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! 🙂

Jenn is a professional writer and publisher, and the founder of Climb Your Family Tree.

She first became interested in genealogy as a teenager. Since that early start, she's spent 28 years putting her personal passion and professional research skills to use in exploring her own family history while assisting others in their genealogical journeys.

In addition to running Climb Your Family Tree, Jenn is a long-time PR, social media, and online marketing specialist and she's been a digital publisher / web developer for over 20 years. She owns a variety of web properties including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, Kiss My Biz, and NakedPR.

1,079 thoughts on “Dual Citizenship: Is it Worth It?”

  1. Hi everyone,

    This is a great thread. Thank you all for sharing your stories and experiences.

    I am currently in the process of gathering documents and hoping to send off my application by the end of 2018. I’ll be going through the German Embassy in London, UK – has anyone else gone through this embassy?

    I’m applying through my great-grandfather, who was born in Leipzig in 1902 and emigrated to the US in the 1920s. I have his birth certificate, my grandmother’s birth certificate, their marriage certificate, and naturalization papers showing that they both naturalized as US citizens after my grandfather was born. I also have my great-grandfather’s old Reisepass.

    However, what I DON’T have is my grandfather’s birth certificate. This is because he was born in upstate NY, which requires a court order to release a certified copy of a deceased person’s birth certificate. So, I’m slightly worried that this will impact my application.

    I spoke to a German immigration caseworker who said that because the German authorities only care about lineage, eg proving my grandfather was the son of my great-grandparents, I should be able to use census records from 1930 (which recorded my grandfather as their son). So I can get my hands on that. I also have my grandfather’s death certificate, which lists his parents’ names, his birth date, and place of birth. I’m hoping that’s enough, but still worried. I wonder if anyone else has overcome a similar problem?

    Otherwise, I think my case is fairly straightforward: citizenship has been passed down through male relatives (GGF-GF-F-Me), no one ever served in the military, everyone was born in wedlock, and I have all my great-grandparents’ documents! I’m only missing the NY birth certificate, so I guess I just have to hope that the BVA is feeling benevolent. I’ll be sure to update this thread with my experience, whatever happens 🙂

    • Can you get a non-certified copy? While they technically want certified copies, I’d offer the non-certified one as backup along w/ the other records you can get. I did that with one document (an ss-5 I believe), and it was the last thing I had to send for confirmation before I was approved. Also, when I did my mother’s marriage certificate, it didn’t have the apostille — was a certified copy, but for foreign use it should have that. They took it anyway without any problem.

      But check again. It looks like the state understands they’re needed for dual-citizenship issues for foreign gov’t use, and you may be able to get what you need:


      • I agree with Jenn (re: getting a genealogical copy–it costs $22.00) (https://www.health.ny.gov/vital_records/genealogy.htm).

        Also, the folks who seek Italian dual citizenship recognition are fairly used to this issue.

        Here’s a walk-through on how to do it yourself (getting a court order for a certified copy of an ancestor’s birth certificate from New York) courtesy of the Italian dual citizenship community (see post #15 at the following page):


      • Thanks to both of you!

        Jenn, I saw that page when I first started looking into it, but it says I still need a court order for the birth certificate of a deceased person. Am I missing something? I also called the NYS vital records office and they confirmed that I’d need a court order. But if there’s another way to get it, that would be great.

        I also called my German embassy to ask if a non certified copy would be okay, and they said they can’t consider it unless it’s certified. But I guess it can’t hurt to include one anyway… I wonder if anyone else has had success with non certified copies of documents.

        Also, thanks for the link Spencer, it will definitely come in handy if I do end up having to go through court.

        • I’d still get the genealogical copy for now. Send it in, and let your contact at your German mission or embassy know that NY state makes it very difficult to get certified birth certificates of deceased individuals. I’d not worry about someone saying they can’t use it. They made numerous exceptions in my case where things they insisted they needed weren’t even available. And they accepted a non-certified SS-5 to show my grandfather’s parents’ names in Germany since his birth certificate was completely unavailable to me (born in Germany though, so their own digging might have helped). Different people at the missions will give you different stories on different days. It’s very frustrating. You can always proceed with getting a court order, but in the meantime they’ll have something to work from.

          I’d also see if you can find any other certified documents that might have similar information. Look into the SS-5 if there was an application for a social security number for example. See if you can find official baptismal records. Or even better, beg and plead with family members. If he had one when he was alive, someone probably still has the original document.

    • You could also order a genealogy copy ($22.00), and submit it along with a print out of the NY State Vital Records website that explains how restricted certified copies are.

  2. Hi Carrie, I applied via the Embassy in London and they are absolutely top notch and super friendly.

    Once you have all the documentation you just pop in without an appointment and just tell them you are there to legalize some documents. I’d recommend going first thing in the morning when they open (8:30).

    They will take your documents (originals with apostilles, plus the F forms and application form) which you have to present with 2 fotocopies.

    They will legalize the copies and then ones is sent to Germany, the other one remains there on the embassy records.

    Before they send this over their legal department will check that you are not missing any major papers…. this is not to say they will decide on your case, but they will check you are not missing something important like the application form which could then delay your application.

    Best of luck getting your last few documents, sounds like you are almost there.!! 🙂

    • Hi Mike,

      Have you got your German citizenship?

      I am British but live in Hong Kong and so I applied via the German Consulate here. The entire process took only 8 months or so. My kids now live and work in the UK and so hey, along with my sister, have applied via the German Embassy in London. I had assumed that because I am now a dual citizen their applications would be quite quick. However, in a week or so it will have been a whole year of waiting for them.

      So I wonder what the timescale was for your application? The Embassy was very friendly and helpful but I wonder why such a simple case (linking my kids to me) is taking so long.

      PS Good luck Carrie!

      • Hi Steve,
        I’ve submitted my papers in November last year at the UK Embassy, so just shy of 1 year as well.

        I’m getting quite anxious as I read on previous posts (including yours) that it usually takes 8-12 months to hear back on average.

        At the embassy they told me it could take “1 to 2 years”, but I’m hoping that’s just a ballpark to avoid people asking about their paperwork every month…. and that it will be much closer to 1 year rather than 2 which seems too long considering the German efficiency standards.!!

        • I submitted my paperwork June 2017 in Toronto and still waiting unfortunately. No contact from them other than the initial notice that the application has been received

        • Hi guys,

          Yes, they were told 1 to 2 years but I also thought it is said to put people off from asking about progress.

          Hopefully it won’t be too much longer.

  3. Hello, I thought I would provide an update in case anyone was curious.

    I recently went to the consulate in Toronto to apply for my passport, which was very exciting!

    I read about the name declaration and based on the scenarios listed on their site, I wouldn’t need to do one. However the day before my appointment the lady who helped with my citizenship confirmation called to let me know that I would likely need a name declaration first. It was very nice of her to have noticed my name scheduled for the passport and to have reached out to give me the heads up.

    I told her I was driving through town anyways so would come in to see if my case would be okay without name declaration.

    It turns out it isn’t. Apparently because my mother got married, she needed to declare her married name (which is mine). Even though none of this is listed on the website.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share my story for anyone else thinking of getting a passport. I would suggest erring on the side of caution and doing the name declaration if anyone in the lineage is female and last names have changed at any point.

    I will have to go back to Toronto again and do the name declaration then my passport appointment and hopefully that will be it. I’m glad the staff have been so helpful, although the bureaucracy has been quite painful! I am essentially going to be bringing back everything I brought for the citizenship confirmation again just to have a German name.

    Also, Eric – it ended up taking me about 20 months through Toronto to get my citizenship certificate so I would say you’re still within the norm (I feel your pain though!). I did follow up a few times with the staff that helped me out. I believe Franziska handles all of the applications for citizenship and she has been lovely as I worked through the paperwork. Good luck!

  4. Hi, Jenn and All:

    I’m another long-time reader and first-time poster; I came across this site last year as it first came to my attention that I might be a German citizen. (I am in my 30s now and was born and raised in the United States, where I currently live.) I’m posting because I wanted to thank you all for your comments regarding your experiences; they were very helpful as I was considering whether and how to proceed.

    I actually made the decision to hire a Rechtsanwalt to assist with filing my application, and I’m happy I did. I’m not claiming it’s appropriate for everyone, but for me it has been added peace of mind. (I’ll leave their information out of this post since they may not be interested having it here, but in my research I did find several firms with lawyers who can assist in these types of matters.)

    In my case, my claim stems from a great-grandfather who immigrated from Germany to the US in the 1920s. (Fortunately, his town is still located in modern Germany.) My grandfather was born in the United States before my great-grandfather naturalized, and my mother was also born here. I was born after German law was changed, which allows me to inherit from my mother (or at least, that has been my understanding!).

    It took a few months for me to gather and prepare all of my documents and to collect the information I needed, but ultimately my application was submitted to the BVA through the Embassy in Washington (my “local” German mission) in March 2018. At this point, then, it’s been about seven months. I admit that I’m getting antsy, but of course I knew going in that it would take as long as it was going to take. I’m thinking I’d very much like to experience living in Germany, at least for a while… And after recent experiences in the Czech Republic and the UK standing in long lines at passport control, I’ve been joking that, when you have to stand in the non-EU line with your American passport, those EU/EEA/CH kiosks look so good! (Although, of course, I know that others may have a much more difficult time of it than we do…)

    For what it’s worth, in my limited experience so far, I’ve found Embassy – Washington to be pretty efficient and easy to deal with, although most things do seem to require appointments now. That’s good, because assuming a positive result, I will be back there to apply for my passport and ID card.

    @Steve – I don’t know if this is a motivating factor for your family — and I do not mean this politically in any way — but here’s hoping your children are able to receive their determination from Germany before the UK’s departure from the EU. That will, hopefully, ensure ease of travel at least, given the current ambiguity on that issue.

    @Emily – Thanks for your comment, above; I found the explanation of name declarations to be a bit confusing. But I suppose if I need one, I will find out when I go for the passport…

    Anyway, thanks again, and to those who are still waiting, I wish you all luck.

    • Best of luck “Other Steve.” 🙂

      If you don’t mind me asking, when you went to the UK and such, how long were those lines you mentioned? When I’m over there I’ll have my German passport, but the person I’m travelling with will only have their US one. So I’m curious if it’s worth using my German one (I kind of just want to do it because I can), or if I should also use my US passport so we don’t get separated for an absurdly long time.

      • Hi, Jenn:

        I’m sure it varies depending on whether you arrive at and/or depart from a large or small airport; the time of day; the day of the week and season; staffing levels; and how many others on your flight and others arriving around the same also need to wait in the non-EU line, among other factors. But in my relatively recent experience, I have had to wait anywhere from no time at all to about an hour at EU border crossings as an American. Often, but not always, EU/EEA/CH citizens have a separate (and faster) lane.


        • Steve – hopefully everything goes nice and smoothly for you. I’ve been waiting since June 2017 without any word so hopefully yours is quicker than mine!

