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:


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

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

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

Major Update:

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

*Image credit: tjuel (via Flickr)


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1,050 thoughts on “Dual Citizenship: Is it Worth It?”

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

    Reply
  2. Hello Everyone,

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

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

    Reply
    • Chris,

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

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

      Reply
      • Hello Again,

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

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

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

    Reply
  5. The Next Step…(?)

    An open question for this group:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      So, do it. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Hi all,

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

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

    Thanks,
    Jon

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

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      • Hi Jenn,

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

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

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

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

    Thanks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Heinz

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

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

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

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

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  11. That last paragraph is good, thanks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  15. Hallo again.

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

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

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

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

    Reply
    • Thank you Marianne. 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks,
    Eden

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank you 🙂

    Reply
  19. HI Jenn,

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

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

    Thank you!

    Peter

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

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

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

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

        Thank you for your time!

        Peter

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

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

    Reply
  21. Hallo again, all.

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

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

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

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

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

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  22. Hi everyone,

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

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

    Any advice?

    Thanks!

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

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

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

      Reply
    • Logan,

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

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

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

      Please let us know how it turns out for you.

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

        Reply
      • Hey Jenn and Groszmann,

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

        Worth a try I think.

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

        Thanks!

        Reply
        • Hello again after all this time.

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

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

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

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

          Reply
        • Hi Logan,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Reply
        • Logan,

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

          Reply
          • Logan,

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

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

  23. Hi Jenn,

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

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

    Thanks,

    TONY

    Reply
    • Hi Tony,

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

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

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

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

      Reply
  24. At the home stretch, hopefully.

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

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

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

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

    Needless to say I was very relieved to hear that.

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

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

    I have learned patience throughout this process.

    Good luck to the rest of you.

    Reply
  25. Hi,

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

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

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

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

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

    Reply
  26. Hi George,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Viel Glück!
    Marianne

    Reply
    • Thanks, Marianne.

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

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

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

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

      Best wishes

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

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

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

        Alles Gute!
        Marianne

        Reply
  27. Hi all,

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

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

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

    Reply
    • Hi Jon,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Reply
    • Hi Karl,

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

      Reply
      • Thanks Jenn!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Reply
    • Hi Michael,

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

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

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

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

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

      Here are some links to reference:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  31. Hi,

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

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

    Thanks

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

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

    Thanks!!

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

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

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

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

    Reply
    • Hi George,

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

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

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

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

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

      Reply
      • Hi Jenn,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Reply
  36. Karl,

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

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

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

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

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

    Reply
  37. Hi Jenn and folks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Many thanks to you all and great thread. 🙂

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

      Reply
  39. Hallo all!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Tschuss!

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

      Reply
      • Thank you so much, Jenn!

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

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

        Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      If anyone knows otherwise, please let me know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          Hope that helps!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. Enlightening indeed.

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

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

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

      Reply
      • Hi Wes,

        Thank you for your reply.

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

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

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

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

        Thanks.

        Reply
    • Hi Roberto

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

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

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

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

        Reply
      • Hi Marianne,

        Thank you for your reply.

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

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

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

        I hope your passport issue is resolved quickly.

        Bests,
        Roberto

        Reply
        • Hi Roberto,

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

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

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

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

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

          Reply
    • Roberto,

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

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

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

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

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

      George

      Reply
      • George,

        Thank you for the information!

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

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

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

        Again, thank you for the help.

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

    [Art. 47
    First and Family Names

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

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

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

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

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

    Reply
    • Hallo Georg,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Reply
        • Hi Karl,

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

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

          • Hi Karl,

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

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

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

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

            George

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Reply
        • Thanks Wes and Jen for your replies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Reply
    • Jon,

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

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

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

      Thanks,
      George

      Reply
      • Hi George,

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

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

        Reply
        • Hi Jon,

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

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

          Best wishes for your plans.

          George

          Reply
    • Congratulations Jon! Excellent news.

      I have one question.

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

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

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

      Thanks.

      Reply
      • Hi Karl,

        Thanks for the congratulations!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Reply
      • Sorry for just responding now, Karl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Reply
        • Sam and Jenn,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          • Alexander,

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

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

          • Alexander,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I am in America and instead of paying bank wire fees of $45 or more through your checking account, I used Western Union online & I only had to pay the price on the invoice + $3 in fees!

    This will save you a ton of money if you are going through this citizenship process, which for me, has now turned into a geneology project.

    Reply
  57. Hi

    So glad to have come across this forum!

    So I am just starting this process and before I go too far down the road I thought I’d see what insights
    folks have here.

    Anyway I was born in the US to my German born mother in 1965 – out of wedlock to an American father. I was never
    legally adopted by the my father before that relationship ended. She then married a German who adopted me which was before 1977. Both of them are still German citizens and have not even taken on a second US citizenship.

    The question I have is should I just pursue my German citizenship certification through my mother only? It seems like that path alone is sufficient and straightforward in obtaining my citizenship. Adding my German adoptive father into the process only complicates things, and I don’t think it provides any benefit.

    Thanks

    Tom

    Reply
    • I don’t believe you would be eligible through your adoptive father anyway. I believe you only become eligible for citizenship through adoption if the adoption would otherwise leave you stateless. Being adopted wouldn’t remove your American citizenship, so his German status wouldn’t have any influence over your own. Because you were born out of wedlock to a German mother before 1975, you would be eligible through your mother as long as she didn’t become an American citizen before you were born (meaning she would have lost German citizenship). If she did, you wouldn’t be eligible at all unfortunately. So you’ll need to look into your mother’s naturalization records.

