asked for it later, which seems more likely than not.

    I tend to get excited by the possibilities of “loopholes” and short-cuts, and I wish that somebody had criticized me for steering you toward the possibility of not having to go back to 1914. So, I urge you to ask a consulate whether they think it’s feasible. If not, people here have lots of experience gathering documents to help you out.

    • Thomas says:

      George

      Thanks for your reply! I thought I replied to this earlier but I don’t see it out here. Anyway would my grandparent’s birth certificates accomplish this assuming they were born before 1914? If those records are still around I think I can get them relatively easily assuming they were born in the same town as my mother. My aunt still lives there. I guess I’ll get to learn something new about the family if I have to dig deeper!

      • George says:

        Thomas,

        Assuming that your mother was born in wedlock, then you would need her birth certificate, your grandparents’ marriage certificate and only your grandfather’s birth certificate. If your grandfather was born before 1914, that’s as far as you need to go.

        Hopefully your family isn’t from a place where the records were destroyed. But, even if that’s the case, there is some sort of form to prove that you were unable to find them, which helps.

        Town registers in Germany are called Standesamt. In my case, I had the Standesamt transcribe my grandfather’s birth record from 1905 onto a new form (International Birth Certificate). So, it’s not a matter of finding 100+ year old certificates in tact, just a records in ledger books.

        Some Standesamt respond quickly and charge nothing. Others can take a while and charge a fee. Hopefully you experience the former.

        Good luck.

        • Thomas says:

          I just talked to my Mom and found out her father was born IN 1914. Think they would make me go back to one level more to his father’s? Getting her dad’s birth certificate and marriage certificate should be relatively easy. The great grandfather’s info might be a little more challenging. Also, I’m assuming I’d have to go back on my mom’s father side grandparents? Her mother’s side grandparents would be irrelevant in my case I assume?

          Thanks again for all the useful information everyone is providing! This is kind if fun!

          • George says:

            Thomas,

            Reading the 1913 RuStAG law that seems to be relevant, it says that it takes effect on January 1st, 1914. I hope I’m wrong, but it appears that you have to go back one more generation.

            Since your mother was born in wedlock and her father was born in wedlock, you only need your mother’s birth certificate, her parents’ marriage certificate, her father’s birth certificate, his parents’ marriage certificate and his father’s birth certificate.

          • Jenn Mattern says:

            It isn’t always necessary to have full documentation going that far back. In my case, they only received documents through my grandfather’s records — born in the ’30s. They sent me a questionnaire about the previous generation (asking for names, date of birth, and where they lived during different periods), but didn’t require any kind of documentation. I filled it out to the best of my ability from my notes from past conversations with my grandfather. They never requested verification of anything beyond that. Of course having the info will speed things up. But if you absolutely can’t get your hands on something, don’t worry too much. Send what you have, and if they need something else, they’ll let you know.

          • Thomas says:

            I finally got my grandfathers birth and marriage certificates. So since my grandfather was born in February of 1914, technically not before January 1st, I took some time to see if I could get a birth and marriage certificate for my great grandfather in case the BVA decided to get really technical. I Anyway I found the marriage certificate at the Standesamt since he was married in 1900. I also got his birth date and the town he was from. However he was born in 1867. The Standesamt told me I would need to get the birth record from the church. From what I understand the birth record is likely just a copy of an entry from a church registry, not an actual birth certificate? IS the BVA going to accept that? Also I was wondering where I might get this. I found the site for the “Landeskirchliches Archiv Stuttgart“which encompasses the parish he likely would have been from. Anyway any insights would be appreciated!

  168. Karl says:

    Just a quick update:

    10/30/15 – Submitted application at Honorary Consulate
    12/14/15 – Received letter from Consulate in Houston which contained a letter from the BVA in Cologne from 11/24/15 stating my application was received.

    So the BVA got it and typed up the letter 24 days after I had my appointment at the Honorary Consulate. They didn’t give a specific timeframe but said as each case is individual and complex, there could be a delay. They gave me a reference number and asked that I don’t ask for updates.

    Really I am just relieved that they got it and all of my documents are safe! 🙂

  169. George says:

    I have a question about passport photos. I’m hoping that I will need them in a few months (fingers crossed in the German way).

    US passport photos are 51mm X 51mm. But, German photos should be 45mm X 35mm.

    The consulates’ web sites say to please not cut the photos yourself!

    There is a website ePassportPhoto.com that crops and cuts photos that you take at home. They either send the file to a drugstore to be printed or send you actual prints by US mail for $1.50 each.

    Can anybody recommend that site or another service that processes photos that are taken at home? Thanks.

    • George says:

      Answering my own question about passport photos: The Houston consulate will cut photos, which is nice because we can use cheap online editing and printing services.

      I was hoping to use the German Air Force passport office in El Paso, but they and the Honorary consuls don’t accept applications for identification cards.

      Houston is a very long way from northern New Mexico, but I think that the ID card would be more practical.

  170. Jenny says:

    I’m hoping someone can help me.

    My father was born in Germany and was a german citizen until the year after my birth in Canada. I’m filling out Appendix V to prove my german descent was from my father but when i go to select how he obtained his german nationality there is no born in Germany to german parents just descent adoption etc. Does that mean i have to select descent for him even though he was born in Germany to german parents and given nationality that way? If that’s true then i have to fill out appendix V for his father and mother for which he obtained his german citizenship? My grandparents are still german citizens even though they live in Canada too. So once i fill out appendix V for them can i stop there as they are still German citizens and have current nationality. My family does not have any proof of nationality documents for my great grandparents other then a marriage certificate. It may also be of note that my grandfather was born in Hungary.

    Thank you for any help you can provide

    • George says:

      Was your grandfather an ethnic German refugee from Hungary after World War 2? Where were your great-grandparents married?

      Refugees were given citizenship according to a different law from the one that applies to most of us here. Most of us document our descent from a person who was born in German lands before 1914. Your case might be different if your great-grandparents were also born in Hungary.

  171. George says:

    Jenny,

    P.S. I just reread your message and gleaned that your great grandfather was probably born in Germany. Hopefully, it was before 1914.

    A child born in wedlock before 1974 acquired German citizenship from their father, only. So, you don’t need to provide birth certificates for your grandmother, great-grandmother, etc. A vice consul told me to provide my mother’s, but other applicants have not done so.

    If your grandfather’s birth certificate is in Hungarian, it will need to be translated by an approved professional or you will need to request an “international birth certificate” a.k.a. Form A, Formule A, etc. from the town registry where he was born. International birth certificates are notated in over a dozen languages.

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you for getting back to me George.

      I’m not sure if his parents were born in Hungary or Germany but i can find out. My aunt told me because of the war my grandfather doesn’t have a german citizenship document.

      What i’m really confused about is why do i have to fill out these forms that far back if my dad has proof of his previous german nationality through his old passport and birth certificate and my grandparents are still current german citizens? I know my grandmothers parents were born in Germany before 1914 but i’ll find out about my grandfathers.

      Thanks for your help.

  172. George says:

    Jenny,

    Even people who were born in Germany, who hold a German passport and whose families always lived in Germany are asked to document things back prior to 1914. It’s what the BVA in Cologne, requests. Prior to January 1914, German citizenship was granted to those born on German soil, as it still is in the US. After that, it could only be inherited. So, they’re asking us to document a chain of inheritance back to a person who was German based upon being born there.

    If your grandfather were an ethnic German refugee, he would have been naturalized. That’s the box that you would check. And, then you would try to find a record somewhere. But, if you can’t find something, there is a form to demonstrate that you tried, which is taken into account.

    Somebody above, I think in Vienna, recently wrote that they were still required to apply for a certificate even though they could produce their father’s German passport from the time of their birth. But, they didn’t have grandparents with unexpired German passports. You might ask a consulate if that would enable you to apply for a passport without first obtaining a certificate. But, I wouldn’t be too hopeful.

    So, I’m hoping that your great grandfather was born on German land before 1914.

    Good luck.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks so much George

      I’ve been reading the comments and don’t understand why some people who haven’t even filled out the citizenship forms completely but applied for a passport proving their father was a German citizen when they were born have gotten their citizenship and passport!? I’ve emailed the consulate here in Edinburgh where i am currently to ask if i can apply for my passport considering i have proof my dad was German when i was born and proof both my grandparents are still German. I’ll have to wait to hear back from my aunt till this evening as she lives in Canada regarding my Grandfathers refugee status and probably a week to hear back from the consulate. Such a frustrating process.

      • Mark says:

        Jenny – perhaps you read the account of my process. I left most of my forms blank… What they are looking for is the point in time where it is clear to them you are German. Both my parents were German at the time of my birth, I had my father’s passport which was valid at the time of my birth. The problem is, these are only considered ‘indicators of citizenship’ – When I spoke with the consulate they asked me a few specific questions after which it became very clear as to what I needed. For me, my father’s Flüchtlingsausweis is considered a certificate of citizenship – the point in time that said to them ‘German’ – from there on nothing else was required. (other than $) You are basically coming to them saying ‘but I’m German’ – they are saying ‘prove it’ – you may have to go back to 1914. If so, I would check if your parents have any Ahnen or Urhkunden (individual’s family tree book). I would phone the consulate & have a conversation as to what you have & what you still need (if anything) – ask them about any translations, certification & apostille you may need.

        • Jenny says:

          Thanks Mark,

          I’ve been informed that my Grandfather was told to flee Hungary and then went to Germany where he received a german passport. Just found out my great grandparents were born in Hungary as well. It sounds like he doesn’t have any documentation proving naturalization but that has to be what happened?Where can i find this kind of documentation? I don’t even know where to start! I’ve tried contacting the consulate but they’ve been pretty unhelpful. I wonder if its worth it just to book an appointment for my passport and just go in and see what happens. I’ll have proof of my dads passport, birth certificate, when he became Canadian after my birth and my grandparents birth certificate and current passports.

          • Mark says:

            It sounds like your Grandfather was a displaced person after the war. If so, it will save a lot of time if you can find his Flüchtlingsausweis (google image it) – displaced ethnic Germans were given these when they resettled within the FRG. In 1949 they were collectively granted citizenship. The Flüchtlingsausweis is your grandfather’s proof of citizenship – you will not likely need to go further back. It does not matter that he was born in what is now Hungary. If you cannot find it (it really does look worthless as a document) – the town hall of the town in Germany in which he arrived will have the document number of the Flüchtlingsausweis which you will need.