          I always wondered, and not sure if anyone knows, but what happens in a situation where a family crosses, where one of the parents have an EU passport and the rest of the family has a Canadian or US passport (for example). Do they all have to use the non-EU line or can they all go in the EU because one of them have an EU passport??

          • Don’t quote me on this, but my understanding has always been that if you have a German passport, you MUST use it to enter and exit Germany. (The situation with other EU member states, I am not sure, but if and when I acquire my EU passport, I will always use it to enter the EU.)

            Separately, I know the United States generally requires that we (citizens) use US passports to enter the United States. (Otherwise, I suppose they might log us as foreign visitors, with an exit date…) Canada may be the same, I’m not sure. I would use my US passport in Canada, because I think that Americans generally get more favorable entry terms in Canada than Europeans do, as Canadians do here…)

            As for a family that wants to use a single lane, that I don’t know… there is usually an official up front whom you can ask…

    • Hi Steve, Steve here! 🙂

      My kids would have applied anyway because they are proud of their German heritage but the political situation in UK certainly prompted them to act quickly. It will allow them ease of travel throughout the EU but also allow them to live and work there if the UK economy gets worse.

      It is now a year and a few days since their applications, longer than mine (around 8 months). I had assumed since my case was very recent their citizenship would be ratified very quickly (since Cologne don’t have to do very much background checking, having done it for me). It makes me wonder how the BVA deal with applications. Are all applications put together and then dealt with on a first come, first served basis? Or is there a US desk, a UK desk, a South East Asia desk etc? I imagine they get very few (relatively speaking) from this part of the world (Hong Kong) and perhaps that is why my application was processed quickly? I know in UK the number of applications has skyrocketed since 2016.

      Anyway, good luck with your application.

  5. Hey there,

    To answer your question regarding going through the airport and only one of you having an EU passport, with the rest having others. Only the EU passport holder can go through the EU lane. The rest will have to go through the regular lane.

    I’m Canadian German. Whenever I enter Canada I must use my Canadian passport and when I enter UK, Germany or any other EU country I always use my EU passport.

    All they want to confirm is that you have the right to be in the country you are entering. So when I enter Canada I use my Canadian passport and when I go back home to the UK I use my German passport.

    • On the contrary, my wife only holds US citizenship and she has been allowed to go into the EU line with me on several occasions.

      It is true that the rules are in practice – fluid, and dependent on what country you are landing in. In particular, if you are traveling to an EU country that is not your country of citizenship with an EU passport, the schengen rules are more relaxed. Because of freedom of movement laws, the border agent is technically required to treat non-EU family as having the same rights of free movement as the EU citizen (which means they have the right to use the EU line with their EU spouse. Note that these are particularly shenghen rules, and the rules are a little different for the UK). However, freedom of movement laws do not apply if passing immigration in the country that you hold the citizenship, so technically a german border agent can treat the non-EU spouse differently since EU freedom of movement rules do not apply. I have passed immigration in both Germany and non-german EU countries and have been allowed to bring my non-EU wife in the EU line for each situation. Also note, that although the UK is in the EU, the UK is outside of schengen, so they don’t have to abide by the same border guidelines as schengen countries (the non-Eu spouse still has freedom of movement rights as with the rest of the EU, but those rights do not apply with regards to direct treatment at immigration).

      However, in both situations, it is advisable to simply ask a representative that is directing everyone where to go. Sometimes you will get an agent that tells you it is fine to go in the EU line, and sometimes you will get an agent that tells you to go with your family in the non-EU line.

  6. Passport Appointment Recap — Atlanta Consulate

    I had my passport appointment at the Atlanta Consulate yesterday. Aside from the long wait (there were quite a few people in front of me most of whom took extra long), everything went smoothly.

    In addition to passport photos and the application form, I brought the following documents / items pertaining to me (with one photocopy of each):

    — Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis
    — Birth certificate
    — Marriage certificate
    — United States Passport
    — Driver’s license
    — Passport photos

    The security guard checked to make sure I had all the necessary documents (and one copy of each). When he saw that I didn’t have a copy of my driver’s license, he directed me to the nearest FedEx Office (in the basement of an adjacent hotel) to make a copy. Upon being admitted, you must put your cell phone (on silent) into a small locker. I should have brought a book to read.

    I was the last appointment of the day (11:40 a.m. — I was seen after 1 p.m.). The woman was happy to see that I had my Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis because it meant that I didn’t have to provide a bunch of documents to prove my citizenship (which is what caused the delays with the other applicants — most of them were given homework). Other than waiting while she entered the application info into her computer and prepped my passport photos, I had to get my index fingers scanned (for fingerprints for the biometric passport).

    The woman who helped me was so nice to me (and everyone else). She mentioned that I could get a German birth certificate issued. I said that I’d heard the wait was something like 4 years, but she told me that, due to a recent change in the way they are processed, it takes less than 1 year now. She explained that had to do with concern regarding children of German citizens born and residing abroad who were born after 2000 (they have to register their children within one year to pass along German citizenship).

    Altogether, the passport and FedEx charge (for it to be sent to me once it is done (in 6 to 7 weeks)) was $110.00, which I paid with a credit card (they take cash or credit cards).

    • @Spencer Thanks for your recap — I can only hope to have a positive decision faster than you received yours.

      @Steve I agree, it is a bit of a black box. It would be helpful if we could track application status online, but I keep reminding myself that there are probably people who need the BVA’s services more urgently than I do and that patience is required.

      I do seem to remember reading responses to a “Kleine Anfrage” posed to the German federal government that contained some statistics on the Feststellung procedure from 2000 through 2010. If I interpreted it correctly, it did not seem that North America; the UK; or Southeast Asia were regions from which large numbers of applications were received during that period. It looked like the biggest numbers seemed to come from Poland; other Central and Eastern European states and the former USSR; and South America. Of course, that may have changed now that some of those are EU member states — who knows. I’d be interested to see updated statistics, though.

  7. Hello everyone,

    I have another update if anyone is interested.

    After going to the consulate and trying to get the passport without name declaration I was turned around and told to come back with extra documents for the name declaration.

    I did that, made another appointment, and when I arrived they told me that my parent’s marriage certificate was not the ‘official’ one. Apparently the one my parents were given when they married is more of a church document than an official government document.

    I had to beg them to keep my applications open and just allow me to send the final marriage certificate in since I had to take time off work every time I drove in to Toronto.

    Long story short, the Consular official made an exception and I mailed certified copies in (after a painful strike from Canada Post which delayed it quite a bit).

    Anyways I can REALLY see the light at the tunnel now, and am hoping to have my passport soon since they are doing the name declaration and passport application concurrently.

    Any other Canadians here with experience of passport applications? Or name declaration at the same time as passport application? They said up to 12 weeks but I’m heading over to Europe in mid-February and would be so happy if I have my passport for then. I’m hoping it’s as quick as it was for those of you in the US and overseas.

  8. After a year and a half of waiting patiently, I checked the mail today and found a letter from the consulate stating they were able to establish my German citizenship!

    I was so worried that they had lost my application or that it was taking so long because they had difficult getting all of the information they needed.

    My dad was an ethnic German war refugee from Hungary so I had what I thought might be limited information as far as his citizenship was concerned.

    Once I applied I tried to track down some information in Germany as far as his refugee document number might be but had no luck so I was really expecting a request for more information.

    Absolutely thrilled, only wish I had checked the mail yesterday so it would have been my Christmas present but oh well.

    I sent an email to my parents with the letter and they called crying they were so happy lol. Sappy old people…

    Now once I get the certificate I’ll start working on establishing my kid’s German citizenship and apply for my passport.

    Thanks for all the help through the process. For those of you still going through it best of luck!

    FYI – I applied June 22, 2017 in Toronto and the date on the letter was November 28, 2018. It would have arrived in the mail here in Canada late last week but I only check the mail once a week or so.

    • As fro payin the 25 Euro fee, did everyone pretty much go through their bank to pay the fee? I think us Canadians are restricted as to whatt Ian available. Someone mentioned Transferwise in a previous post. Any luck with that or another service?

      • Thanks Steve – can anyone share how they had their certificate mailed to them? They say they can send via regular post or that I can send them a pre-stamped envelope with tracking to them and they’ll send it that way.

        Is the certificate the size of a standard size of paper? I would prefer it not to be bent or folded so I figured I would send them a full-size express envelope to send the certificate to me but wondering what others did…

        • They are printed on standard European size paper (slightly narrower and longer than 8 1/2 x 11). The Atlanta consulate required either pick up or prepaid FedEx (it fit fine in one of those FedEx cardboard envelopes). Get a prepaid USPS cardboard envelope (priority) and you should be fine.

  9. Thank you very much Spencer. So you just got a prepaid cardboard envelope and mailed it to them in another cardboard envelope or just sent it regular mail?

    • For my certificate, I mailed them proof that I wired money to Germany, along with a money order for the FedEx fee (it was around $18–the consulate gave me the instructions). They sent it in the cardboard envelope.

      When I went for my passport appointment, they had me fill out the address form on the same type of envelope and pay the fee via credit card. All passports are printed in Germany and sent via the consulate.

  10. I got my letter from the Chicago consulate today confirming my and childrens’ German citizenship! So excited!

    For a recap of the timing…
    Applied 25.Aug 17.

    Got response in June 2018 requesting proof my Dad and Grandpa never became Austrian while they lived there for 7 years after WW2. Took me until Sept to gather the proof from the Austrian town they lived in. Sent documents to BVA 12.Sept 2018.

    Received letter confirming German citizenship of me and my children dated today, 17.Jan 2018.

    Now, to send 75 Euro for three certificates and go get them. I’ll probably do it in person so I can apply for a passport at the same time.

    WooHoo. I’m still grinning.

  11. All,

    I’m happy to report that I received a positive determination from the BVA last week; I’m officially a German citizen. All in all, the process took a bit more than ten months for me from the time of filing.

    I’ve wired the fee for the citizenship certificate (so here’s hoping that went smoothly…), and I’m now compiling the documents I need to obtain the certificate as well as my passport and ID card. I have an appointment at the Embassy in Washington later this month to take care of that. Very much looking forward to this next chapter…

    Thanks again for all of your insights!


    • Awesome news Steve, congrats!

      I worried about the wire as well but once I sent them a copy of my wire receipt they sent my certificate. The wire system certainly is a antiquated way of sending money in a modern world!

      • Thanks, everybody.

        @Eric Yeah, it does seem a bit pony express, but who am I to argue. I’ve been told that I can pick up my certificate at the Embassy during my passport appointment. I wouldn’t care to have to repeat a long trip to DC, but I’m just happy to have received a positive determination. Anything at this point is just hoops. And as I said, they’ve been helpful and easy to deal with down there so far, so, fingers crossed…

  12. Just heard from the German Embassy in London that after 1 year and 4 months my sister and my two adult children all now have German citizenship too. Great day!