      Reply
      • Thanks for the quick reply! My Mom has never given up her German citizenship but I’ll know to consider any naturalization records regarding that when I submit my application.

        Reply
    • Tom,
      You were a German citizen at the moment of birth, it sounds like, since you were born out of wedlock to a mother with German citizenship. You did not acquire German citizenship when you were subsequently adopted. So, leave question 3.3 on form F blank.
      George

      Reply
  58. Should we be going through our regional German consulate (SF for me) or directly to Koln? Does it matter? Is one way better than the other? I would assume the consulate makes the process slower, but they likely can navigate the ins and outs, and interpret things to English. My Schwabish German works in daily conversation with my family but it won’t flow as well on a technical level.

    Reply
    • It might save three weeks to send your application directly to the BVA, as some consulates take a few weeks to forward applications to Germany. But, the BVA seems to correspond through consulates as a rule. And, you probably cannot avoid having your application placed in the same queue as ours, which has a backlog of about nine months until it is first reviewed. Applying via a consulate might be beneficial in that it establishes a relationship with them. I would contact SF.

      Reply
    • Tom,

      I forgot something important:

      If you can produce a valid passport for your mother from the year that you were born, you might be able to apply directly for a passport without first obtaining a citizenship certificate. Your consulate would be able to advise you about this.

      Reply
      • Hi, just wanted to jump in on the posting and say that I tried applying for passport with my mother’s German passport from the year of my birth through my consulate (Vienna, Austria) and they told me I must have my citizenship certificate first.
        The BVA told me that I could apply for a passport without it, but my consulate insisted and would not issue me a passport without the certificate.

        Not sure if it is different from consulate to consulate, but that was my experience.

        Reply
        • I finally got my mother’s German passport from the period that I was born, along with her German birth certificate.
          The passport was issued in 1961. It has travel and renewal stamps in it from after my
          my birth since she remained a German citizen. I assume this would serve as the proof I need to submit along with my own birth certificate and US Passport to get my German citizenship certification? Also, does the BVA typically get the documentation you submit all back to you at the conclusion
          of the process?

          Thanks

          Tom

          Reply
          • That sounds quite promising, Thomas.

            Also, you won’t send originals. Make certified copies–either through your local consulate or an honorary consul in your area–and submit those with your application. The BVA will request originals only if they need it. They never asked for any original documents from me.

          • Wes,

            Haven’t some people had success with using only a notary public? The Honorary Consul in New Mexico charged me $186 to certify my application. I wonder whether I could have avoided that. However, an application might look more trustworthy if it’s been stamped by the Honorary Consul. And, it sounds like Thomas has a good shot at receiving a certificate based on the 1940’s law rather than having to document things back prior to 1914. At any rate, be prepared, Thomas, to be asked for $186 cash on the spot.

          • @George: I believe some people here have had success using copies that are notarized by a U.S. notary or are certified solely by the U.S. authority that issued them. The Houston consulate did tell me that a U.S. notary “should” suffice.

            In my case, I had to have stacks of documents translated and my translator wasn’t local so she didn’t work directly from the source documents. I scanned them and e-mailed them to her; when she finished the translations she mailed me notarized translations but stapled to the scanned copies. Since no U.S. notary will touch authenticating that kind of document, I had the whole stack of papers stamped by the honorary consul here. Then again, she only charged me $33 for one set and another set was free, so it does seem to be at the honorary consul’s discretion.

          • @Wes,

            The honorary consul told me that his fees are set by the consulate in Houston. They were so many euros per document and an extra amount for the signature. I wish that he had told me that up front because most of what he stamped had already been certified. However, the German stamps probably look reassuring to a person in Cologne.

            @ All: Changing subject: After the euphoria of discovering German citizenship wore off, I became aware that some people, both Germans and others, will resent that I can apparently so easily obtain a German passport. I think we all need to be ready to don a thick skin.

            And, I’ve encountered no end of educated, well-traveled people who authoritatively declare that dual citizenship was not allowed until a few years ago and/or that I will have to take a language exam and/or identify sponsors in Germany. One German told me that Germany should accept more refugees rather than give passports to people in our situation.

            So, I think we need to be careful when presenting the history of our German citizenship.

          • Thanks for the responses! Another related question in this is can all of the required notarizations and stamps be handled
            by the Honary Consulate then? I read in the instructions for the application process (CitizenshipHelpMerkblatt_PDF.pdf) that
            non-German documents needed an apostille based on the 1961 Hague Convention as well. Have any of you had to include this certif-
            ication along with such documents as your non German passport or birth certificate? I am understanding this is that the apostille
            is something that is in addition to the notarization of any certified document copies?

          • Thomas,
            Documents from the US do not require an apostilles or translation into German. An apolstilles is a certification that a notary public has the authority to notarize things.

          • Thomas,

            I think translations aren’t required from the US for two reasons. Many Germans who work in offices have a good grasp of English. And, the US has relatively less corruption than many other places.