            Showing up to a passport appointment (particularly in a 3rd country) without the proper documentation would be waste of time at best. I notice you are in Edinburgh – but are Canadian – if you can help it, I would not be dealing with the consulate in Scotland. If you can make the Canadian German consulate the collection point of your Canadian documents, it is much easier for that local consulate to process & vouch for the familiar to them Canadian documentation. Doing this, IMHO would strip away a layer of complexity. (check out the Canadian – German Consulate website – it’s actually one of the more informative ones with regards to passports & citizenship – perhaps if you call them, they could be equally helpful )

          • Jenny says:

            Hi Mark,

            Thanks for responding. I’m in Edinburgh on a 2 year work and travel visa. Which ends in January 2017 I could go home if I really need to and apply but with the applying for citizenship process they just send it off the cologne anyway right? When it comes to applying for the passport I guess I could try and fly home and see if they’ll let me do it but that’s a lot of money spent on a flight for a “maybe” situation. I briefly spoke with the Toronto consulate via email and they advised it was likely I would Just go back till my grandfather but that the BVA would let me know once they got it. I’ve only suggested just applying for my passport as some people seem to have been successful going that route which still makes
            No sense to me.

            Thanks again for your help. Really appreciate it!

          • George says:

            Mark. I’m glad that you chimed in to correct my misperception that the displaced persons were naturalized.

            Jenny. Best wishes for quickly learning where your grandfather was issued that document.

    • Sarah says:

      Oh I always seem to jump in so late to the conversations because the updates never send to my emails.

      Regarding this –
      “Somebody above, I think in Vienna, recently wrote that they were still required to apply for a certificate…”

      My entire family line on my mother’s side is German. I have official documentation of mother, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents (etc), dating back to the early 1700s (thanks to genealogy research my German family did decades ago) that I turned in to my consulate. My grandparents, though, were the first to have passports, and my mother kept her German citizenship until I was 6 (I am now 25).

      They still required me to apply for the certificate of citizenship. The person working my case in the Vienna consulate said that she had no question in her mind that I was German, but she said regulation is regulation and that it must be followed.

      So, they officially received my paperwork in early October. I fly back and forth to Austria (this is where I want to live and currently have family and “work”) every 3 months due to Schengen restrictions on my American passport. It is a hassle but I can’t apply for visa as applying for a visa while being a citizen of the EU would be visa fraud. I have not officially cleared this with any Austrian authority yet, but this is what I was told at the German consulate in Vienna.

      I am really hoping that since my paperwork is 100% together and well-documented with multiple sources, it won’t take much longer. The caseworker said that the better documented you are, sometimes they may be quicker. Here is to hoping this is the last time I have to fly back to Vienna for only a short 3 month stay again! 🙁

      • Mark says:

        Sarah – perhaps you should contact your US consulate. Vienna is looking at you as a probable citizen with a bunch of foreign documentation from a 3rd country. Your US Consulate is familiar(comfortable) with US documentation & knows exactly what to do with it. I’ve even heard of complications arising of documentation spanning consular districts – as one is not familiar with the ways of the others local bureaucracies & institutions.

  173. Jon says:

    Hi Jenny,

    I’ll also add echo Mark’s comments. Both of my grandparents were ethnic Germans born in Hungary, and both were expelled to Germany post-WWII. It sounds like your grandfather was in the same situation.

    I applied for my German citizenship certificate using this as the basis of my claim (as Mark said, the year 1914 is irrelevant). I did not have the Flüchtlingsausweise for either of my grandparents – they must have been lost over the years. Nevertheless, the BVA was able to confirm my claim to citizenship, and issued me with my Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis.

    Certainly provide all the documents you can (for my grandparents I gave their Hungarian birth certificates and their German marriage certificate), I believe if the BVA is not satisfied with what you’ve provided they’ll look into the German records to try and confirm your claim.

    • Jenny says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience Jon.

      When I’m filling out the appendix V form. What do I select for my grandfathers way in which he received German nationality then. Other? Or naturalization?

      Thank you!

      • Jon says:

        No problems Jenny, happy to help.

        For that section I selected “other” and wrote “see attachment”. In the attachment I explained (in German) the situation of my grandparents having both arrived in Germany as ethnic German expellees (Heimatvertriebene) and then receiving German citizenship.

        I’m not sure whether you can speak German or whether it would be ok to write it in English. If you can’t speak German, it might be worth getting a German speaker to help you.

        • Jenny says:

          Ok perfect thanks. Guess I’ll have to get my grandfathers birth certificate translated when It gets here as well. Luckily for me I have many German speakers in my life so I’ve got my bases covered in that regards!

  174. George says:

    Jenny, Mark & Jon,

    Given that the BVA had some way to verify that Jon’s grandparents received Flüchtlingsausweise, and given that Mark was allowed to apply for a passport without a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis, I wonder whether Jenny can somehow request a search for the record of the Flüchtlingsausweis.

    If Jenny were able to obtain a new Flüchtlingsausweis, she could attempt to apply for a passport and/or send it to the BVA.

    It seems like the BVA would not initiate a search for a record of the Flüchtlingsausweis until six months after they receive her application.

    Since Jenny’s visa is expiring in a year, it would benefit her to initiate a search, if possible.

    A German friend suggested contacting an Ausländerbehörde to ask whether it’s possible to request a nationwide search or several regional searches.

    • Mark says:

      Most Germans living in Germany do not have or need a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis. It is only called for when a person’s nationality needs to be proven. (public office etc.) It is also indicated when the consulate is unclear as to the Staatsangehörigkeit of the person before them, they then request more information & let the BVA decide. With a favorable outcome, the certificate is issued & you are a recognized citizen in the eyes of the consulate.

      I did not request a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis – but will eventually request one for my children – it will be easier for them to renew their passes without generations of documents.

      As a side note – for those that plan on exercising the 2nd citizenship – it may be beneficial to also obtain your Personalausweis – I found out recently that it has an ‘online identity function’ – which is very handy in electronic DB train ‘handy’ ticket functions.

  175. Mark says:

    Her Grandfather’s Flüchtlingsausweis info would have been recorded in the town he arrived/settled in. The consulate may only need that document’s #. I cannot over emphasize the importance of establishing a working relationship with someone knowledgeable at the consulate. (if not Scotland, then Canada) When I reached the right person, I was asked a few simple direct questions & they told me exactly what I needed to show up with, attestations, no translations, etc. It was also that person that told me how to get the Flüchtlingsausweis document #. When applying for the Reisepass, It is entirely up to the applicant to supply the requested documentation. I spent months if not a year contemplating, researching & spinning my wheels – made ONE phone call to the right person & everything fell into place within a few weeks. Made an appointment – 4hr visit, passports a few weeks later. PS – call consulate – particularly if submitting translated documents – January 2017 is not far off depending on what you need to do.

  176. Jenny says:

    Thank you everyone for your advice. I tried to ask if i could apply for my German passport with all the documents i have here in Edinburgh but was emailed this morning simply that i need my citizenship document first. Of course as per usual he didn’t answer any of my other questions so i emailed the Vancouver German Consulate back home and received this response…

    Dear Ms. Kreisz,

    atttached please find a passport application form as well as some information on which documents you need to submit for your application.

    The documents you mentioned sound quite good, just one thing: Do your parents have a German marriage certificate? Or, if not, did they make a declaration for a family name according to German law? Because if not, you do not have a last name according to German law yet and would have to make a name declaration. In that case you would also have to make an appointment with our consular section for a name declaration. You can book both appointments at the same day. The passport will only be issued after the name declaration is done.

    Name declaration? This is the first time I’ve heard about this and how can one consulate say yes i can apply for my passport and the other no? This makes no sense. In regards to the name declaration it appears i need both my parents to be present so that could be just as tricky but maybe easier then the citizenship route. Does anyone know anything about name declarations and how long they take to process?

    Thank you once again!

    I did also contact the Toronto consulate that deals with citizenship and they said it was likely i would just go as far back as my grandfather with the documents I have and if they need more i would be contacted by the cologne German office.

    • Mark says:

      Awesome!

      My name declaration form was completed @ my consular appointment. It’s only a form – no waiting. I needed my parents US marriage certificate. Being that Vancouver is your consulate, perhaps they can (along with your parents pushing it along) put the package together & get whatever else they need directly from you via Edinburg (have Vancouver(your consular district…) work with Edinburg on behalf of a traveling Citizen from their district in need…)

      • Jenny says:

        It would be awesome BUT my parents now live in Mexico ( I know I know 🙁 ) and it looks like your parents have to be at the appointment with you no? To verify their signatures. I thought I read that in the instructions?! I seriously can’t win with this one lol

        • Mark says:

          Vancouver should be able to walk you through this – these situations happen almost everyday

          http://www.kanada.diplo.de/Vertretung/kanada/en/02/passport/passport-first-time-applicant.html

          • Jenny says:

            Mark,

            When you did your name declaration did you documents have to be originals? The german consulate is advising me i can do the name declaration and then apply for my passport which seems to be a much quicker process but they think the documents have to be originals which of course for me is impossible given my parents location. I have been advised my parents do not need to be at the appointment though.I have asked Vancouver to confirm if i do indeed need originals and they have forwarded on my request to the name declaration department as they thought i could have certified copies. I don’t understand why 2 different consulates are giving me opposite information. Was just curious is your documentation were certified copies or not.

            Thanks!

          • Jenny says:

            Out of curiosity did anyone include their mothers documents (passport, birth certificate) in their citizenship application? My mom is Canadian so i did not obtain German nationality from her. It doesn’t appear to be required in my application BUT you never know.

            Thanks

  177. George says:

    Mark,

    Your explanations have caused me to wonder whether my elderly US-born father could apply for a passport using his father’s pre-1914 German birth certificate and naturalization papers. We have no German travel or citizenship documents.

    I need German identification by September, and that seems very possible since the BVA acknowledged receipt of my application on September 17. But, could I have avoided this torturous waiting?

    • Mark says:

      I’m not sure that would work – not having a passport under which your father was born would seem to be a negative.

      • George says:

        Mark,

        But, I would have a brand new passport for my father. I was thinking that my father could first apply for a passport, since my grandfather’s birth certificate from 1905 proves that he was a German citizen. If that worked, then I could obtain a passport by presenting my father’s.