    Good luck to everyone waiting!

    • Steve, great news. They must be having a surge of productivity in Cologne! (Or, perhaps there has been a fall-off in caseload…)

    • Glad to hear the wait is finally over! I’m in the process of gathering the documents needed for my children’s applications and will be heading to Toronto in the next month or so to apply for them

      My application took about 18 months but hoping theirs won’t take as long as it should be straightforward but there really isn’t any rush for it so not a big deal either way

      I’m going to be applying for my passport and ID card at the same time, anxious to see how that goes!

    • Congrats Steve.!! That’s excellent news.!!

      How did the Embassy communicate the good news, was it simply an email saying “your certificate is here, come’ get it” ? 🙂

      I can only imagine how happy you and your family must be… Time to celebrate!!


      • Hi Mike,

        Thank you!

        Yes, they received an email from the Embassy in London yesterday (13th) in which the original letter from the BVA was attached as a pdf. The letter was dated the 6th February. The email contains instructions for how to transfer the €25 (to a bank in Germany) and says they should send a stamped, self-addressed (A4) envelope to the Embassy so that the certificate can be mailed to them.

        They are all over the moon about it, as was I when I got mine. 🙂

  13. So I have an appointment in two weeks to pick up my certificate of citizenship, make a name declaration and apply for passport and id card.

    I was told I need to make a name declaration because my current married name is different than my birth certificate.

    I forgot to ask, but I’m sure y’all know here: do I need 2 pictures each for passport and id card (4 total) or just two pictures when I apply for both at the same time?

    Thanks, and wish me luck!

    • Hi, Linda:

      I don’t know the answer to your question, but I also have appointments scheduled and I am assuming two passport photos for each. I actually had them taken in Germany in the fall (within six months, so still valid, according to the Embassy), and they came out on a card with four identical photos.

      Good luck,


  14. So even though the web site said 2 photos, they only needed one at the Chicago consulate. I applied for a passport and the lady there talked me out of a personalausweis, saying I didn’t need it unless I lived in Europe. Maybe one day.

    As for the name declaration I was wondering about, I had it all filled out and notarized with my and my husband’s signatures, and all the supporting documents…Marriage and birth certificates and passports of both of us. She copied all the documents and certified their authenticity, then looked at the date of our marriage (1977). She checked with a co-worker and confirmed that with marriages before 1991, the wife automatically took on the husband’s last name, so no declaration was needed, especially since my US passport and driver’s license have my married name.

    The Staatsangehorigkeitsausweis is issued as Linda B geb. D

    Marriages after 1991 have to declare a Family name per German law. Whole family gets either husband or wife’s last name and the spouse who gives up their name can append the pre-marriage name to the family name with a hyphen. For a larger fee, you can use name law from the country of a non-german spouse, so US duals can keep maiden name or move maiden name to middle name, etc.

    • Ha, “For a larger fee…” And, there it is.

      Thanks for sharing this. I was also down at the Embassy in Washington last week, and they only wound up taking one of my photos. I was also talked out of a Personalausweis, on the basis that it is less expensive in Germany and that, in any event, I would have to go back to Washington to pick it up if I applied for it there.

      Passport application is in the works. I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this (although probably, in this thread!), but a copy of the bank wire receipt for the transfer was required for the citizenship certificate (at least in my case).

      All in all, a positive experience.

      • Regarding a Personalausweis: I think that saving a few dollars is a bad reason not to get one, if that is a person’s only reason. When you are in Germany, you won’t be able to apply for one until you are registered at an address. I think that you are perceived to be more like a local when you show a Personalausweis instead of a Reisepass. Even if you only intend to travel in Europe (not live there), the convenience of having a Personalausweiss is worth the extra money, which I think is less than $20.

        • George, Unfortunately I don’t think I will ever be mistaken for a local. My German born father thought it would confuse his children if he spoke German to us when we were young. Now that I’m 60 years old he has recognized the error of his thinking and is trying to teach me the language. I would classify my language ability as survival level at this time. I would survive in Germany without a translator, but I would miss 75% of what is said. 🙁

  15. I have a question about military service and loss of German citizenship. It says that voluntarily joining the armed forces or similar armed organization of a foreign country means you automatically lose your right to German citizenship.

    Looking at the information on the German consulate in Toronto, it states “Since January 1st, 2000, German citizens who voluntarily join the armed forces of a country other than Germany, of which they are also a citizen, without receiving prior permission from the Federal Ministry for Defense, automatically lose their German citizenship according to paragraph 28 of the German citizenship act.”

    A couple questions concerning this in case anyone knows.

    1. What do they mean by “similar armed organization”? Would a police officer or customs officer meet that definition and thus lose their citizenship? I am assuming they mean some kind of militia or para-military organization that isn’t the actual armed forces of a country but they could also mean any profession that is armed.
    2. They state “since 2000”. So does that mean someone that joined the armed forces before 2000 does not lose their citizenship or would they apply that retroactively?

    I am a customs officer but joined in 1998 – not sure if that a) qualifies as a “similar armed organization” or b) applies to me either way given I was hired in 1998

    I think I saw a post in this thread at some point where someone who had previous US military service was given citizenship which surprised me at the time but maybe it was because it was before 2000?

    • I’m not sure what qualifies as a similar armed organization, but your best bet is probably to reach out to someone at your nearest consulate or mission. I was told years ago that they’d often make exceptions as long as you weren’t in the military of a foreign adversary. But that might be another one of those things where information will vary based on what rep you speak to.

      The permission rules are a bit scattered. For example, the “after 2000” bit has to do only with military service that’s beyond the compulsory in your other country. And after 2011, permission became automatic if you joined the military of certain allied countries (including NATO countries). I just looked over the 1913 law that I believe extended until the 2000 rules came into effect, and I didn’t see anything there about losing citizenship automatically because of foreign armed service involvement. Perhaps someone else here has come up against this and can confirm or correct though.

      • Hi John,
        The German government created the rule about 2000 in order to strip the citizenship of residents with dual citizenship who went off to fight in wars that Germany didn’t approve of. I can’t imagine that it applies to police or customs officers. I have a brother who joined the US military in the 1980’s, and he received his citizenship certificate in less than one year after he applied. I applied two years before him.
        Good luck!

  16. Is it just me or have most of the comments on this thread disappeared? It says there is over 900 comments, but after Jenn’s original comments it only shows comments from late 2018 onwards?

    Am I missing something?

    • All the comments are still here. The server was just showing too much load time on this page because it was loading over 900 comments on top of the original page, so they’re broken up now. The most recent discussion is visible first I believe (newest comment at the bottom by the comment form). At the top and bottom of the comments section you’ll see a link to show “older comments.” That loads the next set.

      • Jenn and George, thank you very much for your responses, I think tat makes a lot of sense but I will check with the consulate to be sure. Unfortunately, as a government official myself, I know different officials tend to give different answers and it really only matters what the BVA has to say.

        George – I think your brother’s case is the one I had in mind. If his military service didn’t matter because of the timeframe hopefully it would be applied to me one way or another

        Jenn – don’t know what happened but I looked everywhere earlier and couldn’t see anything about older posts. I see it now, so either it was a systems glitch when I looked at it or I was blind. Probably me!

  17. I hate to do it to you, but if you were subscribed to receive comments via email previously, you’ll need to tick the checkbox again to receive new ones.

    The plugin that used to manage it was severely outdated. And it was no longer safe to continue running it on my server.

    I am not a fan of subscribe-via-email plugins for this platform because they can cause plenty of problems sending mail directly from the server rather than from my usual newsletter services which I use on professional sites. But I know many of you like to follow this conversation and others’ journeys.

    I can’t promise the option will stay, but we’ll give this new one a trial run and if it works on the user-end and is better maintained on the developer-end, I’ll leave it up.

  18. Can anyone advise on this situation? My niece is trying to get dual citizenship. She studies in Germany and would like to work there, but doesn’t want to lose her U.S. citizenship. Her grandfather and great grandfather were born in Germany and we can prove the lineage going back to before 1914. Her father was born in the U.S. and is technically a dual citizen by birth (because he was born to a German father before 1975), however, he has not gotten any official paperwork establishing his German citizenship and has no desire to do so at this time. He never served in the U.S. military and, as far as I know, has done nothing to lose his German citizenship.

    So my question is, can my niece get her German citizenship even though she will not have any documentation showing that her father is a dual US-German citizen by birth? We have all the documentation for grandparents and great-grandparents, and I was able to successfully establish my dual citizenship with them.

    • Hi Maria,

      Your daughter’s situation sounds a lot like mine. My grandfather was a German immigrant. My father was entitled to dual-citizenship by birth, but he never knew or got any documentation. We’re not even in touch, and his situation didn’t affect my application in any way.

      What matters is that her father was born before her grandfather would have become a US citizen (if he did). That’s why my brothers and I are dual-citizens, but none of my cousins are — their parents were born after my grandfather lost his German citizenship.

      If that’s the case for your daughter, she should be able to apply as long as she can get general records related to her father (she’ll need her birth certificate to show she’s her father’s child, and she’ll need his birth certificate to show he’s her German grandfather’s child).

      If she applies for a German passport, they may ask for her father’s passport (even US one). I simply informed them my father and I are estranged and I didn’t even know if he had one. And they managed to process things just fine.

      Best of luck to your daughter!

        • I just logged in here because my wife and I have been going through this process for years, and this blog ha been a huge positive boost for me as I helped her figure things out.

          She just picked up her German Passport recently. 🙂

          In our case, my wife’s mother was born into a situation where she should have received at birth US citizenship from her father, and German citizenship from her mother.

          They wanted to be sure that my wife’s mother’s parents were not married when she was born… because at the time the mother’s German citizenship would only be passed along to her child if she was unwed.

          When we submitted all of our documents my mother in law did not have any proof of German citizenship.

          All said and done, my mother in law now has her Certificate of Citizenship from Germany, and my wife has the certificate and a Passport. 🙂

          It might take a long time, many documents, and some patience, but it is worth it! Best of luck on your endeavors.

  19. So a bit of a long shot but I have a question for Steve from HKG…. since alerts are disabled he might not see this, but hey let’s give it a try… maybe someone else knows 🙂

    Steve when your kids made their application, did they provided only your certificate of citizenship or did they also send the papers dating back to your dad who I understand is the person that passed on the citizenship to you?

    I’m trying to figure out who would be the “First German” in the case of your kids… and if its needed to go back several generations or only 1 considering you have your citizenship certificate and passport.

    Hope that makes sense… Thank you!!

    • Hi Mike,

      I pop by this website every week or so because I got a lot of help from it in the past and I like to try and pass on any advice I can. 🙂

      I searched back through my email correspondence with the German Embassy in London and I found an exchange that asked that very question. In fact, the first response seemed a bit unclear to me and I specifically replied and asked “so am I correct in thinking they only need the Form V for me and not for my father, since the link between me and my father has already been established?”. And the reply to this stated that yes, only a Form V with my information was necessary.