            Regarding the apostille, it’s only if you were using photocopies that the apostille would be a certification of the notary’s signature. Then, indirectly, the apostille would be a certification of the signature on the original (e.g. the state director of health). You could also have an apostille on an original document, in which case the apostille would be directly certifying the signature on the original (e.g. the director of health). But, for US documents we fortunately don’t need to purchase an apostille.

          • Thanks again for the reply! I almost made this process more complicated, and very expensive as well! I also talked to the Honorary Consulate here in Portland this morning. They are going to make copies of all my original documents and certify them for me. I just have a few more documents to acquire and I’ll be all set to get my application rolling!

  59. Just a quick update. I submitted my application at the honorary consulate on October 30th, it was then forwarded to the consulate general, who sent it to Germany on November 2nd. I received this update after I sent an email to the consulate to ensure it was sent. They informed me applications are taking a minimum of 6 months.

    I am still waiting on the official message that Cologne received it.

    Reply
  60. As you probably know, and for several reasons, immigrants are likely to start using some local version of their original name. For example, a German named “Eduard Wilhelm”, might start using “Edward William” after arriving at his destiny.

    Does anyone have experience with, or know about an application where this was the case?

    I’m specially interested in cases where the German ancestor is located rather far away in time, so that local authorities issuing an important paper such as a wedding certificate wouldn’t mind the difference, and proceed anyway. Far away in time may also mean it is relatively difficult to make a correction to such a document.

    If so, can you please share the difficulties and solutions this implied, if any?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Assuming that you’re in the US, have you obtained any naturalization documents from the US Archives, such as the petition to naturalize? My grandfather’s states that he entered the US as Franz, but was then going by Frank, as well as spelling his surname more English-friendly.

      Reply
      • Hi George,

        Thanks for the quick reply.

        I’m not in the US. Either way, no naturalization papers have been found and I suspect he didn’t naturalize. In fact, it’s quite an interesting situation because after marrying, having children, and living in Venezuela for many years, he returned to Germany, remarried, and died there shortly after. (The “why” is still a mystery to me.)

        I do have a marriage certificate (the Venezuelan one) that uses a modified name (Spanish version). I’m wondering how this will look in the eyes of the embassy and BVA.

        Reply
        • Hi Roberto. Sorry, that’s difficult. The marriage certificate doesn’t say Alemania? Could there be a ship’s manifest to prove his travels?

          Reply
          • The marriage certificate states his Country and city of origin, as well as his parent’s name, so in my opinion, identification is straightforward.

            I’m just wondering if such a technicality can cause major trouble.

          • @Roberto: Unlikely to cause a problem, in my opinion. The BVA staff are intelligent people and deal with this sort of thing every day so they should understand that names change over the years. As long as your ancestor’s name is “changed” to one that is a common change, you should be fine. Worst case is they ask for more information…

        • When I met the honorary consul, I expressed a concern about a name issue regarding my grandmother. He told me that the BVA is used to such things because they are common. It sounds like you have good proof.

          Reply
          • Roberto. Sorry I didn’t remember the honorary consul’s comment right away. Only my grandmother’s middle name is on my grandfather’s petition. On their marriage certificate, she used only her middle name and last name from her stepfather. And, on my father’s birth certificate, she used only her first name and last name from her stepfather. It could look like two different people! I’m terrified that the BVA will ask for her birth certificate from what used to be a German village in Hungary but is now in Serbia. Otherwise, I have excellent documentation and a very simple history. Good luck!

        • I suspect it will be fine. Shortly before I found out they validated my citizenship claim, I let the NYC mission know that I discovered a possible name change. It wasn’t an Americanization of the German name, but a complete change. And I discovered it related to my great grandfather’s brother — meaning either they both changed their name or he was never really his brother to begin with. It wouldn’t be surprising if the family completely changed its name, especially because my great grandfather’s brother was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the war. The name change happened after that, but before he joined the U.S. military after moving here.

          The only records I had were photocopies from a genealogy database showing his name at different times — not even proof of the actual name change taking place. It was a weird situation. I only let them know about it because I knew there were issues finding my grandfather’s birth certificate (if the whole family changed their last name, his would have been different at birth). They thanked me for the information and didn’t mention it again. But just a few months later I got my approval (after a much longer wait before that without any updates). No idea if it played a role in them finding what they needed, but a name change certainly didn’t concern them in any way.

          Reply
    • I just looked at some petitions online. My grandfather’s is from 1935, and specifically asks what name he entered the US under. Older petitions don’t do that. So, my experience probably doesn’t apply.

      Reply
  61. (Moving this to a new set of replies, we’re becoming a regular multi-thread forum here. :D)

    @George – The only time I’ve encountered someone who seemed to passionately object to my “easily” (if you can call a multi-year process of documenting exactly who I am and where my relatives came from “easy”) obtaining recognition of my German citizenship was blowhards on discussion sites like Reddit. Those who complain would do the exact same thing were it an option for them so I chalk it up to jealousy, not any actual concern for Germany as a country. What we accomplished is on the level of someone figuring out she was born to a U.S. citizen–or even on U.S. soil, something Germany doesn’t do–and claiming a U.S. passport.

    “One German told me that Germany should accept more refugees rather than give passports to people in our situation.”

    Certainly, and I think that Germany should give out ponies rather than make cars. As it turns out, both of us can say silly things even if we’re being absolutely genuine. 🙂

    I’m happy and maybe a little proud of being able to accomplish this. Then again, I’m also a sucker for genealogy and digging through things that others find to be a hassle.