        • Mark says:

          What I meant by my previous post is that you don’t have your grandfather’s passport under which your father was born – perhaps there not enough clear indicators of citizenship. On the other hand, if it would work, you need not wait for your father’s pass, you can apply simultaneously.

          • George says:

            Mark,

            Sorry I misunderstood you. I wrote a message to the consulate. Probably the 80 plus years that have passed would be at least as great a concern as the lack of a passport.

            I’m surprised that they exempted you from needing a certificate as forty years had passed since your father naturalized. Even people who were born in Germany and who once held a German passport have been required to obtain a certificate in order to apply for a new passport.

  178. Mark says:

    George
    No two cases are alike. A snapshot of my situation at birth, two married German citizens take a trip to the US and give birth to a child on US soil. Father’s passport valid at child’s birth + father’s proof of citizenship = child getting their passport. It did not matter that I was applying for my first passport @ 40 – I clearly met the requirements then just as now. My entire passport interview was conducted in German & the rest of my family is in Germany. My cousins here in the US are all dual for many years – I was erroneously told years ago that I did not qualify because I had missed some sort of deadline. Ironically, my younger siblings are ineligible because they were born after my father became a US citizen – they are no different than me – c’est la vie

    • George says:

      Mark,

      It is irrelevant to your claim to German citizenship that you can speak German and that evidence existed that your mother might have held German citizenship. Those things do not permit for exceptions to the rules.

      Contrary to what you wrote, your younger siblings are markedly different from you. They were not born to a father with German citizenship.

      Your formula for success, “Father’s passport valid at child’s birth + father’s proof of citizenship = child getting their passport” has not worked for others.

      To say that a Fluchtlingsausweis is proof of citizenship, interchangeable with a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis, is like saying that a pre-1914 birth certificate is proof of citizenship that is interchangeable with a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis. I suspect that neither is.

      One common reason that your formula for success has not worked for others has been the passage of time. The application for a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis requires that the applicant disclose everywhere that they have lived –and everywhere that their parent and, if applicable, grandparent lived– and to sign under oath that it is correct.

      Many people including myself have spent time in other countries. This will in some cases raise questions that delay or prevent receiving a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis and a passport in turn.

      There was a case of someone in Africa, I think, who was allowed to apply for a passport. After receiving a passport, the consulate informed them that it was done in error and that the passport had been canceled. Mistakes are made.

      I’m not saying that you’re not a citizen. You and most of us here obviously are. Despite that obvious fact, we are required to endure a tedious process. But, it appears that in your case perhaps the rules were not properly applied. And, that might be why your experience was exceptionally easy.

      • Jon says:

        In relation to the Flüchtlingsausweis, it can be a proof of citizenship. If the Ausweis states that the expellee is an ethnic German, it confirms their status as a German citizen in accordance with Article 116(a) of the German Basic Law, which states:

        “(1) Unless otherwise provided by a law, a German within the meaning of this Basic Law is a person who possesses Ger-
        man citizenship or who has been admitted to the territory of the German Reich within the boundaries of 31 December 1937 as a refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or as the spouse or descendant of such person.”

        German version at: https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/gg/art_116.html

  179. Mark says:

    ?????
    April 3, 2013, he wrote: “I had my father’s expired passport under which I was born along with his US naturalization certificate – ( he became a citizen 2 months after I was born!)”

    Today he wrote: “A snapshot of my situation at birth, two married German citizens take a trip to the US and give birth to a child on US soil.”

    George – am I missing my contradiction???

    Both my parents were GERMAN CITIZENS when I was born. My Father became a US citizen shortly AFTER I was born.

    For your reference, I’m enclosing a link to the Reisepass application – It’s from the Canadian Mission because it also contains more information. – ***please read the last few pages***

    http://www.kanada.diplo.de/contentblob/3445504/Daten/5437475/passerstausstellunginfopaketdownload.pdf

    FYI – I met and answered EACH & EVERY requirement – some of the parts I left completely blank were the previous pass / identity card section.

    The Flüchtlingsausweis was only part of the constellation of documents I supplied to connect the dots. (I had more than they asked for)

    I mainly check in here to try & constructively help the descendants of Art 116 Heimatvertriebene because I am familiar with the issue & what their families went through. Many people do not know what that document represents. The number on it is actually the displaced person’s registration # in the ‘system’ – it does not disappear.

    http://expelledgermans.org/

  180. Jenny says:

    In a great turn of fate my grandfather actually found his Flüchtlingsausweis! So I suspect this will make my application process much easier? I don’t think I can just apply for my passport after all because they said I would need to do a name declaration and the instructions i read for it state my parents both need to be there to sign but they live in Mexico so that’s not happening. But I suspect with the Flüchtlingsausweis my citizenship application should be pretty straightforward.

    If anyone has any thoughts let me know!

    Thanks for all your help everyone.

  181. Jenny says:

    Oops forgot to add. When I get a copy of my grandfathers Hungarian birth certificate. Is it easier to get it translated? or how can I get one of those international birth certificates?

    Thank you!

  182. Jenny says:

    The Vancouver consulate just got back to me and apparently I don’t need my parents signature for my name declaration. Which is great but does anyone know why i can apparently fly home and apply for my passport out right skipping the German Citizenship application but the Edinburgh Consulate states i need to apply for my citizenship first? I think I’m going to call them one more time tomorrow and advise that I’ve been told i can apply out right in Canada and confirm why i can’t here.

    Thanks again

    • Mark says:

      That is great news!
      As for a reason Canada is treating you differently than Edinburg – Sarah’s situation bears repeating – Edinburg is perhaps looking at you as a probable citizen with foreign documentation from a third country. The consulate in Canada is familiar(comfortable) with your Canadian documentation. (You also found your GF’s Flüchtlingsausweis – perhaps try Edinburg again letting them know you found it….)
      When you confirm with the Canadian consulate – check with them as to what you need to do with your GF’s BC. Perhaps there is someway of doing this differently (with Canadian help) being that you are temporarily in Scotland. Your consulates can make beglaubigte kopies of locally presented documents – & send them through their channels. If it turns out you need a translation, consulates usually have a list of known good translators.

  183. Jenny says:

    Thanks Mark. I will look into this. I’m wondering if its worth it to fly home and just get this sorted if the Edinburgh consulate won’t let me apply for my passport outright but i can back home.I still don’t understand the whole name declaration or why its necessary though. Does anyone know if having a German Passport but not proof of citizenship effects your working privileges in the EU?

    • Mark says:

      No work or residence problems for EU passport holders. AFAIK most EU citizens do not have a certificate of citizenship hanging on their wall. You may require one if running for office or other specific positions.

  184. Jenny says:

    So i called the Edinburgh Consulate and they advised i could apply for my passport after my name declaration was processed but it appears all my paperwork for my name declaration has to be originals. Which sadly for me is just not possible. They said they may be able to accept my documents if they are certified by a German consulate. The one near my parents is hours away so i doubt they will go for it. Anyone on here have any other ideas? If not i guess I’ll just have to apply for my citizenship as i previously thought.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Could you have your parents mail the documents to the consulate there? They can include a SASE to have them returned. I know the NYC mission was willing to do that if you couldn’t make it to the office. It might take a few days or a week or something, but probably better than flying all the way there. I wouldn’t want to make that trip personally only because I was told one thing before travelling to NY to meet with them only to get different information about what was needed once I was there. It would be a heck of a trip if you ran into a similar issue.

  185. Jenny says:

    Hi Jenn,

    I could look into that thanks!
    Vancouver consulate emailed me and said my documents as certified copies for my Name Declaration were fine so now I’m thoroughly confused. It seems the farther I go down this German passport rabbit hole the more confusing it gets.

    • Mark says:

      I agree with Jenn – there has to be a way.

      I was under the impression that a consulate’s beglaubigte kopies are as original. (I hope so…) I would imagine they could be sent along with other consulate generated documents and instructions via diplomatic channels between consulates. During my last appointment, all of my documents were scanned directly into the ‘system’.

      Is Vancouver aware of your predicament & location? Do they know you would need to fly home – keep us posted as to the outcome!

      • Jenny says:

        Ok so an update. I have received confirmation from both Vancouver and Edinburgh that certified copies are fine for my kind of name declaration. So that’s great. I received my grandparents documents today that i’ll send with my passport application after my name declaration clears. My grandparents sent me certified copies of their identity cards, marriage certificate, my grandfathers refugee card and their current german passports. (They did not send their birth certificates which i hope is ok because of the identity cards)Now that i look at the appendix V for the questions it doesn’t ask for a birth certificate rather passport, identity card or other. SO i really hope thats sufficient. At any rate it looks like I’m applying for my name declaration and passport not the citizenship route at this time as the other is much quicker. Anyways any thoughts are appreciated. Still waiting on my parents as the Canadian consulate in Mexico could not certify my dads German documents (of course) so my parents need to find a German speaking lawyer! what a pain!

  186. Luis Massieu says:

    Dear Jenn,

    Thanks for your great article, love the personal touch.

    Jenn i write to you because I have a question:

    I have a client that is trying to obtain dual citizenship.

    All documents are apostilled and reday to go, however there is a crucial marriage certificate to prove the lineage that they only have a photocopy and obtaining an original has become impossible.

    The question is: In your experience the authorities will accept a document apostilled on a notarized photocopy or does it have to be original?

    Thanks and happy thursday!

    Luis Massieu
    luis@apostille.net
    https://www.apostille.net

  187. Mark says:

    Hi Jenny – sorry for the delayed response, I was out exercising my passport…

    Have you tried the German Consulate in Mexico?, they would be the ones to certify your parents German documents. You should not need a lawyer? At your passport appointment, you can apply for the certificate of citizenship, that way in the future you will not need all of your parents & grandparent’s documents. Your passport will arrive quickly, the certificate, not so quickly.

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Mark,

      The consulate it a plane ride away as my parents live on the baja peninsula, oh well. They found a notary/lawyer who is doing it. One thing though i have received my grandparents certified documents but as i’m looking at the application instructions for the citizenship application it says the back and front of each document need to be certified and the solicitor did not do this! I’m hoping this is not a big issue as i’m just applying for my passport at this time. i can’t really do my citizenship and my passport at the same time as i only have one certified copy of each and the passport application and citizenship would go to different places. Apparently my grandfathers Hungarian birth certificate was lost ages ago but i do have a certified copy of his german identity card showing where he was born. i’m hoping this is sufficient as i’m at a loss as to where to obtain a Hungarian one. Hoping the refugee document, identity card and current german passport are enough for my passport application combined with my grandmas and parents documents.