      I had hoped that, since my own successful application was only a year previous, their applications would be fast since they need not check beyond me. Unfortunately that proved not to be the case and their application was only successful after 1 year 5 months. Anyway, better late than never!

      Hope that helped and good luck!

      • Many thanks Steve.!!!!

        That makes perfect sense, since you are now “officially” German there is no need to go further back on the family tree… 🙂

        Really appreciate the response, this helps a great deal.

        And great to see that you are still around… I will post my own story soon, hopefully tomorrow, so stay tuned! 🙂

        Cheers from London.


  20. So now for something different. A German citizen, working in the USA for many years with a Green Card is very interested in becoming a dual citizen with the USA. I know the route going from USA naturalization to German Citizenship and am currently a Dual citizen myself. However, I’m clueless as to how to go about this in the opposite direction. Any ideas?

    • They would just go through the standard naturalization process here. While our oath of allegiance implies they’re swearing full loyalty to the US, the US government doesn’t make anyone formally renounce their original citizenship (similar to how naturalizing in another country, no matter what you say to them, doesn’t cause you to officially renounce your US citizenship). But when living here, they’d be treated as an entirely US citizen — need a US passport to enter and leave the country, can’t go to the German consulate for help if they get in trouble with US authorities, etc.

      What matters is the other country’s policy. If Germany still says you lose German citizenship by willingly taking on another citizenship, then they’d be out of luck. They might be able to seek some kind of exception from the German officials, but they’d need to do that before becoming a naturalized US citizen.

    • They can get permission to keep their German citizenship. It’s called Beibehaltungsgenehmigung. But, they have to ask beforehand. It depends on whether they can demonstrate a strong connection to Germany.

      • Thank you George. My friend was born in Germany and is of German decent. The family still lives there. She has a lifelong green card for her to live and work in the USA.

  21. Greetings,
    My brother went to the consulate in NYC to apply for a citizenship certificate. I and another brother received ours via Houston in 2016. A different brother received his via San Francisco in 2017. In NYC, my brother was told by Fabian that he can’t just refer to my file number for documentation. I told my brother to clarify that. Does anybody know of an applicant successfully referring to an application approved 3 or more years ago for documentation?

    • I’m not sure what’s changed since then, but years ago I believe what they told me was that I’d have to go with my brothers and bring my documentation. I think they said I’d show my birth certificate and my brothers would need to do the same to show we both had the same father and such. But it might vary based on the office, and I know there were some records changes a while back (so the notorized copies of things I made for my brothers are no good because they waited — they want originals now, and I don’t think we can get them again from my grandmother).

      • Hi Jenn,
        Sorry to learn about your problem with documents. Maybe my brother should apply directly to the BVA and take the chance that they might ask for more documents?

        • My grandmother’s just protective. I was lucky. She lived in NYC at the time so she went with me to the consulate so they were barely out of her sight. Now she moved quite far away, and I’m not sure she’d send them to my brothers who would have to apply in NY as well. Fingers crossed.

          And that might work. The worst that’ll happen is that they ask for more. But I’d have him mention you, your case number, and send a copy of your birth certificate to make things easier (just to prove your relation in case they do find your records).

  22. So after a little more than two years, I finally have a german passport and identity card. Long process but worth it

    For those of you with a personalausweis, how did you go about changing your pin? I don’t have a card reader on my computer and they don’t have an ios app yet (in the fall they say) so can’t use my phone

    Not in a huge rush to change it, so i can wait until the ios app is released, just wondering what everyone else did to get there PIN changed. You don’t need to change the PIN within a certain amount of time do you?

    • Hi Eric,
      I think you have to request for those electronic features to be turned on. If you change your mind later, there is a fee to turn them off or on, I think. I opted not to have them turned on. Are you sure that you indicated that you wanted them turned on?

    • Not sure where you are in the final process but I remember getting 2 letters from BVA mailed a week or so apart. One with the ID card which came with a PIN. The second letter gave instructions on how you can change the PIN they issued. Essentially, You will have to go to a German Consulate or similar government entity and use their card reader to change the PIN to whatever 6 number pin you like. At least that’s how I remember the process of several years ago.

      Oh and congratulations. you will find using the German pass/ID card very favorable in the EU compared to the US Passport – especially in these times. Main thing Ive noticed is I get more respect and friendliness during my travels in Europe.

  23. Greetings. I received a citizenship certificate in 2016. My brother in NYC is about to apply. He has children attending university in other states. They have an address at school, but they consider my brother’s address in NYC their permanent address.

    The children plan to have notarized copies of their passports made away from NYC and to have their applications notarized away from NYC. By “away”, I mean not in the NY consulate’s territory.

    Is the NYC consulate going to be okay with the children’s permanent address being NYC?

    And, should my brother have hid children fill out the Vollmacht form? My brother plans to submit applications for himself and his children, by himself, at the consulate.

    • Their permanent address would generally be wherever they’re registered to vote and/or the address on their drivers’ licenses. If that’s still NYC, it shouldn’t be an issue.

      I’m pretty sure they stopped accepting notorized copies of documents a few years back though. So that might be the bigger problem.

    • George, when I applied in Chicago, I lived in Michigan, my son lives in Texas and my daughter in Thailand. They were happy to accept all three as a packet. They corresponded with my son directly, but with my daughter through me.

      When time came to pick them up, they accepted a notarized letter giving me permission with a simple copy of their ID’s

      Linda B

      • Thanks, Linda, for your detailed and very relevant reply.

        New subject: I just want to share that two of my nephews just recently went to Germany for school. This is largely a consequence of me discovering German citizenship in 2015. So, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I wish others similar experiences.

  24. Hi everyone,

    I have been reading the blog for some time now and decided to make a post about the journey I’m on currently. I had my meeting on Oct 7th here in New York City to submit my documents for citizenship. I haven’t received an email confirming the BVA has received my documents yet but I know this takes time.

    My story isn’t a very long one. My father was born in Germany in 1966 to his German mother. We don’t know who the father was because shortly after my father was born he was adopted by my nana (who is also a German citizen). around when my father was 5 my nana moved to America with her American husband at the time and she became naturalized. My father then became naturalized around the age of 6. From what I’ve read online my father couldn’t have given up his German citizenship willingly because of his age and still has German citizenship. He had a German passport during this time but it was expired long before I was born in 1990. I submitted that along with his birth records in Germany as well as his adopted mother’s records. I only things I didn’t have were his adoption records but I don’t think I really need those since he was german to start with??

    If anyone has any info on thay please let me know.


    • Welcome to the club Tyler! 🙂 I don’t have any adoption-specific information I can offer, but I just want to wish you the best of luck. Despite some frustrations, overall the NYC mission was good to work with. I hope they’re able to help you out as much as they did in my case.

      • The New York office was very helpful at the start but I am having a few issues now. I have since relocated to Georgia for work and tried to update my address with them with no response on their end. It has also been Close to 5 months with no letter or email saying that my documents arrived in Germany. I’ve read pretty far back here in this blog and it seems like people tend to get that about a month after submitting their documents.

        • If you’re in Georgia, you probably shouldn’t be updating through the NYC office. I think there’s one in Atlanta. If so, that’s who you’ll want to contact to update any records or get updates on status. NYC’s won’t be able to help you. Also, there’s no set time, and you won’t always even get a letter. I never did. Instead I got a request for more details. It could be they’re still looking into your case in Germany. If they need more, you’ll hear. If they don’t, you’ll either get approved or denied when they finish. If it gets to a year, someone at the mission should be able to get an update for you (some might be willing earlier, but NYC wasn’t when I worked on mine). 5 months between contacts is definitely not out of the ordinary, so I wouldn’t worry. This process just requires a lot of patience in some cases.

          • I guess what I’m trying to say is I submitted my paperwork When I was living in New York with a New York address. I’m just trying to give them my updated address so that mu mail isn’t sent to that old address and sent to Atlanta so that I can now work through them.

          • I would contact the mission in Atlanta, give them your case number (or any identifying information if you don’t have one yet), and ask them to take over the case for you with the new address. And in the meantime, make sure your mail forwarding is working (and I’d renew it at least once given how long these updates can take). That’s probably the best you can do given the circumstances. Or if you happen to be in NY or Atlanta in the foreseeable future, you can always stop by to do an address change with them to be certain it’s done.

        • Hi Tyler, I’m in the same situation. I submitted my documents back in Sept 2019 and this past Feb realised I had not yet received confirmation from the BVA saying my documents had arrived. I emailed my contact at the embassy (I’m going through the London UK embassy) and she said that the BVA was having delays and that I should just wait.

          I still haven’t received anything and am not expecting to now with the lockdown going on. So not a terribly helpful response but hopefully it helps to know that others are in the same situation and it sounds like an issue with BVA, not our applications.

          • Right before the coronavirus shut down Atlanta Ga, I reached out to the German consulate here in the city. I came in with all the paperwork I had used in New York to apply for my Certificate of citizenship. They looked over it and gave me the green light to apply for my passport that day without having my Certificate. So I guess it all worked out for me. I’ll be going back once it’s safe to do so with my passport to get my Certificate of citizenship.

  25. Ten years have passed and I’m now in the beginning process of renewing my German Passport and ID card. As a dual citizen, I’m hoping the process will be smooth but, somehow I wonder.

    Has anyone else had to renew and if so, did you have any problems as a Dual?

    It was difficult enough locating the actual forms and instructions so I’m providing you a link if you need the info


  26. Hi Karl-Heinz. I have not renewed, but I have come to learn that dual citizenship is common. And, combinations exist that you would never imagine. I doubt that consular staff will question your dual citizenship.

  27. We renewed our kids passports last year in NYC with no problem at all. In and out.
    Regarding documents, from when I originally applied for the kids, I left all their documentation in a zip-lock bag – those documents were more than sufficient to now renew. One change I noticed from my previous visit is that in addition to a photo booth, many of the missions now have lockers for electronics. Like George said, lots of people have dual. You are just another citizen renewing their passport – nothing more, definitely nothing less.