    Reply
  62. In hindsight, Wes, you are correct to attribute the hostility that I have experienced -in response to stating that I discovered my German citizenship- to jealousy.

    Still, if I know that I might make a person (especially a new acquaintance at work or school) jealous, it might be prudent to not immediately share that my German citizenship was discovered 79 years after my grandfather naturalized. I think we should be vague. Let people assume that we always knew about it.

    Perhaps I’m exacerbating things by also stating that it’s “bittersweet” to discover it after age forty. Imagine growing up with the knowledge of it and going to university at age 18 in Europe.

    My application was extremely easy to assemble. We always knew that my father was born before his father naturalized because my grandfather changed the spelling of his name when he naturalized, to get rid of the ‘e’ used to indicate an umlaut. But, he didn’t change my father’s! For 79 years, nobody realized what that meant.

    Fortunately, my circumstances make it possible for me to move to Europe. And, I’m looking for an opportunity.

    Reply
  63. Thomas,

    There is this less-frequently applied law that allows a citizenship certificate to be issued when you have ancestors who carried valid (continuously unexpired) documentation from 1950 to your birth. But, you should ask a consul whether that documentation needs to be a citizenship certificate.

    Your mother’s passports by themselves might not even guarantee her to receive a certificate. You might have to document everything back to 1914. It would be better to figure that out now rather than wait 6-9 months until somebody in Cologne reviews your application.

    It seems like the rules are being more strictly applied as time passes. Some commenters in Germany say that even people in Germany usually have to go back to before 1914. If you decide to submit what you have now, I would spend my time waiting by gathering documents to prove my line of descent back to 1914 in the event that you are asked for it later, which seems more likely than not.

    I tend to get excited by the possibilities of “loopholes” and short-cuts, and I wish that somebody had criticized me for steering you toward the possibility of not having to go back to 1914. So, I urge you to ask a consulate whether they think it’s feasible. If not, people here have lots of experience gathering documents to help you out.

    Reply
    • George

      Thanks for your reply! I thought I replied to this earlier but I don’t see it out here. Anyway would my grandparent’s birth certificates accomplish this assuming they were born before 1914? If those records are still around I think I can get them relatively easily assuming they were born in the same town as my mother. My aunt still lives there. I guess I’ll get to learn something new about the family if I have to dig deeper!

      Reply
      • Thomas,

        Assuming that your mother was born in wedlock, then you would need her birth certificate, your grandparents’ marriage certificate and only your grandfather’s birth certificate. If your grandfather was born before 1914, that’s as far as you need to go.

        Hopefully your family isn’t from a place where the records were destroyed. But, even if that’s the case, there is some sort of form to prove that you were unable to find them, which helps.

        Town registers in Germany are called Standesamt. In my case, I had the Standesamt transcribe my grandfather’s birth record from 1905 onto a new form (International Birth Certificate). So, it’s not a matter of finding 100+ year old certificates in tact, just a records in ledger books.

        Some Standesamt respond quickly and charge nothing. Others can take a while and charge a fee. Hopefully you experience the former.

        Good luck.

        Reply
        • I just talked to my Mom and found out her father was born IN 1914. Think they would make me go back to one level more to his father’s? Getting her dad’s birth certificate and marriage certificate should be relatively easy. The great grandfather’s info might be a little more challenging. Also, I’m assuming I’d have to go back on my mom’s father side grandparents? Her mother’s side grandparents would be irrelevant in my case I assume?

          Thanks again for all the useful information everyone is providing! This is kind if fun!

          Reply
          • Thomas,

            Reading the 1913 RuStAG law that seems to be relevant, it says that it takes effect on January 1st, 1914. I hope I’m wrong, but it appears that you have to go back one more generation.

            Since your mother was born in wedlock and her father was born in wedlock, you only need your mother’s birth certificate, her parents’ marriage certificate, her father’s birth certificate, his parents’ marriage certificate and his father’s birth certificate.

          • It isn’t always necessary to have full documentation going that far back. In my case, they only received documents through my grandfather’s records — born in the ’30s. They sent me a questionnaire about the previous generation (asking for names, date of birth, and where they lived during different periods), but didn’t require any kind of documentation. I filled it out to the best of my ability from my notes from past conversations with my grandfather. They never requested verification of anything beyond that. Of course having the info will speed things up. But if you absolutely can’t get your hands on something, don’t worry too much. Send what you have, and if they need something else, they’ll let you know.

          • I finally got my grandfathers birth and marriage certificates. So since my grandfather was born in February of 1914, technically not before January 1st, I took some time to see if I could get a birth and marriage certificate for my great grandfather in case the BVA decided to get really technical. I Anyway I found the marriage certificate at the Standesamt since he was married in 1900. I also got his birth date and the town he was from. However he was born in 1867. The Standesamt told me I would need to get the birth record from the church. From what I understand the birth record is likely just a copy of an entry from a church registry, not an actual birth certificate? IS the BVA going to accept that? Also I was wondering where I might get this. I found the site for the “Landeskirchliches Archiv Stuttgart“which encompasses the parish he likely would have been from. Anyway any insights would be appreciated!

  64. Just a quick update:

    10/30/15 – Submitted application at Honorary Consulate
    12/14/15 – Received letter from Consulate in Houston which contained a letter from the BVA in Cologne from 11/24/15 stating my application was received.