      I should be doing my name declaration in the next 2 weeks.

      • Mark says:

        Jenny – perhaps Jen could forward my email address to you – or visa versa – I would feel better not publicly discussing the details of my exact experience – Mark

  188. Karl says:

    Hey everyone. So it’s been 4 months since I got confirmation about my application being received. I know I’ve got lots of time to wait still, but thought I’d ask, does anyone know what the timeline is for those who got rejections? I obviously know acceptance can take years…but if you are rejected, do you know quite a bit sooner?

    • Michael says:

      That’s a good question Karl, I am wondering if anyone knows that as well. My application was accepted by the BVA on Jan 8th, 2015. I checked in at year 1 and was informed it was still in the queue and nothing was needed of me paperwork wise. I keep wondering if the answer was no, would I have most likely heard already?

  189. Jorge says:

    Hi everyone, I have been reading this blog for months while I was preparing my application to prove my German citizenship and that of other family members. I appreciate what Jenn and many others have done through this blog. It’s been very enlightening and full of supportive messages.

    I wanted to share a little of my story to encourage people to dig into your roots and to let you know that sometimes it’s not such a lenghty process. I started with no documents over a year ago and now I have my German passport after only 4 months since I submitted my application to prove my citizenship!

    A little bit about my family story: my great-grandfather came from Germany to Mexico many years ago while he was young and got married with a local woman and had children (including my grandfather). Later he was named German Consul and lived in Mexico until he died. My grandfather had dual citizenship at birth (he lived in Mex & Germany) but got married and had 10 children in Mexico. He died young and nobody in the family had any documents to prove his or his father’s German citizenship. For decades no one really tried to find the required documents (we did not even know when and where my grandfather was registered at birth). Fortunately I was able to find several documents including a birth certificate for my great-grandfather, passregisters from both in Germany and other support documents with the help of a great investigator in Germany. I also had to find other documents in Mexico. That process took around a year…

    After I had decent proofs, I submitted my application to prove my German citizenship(along with other family members) on November 2015 through the Mexico City Embassy. I heard from them the standard response that it may take even a couple of years to get a definitive answer, so I was mentally prepared for a looong wait…

    Nevertheless, I received the Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis on January 2016, after only two months! I quickly applied to get my German passport with that and now I just received it as well! This process will now help dozens of cousins, uncles, aunts and other family members to get their own passport as the required proofs from our common ancestors have been submitted and accepted…

    I have to say I was very dilligent while preparing my application and was able to submit birth & marriage certificates, passregisters and even an exequatur from the German Auswärtiges Amt proving that my great-grandfather was German Consul. I guess that helped to expedite the process…

    So my message here for those in the process of searching for the documents or waiting for a response is to have faith. Maybe you’ll get a positive response sooner than you expected!

    Cheers,

    Jorge

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      That’s fabulous news Jorge. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m thrilled that others have had a much easier process than I did, and I hope your story gives some readers hope and encourages them to start this process if they were otherwise concerned about delays. 🙂

  190. Jenn Mattern says:

    Well folks, I’ve decided it’s time. I’m finally going to get my German passport (already have citizenship documents). Can any of you point me to the right place to start, or should I just head back to the NYC mission the next time I’m out that way? I’m assuming it’ll be pretty clear cut now that citizenship has been established. Did any of you run into any trouble if you followed a similar process (I know some of you went for that first instead)? Appreciate any info you can pass along. 🙂

    • Marianne Jaeger says:

      Hi Jenn,

      How exciting — passport next!

      After waiting 2 years 8 months for my certificate, I wanted to apply for a passport straight away.

      Because the appointments for passport applications in NYC had such a long wait (2 month wait in Sept of last year), I applied through an Honorary Consul in Philly. If you check the NYC mission website, you’ll see that one can apply through certain honorary consuls, who are listed on the website. If one is closer to you than the NYC mission, you’ll save time – big time.

      Got an email very quickly with an appointment offered as quickly. I did ask whether I needed anything else besides my certificate, and the answer came back YES. So you need to look at what they will require (and much of it is the same stuff one needed for the certificate in the first place.) I didn’t bother to ask why — the bureaucracy is beyond me.

      Photos can be done at some Walgreens and CVS. They have the template for the German (and indeed many other) passports there. I did have to have mine redone because they didn’t quite fit but at least the Walgreens was opposite the honorary consul’s office and I could have them redone before the consul had another appointment.

      I applied for expedited delivery, which I was warned would take 4-5 weeks (!). Mine came on Thursday of the fifth week.

      I moved to the UK in December 2015 and am now a resident here, complete with job. The first time I used my German passport to enter the UK it was amazing. No queries about the purpose of my trip, how long I’m staying, etc, etc. When I get asked if I’m American (because of the accent), I say I’m German or I have dual nationality.

      I’m going to apply for German identity card so I don’t need to lug my passport with me. Wish I had done it at the same time as the passport, even though they are separate applications (meaning separate appointments).

      Good luck to you! I still keep up with postings here. And if I have anything constructive to add, I’ll continue to post.

      Kind regards,
      Marianne

      • Jenn Mattern says:

        Wow Marianne. Our situations are so similar. I’m thrilled you chimed in with that great info! 🙂

        Actually Philly would be a bit closer for me as I live in SE PA, so the news about the honorary consul is fantastic. Also, great to know there’s a Walgreens there should anything need to be re-done with the photos. I hadn’t thought about applying for a German identity card at the same time. Appreciate that tip. 🙂

        I hope they’re not going to expect my grandfather’s birth certificate. Did you need anything like that? That’s what we didn’t have which took them the extra time to sort out. All I know is they found what they needed in Berlin, but I was never told what exactly they found to confirm things. I’d hate to run into a similar delay. But I guess they’ll have everything on record. I still have my case number available from the citizenship inquiry.

        We’ll have to chat some time about your move to the UK, as that’s my ultimate plan too. I’m gathering as much feedback as I can from the few people I know who have made that transition — the more info the better before a jump like that. My main difference is that I run a business, so I’d have to figure out the relocation issues involved there as opposed to finding traditional work.

        Thanks again!

        • Marianne Jaeger says:

          Hi Jenn,

          I’ve been snowed under with work so I’ve let my social media go…

          Please do get in touch with me on my email and we can certainly chat about my move to the UK.

          I moved here before the Referendum in the UK about its continued membership, which is next week. If the result is Brexit, EU citizens may no longer have free movement into the UK.

          Have been urging all my friends to vote ‘Remain’. I can’t vote in the Referendum because only British citizens and citizens of the Commonwealth have the right to vote in it. On the other hand, I did vote in the London mayoral elections and have the right to vote in local elections.

          Hope that you’ll be able to figure out how

        • Marianne Jaeger says:

          Hi Jenn,

          I’ve been snowed under with work so I’ve let my social media go…

          Please do get in touch with me on my email and we can certainly chat about my move to the UK.

          I moved here before the Referendum in the UK about its continued membership, which is next week. If the result is Brexit, EU citizens may no longer have free movement into the UK.

          Have been urging all my friends to vote ‘Remain’. I can’t vote in the Referendum because only British citizens and citizens of the Commonwealth have the right to vote in it. On the other hand, I did vote in the London mayoral elections and have the right to vote in local elections.

          Let me know when’s a good time to chat.

  191. Mark says:

    I hope this means you’ll have to break it in with a TRIP !

    NYC has a passport photo booth right past security – it was inexpensive.

    My standard answer would be to take a look at the form & give them a call to see what you need in addition to your certificate. (first time applicant, have certificate) Appointments seem to fill in this time of year in advance of summer vacation travel.

    I just got back from a trip – off season air fares were 1/3 of summer peak & no lines at the tourist attractions.

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      No trips to Germany planned just yet. But within the next couple of years I’m looking at moving to the EU — most likely the UK (if they stay in the EU), but France and Germany and also possibilities. I’ll likely take a couple of trips over there before a move to decide where I want to settle in, so I’ll get there in time. 🙂 Given that it’s not a big rush for me, I might just hold off until Fall then. Or I’ll wait until I’m going to the city for another reason and do it then instead of making a special trip (have family there anyway).

      Appreciate the info Mark! 🙂

  192. Eden Bendorf says:

    Ok everyone I’m willing to try and do the citizenship route again. What are my chances if my father doesn’t have a passport and served in the US Army when he turned 18? He has a german birth certificate and his alien registration card. He has an expired german passport and it states ungültig. I have an official copy of his mothers birth certificate, his parents marriage certificate and letters stating his fathers date of birth. I also have their death certificates. I have my parents marriage certificate, my mothers birth certificate and her passport. Is there any way that I can prove that my dad is a citizen of Germany still?

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      If he served in the U.S. army, chances are he’s not a German citizen anymore (though rules might be different for draft service vs. voluntary — hopefully someone will have more info for you on that). And if he lost citizenship by serving in a foreign military that young, and you weren’t born yet, then it wouldn’t pass to you either unfortunately.

      Edit: The rule I just read said he’d lose citizenship if he served willingly in a military for a country he’s also a citizen of. So if he wasn’t a U.S. citizen, you might be OK. You might have to prove the lineage back to 1914 though. And if he served in the military here you might need to show he’s not a U.S. citizen (though I’m not sure they’d be able to find that out anyway unless you tell them). If he has a valid green card, I would imagine that would suffice.

  193. George says:

    It has now been six months since the date of my letter of receipt from Cologne: 17 September. I haven’t received a reply, and my case is very straightforward.

    I was born in wedlock in Chicago a few years before 1974. My father was born in wedlock in Chicago a few years before his father became a citizen. My father’s father was born in Bavaria in 1905, and immigrated to the US as an adult.

    It should be approved eventually.

    • Kevin says:

      HI George.

      Any status update? I have the same situation as you. I submitted in February 2016.

      • George says:

        Kevin,

        Sorry I missed your post until today. In case you haven’t already found my other posts, my citizenship certificate was created in April, seven months after the date of my letter of receipt from the BVA.

        My older brother who joined the military in the 1980’s is expecting an answer from the BVA around April. I’m not hopeful. But, we have another option: Hungarian citizenship.

        I received my grandmother’s birth certificate from Serbia (then Hungary) last week!

        I plan to move to Germany ten days.

        I hope that you hear something soon!
        George

  194. George says:

    I wish to share some feedback from the consulate regarding the Germanization of the spelling of names.