  28. Hello! I am so happy to have found this forum. I was born and raised in Argentina and my whole German citizenship ordeal goes back to 2013. My grandfather emigrated to Argentina in 1950, got married to my grandmother, had my dad and then 10 years later became an Argentine citizen by naturalization (which should be no problem). My dad married my mom and had me a few years later in ’97. Now, the issue was that my grandma was married before she married my grandpa. Long story short we needed to provide proof that my grandma got divorced before getting married to my grandpa, which was impossible to provide. We were able to find the document supporting my grandma’s previous marriage, but never the one stating its dissolution. This issue set us back a long time. After submitting the documents we had in 2013, some time later we were contacted by the embassy saying we needed the divorce document otherwise my grandma’s marriage to my grandpa wouldn’t be recognized by the German officials, meaning my dad wouldn’t be recognized as a German at the time of his birth. A long time went by. In 2018 I wanted to get this process started again so I got our folder with all the supporting documents, digitized everything and went from there. My dad traveled to the town my grandparents lived in as his first step. Talking to a few people led him to go to the city I was born in because apparently all the documents from that small town were now being kept there. He looked for weeks. He was given access to a huge warehouse people are not normally allowed in, full of dirty boxes with documents, just to see if he could find this paper, to no avail. He contacted our family in Germany and got the contact of a German Rechtsanwalt who lives in Argentina and is familiar with these cases. Emails went back and forth. We sent him all the documents we had so he could get caught up with the entire situation. He was then able to get in touch with a person who works at the German embassy in Buenos Aires. We received an email in June 2nd 2018 stating that due to a change made by the Bundesverwaltungsamts, the divorce document would no longer be needed. They would now assume that the wedding between my grandparents was legal based off the fact that the Argentinean government didn’t nullify it back in the day. They also said that all our documentation would finally be forwarded to Cologne. I still remember when my dad told me, such a nice memory! But yes, the situation as of now is that we’ve been waiting since then (year and a half). I’ve been getting a bit anxious but I still have faith that something will come of it soon. If you read all this, thank you so much. I will post again whenever I get some news. Cheers

    • Wow Guillermo! What a frustrating wait it must have been for you and your father. But I’m so happy you were able to get help and get things moving again. I hope your wait isn’t much longer. 🙂

      • Welp now it’s time to wholeheartedly thank you for creating this! Yesterday I was reading a lot of the comments users left here and I stumbled upon one by a user called Sarah. She said that if you speak German, you should try calling the BVA, and so I did! I managed to get through to someone who asked for some details to see if he could pull up our case. At first it seemed like he couldn’t find it, which of course made my heart sink. He kept asking how to spell my last name and my dad’s date of birth, but no luck. He then asked me for my details to maybe see if he could find it that way and he did! He then told me to wait and he connected me to the very person who’s in charge of our case! She told me that the papers are right in her office and that she’d be taking a look at them. She told me to call back in 30 minutes. When I called she said everything’s good to go and that the staatsangehörigkeitsausweise would be arriving at our embassy in February!!! Woooo!! It was very emotional when I made the call to my dad to tell him the news. Now we’re trying to figure out the steps to get our passports done so we’re ready as soon as they tell us to pick up our stuff. I don’t know if we’ll be able to get started with the passports when we pick up our citizenship paper. I’m guessing we’ll also have to do the name declaration thing which has me a bit confused. I sent an email to the embassy asking the questions to clear the doubts so it should all be fine. Anyway, thank you so much to everyone. I’ll definitely keep lurking and posting if I have something to say!

  29. Hi. I have an acquaintance who might be a dual citizen. I have a question regarding their family history. Both their father and grandfather are deceased. Their father served in Vietnam and their grandfather served in World War 2.

    The problem is that they don’t know whether either ancestor volunteered or was drafted. Would volunteering for either of those conflicts cause German citizenship to be lost?

    If not, how should they complete the forms for the citizenship certificate? Records before 1964 were destroyed in a fire at the archive in 1973. So, even if they have the right to obtain documents that would reveal whether their ancestor volunteered, they might be destroyed.

    If a DD214 could be ordered, would it even answer the question?


    • Do you have access to search databases such as on Ancestry? If not, email me the info George and I’ll do a search for you to see if anything turns up. Not sure if the classification history form would help or if I can find them there, but according to Archives.gov that and the draft registration cards are all that remain. Everything else was destroyed in 1978 anyway based on the records retention schedules.

  30. Gutentag everyone!
    My name is Tristan, and I recently learned that I’m also elegible for German dual citizenship and will be applying shortly for determination.

    Quick history:
    My Oma and Opa were both born and married in Germany, then immigrated to Canada in 1960. They had my father in Canada 1964, and naturalized in 1967. They never registered him with the consulate in Toronto, although Germany somehow knew about him because they offered him a reisepass when he was 20 and he never completed the process… I emailed Standesamt 1 in Berlin and the national archives and they didn’t have a record of my father.

    I’ve collected all the necessary documents from Germany for my grandparents (birth certificates/marriage certificate,reisepasse) and a “melderegister” for my Opa’s father showing that he was born in Germany in 1909… It took me a while to find out, but the “Meldeamt” is also a great source of documents other than the Standesamt for anyone who is interested. They can provide citizenship information/documents of your family members if available (although the particular Meldeamt I dealt with didn’t have Staatsangehörigkeit documents of my family members… maybe you’ll be more lucky). They’re responsible for the determination of citizenship process for residents in Germany. Maybe I should email them to see if they could process my application and my father’s instead of the BVA even though I’m resident in Canada (considering they have access to my lineage).

    Has anyone ever tried using a Meldeamt vs the BVA? I’m sure it would take 8 weeks vs 8 months!

    I have all other birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. for my father, mother, and myself… The smoking gun was when I saw my dad’s Canadian birth certificate indicate my grandparents still had German citizenship and were married at the time.

    I’ll be mailing in my application to the Toronto consulate this week because they don’t want people going in person due to covid… I was looking forward to seeing someone at the consulate in case there were any questions. Oh well.

    Thanks Jenn for creating this forum, and everyone for all your posts! What a great resource for such a complex process!

  31. I’ve been searching high and low for a site that talked about USA-Germany dual citizenship. Jenn and everyone else you are awesome! I am so happy that I found this forum! I am going through the same process with my brother. I have an open question for you or anyone that may be able to answer this.

    I am planning on using my US passport for my valid residence permit in the US and my drivers licence as proof of residence.
    My questions are:
    1. what kind of copies will the German Consulate accept (e.g. official copies, personal photo copies) of my US passport and my Drivers Licence?
    2. Do my US passport and drivers licence need to be apostilled?
    3. If they do need to be apostilled how can I do this?

    I am referencing the following web page: https://www.germany.info/us-en/service/02-PassportsandIDCards/passport-adult/951294

    I really have no clue on this and any advice on it would be really helpful. I am more then happy to clarify anything.

    • Hi Ralph.

      To the best of my knowledge, they no longer accept notorized copies of documents, so they would need to be official copies. It was different when I applied. The best option would be to bring your passport and drivers license in-person and drop off your application that way. I’d bring a copy as well, and they could verify it against your actual documents or make their own copies if they prefer.

      That said, someone else mentioned they had changed things with in-person visits because of Covid, so I’d contact your German mission and ask what they suggest if you can’t go in-person. They might make more allowances now that it’s tougher to bring in originals directly. But I’m not sure.

  32. Thank you! That is a good idea what you suggested. I agree the only way to verify would be to contact the consulate directly. I contacted them once in the past and and they always directed me to their website for details, but i’ll try again. I still am collecting my other documents so i’m not in a particular rush to do this right now, but I will update this forum if I have anything relevant to share.

    • It might matter which consulate services your location. It was the NYC consulate that would not accept notarized documents from Jenn.

      Many states do not permit notaries to notarize state-issued vital records. So, if a notary were to notarize a “true and correct” photocopy of a vital record, it would not be a legally valid notarization.

      Unlike a state-issued vital record, you cannot request a duplicate passport or drivers license. So, most notaries have the authority to certify “true and correct” copies of those.

      Usually they cannot simply write “I certify that this is a true and correct copy”. Their state manuals require them to do a “possessive statement” like this:

      “I certify that this is a true and correct copy of a document in the possession of [your name here]”. Then THEY sign it and you sign nothing.

      The consulates were not requiring the Apostille on US-issued documents in 2015.

      I met with an honorary consul in New Mexico who certified my documents with a German-issued seal. Then I mailed those documents to the consulate in Houston. Two relatives who piggy-backed on my application sent state-issued vital records and notarized copies of their drivers licenses.

      So, you should check for the possibility that notarized copies of passports and drivers licenses are accepted.

      • NYC did take my notorized documents because I applied for my certificate of citizenship prior to 2015. It definitely seemed to depend who you worked with though, because I remember them making exceptions when I got my passport which was after the 2015 changes.

        My siblings will have a tougher time if they ever bother getting around to it. I don’t think they’ll even be able to get the original German documents from my grandmother now that she’s moved (I highly doubt she’d send them for fear of them getting lost). So I’d love to hear more about them piggy-backing on yours George. How would that work? For example, I know one brother will probably never get his. But if his kids want to when they’re 18 and it’s out of his hands, can they apply based on the fact that I have my passport and such? Do you know how that would work? I assume I’d go with my passport and certificate of citizenship, my birth certificate, my brother’s b.c. if my mom would give it to them (to prove the same parentage)… not sure if there would be anything else.

        • Hi Jenn,

          First the good news: based on my family’s experience, I do not think that documents related to your parents and grandparents will be needed for any of them to apply.

          The inconvenient news: based on my brother’s experience, I doubt that your brother’s children could apply for passports unless they or your brother first receive a citizenship certificate.

          My family is in our third wave of piggybacking on my application.

          The first in 2015 was merely my brother and his son mailing in their applications simultaneously but separately from mine, also to the Houston consulate. Their applications referred to mine for all of the information about my parents and grandparents. We simultaneously received citizenship certificates approved in April 2016.

          Another brother who didn’t believe that I would receive a certificate then decided to apply. He applied through the San Francisco consulate. He did not provide any documentation about our parents or grandparents. But, he did submit the forms for our father and grandfather (i.e. Anlage V). On his application, he stated that I, his brother, received a citizenship certificate and he enclosed an non-certified photocopy of it. The file number on the certificate enables the BVA to view the supporting documents that I submitted. He received a certificate in July 2017. His children applied for passports with him.

          In 2019, a brother in New York City decided to apply. He applied in person. So, the consulate certified his documents. Like the brother who applied through San Francisco, he did not submit any documents related to our parents or grandparents. But, he did submit the forms related to our father and grandfather (i.e. Anlage V). His application referenced my citizenship certificate, and he submitted a non-certified copy of it. He has yet to receive a certificate, but he has received the “letter of receipt”.

          Because I anticipate that more relatives will apply, I was curious to know whether the Houston consulate would still accept a notarized copy of anything at all. I just heard back from them.

          They replied “yes” and directed me to instructions on their website (link below). I was told that they often reject notarized copies that have a statement like this: “I George ‘Nachname’ certify this to be a true copy of the original”, followed by George’s signature.

          What is acceptable is this: “I [implying the notary] certify this to be a true copy of the original”, followed by only the notary’s signature. https://www.germany.info/us-en/service/08-Documents,CertificationsandApostille/notarization-signature-certification/922174

          Given that the BVA is probably now digitizing every document that they receive, I imagine that there is no time limit for relatives to reference my citizenship certificate in lieu of submitting documents related to our parents and grandparents. Hopefully that will be your family’s experience!