    So the BVA got it and typed up the letter 24 days after I had my appointment at the Honorary Consulate. They didn’t give a specific timeframe but said as each case is individual and complex, there could be a delay. They gave me a reference number and asked that I don’t ask for updates.

    Really I am just relieved that they got it and all of my documents are safe! 🙂

    Reply
  65. I have a question about passport photos. I’m hoping that I will need them in a few months (fingers crossed in the German way).

    US passport photos are 51mm X 51mm. But, German photos should be 45mm X 35mm.

    The consulates’ web sites say to please not cut the photos yourself!

    There is a website ePassportPhoto.com that crops and cuts photos that you take at home. They either send the file to a drugstore to be printed or send you actual prints by US mail for $1.50 each.

    Can anybody recommend that site or another service that processes photos that are taken at home? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Answering my own question about passport photos: The Houston consulate will cut photos, which is nice because we can use cheap online editing and printing services.

      I was hoping to use the German Air Force passport office in El Paso, but they and the Honorary consuls don’t accept applications for identification cards.

      Houston is a very long way from northern New Mexico, but I think that the ID card would be more practical.

      Reply
  66. I’m hoping someone can help me.

    My father was born in Germany and was a german citizen until the year after my birth in Canada. I’m filling out Appendix V to prove my german descent was from my father but when i go to select how he obtained his german nationality there is no born in Germany to german parents just descent adoption etc. Does that mean i have to select descent for him even though he was born in Germany to german parents and given nationality that way? If that’s true then i have to fill out appendix V for his father and mother for which he obtained his german citizenship? My grandparents are still german citizens even though they live in Canada too. So once i fill out appendix V for them can i stop there as they are still German citizens and have current nationality. My family does not have any proof of nationality documents for my great grandparents other then a marriage certificate. It may also be of note that my grandfather was born in Hungary.

    Thank you for any help you can provide

    Reply
    • Was your grandfather an ethnic German refugee from Hungary after World War 2? Where were your great-grandparents married?

      Refugees were given citizenship according to a different law from the one that applies to most of us here. Most of us document our descent from a person who was born in German lands before 1914. Your case might be different if your great-grandparents were also born in Hungary.

      Reply
  67. Jenny,

    P.S. I just reread your message and gleaned that your great grandfather was probably born in Germany. Hopefully, it was before 1914.

    A child born in wedlock before 1974 acquired German citizenship from their father, only. So, you don’t need to provide birth certificates for your grandmother, great-grandmother, etc. A vice consul told me to provide my mother’s, but other applicants have not done so.

    If your grandfather’s birth certificate is in Hungarian, it will need to be translated by an approved professional or you will need to request an “international birth certificate” a.k.a. Form A, Formule A, etc. from the town registry where he was born. International birth certificates are notated in over a dozen languages.

    Reply
    • Thank you for getting back to me George.

      I’m not sure if his parents were born in Hungary or Germany but i can find out. My aunt told me because of the war my grandfather doesn’t have a german citizenship document.

      What i’m really confused about is why do i have to fill out these forms that far back if my dad has proof of his previous german nationality through his old passport and birth certificate and my grandparents are still current german citizens? I know my grandmothers parents were born in Germany before 1914 but i’ll find out about my grandfathers.

      Thanks for your help.

      Reply
  68. Jenny,

    Even people who were born in Germany, who hold a German passport and whose families always lived in Germany are asked to document things back prior to 1914. It’s what the BVA in Cologne, requests. Prior to January 1914, German citizenship was granted to those born on German soil, as it still is in the US. After that, it could only be inherited. So, they’re asking us to document a chain of inheritance back to a person who was German based upon being born there.

    If your grandfather were an ethnic German refugee, he would have been naturalized. That’s the box that you would check. And, then you would try to find a record somewhere. But, if you can’t find something, there is a form to demonstrate that you tried, which is taken into account.

    Somebody above, I think in Vienna, recently wrote that they were still required to apply for a certificate even though they could produce their father’s German passport from the time of their birth. But, they didn’t have grandparents with unexpired German passports. You might ask a consulate if that would enable you to apply for a passport without first obtaining a certificate. But, I wouldn’t be too hopeful.

    So, I’m hoping that your great grandfather was born on German land before 1914.

    Good luck.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much George

      I’ve been reading the comments and don’t understand why some people who haven’t even filled out the citizenship forms completely but applied for a passport proving their father was a German citizen when they were born have gotten their citizenship and passport!? I’ve emailed the consulate here in Edinburgh where i am currently to ask if i can apply for my passport considering i have proof my dad was German when i was born and proof both my grandparents are still German. I’ll have to wait to hear back from my aunt till this evening as she lives in Canada regarding my Grandfathers refugee status and probably a week to hear back from the consulate. Such a frustrating process.

      Reply
      • Jenny – perhaps you read the account of my process. I left most of my forms blank… What they are looking for is the point in time where it is clear to them you are German. Both my parents were German at the time of my birth, I had my father’s passport which was valid at the time of my birth. The problem is, these are only considered ‘indicators of citizenship’ – When I spoke with the consulate they asked me a few specific questions after which it became very clear as to what I needed. For me, my father’s Flüchtlingsausweis is considered a certificate of citizenship – the point in time that said to them ‘German’ – from there on nothing else was required. (other than $) You are basically coming to them saying ‘but I’m German’ – they are saying ‘prove it’ – you may have to go back to 1914. If so, I would check if your parents have any Ahnen or Urhkunden (individual’s family tree book). I would phone the consulate & have a conversation as to what you have & what you still need (if anything) – ask them about any translations, certification & apostille you may need.