    Apparently, that’s only allowed when naturalizing. For a dual citizen, the name on the birth certificate will be the name in the passport unless a lengthy legal process is pursued.

    Maybe it’s for the best. Georg sounds funny to an English speaker. And, having umlauts on some documents might create a fuss back in the US.

    • Heinz says:

      Hello George,
      I don’t know about the umlaut issue. My US brith certificate doesn’t have the umlaut over the O in my last name and neither does my German citizenship. But both my German reisepass and my Personalausweis have an umlaut.

      The US doesn’t care what my German documents say and as for my German passport and ID I didn’t file anything special I just told them the proper spelling and the consulate said ok.

      Best regards
      Heinz

  195. George says:

    Thanks, Heinz.

    What do you mean by “correct spelling”? Did you use an umlaut on your application for the certificate or for the passport?

    Perhaps the answer that I received from the consulate only applied to my first name?

    Kind regards,
    George

  196. Heinz says:

    Hi George,
    By correct spelling I mean the way my family name is spelled in Germany by my family. When my father immigrated to the US the Ö was changed to O only not OE. So when I filed for my German citizenship paper Köln sent it and the paper just uses the vowel O not ö. When I filed for my passport I told the consulate that the proper spelling of my family name is with an umlaut and both the German ID and German passport for my daughter and myself show Ö.

    I have found that what a person is told from one consulate to another can very a bit.

    I don’t know if that helps or not.

    Bis später
    Heinz

    • George says:

      Hi Heinz,

      I asked the Houston consulate for clarification about the umlaut. They replied that I could try to request a German birth certificate with my name spelled with an umlaut. But, it would take a minimum of three years.

      A friend in Germany told me that he has often come across my name spelled with “ue” rather than an umlauted-u. At least it’s going to look normal 🙂

      Kind regards,
      George

  197. Eric says:

    I’ve spent the past three days reading through the comments and find everyone’s stories fascinating. I’m about to embark on my journey of trying to get my German citizenship established and thank everyone for their input over the years as I find it extraordinarily helpful.

    I thought this would be quite straightforward as I was born in Canada in 1973 to a German father who married my Candian mother in 1972 ( in wedlock). I thought I could just stroll Into the consulate in Toronto and get my passport but it is obviously a bit more complicated than that.

    Here’s a little bit of my background and the documents I have. My dad was born in 1945 in a Russian gulag. His family were ethnic Germans living in Hungary that appears to have immigrated to Hungary in the 1700s. My dad has a book about ethnic Germans living in Hungary and when certain family names immigrated which is quite informative and fascinating. When my Oma was sent to the forced labor camp, as she was pregnant with my father with another young son she was placed on a family farm to look after children. At some point after his birth they were sent back to Hungary and then expelled to Germany. At some point on this journey my dad’s four year old brother became sick and died. My dads father was also killed during the war prior to his birth. I find it amazing living in the times we do now that a story like this exists not so long ago but there are millions of stories like this from that time period in Europe!

    My dad immigrated to Canada in 1966, married my mom in 1972 and had me in 1973. As far as documentation is concerned I have my dad’s landing papers to Canada, his old German passport issued by ther German consulate in Toronto from 1974 to 1984 ( 5 year extension in pp), his Canadian citizenship card that he was granted in 1984, an official document from Germany that states he does not possess a birth certificate as he was born in a gulag among other German documents that he possesses and I have yet to go through. I also have my parents marriage certificate from Canada which will prove I was born in wedlock

    I do not have his German pp that he had in 1973 as I imagine he probably had to turn it in to get the new pp in 1974. I wonder, would the toronto consulate have a record of this or a copy of his old pp if he turned it in?

    I understand that at some point he may have been issued a Flüchtlingsausweis when he was registered in Germany. I do not believe he still has that. If he was a baby at the time, would they have give him a Flüchtlingsausweis or would they have just listed him under my Oma’s document? My Oma passed away in 2012 and I remember going through all of her stuff after the funeral and I seem to remember seeing a document that appeared to look like a Flüchtlingsausweis. As my dad’s entire family is still in Germany I will need to contact them to see if they have it if people think that will help. If he was issued a Flüchtlingsausweis o can also have my Aunt go try and get his document number which they will hopefully have on record.

    Can anyone think of anything else I should do in order to prove my citizenship. I believe I clearly am German but as always the difficulty is proving it!

    Is it also worth taking everything I have and attempting to get a pp issued at the consulate in Toronto? I am still going to apply for the citizenship document but would like to try for a pp first given the long processing time.

    In regard to the name declaration, is that necessary for me to do? Not too sure when that is needed and I would have to book a second appointment for that purpose if needed.

    Thanks again to everyone who has contributed and look forward to any advice

  198. Mary says:

    Hello,

    I am researching this issue on behalf of my 15-year old son, basically for all of the reasons that Jenn lists in her post. My son is of German descent on his father’s side. His paternal great grandfather(and grandmother) was born in Germany prior to 1914 (just beginning to research, but likely around 1870-1890) coming to the U.S. between then and 1913 when my son’s grandfather was born. So we know that my son’s great grandfather was born in Germany prior to 1914 and his grandfather was born in the U.S. prior to 1914. If his great grandfather never renounced his German citizenship, is it just a matter of documenting the births, marriages, etc. going back to his great grandfather? Since his grandfather also was born prior to 1914, wouldn’t he have inherited the citizenship even though he was born in the U.S.? Thanks for any information you can provide. We would like to begin the process so we can complete it by the time my son graduates from high school. He has attended a French immersion school in the U.S. and we want to have as many options as possible for future international travel, residency, etc. Thanks again.

  199. Michael S. says:

    Hello,

    I wanted to update everyone on my post from July 26, 2015, in case this may help anyone in a similar position to my family. This website has been such a valuable source of information!

    I have been trying to get my German citizenship for me and my mother for about a year now.

    My mother moved to NY with her family from Bonn, Germany, when she was about 5 and she was born in 1967 and I was born in 1985 in NY. She has never become an American citizen and my Opa has never become an American citizen. Because my Mom moved here so young, she did not have a Kinderausweis and she let her American green card expire in 1997.

    I found out I was required to track down birth certificates of my great-grandparents on my Opa’s side. Eventually, I was able to track down my family’s birth certificates on all sides and marriage certificates going all the way back to 1878, which I think is so interesting.

    I submitted all the birth certificates, death certificates, applications, and print-outs of a PDF from USCIS from a CD-ROM of my mother’s entire immigration file from 1971. Trying to obtain my mom’s immigration files took about 4 months for me to get from the US government, meanwhile I received all birth certificates from Germany within about 3 weeks going back almost a hundred years. I found this amazingly efficient on behalf of Germany compared to America.

    Almost exactly 6 months later, they wanted more information. I then had to have the German Consulate in NY mail the original CD-ROM from USCIS to Germany along with a copy of her driver’s license, as they wanted a recent picture of my mother.

    About 2 months after that was submitted, they requested that my Mother submit a signed affidavit in English and in a certified German translation that she has never become an American citizen through her own application, that she has never become an American citizen through her father’s application, and that her father has never become an American citizen.

    I’m about to send this to the NY German Consulate and I think that will be all that they need from my mother and then she can finally become an official German citizen and get her German passport and travel more and she will be able to renew her American green card more easily and I should be able to also get my German citizenship and get a German passport and be an official dual-citizen of America and Germany. Hopefully, this will all be done in time to leave America before Trump gets elected, God forbid. JK.

    What I thought would be a simple process has turned out to be a little complicated and has taken almost a year because even though my Mother was born in Germany and I was able to trace back our roots to 1878, they still required a lot of proof that my Mother never became a naturalized American citizen.

    Good luck everyone!

    • Eden says:

      Michael, I’m in a similar situation with my family. How did you get a letter from the US Consulate stating that your mother was not a US Citizen? Also did they not ask about her becoming a citizen of another country? They asked me and I didn’t know how to prove that he didn’t. How can I suggest that to the German Consulate here in Chicago to have my dad sign an affidavit to prove he didn’t become a citizen of another country?

  200. George says:

    A letter arrived today… the BVA is issuing to me a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis.

    The Houston consulate received my application in early August of 2015. The BVA’s letter of receipt was dated September 17, 2015.

    My case was simple. My father’s father was born in 1905 in Bavaria. He emigrated from Bavaria to the US at age 23. My father was born in wedlock in the US before my grandfather naturalized. I was born in wedlock to TWO dual German-US citizens, a few years before 1974.

    My parents and I were unaware that we held German citizenship until June 2015. I also have Polish and Hungarian ancestry, which was apparent in my application.

    Thanks, Jenn, and everyone, for sharing your stories and advice.

    Best wishes to all,
    George

  201. George says:

    Regarding the payment of 25 euros for the certificate: what constitutes the “proof of payment” that the consulate requests? Can we use Western Union and submit a print-screen?

    • George says:

      I found more info, and this might help somebody. We apparently cannot use Western Union or XOOM to pay the 25 euros. There isn’t enough space for all the info. And, both only allow payment to individuals.

      • Wes says:

        They want a wire transfer from your credit union or bank. Proof of payment is sending them the wire transfer receipt that shows that the amount of money sent is in Euros and the recipient will collect the full 25EUR upon receipt (that is, no fees will be deducted from the sent amount by the sending party).

        There is a limitation on the number of characters that your financial institution can enter but all of the characters I needed them to enter did fit.

        It is an international wire transfer so, unless you bank at a larger institution like Chase (which can batch up international transfers), you generally have to be at your place by 2:30PM Eastern Time because FedWire (the service that does this for smaller institutions) stops at 3:30PM Eastern. My credit union charges $40 per international wire, for what it’s worth.

        • George says:

          Thanks, Wes.
          I just made a wire request at a major bank. I told them that 25 euros needs to be received. But, on the receipt, it says “transfer amount 25 euros” AND “other fees estimated -16 euros” AND “total to recipient estimated 9 euros”. The bank assured me that all is fine. Even if it is, will the consulate accept it?

          • Wes says:

            I’m not sure if they will. My receipt says “transfer amount 25.00 EUR / other fees 0.00 EUR / total to recipient 25.00 EUR.”

            You may have to wait until the BVA confirms full acceptance back to the Consulate.

  202. Alexander says:

    George, it sounds like that isn’t going to work. You may want to setup an account at xetrade.com. They do not charge any fees for international transfers if you select ACH. I use my account multiple times a month and only have good things to say about it.