          • Well, I hope my brothers not applying won’t affect my nieces and nephew, because whether they applied or not, their children are still eligible. My father never applied for his German certificate or passport, and never even knew he was eligible for citizenship from birth, and I doubt he ever will apply. It didn’t impact my ability to apply, and we’ve been estranged for many years so I didn’t have any input or docs from him — just his birth certificate which I believe my grandmother helped me get.

            My notarized copies I made for my brothers are of the latter type — I didn’t write or sign anything, it was all the notary (though way back in 2012 or so). I was told later however that no form of notorized copies were acceptable anymore. I think I was told to bring the originals and a normal copy (which they kept and marked or something for their files after reviewing the original). So that’s why I’m concerned about my brothers and their kids. But I just saw on the Germany.info site that they are accepting them now. So maybe it was just a temporary change. But the site info was different a few years back.

            One of these days I’ll find the time to re-do this original post and add a resource collection to make it easier for people to find current information.

    • Well I couldn’t get it off my mind so I decided to email the German Consulate. we’ll see what they say.

      It should be easier for me I think since I was born in Germany and I found a sheet that says “Auszug aus dem Geburtsregister” for me, which I think is a German birth certificate. I think my brother has a more challenging issue because he was born in the US and has no such sheet. We are both claiming it through our mother who was German at the time of our birth.

      • It does sound like you’ll have an easier time than most of us. And as long as your brother has his own birth certificate proving the link to your mother, and you can prove your mother didn’t give up her German citizenship before his birth, I can’t imagine you’ll have any big problems. 🙂

  33. Thanks Jenn and George. Its the Chicago Consulate for my state; they haven’t got back to me yet – I’ll let you know if I get an answer. George this is interesting to me, so I can write on the bottom of a personal copy of my drivers licence (for example):
    “I certify that this is a true and correct copy of a document in the possession of [my name]” and have a public notary sign this. If so that sounds easy enough. Do you know who you can use as a public notary? If I understood you correctly you brought your photocopies to New Mexico honorary console and they took those sheets and stamped it with their approval without any translations necessary; correct? So it sounds like I might have two options for this, which is helpful to know. On the point of apostilles. I see websites online that say they will do it for you, but I don’t know if its a thing for ID’s and passports or if it’s fake.

    • I will try not to be redundant with my reply today to Jenn.

      Documents in English do not need to be translated. But, your application can only use forms that have instructions in German.

      The Houston consulate does not require an Apostille. For anyone who doesn’t know, an Apostille is just a certification by your state’s secretary of state that the notary is in fact licensed to notarize things. Nowadays, this might be verifiable online, perhaps using a login.

      For notarization, the Houston consulate is suggesting a simpler statement: “I certify this to be a true copy of the original”, which is then signed by the notary and not by you (very important!). https://www.germany.info/us-en/service/08-Documents,CertificationsandApostille/notarization-signature-certification/922174

      You might present a notary with two options, one leaving off the “in possession of your name”. I usually type those statements out and have the notary place them behind the document when making the photocopy. Usually it’s considered legally stronger to leave off the “possession” statement. But, Illinois might only allow a notary to notarize it if that “possession” phrase is included. There should be an online manual for notaries on the website of the Illinois secretary of state, if you need to convince them that they can do it.

      Honorary consuls have the authority to charge you a lot or nothing at all. I thought the guy was joking when he asked for a check around $120. Or was it $160? Other honorary consuls were typically charging $35.

      The notary at your bank might provide the service for free. But, in my experience, they will not notarize any document that is not normally certified at banks. It’s ideal that the notary uses a raised seal. Raised seals have become uncommon at banks and copy shops. The courthouse probably has one. They would probably do a passport or drivers license but they would probably refuse to do a vital record (birth, marriage, death). A rubber stamp instead of a seal is probably okay. Germans have the antiquated notion from the days before colored copy machines that black stamps and black signatures might be reproductions. You might ask the notary to sign their name in blue ink, if they are allowed. When you sign your application, blue ink is preferred.

  34. Thanks George! what you explained is extremely helpful and informative. I must admit the concept of apostilles and notaries I have very limited knowledge in.

  35. Just FYI the consulate emailed me back here’s what they said verbatim: “Yes, your passport and driver’s license are accepted. Please bring all other documents in original or a notarized copy to your appointment.”

  36. Hey everyone, total newbie here and very, very new to this whole process! I got interested in the idea of possible dual USA/German citizenship during Christmas of 2019 and have been poking and prodding at the idea again recently. I haven’t done any paperwork or made any formal motions yet, just wondering if anyone could give me an idea on the outlook of what my situation would like and what I would have to go through.

    So my connection to Germany comes from my father’s side, starting with both sets of my great- grandparents, all four of whom were German citizens. My grandpa however, was born here in the US, but my grandma was born in Germany and remained a German citizen all her life, but never passed down the citizenship to her children (my dad & aunt) and therefore, my dad never passed it down to myself.

    Other Important Info:

    I’m not sure if my great-grandparents passed down their German citizenship to my grandpa, since he was born in the US
    My Grandpa actually fought in WWII on the American side (Potential Problem???)
    My Grandpa & Grandma both got married in Germany
    Grandma was naturalized in the US
    Both my dad & aunt were born in the US

    I am hoping to be able to amend my grandfather and grandmother’s misstep and restore my familial connection to Germany, for myself, my father, my aunt and her children, should they wish to be included in this process.

    Any information is greatly appreciated!

    Cruz Ohm

    • Hello Cruz,
      I feel a little unqualified to answer this question, because I still am going through this process myself, but I will try my best. Jenn, George and others please correct me if I am wrong. But dates are important here. Perhaps you could provide clarification on the following points:

      1. Who do you plan to claim citizenship through? It sounds like through your grandfather. If at any time your grandfather became a US citizen after your father was born then you are eligible for dual citizenship through your grandfather; if not you can’t claim it through him.

      If claiming citizenship through point 1 is not possible, then you need to look at your Grandmother

      2. Was your Grandma a German citizen at the time of your fathers birth? if the answer is yes, was it after 1975? if so, you can claim it through her as well. If your father was born before 1975 you can’t claim it through her; unless she gave birth outside of wedlock and your father would become stateless otherwise.

      Either way it looks like applying for a certificate of citizenship seems to be your best option.

      Just a personal note: I wont sugarcoat it, but the amount of documents that you need to collect is going to be very challenging and will take lots of commitment. Be prepared for this to take years and for the family to get involved as well. I tried to keep it secret from my family, but that didn’t work too well. After their initial disapproval and me having to explain why I am doing this, it quickly turned to support.

      My sources for what i said:


      • Hey Ralph, thanks for the reply.

        1) I would like to claim it through my grandfather, but he was born a US citizen, so I have a feeling that will complicate things. To answer your question, this obviously means he was a citizen before my father was born.

        2) At the surface level, it looks like my grandmother has the stronger tie. She was a German citizen at the time of my fathers birth and married to my grandfather, but my father was born in 1949, well below 1975.

        Personal Note: If there is one thing that is clear, its the insane amount of paperwork needed, which I am fine with, as well as taking an equally insane amount of time to collect. As for my family, it was very much a family decision to look into, and possibly apply all at once, (my father, myself, my aunt, and her two adult children) I am simply the person spearheading the effort.

        I’ll keep digging on my end.

        Thanks for the help thus far,

        Cruz Ohm

        • Hi Cruz

          I think my situation is similar to yours, and when I submitted my documents at the embassy (London UK) the person helping me seemed to think I had a claim. However I am still waiting for a decision…

          I am claiming through my great-grandfather, who emigrated from Germany to the US in the 1920s (along with my German great-grandmother). My grandfather was born in the US in the late 1920s and my great-grandfather naturalised as an American citizen later on in the 30s.

          So I believe that means my grandfather was born with dual German and US citizenship, and passed both onto my father, who passed them down to me. The key here is that even though my grandfather was born in the US, my great-grandfather was still a German citizenship at the time of his birth so passed it down to my grandfather.

          What could be a problem is your grandfather’s military service – I think I read somewhere that if one voluntarily serves in a foreign military, they automatically give up German citizenship. So if your grandfather was drafted involuntarily he may have kept it, but if not he may have lost it. I’d do a bit more research into that.

          Hope this is helpful.

          • Hi Carrie

            I applied through the London embassy a couple of months after you and my application was acknowledged in April by the BVA, since then I haven’t heard anything.

            When I put the application in I was told it would take at least one year, and possibly upto 3 years. I am hoping that I will be towards the lower end of that range, as I am applying through my grandfather who himself had a citizenship certificate (he needed it as he was a PoW in the 2nd World War, and his birth certificate had been destroyed by the Soviets when they entered East Prussia).

            I hope you hear soon, please can you let me know if you have any news ?

        • Hi again Cruz,
          Thanks for that clarification, apologies I misread your first post and messed up the grandfather and great grand father. It gets a little confusing.

          I am confident that I got it right in this post. But again, someone correct me if i’m wrong. If I were you I would attempt to claim it through your great grandfather. I am certain that you are eligible for dual citizenship through your great grandfather if these two conditions are met.

          1. Your great grandfather was born on/after 1914. This point is the most concerning to me because it might make you ineligible . I don’t know what happens if he was born before this date; which I know he certainly was.

          2 Prove your great grandfather was a German citizen at the time of your grandfathers birth if he became a us citizen. This can only be proved by a certificate of naturalization from the US.

          For point 2. You will need to find out the citizenship status of your great grandfather at the time of your grandfathers birth. You can do this though: https://www.uscis.gov/history-and-genealogy/genealogy/requesting-records.

          It looks like this will be your list keeping in mind that all US documents need to be apostilled and translated.

          1. Your birth cirtificate
          2. Fathers birth certificate
          3. Mothers birth certificate
          4. Parents marriage certificate

          From your fathers side:
          5. Grand Fathers birth certificate
          6. Grand Mothers birth certificate
          7. Grand Parents marriage certificate

          8. Great Grand Fathers birth certificate
          9. Great Grand Mothers birth certificate
          10. Great Grand Parents marriage certificate
          11. Proof of US naturalization for great grand father.

          For example the dual citizenship for Italy, which is a very similar process, this is what was necessary for this one person claiming it through her grandfather: https://youtu.be/LvRGbHHJRNw?t=533

          I am making my claim through my mother, who was German at the time of my birth and my mom registered my birth with the German government. Generaly all German citizens born abroad need an “auszug aus dem geburtsregister” https://www.germany.info/us-de/service/03-familienangelegenheiten/geburt/1216872

          I would ask your grandfather if he can find such a document. It could be helpful for you and you could make your claim through your grandfather if the claim through your great grand father doesn’t work.

          You can fill out the email form for the consulate that deals with your state: https://www.germany.info/us-en/embassy-consulates They many times give diplomatic answers to your questions, but for me they always responded within 3 days. For your best chance keep it as short as possible, otherwise they will just direct you to their website.