        Reply
        • Thanks Mark,

          I’ve been informed that my Grandfather was told to flee Hungary and then went to Germany where he received a german passport. Just found out my great grandparents were born in Hungary as well. It sounds like he doesn’t have any documentation proving naturalization but that has to be what happened?Where can i find this kind of documentation? I don’t even know where to start! I’ve tried contacting the consulate but they’ve been pretty unhelpful. I wonder if its worth it just to book an appointment for my passport and just go in and see what happens. I’ll have proof of my dads passport, birth certificate, when he became Canadian after my birth and my grandparents birth certificate and current passports.

          Reply
          • It sounds like your Grandfather was a displaced person after the war. If so, it will save a lot of time if you can find his Flüchtlingsausweis (google image it) – displaced ethnic Germans were given these when they resettled within the FRG. In 1949 they were collectively granted citizenship. The Flüchtlingsausweis is your grandfather’s proof of citizenship – you will not likely need to go further back. It does not matter that he was born in what is now Hungary. If you cannot find it (it really does look worthless as a document) – the town hall of the town in Germany in which he arrived will have the document number of the Flüchtlingsausweis which you will need.

            Showing up to a passport appointment (particularly in a 3rd country) without the proper documentation would be waste of time at best. I notice you are in Edinburgh – but are Canadian – if you can help it, I would not be dealing with the consulate in Scotland. If you can make the Canadian German consulate the collection point of your Canadian documents, it is much easier for that local consulate to process & vouch for the familiar to them Canadian documentation. Doing this, IMHO would strip away a layer of complexity. (check out the Canadian – German Consulate website – it’s actually one of the more informative ones with regards to passports & citizenship – perhaps if you call them, they could be equally helpful )

          • Hi Mark,

            Thanks for responding. I’m in Edinburgh on a 2 year work and travel visa. Which ends in January 2017 I could go home if I really need to and apply but with the applying for citizenship process they just send it off the cologne anyway right? When it comes to applying for the passport I guess I could try and fly home and see if they’ll let me do it but that’s a lot of money spent on a flight for a “maybe” situation. I briefly spoke with the Toronto consulate via email and they advised it was likely I would Just go back till my grandfather but that the BVA would let me know once they got it. I’ve only suggested just applying for my passport as some people seem to have been successful going that route which still makes
            No sense to me.

            Thanks again for your help. Really appreciate it!

          • Mark. I’m glad that you chimed in to correct my misperception that the displaced persons were naturalized.

            Jenny. Best wishes for quickly learning where your grandfather was issued that document.

    • Oh I always seem to jump in so late to the conversations because the updates never send to my emails.

      Regarding this –
      “Somebody above, I think in Vienna, recently wrote that they were still required to apply for a certificate…”

      My entire family line on my mother’s side is German. I have official documentation of mother, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents (etc), dating back to the early 1700s (thanks to genealogy research my German family did decades ago) that I turned in to my consulate. My grandparents, though, were the first to have passports, and my mother kept her German citizenship until I was 6 (I am now 25).

      They still required me to apply for the certificate of citizenship. The person working my case in the Vienna consulate said that she had no question in her mind that I was German, but she said regulation is regulation and that it must be followed.

      So, they officially received my paperwork in early October. I fly back and forth to Austria (this is where I want to live and currently have family and “work”) every 3 months due to Schengen restrictions on my American passport. It is a hassle but I can’t apply for visa as applying for a visa while being a citizen of the EU would be visa fraud. I have not officially cleared this with any Austrian authority yet, but this is what I was told at the German consulate in Vienna.

      I am really hoping that since my paperwork is 100% together and well-documented with multiple sources, it won’t take much longer. The caseworker said that the better documented you are, sometimes they may be quicker. Here is to hoping this is the last time I have to fly back to Vienna for only a short 3 month stay again! 🙁

      Reply
      • Sarah – perhaps you should contact your US consulate. Vienna is looking at you as a probable citizen with a bunch of foreign documentation from a 3rd country. Your US Consulate is familiar(comfortable) with US documentation & knows exactly what to do with it. I’ve even heard of complications arising of documentation spanning consular districts – as one is not familiar with the ways of the others local bureaucracies & institutions.

        Reply
  69. Hi Jenny,

    I’ll also add echo Mark’s comments. Both of my grandparents were ethnic Germans born in Hungary, and both were expelled to Germany post-WWII. It sounds like your grandfather was in the same situation.

    I applied for my German citizenship certificate using this as the basis of my claim (as Mark said, the year 1914 is irrelevant). I did not have the Flüchtlingsausweise for either of my grandparents – they must have been lost over the years. Nevertheless, the BVA was able to confirm my claim to citizenship, and issued me with my Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis.

    Certainly provide all the documents you can (for my grandparents I gave their Hungarian birth certificates and their German marriage certificate), I believe if the BVA is not satisfied with what you’ve provided they’ll look into the German records to try and confirm your claim.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your experience Jon.

      When I’m filling out the appendix V form. What do I select for my grandfathers way in which he received German nationality then. Other? Or naturalization?

      Thank you!