    • George says:

      Thanks, Alexander.

      I’m hoping that the consulate has previously received wire receipts from Bank of America and that the “expected fees” are listed only to protect them from blame.

      Since the receiving bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, is part of the government, they might not charge a fee to accept the wire.

      If the consulate isn’t satisfied with what I sent, I will first complain to Bank of America. They charged $35. But, if only 9 euros are delivered, it’s like paying $55.

      xetrade looks good, thanks.

      George

    • George says:

      Regarding XEtrade: I asked them whether they provide space to include the required code (i.e. bank “instructions”, about 50 characters). They replied that it’s only possible with their “wire service option”, which can’t be cheap because they have to pay to use a wire system.

  203. Alexander says:

    George, I’m not sure what you mean by “bank instructions.” When you book a trade on XE, there is an option listed “Reason for this transaction” to include a reference with your transfer. There are several options available, and you may select “Other,” but the field is limited to 35 characters. That is pretty standard for IBAN transfers in Europe.

    • George says:

      Alexander,
      “Instructions” is a space on a wire form to add miscellaneous information. I just counted again, and we need room for 47 characters. The letter from the BVA says that the 25 Euros won’t be credited if those 47 characters are omitted. So, we seem to be limited to using wire transfers.

  204. George says:

    Since I now have proof that I was born a German citizen, my brother who joined the military in the 1980’s decided to ask his consulate if he then really lost citizenship. They told him that it’s “complicated”, and instructed him to submit an application. He’s excited, and it seems like he talked to someone who wasn’t knowledgeable. Is it not completely clear that he would have lost it?

    I’m starting to wonder whether the consulate never say no. I’m reminded of people whose ancestors immigrated before 1904, yet were told to apply.

    • George says:

      My brother is arguing that since he did not know that he was a German citizen, he should be exempt from needing to ask for permission before joining the US military in the 1980’s.

      I don’t think it works that way. It’s like people whose ancestors emigrated before 1904 arguing that their ancestors were unaware that they needed to register at the consulate. It won’t fly.

      • George says:

        My consulate also said that my brother who joined the military in the 1980’s needs to apply to the BVA in order for them to determine whether or not he lost citizenship. But, the BVA says that they have kept the records from our parents and grandparents, which makes it easier.

        Maybe things aren’t so black and white?

        • George says:

          Section 28 of the Nationality Act pertains to voluntarily joining the armed forces of another country. The original act from 1913 does not seem to automatically cause a person to lose citizenship. And, I don’t think it was changed until 2000. So, joining the military in the 1980’s might not be bad. Does anyone know? See Section 28 at link
          http://www.jstor.org/stable/2212311?seq=8#page_scan_tab_contents

          • George says:

            I found another article, and it seems like voluntarily joining a foreign military before 2000 might be okay.

            The law was changed in 2000 in order to deny citizenship to Germans who joined foreign militaries during the war in Yugoslavia.

            In the article “GER 28” refers to Section 28 of the nationality acts of 1913 and 2000. See the last paragraph on page 21 as labeled in the article. Caution: long download time.

            http://eudo-citizenship.eu/docs/loss_paper_updated_14102010.pdf

          • Eden Bendorf says:

            You’ll have to let me know how your brother fares in this George. I’m in a similar situation and would like to hear the outcome. Good luck to him!

  205. George says:

    Eden,

    Before 2000, it seems they would not strip a person of citizenship because they joined a foreign military IF that would make them stateless. That is due to Basic Law article 16(1). That might be good for you.

    Since my brother was a dual citizen, it’s iffy. I think he needs to be considered to have ties to Germany. Perhaps having brothers with proven German citizenship would help.

    One article cites a rare book by Massfeller that I’m trying to obtain through interlibrary loan to see if it mentions dual citizens.

    Good luck to you, too!

    • Karl says:

      George,

      This would be very interesting to find out. I would be curious as to how far back this law goes (if you find it to be true). If a person could not be made stateless, and they had not yet naturalised as a US citizen, then could they have been stripped of their citizenship for not registering with a foreign consulate?

      On that note as well, when I called and enquired about the registrations, the consulate said they didn’t have any such records. How would the government strip citizenship if that was the case? I’m sure there is an answer to this, I just can’t figure it out.

      • George says:

        Karl,

        The Basic Law was created during the reconstruction after World War 2, in 1949. So, unfortunately, it wouldn’t help your ancestor.

        I read that an attorney in Brazil had several applications for certificates rejected because there were no registrations found at the consulates before 1904. And, I also read a person’s complaint that their application was rejected for that reason on quora or reddit. In general, not being able to find a document won’t kill an application. But, it seems to not be the case regarding the consulate registers.

        The German law from 2000-2011 would make a person stateless if they joined a foreign military. I’m sure my brother wasn’t a German after 1999. But, his kids might be Germans if he didn’t lose citizenship in the 1980’s.

        Sorry I don’t have good news.

        • Karl says:

          Thanks George. It is unfortunate, but maybe the BVA will find things that I was not able to. Who knows. I’m on month 7 so we shall see.

  206. George says:

    My certificate was delivered today. It’s been eleven months and four days since I discovered that I’m a citizen. And, it’s been eight months and six days since my letter of receipt: September 17, 2015.

    The BVA’s letter of determination was dated April 15, 2016, which is not quite seven months after the letter of receipt.

  207. George says:

    Hi Karl,

    I only received the two letters forwarded through the consulate by US mail.

    I did recently email the BVA to ask whether they kept my documents so that my brother won’t need to provide everything, and they responded the next day.

  208. Sarah says:

    Hey everyone. First, I really want to thank everyone for all the personal experiences and advice since I have started the process of getting my citizenship. I don’t comment much, but reading this blog and the comments has been more helpful than any government website or “how to” website. I really hope that more people who do this process have ease finding this blog. So thanks Jenn and everyone.

    Here’s how my process went:

    A little background so that people don’t have to read back – I was born in America to a German mother and American father. She naturalized when I was 6. Thankfully, all the paperwork that I needed (birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, etc.) were all kept neat and filed because she needed all the same papers for her U.S. citizenship.

    I did this process through the consulate in Vienna, Austria because I was living abroad, traveling and working around. I officially started my application for my Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis on September 21, 2015. The BVA received my paperwork on October 15, 2015. They sent a letter to my home in Austria telling me that. I knew about the wait times and called them at least once a month, asking to speak to my caseworker in order to make sure they stayed on my case. One time I even went to the BVA to prod them in person when I was in Germany. 😛 (Speaking German really helps! If you can get a German speaker to help you with your case, you should! It goes A LOT faster. I promise.)

    They finally acknowledged my case and sent a letter to my consulate in Vienna on March 16th, 2016, who then emailed me saying they needed only one paper from me about my mother’s naturalization in the U.S. and it needed to be translated in German. I had her get with the German consulate in America that helped her through her naturalization and her renunciation of her German citizenship and they had the papers to sent to the BVA on April 29, 2016.

    The BVA emailed me on May 18, 2016 to let me know that my Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis was sent to the consulate in Vienna. I am in America at the moment, so I’ll have them send my certificate through mail to my consulate in America and apply for my German passport here. I have to return to Austria in August so I am pretty excited to be able to finally move there and get health insurance, a good job, a bank account, all the good adult stuff (I am sure my parents are ready for me to as well haha). My birthday is this week also so I look at it as a nice birthday present from Germany. 🙂

    This whole process has been a bit stressful, especially the traveling back and forth every 3 months. However, it only took me about 8 months to complete my process. That’s significantly faster than most people. It makes no difference that I did it within Europe, so you can get it done fast too.

    My best tips are that you send your paperwork off as completed as possible (with everything in German, of course and certified copies as needed), that you call the BVA (again, speaking German GREATLY increases your chances of talking to your caseworker or someone higher up), and if they request paperwork from you, send it back express mail. It’s not so much the getting it overseas that takes long but more that German mail takes FOREVER.

    So, that was my process. I hope it helps anyone who might read it. I’ll try to pop around every now and then to see how everyone is progressing with theirs. Viel Glück und vielen dank für alles! 🙂

    • George says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Hopefully your driver’s license shows an address where you can receive your passport, as the consulate requires. My landlord chose an inopportune time to terminate my month-to-month lease extension.

      Since there’s a chance that I will go to Europe in a few months, and I hate to pay $1,800 to break a lease. My unit has already been reassigned. And, I can’t impose on people indefinitely. The state is very strict on changing addresses on licenses.

      It looks like I’m not going to win, and I just need to do something. Anyhow, congratulations!

      • Sarah says:

        Oh that’s awful. Surely you can work something out with the consulate, perhaps to pick your passport up if you have to? My DL has my parent’s address on it, and that is where I stay when I am in America. So I guess it is no problem for me. I don’t know the laws in whatever state you are in but where I am, you need no proof of address to change residence so I’m not really familiar with this. Perhaps if nothing gets resolved, the new people in your unit would be kind enough to accept post for you…granted you trust them enough with that. Either way, hopefully you get it worked out so you can get to Europe soon. 🙂

  209. Hannah says:

    Hi everybody, I hope you will be able to assist me. I’ve sent through all my documention via the Cape Town Consulate to Collogne. The only certificate outstanding, is my greatparents marriage certificate. They were married in Tanzania during 1930 and Tanzania replied that they don’t have any records. I’ve found a letter that was written by my grandfather stating that my grandmother was his wife. It was stamped and signed by a notary. Do you think this will be enough evidence or do you have any suggestions?

  210. George says:

    I have an appointment for a passport in El Paso, where the German Air Force trains pilots.

    It’s six hours away, and there’s no photo booth. I went to Walgreens, and their photo template for Germany looks wrong compared to the German websites. The gap below the chin is smaller and the gap above the head is huge.

    Has anyone successfully used a photo like that? I feel like I need to ignore the template in order to create an acceptable photo.

    • George says:

      The passport photo template at Walgreens has an issue, at least where I live.

      I went to a second Walgreens in town. The guidelines in their software still have the oval for the head too low. But, the second store additionally had guidelines for the eyes, which showed that mine were below the acceptable height. So, the head definitely needs to be moved up a lot after using the oval to size it. The employee protested a bunch before letting me move my head up and outside the oval.

      I also tried going to CVS, where two employees told me that German passport photos are the same size as the US! They insisted that all countries use the same size! Wow.