          • Hi Ralph,

            Maybe you wrote a typo here?

            “Your great grandfather was born on/after 1914. This point is the most concerning to me because it might make you ineligible . I don’t know what happens if he was born before this date; which I know he certainly was.”

            That won’t matter. In fact, you need to provide one ancestor born before 1914. If it’s two generations, that’s also okay. Here is a scenario:

            Johann the 1st is born in Germany in 1880. He emigrates to the US in 1905 (after the crucial January 1, 1904 cutoff). He marries, and in 1907 Johann the 2nd is born with rights to dual citizenship. In 1914, both Johann the 1st and Johann the 2nd become citizens of federated Germany via RuStAG 1913, which takes effect on January 1, 1914 and terminates the rule that citizenship is lost by the whole family when the migrant is outside of Germany for ten years. Continuing the example, Johann the 1st naturalizes in the US in 1916, which terminates his own German citizenship. The citizenship of Johann the 2nd persists to potentially be unknowingly inherited by several generations.

            Regarding military service. There was a huge fire in 1973 in St Louis that burned for days and destroyed millions of records. That made it impossible for families to prove whether or not their ancestor volunteered or was drafted. It also makes it impossible for the German authorities to prove whether or not a person volunteered. After 1973, many veterans and their families had to rely upon medical records to prove that they or their relative served at all.

            Anyhow, 1914 is when citizenship in a German kingdom was converted to citizenship in federated Germany. Most readers of this blog will need a pre-1914 ancestor for their application.

  37. Hi everyone,

    I hope all is well… It seems there are many posts regarding if a Name Declaration is necessary for a first time passport application after the Staatsangehörigkeitausweis process, so I researched a little more about it. This post is for any Canadians and may be applicable to some Americans and other nationals… Below is a quote from the German mission in Canada’s website:

    “A German child born abroad does not necessarily obtain the last name that is indicated in the foreign (e.g. Canadian) birth certificate.

    When do I need a name declaration for my child born abroad? Below you will find the most common case constellations (please note that the information applies for children born in Canada after 1 September 1986. If your child was born in another country, the information may differ):

    If you declared your child’s name at the time of birth registration with a Canadian civil registrar, this declaration may be valid under German law also. The declaration has to be signed by both parents (electronic signature suffices). If you can present a copy of the Canadian birth registration as proof of the name declaration, no additional name declaration is necessary. This is not the case if another name other than of one parent was selected (i.e. a hyphenated name).”


    Sure enough, I double checked my Ontario long form birth certificate, and in small print, both of my parents signed and declared my last name in ’88. My parents never chose a common married name and gave me my Canadian mother’s last name for ease of spelling… According to what most consulates indicate, I and other people in a similar situation would need a name declaration, although that might not be the case.

    This may apply to some Canadian’s, American’s, and other national’s first time passport application (depending on if your parents already declared your last name on your US state/country long form birth registration).

    When the time comes for my first Reisepass/Personalausweis application, I’ll be speaking with the Toronto Consulate and insisting that I may not need a name declaration.

    Hope this helps, cheers

  38. Hi George,
    That wasn’t a typo, I was defiantly wrong. Thanks for pointing that out. I was just not sure what happens if a relative was born before 1914 primarily because I didn’t do sufficient research on that.

    I like the scenario you gave. It just looks like before 1914 there was just more potential for a person to loose German citizenship. Doing a quick google search I found this site with a good explanation on how German citizenship could be lost back then: https://polaron.com.au/info/blog/confirmation-of-german-citizenship/

    It really looks like a person can go way back (e.g. grandfather x5) to claim citizenship, which is pretty amazing to me providing that the German line wasn’t broken.

    • Hi Ralph,

      You wrote that there was more potential for a person to lose German citizenship before 1914. Actually, German citizenship didn’t exist before then.

      Even if a person’s family never left Germany, their application for a citizenship certificate often requires that they document their descent from a person who became a citizen of federated Germany in 1914. The instructions to apply for a Staatsangehoerigkeitsausweis include that scenario:

      “You need to complete Appendix V for every generation of your family until you get to a relative who… …was born in Germany before 1914”


  39. Hi George,
    Now I really sympathize with anyone having to do that amount of document collection.

    So, for a hypothetical case, if you would have a grandparent that was born 1915 and you had all the required documents (i.e. birth and marriage certificates) leading up to the person making the application.

    It would still not be possible for that person to make a certificate of citizenship application via Appendix V unless that person would collect the great-grandparents vital records as well because you need to get to 1914 or before. Is that correct?

    • Hi Ralph,

      I think you are correct. I’m confident that, for most participants of this blog, they had to document back to before 1914, even if an ancestor was born in 1914.

      • I ran into this issue and had to provide info on my great-grandparents to hit that 1914 threshold. But I didn’t have to find any documents for them. They simply sent me a form to fill out my great-grandparents’ information — birth and death dates, locations where they lived, etc. I filled it out to the best of my knowledge and sent it back, with no supporting documents. And they accepted it just fine. I have to assume documentation would have sped things up though, as they wouldn’t have had to check as much on their end.

  40. Hi All,

    I’m hoping someone can answer this question for me. I have dual U.S.-German citizenship and now want to pass it on to my adult daughter. She is getting married in a few months and plans on taking her husband’s last name. Would it be better to submit her application for German citizenship before she marries while our last names match or wait until after she marries and officially changes her name? Are there complications for either scenario?

    • It shouldn’t affect things as long as she has her birth certificate tying her to you and her marriage certificate explaining the name change. It could be more complicated if you apply before the name change, because the process can take quite some time. And if her name changes before it’s approved, she’ll need to update the German government with those documents anyway, which might slow things down while they’re in-transit.

  41. Hi all,

    I would like to apply for German citizenship through my mother and have a somewhat complex situation. I was wondering if anybody could help me in determining if I am indeed eligible, and if so, what documents would be required for my application.

    My mother was born in West Germany in 1955. Her mother (my grandmother) was born in 1919 in Romania (Transylvania Saxon), and emigrated to Germany during WW2 where she was granted German citizenship. She married my grandfather (a German, born in 1907) in 1944.

    My grandmother, my aunt, and my mother came to the U.S. in 1957 (without my grandfather), and became naturalized in 1972 (when my mother was 16 years old). Under these circumstances (as she was a minor applying under my grandmother’s application), does she still hold German citizenship? I was born after she became a U.S. citizen (1990).

    If I’m indeed eligible, what documents would I need to apply? I don’t have any old German passports, or anything before my mother’s birth certificate. Any advice for hiring somebody to obtain certified copies of the required documents vs. attempting to do so on my own?

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Hi Greg.

      I was kinda in the same boat as you but my father was a lot younger than your mother when he wad naturalized here in the states. “He was 6”. Im not sure what the cutoff age is to be considered a minor. You will need passport Information and birth certificates of family and naturalization paper work for your mother. Ill copy and paste the list here that was sent to me from the German consulate in New York City when I applied for my passport. This is everything you should try and have before meeting with someone.

      “Note: This was for my father so it would for your mother not your father”

      Your application should be accompanied by the following documents:
      – A copy of your current US passport
      – If applicable: your marriage certificate
      – Your birth certificate (stating who your parents are)
      – Your parents’ marriage certificate (if applicable)
      – If your parents weren’t married to each other when you were born: Your father’s recognition of paternity (Most States in the US require a father to acknowledge paternity when he is not married to the mother and his name is added to the birth certificate. You should be able to request a copy of this document from the registrar’s office where your birth has been registered.)
      – Your father’s birth certificate
      – Your father’s adoption papers
      – Your father’s US Certificate of Citizenship which he received when he acquired US citizenship
      – Proof of your father’s German citizenship (preferably his old German passport)
      – Your grandmother’s US Certificate of Naturalization
      – Proof of your grandmother’s German citizenship (preferably her old German passport)
      – Your grandmother’s marriage certificate (if applicable)
      – If available: proof of your father’s biological mother’s German citizenship and her birth certificate

      As we have to submit notarized copies to Germany, I would recommend bringing the originals of all documents to the appointment. I will notarize copies and you can take the originals back with you. If you are missing any of the US marriage or birth certificates the issuing registrar’s offices should be able to reproduce copies of these documents.

      All documents that are not in German have to be accompanied by official translations.

      Hope this helps any.

  42. Hi Greg,

    My understanding is that unless your mother obtained a retention permit (Beibehaltungsgenehmigung) before being naturalised or a treaty exists between the German and US Governments (like it does for the EU) then this would cause her to loose her German citizenship when she was naturalised in the U.S. Do you know if a retention permit was obtained before becoming a U.S Citizen ?

    If you don’t have a retention permit, and no treaty existed then I think your mother would need to be renaturalised before you could apply through her. Here is a link to the German Nationality Act https://germanlawarchive.iuscomp.org/?p=266 – which is well worth reading, for all the rules, in particular have a read of sections 25 and section 13.

    I would also strongly suggest you speak to the German Mission in the United States for a definitive answer, as I would imagine that your situation will be far from unique.
    I’ve dealt with the German Mission in the United Kingdom (London) and found them to be excellent, and really friendly.

    Good luck.


    • Hi Michael, Greg and Tyler,

      German citizens who were naturalized in the US or elsewhere before the age of 18 are usually if not always *automatically* considered to retain German citizenship. This is because –under German law– minors do not have the legal capacity to renounce German citizenship. So, I think Greg is likely a German.

      The consulates don’t have the authority to make a decision. Sometimes they give incorrect information, too.

      Greg: It’s interesting to note is that your grandmother would have become German by marrying a German man prior to 1953. Usually an applicant requests their own documentation. Hiring an attorney is rarely helpful and can sometimes cause delays.


    • Hi Michael,

      Have you had any news on your application? I have just hit the 2-year mark and heard nothing, have not even received a reference number from the BVA which worries me. I guess it will probably take longer than two years now due to Covid but would love to hear something…

      • Hi Carrie,

        I’ve heard nothing beyond receiving my reference number, which was emailed to me by the London embassy after about 5 months of applying. I’ve read on a forum that a guy who recently enquired was told that there is currently a 2 year backlog, and they are processing them in strict date order, so maybe you will hear soon…

  43. Has anyone received any communication from the BVA recently? Interested to know what timeline they are working on now due to COVID.

    I submitted applications for my children in June, 2019 and other than the acknowledgement letter I received shortly thereafter haven’t heard anything since then.

    My application took around 21 months IIRC, but my kids should be straightforward based on my positive application.

    I’m sure things have been pushed back longer than usual. If anyone has received a decision in the past ) months can you let me know when you applied? Just trying to get an idea of when I might hear back

    • I’m wondering this too.

      I’m at the two year mark of waiting for a decision now and wondering what timeframe I should now be expecting. Three years maybe?

      I just emailed my contact at the embassy (just moved and needed to update my address) so will comment if they say anything useful, but they will probably just tell me to sit tight.