      Reply
      • No problems Jenny, happy to help.

        For that section I selected “other” and wrote “see attachment”. In the attachment I explained (in German) the situation of my grandparents having both arrived in Germany as ethnic German expellees (Heimatvertriebene) and then receiving German citizenship.

        I’m not sure whether you can speak German or whether it would be ok to write it in English. If you can’t speak German, it might be worth getting a German speaker to help you.

        Reply
        • Ok perfect thanks. Guess I’ll have to get my grandfathers birth certificate translated when It gets here as well. Luckily for me I have many German speakers in my life so I’ve got my bases covered in that regards!

          Reply
  70. Jenny, Mark & Jon,

    Given that the BVA had some way to verify that Jon’s grandparents received Flüchtlingsausweise, and given that Mark was allowed to apply for a passport without a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis, I wonder whether Jenny can somehow request a search for the record of the Flüchtlingsausweis.

    If Jenny were able to obtain a new Flüchtlingsausweis, she could attempt to apply for a passport and/or send it to the BVA.

    It seems like the BVA would not initiate a search for a record of the Flüchtlingsausweis until six months after they receive her application.

    Since Jenny’s visa is expiring in a year, it would benefit her to initiate a search, if possible.

    A German friend suggested contacting an Ausländerbehörde to ask whether it’s possible to request a nationwide search or several regional searches.

    Reply
    • Most Germans living in Germany do not have or need a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis. It is only called for when a person’s nationality needs to be proven. (public office etc.) It is also indicated when the consulate is unclear as to the Staatsangehörigkeit of the person before them, they then request more information & let the BVA decide. With a favorable outcome, the certificate is issued & you are a recognized citizen in the eyes of the consulate.

      I did not request a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis – but will eventually request one for my children – it will be easier for them to renew their passes without generations of documents.

      As a side note – for those that plan on exercising the 2nd citizenship – it may be beneficial to also obtain your Personalausweis – I found out recently that it has an ‘online identity function’ – which is very handy in electronic DB train ‘handy’ ticket functions.

      Reply
  71. Her Grandfather’s Flüchtlingsausweis info would have been recorded in the town he arrived/settled in. The consulate may only need that document’s #. I cannot over emphasize the importance of establishing a working relationship with someone knowledgeable at the consulate. (if not Scotland, then Canada) When I reached the right person, I was asked a few simple direct questions & they told me exactly what I needed to show up with, attestations, no translations, etc. It was also that person that told me how to get the Flüchtlingsausweis document #. When applying for the Reisepass, It is entirely up to the applicant to supply the requested documentation. I spent months if not a year contemplating, researching & spinning my wheels – made ONE phone call to the right person & everything fell into place within a few weeks. Made an appointment – 4hr visit, passports a few weeks later. PS – call consulate – particularly if submitting translated documents – January 2017 is not far off depending on what you need to do.

    Reply
  72. Thank you everyone for your advice. I tried to ask if i could apply for my German passport with all the documents i have here in Edinburgh but was emailed this morning simply that i need my citizenship document first. Of course as per usual he didn’t answer any of my other questions so i emailed the Vancouver German Consulate back home and received this response…

    Dear Ms. Kreisz,

    atttached please find a passport application form as well as some information on which documents you need to submit for your application.

    The documents you mentioned sound quite good, just one thing: Do your parents have a German marriage certificate? Or, if not, did they make a declaration for a family name according to German law? Because if not, you do not have a last name according to German law yet and would have to make a name declaration. In that case you would also have to make an appointment with our consular section for a name declaration. You can book both appointments at the same day. The passport will only be issued after the name declaration is done.

    Name declaration? This is the first time I’ve heard about this and how can one consulate say yes i can apply for my passport and the other no? This makes no sense. In regards to the name declaration it appears i need both my parents to be present so that could be just as tricky but maybe easier then the citizenship route. Does anyone know anything about name declarations and how long they take to process?

    Thank you once again!

    I did also contact the Toronto consulate that deals with citizenship and they said it was likely i would just go as far back as my grandfather with the documents I have and if they need more i would be contacted by the cologne German office.

    Reply
    • Awesome!

      My name declaration form was completed @ my consular appointment. It’s only a form – no waiting. I needed my parents US marriage certificate. Being that Vancouver is your consulate, perhaps they can (along with your parents pushing it along) put the package together & get whatever else they need directly from you via Edinburg (have Vancouver(your consular district…) work with Edinburg on behalf of a traveling Citizen from their district in need…)

      Reply
      • It would be awesome BUT my parents now live in Mexico ( I know I know 🙁 ) and it looks like your parents have to be at the appointment with you no? To verify their signatures. I thought I read that in the instructions?! I seriously can’t win with this one lol

        Reply
          • Mark,

            When you did your name declaration did you documents have to be originals? The german consulate is advising me i can do the name declaration and then apply for my passport which seems to be a much quicker process but they think the documents have to be originals which of course for me is impossible given my parents location. I have been advised my parents do not need to be at the appointment though.I have asked Vancouver to confirm if i do indeed need originals and they have forwarded on my request to the name declaration department as they thought i could have certified copies. I don’t understand why 2 different consulates are giving me opposite information. Was just curious is your documentation were certified copies or not.

            Thanks!

          • Out of curiosity did anyone include their mothers documents (passport, birth certificate) in their citizenship application? My mom is Canadian so i did not obtain German nationality from her. It doesn’t appear to be required in my application BUT you never know.