      • George says:

        I applied for a passport at the German Air Defence Centre at Fort Bliss in El Paso. Their photo scanner accepted a photo that was taken on my balcony in natural light and edited on a self-serve Kiosk at Walgreens.

        Going on the Army base was an adventure. The German soldier lady who accepted my application wore a camouflage uniform. The cost was $116 by money order only. I spend the night in an Army hotel for $53. It probably won’t be possible to apply in El Paso in a few years as the Luftwaffe is leaving.

  211. George says:

    I’m posting a link to the German law for conscription military service (Wehrpflichtgesetz) from 1956. It is Section 8. Part 1 says that one can only join a foreign military with permission, which sounds like a dual citizen lost citizenship by volunteering. But, as noted earlier, Section 16 of the Basic Law protects a person with only German citizenship from losing that.
    http://www.bgbl.de/xaver/bgbl/start.xav?start=%2F%2F*%5B%40attr_id%3D'bgbl156s0651.pdf'%5D#__bgbl__%2F%2F*%5B%40attr_id%3D%27bgbl156s0651.pdf%27%5D__1465770252786

  212. George says:

    Those of us with two German citizen parents are not considered to have a “Migration Background” by the German government, as defined in the 2005 Census. It’s mind boggling. This link goes to a pie chart. Spätaussiedler are ethnic Germans from the former USSR who naturalized.
    http://focus-migration.hwwi.de/typo3_upload/groups/3/focus_Migration_Publikationen/Kurzdossiers/bilder/policy-briefs/PB2-Germany/neue-version/grafik5_gr.gif

  213. Jenny says:

    Hello Everyone,

    Some of you may remember my story and posts on here from January and I would just like to share my experience.

    I’m a 30 yr old Canadian working in the UK. My German father met my mother in Canada and was a German citizen till 11 months after my birth in Canada.

    I was told by the Vancouver German Consulate that all I had to do was apply for a German passport with proof of my dads previous German citizenship and proof of the date he became Canadian. When I contacted the Edinburgh German Consulate where I am they said I had to apply for my certificate of citizenship first. I took them at their word and i got all the necessary documents certified and flown to me from Mexico where my parents are now and Canada where my German Grandparents (still German citizens) are. While I waited for the documents to arrive I further queried with Vancouver as to why I was being told by Edinburgh to do a different process. I was advised that they always encourage that you apply for the certificate of citizenship, it would make it easier for my potential kids to get citizenship etc but I did not have to apply for that first in my case. They thought maybe Edinburgh weren’t familiar with Canadian documents and felt the citizenship route was simpler and clear for them that I was entitled to citizenship or not.

    I went back to Edinburgh and asked them why I’m being told different things by different consulates. They said they had to be sure I’m entitled to German citizenship. In the end I ended up sending them my prescanned documents and once they saw my Dad’s old German passport, birth certificate and the date he became Canadian was after my birth they gave me the go ahead to apply.

    I submitted my application May 18, paid for express service and got my passport yesterday.

    It took a lot of emails and calls but I was able to get my passport without the certificate of citizenship. In my case I am on a time sensitive visa so I needed to get it as soon as possible so I can stay out here. I still intend to forward my documents to Cologne for the Citizenship Document as well.

    Sometimes you just have to keep querying. Had I not I would have likely been going home in January.

  214. Jenny says:

    In addition I did not have to do a name declaration as I was once told by Vancouver. Not sure why but that didn’t bother me as it took less time for me to get my passport.

  215. Karl says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Just wanted to see if anyone who has sent their application off has heard anything? It’s been 9 months since I sent it off and 8 since they received it. I sent it through the Houston Consulate. Hopefully no news is good news at this stage!

    It’s funny, I’ll go weeks without thinking about it, then I find some weeks I’m checking the mail with anticipation everyday! Ugh the wait!!

    • Wes says:

      If it makes you feel any better, I also went through the Houston consulate and the time between when I got my “we’ve received your request and are processing it” letter and any further reply was approximately 15 months. I went the whole of 2014 with no words from the BVA. When I e-mailed Houston to ask them, around Thanksgiving 2014, they said that they don’t even ask for a status check until around two years have passed with silence. I was ultimately successful.

      Hang in there, it’s an exercise in patience. 🙂

  216. Karl says:

    Thanks Wes! I appreciate your encouragement!

    My biggest fear was that it’d be a straight decline, which makes me wonder if it’s a good sign that I haven’t heard anything yet. George was a month or two ahead of me at the same consulate and heard in May that he was approved. So they must have looked at it at least a month before that. So my thought process is, if they would have looked at mine and seen it was a no go automatically, I would have probably heard by now.

    But maybe I’m just being hopeful. Lol

    • George says:

      Hey Karl,

      Hang in there! Remember that my application was about as simple and well-documented as can be.

      I’m surprised that there aren’t more new people here due to Brexit and the increasing awareness of dual citizenship.

      I suppose the website has become daunting to read due to its length. And, I’ll accept my own hefty share of blame for that LOL. I write a ton when anxious 🙂

      I’ve applied to five master’s program in Germany, and been rejected by two, one just barely. Eventually I should get in.

      Take care,
      George

      • George says:

        I’ve been admitted to a master’s program in Germany. To me, it was easier than the US. Dual citizenship is worth it 🙂

        • Karl says:

          Congrats George!! Thats very exciting! When do you head out!?

          • George says:

            Thanks, Karl!

            Coincidentally, my passport arrived today. In the photo, it’s as if there is a line down the middle, with my face dark on the left side. Weird.

            I’m leaving for Germany in mid-September. I got into the best school in my field in Germany, which is also the tenth best in the world. I keep thinking that they are going to contact me to say that a mistake was made 🙂

          • Karl says:

            Haha!! I think I go through most of my life with that feeling. My professor told me it was called the imposter theory and was very normal. As if at any moment they would realise their mistake and we would be found out. Lol. But as I said, most of my friends have felt that way so I guess we all feel it.

            But seriously, that is a major accomplishment and I am completely jealous! I imagine you’re going to have the time of your life in Germany!!

          • Jenn Mattern says:

            That is amazing news George. Congratuations! 🙂

  217. Karl says:

    So I got a letter back from the consulate today regarding my application. It’s been 2 weeks over the eight month mark since they received it in Germany.

    They are asking for more information. They need my great grandfather’s birth certificate, which I simply don’t have. Also a marriage record that would have been in a church book, but I think it was destroyed during the war.

    These are the only documents they are asking for…so I am wondering if that is a good sign?? I mean, it would appear they have looked through my application and have not flat denied it on any base as of yet. If I could somehow find documentation stating these do not exist, I wonder if that would suffice?

    What do you all think? Is this a positive sign? (I can tell you my heart nearly stopped when I found a letter from the consulate in my mailbox today!!!)

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      They insisted they needed my grandfather’s birth certificate too, a good while after receiving my application. I let my contact know the family couldn’t save any documents when they were forced to flee their hometown, so my grandfather never had a copy. As far as we knew, the church records had been destroyed during the war as well. So she passed that info along to the folks in Germany. The upside is that they did research on their end and eventually got everything approved. The downside was that it took quite a while. So keep your chin up. It’s definitely not over yet. I’d see if there’s any possible way to find the documents more quickly on your own. But if not, tell them the situation and see what they say.

    • George says:

      Karl,

      Births and marriages were almost certainly recorded in both the civil register (Standesamt) and at the church. Don’t forget to look in both places, as well as to ask the diocese, archdiocese or state archive.

      Question your family history. My family believed that the birth record for my maternal grandfather from near Danzig (Gdansk) was destroyed by fire during the war.

      Last year I obtained images of both the church and civil records of his birth from the Pomeranian Genealogical Society. His birth wasn’t up to Catholic standards; the fire story was a cover up.

      The BVA doesn’t require original certificates. It’s okay to have a record in a ledger transcribed onto a new certified form. I obtained a new international birth certificate (Internationale Geburtzurkunde) for my grandfather’s 1905 birth from the village Standesamt. Marriages can be similarly put onto a new form.

      Maybe you have a few more things to do before you declare that the records cannot be found.

  218. Marie says:

    Hello everyone!

    I am so glad to have stumbled upon this conversation thread. I applied for my Certificate of German Citizenship 13 months ago via a US German Consulate. My mother was a German at the time of my birth so I was born with dual citizenship- just need the certificate to prove it. I was told that processing times should take one year. However, it’s 13 months later and still nothing! I did receive some correspondence from the BVA requesting additional documentation a few months ago and quickly gave them what they needed.

    Was anyone else told the process should take a year & are still waiting??

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      Hi Marie,

      Your time frame doesn’t seem that unusual, especially if they needed more information. I (and I believe several others who have shared stories here) were told two years was the average, and that they generally don’t check up on things for you until that point. If they’re asking for more info and not flat-out rejecting you, I’d just take that as a good sign and try to be patient while they verify whatever they need to on their end. 🙂

  219. andi cooper says:

    Hey ideas ! I am thankful for the analysis – Does someone know if I can get ahold of a sample SSA SS-5 copy to edit ?

  220. George says:

    Since others have mentioned an interest in educational opportunities in Germany, I thought I would pass along information about a strange and inconsistent difference in how students are classified as international. This does relate to dual citizenship 🙂

    Generally speaking but not always, in Germany, international students are not identified by their nationality. They are identified by where they earned their university entrance credential (e.g. US high school diploma). So, I am an international student with German citizenship. The converse is also true: a person without German citizenship who earned their entrance credential in Germany is not an international student.

    They use the terms Bildungsausländer for foreign-educated applicants, and Bildungsinländer for applicants educated in Germany. Again, this holds true most of the time.

    In addition to the possibility of inconsistencies between schools, there can also be inconsistencies within schools. I am being called an international student, but not when it comes to student apartments. At my school, international students receive a preference for placement in apartments. But, the housing office says that my German citizenship makes me ineligible for that preference.

    It seems likely that, although I am a German citizen, I am viewed as bringing diversity to campus as a Bildungsausländer. I am also one of the few German citizens in my program. I think that dual citizenship might have helped me to be admitted 🙂

    Another difference with the US: students must have health insurance (Krankenkasse) to enroll. For those under age 30, there are cheap and high quality “statutory public” policies. If a person is over age 30 and not employed, they must buy a “private” policy, which can be expensive if a person is significantly over 30 and has health issues. German friends say that the government might have a Krankenkasse for me, as well as housing assistance called Wohnungsgeld. Perhaps I can recoup the cost of claiming German citizenship 🙂

    So, a dual citizen will usually be called an international student. And, dual citizens might look appealing to admissions committees.