      • Update: I received a letter in June that my kid’s applications were approved. It took just under two years, and as I stated before, their applications were pretty straightforward. Two years seems to be the minimum expected time right now

      • I had the new york office reach out to me last week after two years of waiting for a reply. I was told that they never even submitted my application and asked would I like to continue with the process…… Luckily I had already gone to the Atlanta office and was approved for my passport or I would have still been waiting. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen to anyone else here.

        • If you have a solid case and have all the paperwork and evidence I would just make a passport appointment and go and give it a try. It worked out for me that way. 6 months later I had my passport.

          • Really? I’d love to hear more about this. What documentation did you take to the passport appointment? I’m tempted to try this!

      • I showed up to the passport appointment with my US birth certificate and my father’s german birth certificate. His naturalization paperwork and some court documents for child support. They looked at it for a few mins then approved me for a passport.

    • Hi Eric, I can’t seem to find the comment saying your kids had been approved but congrats, that’s good news!

      I applied in September 2019 so if they are working strictly in order of applications received then perhaps my letter will come soon…? although I think my application will be much less straightforward.

      • Sorry about that Carrie. There was a problem on the site where approved comments weren’t coming through after a recent update. It should be resolved now, and the comments should be visible. I hadn’t realized it when I responded to Eric’s comment before, where it sent mine through as an admin, but it didn’t include his on the front-end. Oops! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. 🙂

        • No worries! Just was confused as I got the email notification for Eric’s comment but couldn’t find it again – glad to know it’s not just me going blind 🙂

      • Yep, it was right around the two year mark so I would think September at the earliest for you. I am only speculating that the simplicity of the application may have helped. They may just do one application at a time and work through it I too done regardless of the situation. If they ask you for more info then that of course would change things. When I went through the process, it took about 21 months, and they didn’t ask for further information even though I thought they might. Good luck!

  44. Hi all,
    I do have a question about the proof of residency. According to https://www.germany.info/us-en/service/02-PassportsandIDCards/passport-adult/951294

    It says “ your US driver’s license or an utility bill in your name as proof of residence”

    This may be a dumb question, but I want to be sure about this, when you went to the consulate did you need to provide only one identification without additional supporting documents to prove residency? Or is only one identification fine?

    I ask this because I have concerns about if I may move and the address changes during the application process. I am thinking I can get around this by registering my driver’s license to my parents address (it’s allowed by the state btw I checked); since they are settled and never move.

  45. Greetings Jenn / Zusammen,

    I have a question about military service and loss of citizenship.

    I know a person who volunteered for the US military in 1979. I’m thinking that is no problem since my brother joined in 1983 and got a certificate. However, my brother seems to have included some sort of letter claiming that he was assured before joining the US military that he was not a dual citizen.

    Then this same person’s father joined voluntarily in the middle of WW2, I think 1944.

    The father was born in wedlock in the US to a German father who had not yet naturalized.


  46. Well…I’ll be meeting with an honorary consul in September for a passport application. Flight, hotel and appointment are all booked, so its official. I was amazed, and a little perplexed, when I asked about if my documents need to be translated and apostilled, the person told me that this is not necessary and that I should bring the originals with a simple photocopy that will be certified there. I will be bringing 12 documents in total.

  47. A small update. Someone from the BVA has emailed me to ask about my parents’ marriage. They were married in a foreign country outside of Europe/North America, so she is checking with the German embassy in that country to make sure their marriage is recognised under German law. She also asked if I have any documents that show their marriage has been recognised by the US government.

    Has anyone else been asked for something like this? Also, this was the only thing she asked about, so hopefully that means all my other documents are fine??

    Happy that my application is being processed, at least!

    • She also asked for a scan of my passport – not sure why as I submitted a copy back with all of my other documents – but hopefully that’s a good sign??

  48. So I met with the honorary consul with my brother. Things went very well and we were told to expect our German passports in about 3-4 months. I realize my case is a ton similar then most others. With that said I did learn some new things that I previously didn’t know and I thought i’d just share it below.

    To quickly recap everyone on our cases. We both were born in wedlock to a US father and German mother at the time of our births. I was born and registered in Germany – I discovered this last year. However, my brother was born in the US and only briefly lived in Germany as a small child, without being registered to our knowledge, after he was born (this is an important fact i’ll revisit below).

    Things I’ve learned:

    1. The birth registration of a child and the passport application are completely separate processes; one doesn’t rely on the other. My brother was told that he can expect a passport in 3 months and a birth registration from the small town he lived in in about 3-4 weeks. According to the consul the passport is useful for travel.
    However, The birth registration is a legal document and is usually needed to complete any legal function within Germany (i.e. open bank accounts, rent, German drivers licence, voting etc…)

    2. The controlling Standesamt is the last town the child lived in Germany even if the child was not born in Germany. My brother was born in the US and moved to a small German town as a child. My parents received whats called “kindergeld” at the time for him, and the town should have records of that, even if my parents don’t – according to the consul. If my brother would never have lived in Germany then Standesamt I in Berlin would be the controlling Standesamt. They have a processing time of 2-3 years on birth registrations currently.

    3. This next point is long, but I can’t find anything online that mentions the process, so i’ll just spend some time and explain everything I remember. My passport photo was taken at Walgreens against a white wall. The person then plugged the SD card into the computer. The software is the exact same as shown in this image:
    The person then selected “German” on the list of nationalities on the right of the screen, then scaled the image to fit my head into an oval border on the screen. After that she sent the images to another computer and did some minor color corrections. After this she printed the photos out without cutting them (per the consuls request).

    When I went to the consul I got permission watch the software being used for taking fingerprints and verifying photos. The software looks exactly like this: https://youtu.be/K5rdzZhuXDc?t=151
    She took the photos I got from Walgreens and scanned these in. The software automatically lets you know whether a picture of a person is acceptable or not. I saw a green oval around my face and green borders on the sides indicating that my picture was acceptable. The user can override a slightly unacceptable photo, but the consul said that this should never be done normally. Then came the fingerprints – simple enough.

    4. The consul collected the simple copies of our documents and compared them with the originals. After the consul grabbed all the documents that were required, all the sheets were folded on the edge and stapled together. The folded edge then got the stamped by the consuls seal.

    5. Apostilles and translations. I struck up a conversation and I was amazed how frank the consul became all of a sudden. In a nutshell, the consul was telling me that the Standesamts that required Apostilles and translations either didn’t speak English or that they don’t recognize the consuls authority to certify the documents; a frustration this consul has dealt with on numerous occasions. When this happens, the applicant has no choice but to go through the process of getting all their documents Apostilled and translated for the Standesamt; there is nothing the consul can do. The consul did tell me that fortunately this problem doesn’t come up very often.

    The consul was super happy how organized I made all my documents; I put the originals and the copies in sheet protectors and put a sticky note on each sheet protector indicating what the document was. All of these sheets were put in a binder.

    I did go overkill on my document collection, collecting back to my grandparents. It could have been a lot shorter of a process if I knew more before hand.

    There are several other points I could make, but I’ll just leave it at that for now – too long; I might make a little follow up if anything else interesting comes to mind from my appointment.

    It’s was a little bit of a mind shifting discovery that I might have dual citizenship 2 years ago. I spent all this time singularly focused on finding information, collecting documents and not getting ahead of myself. Now since I will get the passport in a matter of months, I don’t yet know the extent that I will utilize it; I still need to think about it. Either way i’m happy i’m discovering it, it’s certainly a privilege to have the opportunity to be a German citizen. Dual citizenship is it worth it? I think, YES!

  49. Good news! I heard the other day that my application has been approved by the BVA and my staatsangehoerigkeitausweis is in the mail! I’m so pleased. My application took exactly 2 years and 1 day to process, from the day I submitted documents at the embassy to receiving the email.

    Thank you Jenn for making this post and for everyone who has commented, it has been really helpful. Especially for your encouragement about my grandfather’s missing birth certificate, which turned out to be no problem at all.

    Now I get to apply for a passport. I think I will probably have to make a name declaration first — has anyone done this? I’m seeing that processing times for name declarations are 3+ months — anyone gotten this done recently?

    Vielen danke!!!

  50. Congrats, Carrie. Have a look at your local consulate to see of they are accepting passport applications at this time. The one in Toronto is only doing them for emergency travel at the moment.

  51. Apologies folks, but email subscriptions to comments are currently disabled. Unfortunately the tool making that possible has a compatibility issue with the newest version of the site’s backend software, causing it to crash the entire site when active. It’s been reported to the tool’s developer, and the feature will be reactivated if / when they fix it.

    • Happy New Year everyone! I’ve just activated a replacement plugin to manage post comment subscriptions. If you previously subscribed to comments on this post, you should start receiving notifications again (and you can unsubscribe in any email if this content is no longer of interest to you). Apologies again for the temporary removal of this feature until I could find a replacement that didn’t break the site. And best wishes to any of you still in the process of obtaining or proving your German citizenship. I hope you all get great news this year!

  52. Help! Canadian wondering if I am eligible to get my German citizenship/passport.


    – born in 1886 in Germany
    – emigrated to Canada 1920
    – married feb 15th 1919 to a German
    – naturalized 1937 in Canada with his children but at a different time than his wife


    – born in 1919 in Germany
    – emigrated to Canada in 1925
    – married a Canadian woman in 1946
    – naturalized in 1937 as a minor with my great-grandfather


    – born 1962 in Canada
    – married in 1990 to my mom Uk/Canadian

    – born 1996 in Canada
    – currently have Canadian and Uk passports through my mom

    The documents I currently have are:
    Gf’s German birth certificate
    Gf’s Canadian passport
    Gf’s marriage certificate
    GGf’s naturalization form

    My grandfather naturalized with my GGf as a minor (17 years old)

    Am I eligible to acquire my German citizenship and passport?

    • I’m not sure how the naturalization process works in Canada, but if your minor grandfather was automatically included in his father’s naturalization application (and there was no separate application of his own), I believe he would have retained his German citizenship, and it would have passed through your father to you (unless either of you voluntarily entered military service or something else along those lines). But a lot of it depends on which laws were in effect during particular years. Military enlistment now, for example, should be fine but it might not have been for your father or grandfather. Your best bet is to reach out to your closest German mission and let them know the specifics, especially about how your grandfather’s naturalization occurred.

      As for documents, you might also need your grandfather’s German passport, your father’s birth certificate, your parents’ marriage certificate, and your own birth certificate. Hopefully others can chime in with more details or better feedback.

    • I think you are eligible. You are lucky you are trying to claim through your paternal line. Also your Great grandfather emigrated after 1914, which is good. The “naturalized in 1937 as a minor with my great-grandfather” – I don’t think this will be an issue because he was a minor, but i’m not sure.

      You might want to also ask your question on Reddit on the subreddit https://www.reddit.com/r/GermanCitizenship/ (a community that has really grown in the last 6 months)

      Or on one of the various facebook groups out there:


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