  221. Robert says:

    I received my Certificate of Citizenship 14 months after I had applied for it through the Consulate in Atlanta. I had already had a German passport for 19 years before that (also through the Atlanta Consulate), but I had lived in the EU not Germany for a few years and when I renewed my passport there in the EU a few years ago, I was told to get the certificate though they did renew my German passport without it (my mom is a German citizen living in the USA, and I was born in the USA).

  222. Karl says:

    Hi everyone,

    Quick update. I received a request for more information on the 1st of August. I managed to get a couple of certified death certificates trying to link my great grandfather to his father. And sent responses from three archives in Germany indicating the marriage record I was looking for didn’t exist as those in that time frame were either destroyed or lost in the war. I also sent a copy of entries made in a death book which stated my great grandparents were married as it was impossible to locate a marriage record. I sent it all to the consulate and they received it on Wednesday September 7th. Now the waiting game again…

    Does it seem to be quicker once they’ve initially responded and you send documents back?

    Thanks!

  223. A says:

    Just submitted my own application, after learning my mother was naturalized shortly after she was born. I found this website after trying to figure out how long processing might take, and now I suppose the long wait begins…

    I can only hope my circumstances will make it easier for them to prove I am German. See, my mother, along with my grandparents, were naturalized when they were in the United States. My grandparents were stateless at the time, having been expelled from their homes following World War 2, but my mother was born in the US. So, since she was already American when she was naturalized, it’s not possible for her to have lost her German citizenship by *becoming* American.

    Also, because she was naturalized while in the US, the naturalization was done by the very BVA that processes these applications, and the BVA has already confirmed they have all of her paperwork, even though my grandparents lost her naturalization certificate.

    Anyway, I’m sure I’m being overly optimistic, and I am prepared to wait a year or two, but hope does spring eternal!

    In the meantime, thank you all so much for sharing your success stories! Reading them has been the source of great encouragement, and I’m sure I’ll return to read them again from time to time.

    • George says:

      Hello “A”

      Your family history is interesting. But, I question whether it was the BVA that handled your relatives’ naturalization.

      The German government after World War 2 decreed that all refugee identification certificates (Fluechtlingsausweise) were to be regarded as official proof of citizenship. It was a collective naturalization, and individuals were not given naturalization certificates, as doing so would be superfluous and create a lot of work.

      Another poster here (Michael?) was born to two parents who were naturalized ethnic-German refugees from Eastern Europe. The key in his case was to obtain his father’s refugee identification certificate (Fluechtlingsausweis).

      I’m curious to know whether included a copy of your mother’s Fluechtlingsausweis or naturalization certificate with your application.

      Best wishes,
      George

  224. A says:

    Yes, I’ve heard of the Fluechtlingsausweise.

    I don’t know why my grandparents’ circumstances were different, but they were indeed naturalized by the BVA instead, pursuant to a law called the (First) StAngRegG. I have copies of both their naturalization certificates, which I included with my application, and the documents were clearly issued by the BVA.

    My grandparents lost my mother’s certificate, but I was able to get a letter from the BVA confirming she was naturalized with my grandparents, and that all of her paperwork was still on file with the BVA in Cologne.

    • George says:

      How interesting; thanks for the clarification. I bet you will wait no more than nine months, which is how long mine took.

      • A says:

        That’s a long time for someone as impatient as me… But it’s certainly a lot less than the two or three years some people have had to wait! More importantly, even that three year wait would be now than with it.

        Thanks again!

  225. Karl says:

    Well it’s been almost a year now since I sent my application. Can’t believe it! Hoping it’ll all be worth it! 🙂

    • George says:

      Greetings from Germany. Hang in there, Karl! I’ve been in Germany for a week. It’s surreal to be here as a citizen.

  226. A says:

    How long did it take for you all to receive confirmation that the BVA had received your paperwork?

    I’m going on a month now, and still no word whatsoever. Is that normal…?

    • Karl says:

      I had my appointment at the consulate at the end of October last year. They sent it to Cologne in the middle of November and I got confirmation in December. So I’m sure you’ll hear something soon! 🙂

      • A says:

        That’s good to hear!

        How did you receive your confirmation? Was it an email from the embassy, or was it a physical letter?

      • Karl says:

        It was a physical letter. I emailed about 4-6 weeks after my appointment to verify everything had been received and a few days later the letter came.

        I think it’s perfectly fine to touch base every once in a while. That’s what I’ve been doing and they’ve been very nice.

  227. Eden Bendorf says:

    Anyone know how I can get a letter from the USCIS to confirm that my grandfather and dad never became US citizens? I can only find information if you happen to be an employer seeking confirmation.

  228. Eden says:

    In light of the election right now, I would like to know if anyone had to disprove that their ancestor ever became a US citizen and how they did that? Thanks in advance!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      From what I’ve seen, they can say no record of naturalization exists, but that does’t always mean they didn’t naturalize (saw an example where someone later found the certificate after getting the letter stating its non-existence).

      I can’t offer much advice on getting that letter, but it could help to gather any other records you can. Pull up copies of census records that might list his status. You mentioned previously your father was in the military here — maybe enlistment records would state something. If you can show through other documentation that he hadn’t naturalized before you were born, it won’t matter if he naturalized eventually or not. Only that date really matters.

  229. Karl says:

    Hi everyone. I just got home to find a letter from the post office that I have a certified letter, from what I suspect is the consulate. Unfortunately, the post office is closed for the day. :-(. I haven’t received a yes or no but did have to supply further information back in August.

    Does anyone have experience receiving a certified letter? When they asked for further information it was in the regular mail. I’m so nervous that this could be a decision.

    Thanks for any help!

    • Jenn Mattern says:

      I’m pretty sure my approval letter wasn’t certified. I vaguely remember just finding it in my mailbox one day. But that was about 4 years ago, so they may have changed their process. Or it might depend on which mission / consulate you’ve been dealing with. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and hope it’s good news. 🙂

  230. Jenn Mattern says:

    I wasn’t in a huge rush to get my German passport (got my citizenship papers 4 years ago). But I have to admit, after this election, it would just make me feel better to have it. So I’m pushing that up and planning to apply at the consulate in NYC next month. I figure it’ll be a good excuse to go up around the holidays, which I like doing anyway. 🙂

    Have any of you applied for your passport (especially there) while you have your staatsangehörigkeitsausweis? I know I’d need that, my U.S. passport, driver’s license, fee, and photos. Not sure why they need my marriage license if my husband’s not a German citizen and I don’t have his last name (kept my maiden / German name… or reverted back to it a while ago I should say). But I’ll bring that too anyway.

    Anything else I should know or expect or bring? Any insight’s appreciated. 🙂

    • John says:

      Do you absolutely have to establish dual citizenship or nationality and receive the staatsangehörigkeitsausweis in order to apply for a passport? I was born in the US and my father is a US citizen and married my mother who is a German citizen but I’m not sure my mother ever registered my birth officially with any German government offices. I spent the first 9 or 10 years of my childhood living in Germany when my father was stationed there again. My mother and her family still live in Germany and I’ve visited off and on through the years and am planning to move there but was not sure if I could just apply for a passport straight away or if I needed to confirm my citizenship status first. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

      • Maria says:

        If you have good proof of your citizenship by birth to a German mother, you can apply for a passport right away and should have it in a few weeks. My daughter applied for her passport this summer and she wanted to apply for her citizenship papers at the same time and the agent at the NYC consulate actually tried to discourage her from applying for the citizenship certificate at all. He said that most people in Germany don’t have them, only if they want to have a state job. I suspect that maybe the refugee situation has stressed resources and that is why he tried to discourage her. She insisted on it anyway, assuming it would be better to have the certificate when and if she has children and wants to get them German passports. I don’t know how old you are, but German citizenship can only be passed to children by the mother if the child was born after January 1, 1975. For children born prior to that, citizenship was only passed through the father.

      • Dan says:

        timing is important.

        if your parents were married before you were born, and you were born after Jan 1 1975, then you are a german citizen without the need of having been registered.

        if your parents were married before you were born, and you were born before Jan 1 1975, then you are only a german citizen if your mother registered your birth before 1978. If she did not register your birth (regardless of where you lived) then it is unlikely you have german citizenship (if this is the case for you, I would still inquire with legal authorities before giving up).

        If your parents were not married when you were born, then you are a german citizen citizen and your mother did not need to register your birth.

        As for passport vs application for cert. of citizenship… I would suggest contacting the consulate directly via email or phone. Explain how you are a german citizen (per one of the conditions i’ve suggested above)

        In my opinion, if you have time (a year or so), go ahead and gather the appropriate documents to apply for a certificate of citizenship to save yourself headaches down the road.

  231. Karl says:

    Well…Afters years of research and over a year waiting for my application to process, I received a denial. 🙁

    Although my great-grandfather did have german citizenship, they didn’t find any evidence that he registered before the 1913 deadline after being away from Germany for 10 years. It was really close, but I guess even a few years doesn’t count.

    Oh well. I always knew this was a possibility, but got hope when I received a letter in August asking for further info. I thought, if they’re just asking about a marriage and birth, surely everything else looks good. Nope.

    Thanks for everyone’s help and support through this! It’s a sad week, with the election and now this, but as my partner is British, it won’t be long before we head over there, so that’s nice.

    Good luck to you all!!

  232. Steve says:

    Hi everyone,

    I just found this thread and it’s been fascinating, if disheartening, reading. I had no idea it would take around 2 years. I heard from someone else in HK (British) whose application took 6 weeks, but it seems his father lost his citizenship due to persecution as a result of the war, so I guess those applications are more straightforward.

    I submitted my application last week. I live in Hong Kong but I’m British. I only found out that I was German after I started to read articles after the UK Brexit vote.

    My father was German but was made a POW in May 1945 in the UK. When he was released he decided to stay in England (he was from a part of Germany under Russian control). He married my Mum in 1951 and I was born in 1960. He was naturalised British in 1970. I have my grandfather’s birth certificate (1900), my dad’s birth certificate (1925), Kriegsmarine disharge papers, 1950s Reisepass, Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis, naturalisation document (1970), German Kennkarte and a few more besides. I hope it will be plain sailing but time will tell.

    Thanks