            Thanks

  73. Mark,

    Your explanations have caused me to wonder whether my elderly US-born father could apply for a passport using his father’s pre-1914 German birth certificate and naturalization papers. We have no German travel or citizenship documents.

    I need German identification by September, and that seems very possible since the BVA acknowledged receipt of my application on September 17. But, could I have avoided this torturous waiting?

    Reply
      • Mark,

        But, I would have a brand new passport for my father. I was thinking that my father could first apply for a passport, since my grandfather’s birth certificate from 1905 proves that he was a German citizen. If that worked, then I could obtain a passport by presenting my father’s.

        Reply
        • What I meant by my previous post is that you don’t have your grandfather’s passport under which your father was born – perhaps there not enough clear indicators of citizenship. On the other hand, if it would work, you need not wait for your father’s pass, you can apply simultaneously.

          Reply
          • Mark,

            Sorry I misunderstood you. I wrote a message to the consulate. Probably the 80 plus years that have passed would be at least as great a concern as the lack of a passport.

            I’m surprised that they exempted you from needing a certificate as forty years had passed since your father naturalized. Even people who were born in Germany and who once held a German passport have been required to obtain a certificate in order to apply for a new passport.

  74. George
    No two cases are alike. A snapshot of my situation at birth, two married German citizens take a trip to the US and give birth to a child on US soil. Father’s passport valid at child’s birth + father’s proof of citizenship = child getting their passport. It did not matter that I was applying for my first passport @ 40 – I clearly met the requirements then just as now. My entire passport interview was conducted in German & the rest of my family is in Germany. My cousins here in the US are all dual for many years – I was erroneously told years ago that I did not qualify because I had missed some sort of deadline. Ironically, my younger siblings are ineligible because they were born after my father became a US citizen – they are no different than me – c’est la vie

    Reply
    • Mark,

      It is irrelevant to your claim to German citizenship that you can speak German and that evidence existed that your mother might have held German citizenship. Those things do not permit for exceptions to the rules.

      Contrary to what you wrote, your younger siblings are markedly different from you. They were not born to a father with German citizenship.

      Your formula for success, “Father’s passport valid at child’s birth + father’s proof of citizenship = child getting their passport” has not worked for others.

      To say that a Fluchtlingsausweis is proof of citizenship, interchangeable with a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis, is like saying that a pre-1914 birth certificate is proof of citizenship that is interchangeable with a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis. I suspect that neither is.

      One common reason that your formula for success has not worked for others has been the passage of time. The application for a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis requires that the applicant disclose everywhere that they have lived –and everywhere that their parent and, if applicable, grandparent lived– and to sign under oath that it is correct.

      Many people including myself have spent time in other countries. This will in some cases raise questions that delay or prevent receiving a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis and a passport in turn.

      There was a case of someone in Africa, I think, who was allowed to apply for a passport. After receiving a passport, the consulate informed them that it was done in error and that the passport had been canceled. Mistakes are made.

      I’m not saying that you’re not a citizen. You and most of us here obviously are. Despite that obvious fact, we are required to endure a tedious process. But, it appears that in your case perhaps the rules were not properly applied. And, that might be why your experience was exceptionally easy.

      Reply
      • In relation to the Flüchtlingsausweis, it can be a proof of citizenship. If the Ausweis states that the expellee is an ethnic German, it confirms their status as a German citizen in accordance with Article 116(a) of the German Basic Law, which states:

        “(1) Unless otherwise provided by a law, a German within the meaning of this Basic Law is a person who possesses Ger-
        man citizenship or who has been admitted to the territory of the German Reich within the boundaries of 31 December 1937 as a refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or as the spouse or descendant of such person.”

        German version at: https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/gg/art_116.html

        Reply
  75. ?????
    April 3, 2013, he wrote: “I had my father’s expired passport under which I was born along with his US naturalization certificate – ( he became a citizen 2 months after I was born!)”

    Today he wrote: “A snapshot of my situation at birth, two married German citizens take a trip to the US and give birth to a child on US soil.”

    George – am I missing my contradiction???

    Both my parents were GERMAN CITIZENS when I was born. My Father became a US citizen shortly AFTER I was born.

    For your reference, I’m enclosing a link to the Reisepass application – It’s from the Canadian Mission because it also contains more information. – ***please read the last few pages***

    http://www.kanada.diplo.de/contentblob/3445504/Daten/5437475/passerstausstellunginfopaketdownload.pdf

    FYI – I met and answered EACH & EVERY requirement – some of the parts I left completely blank were the previous pass / identity card section.

    The Flüchtlingsausweis was only part of the constellation of documents I supplied to connect the dots. (I had more than they asked for)

    I mainly check in here to try & constructively help the descendants of Art 116 Heimatvertriebene because I am familiar with the issue & what their families went through. Many people do not know what that document represents. The number on it is actually the displaced person’s registration # in the ‘system’ – it does not disappear.

    http://expelledgermans.org/

    Reply
  76. In a great turn of fate my grandfather actually found his Flüchtlingsausweis! So I suspect this will make my application process much easier? I don’t think I can just apply for my passport after all because they said I would need to do a name declaration and the instructions i read for it state my parents both need to be there to sign but they live in Mexico so that’s not happening. But I suspect with the Flüchtlingsausweis my citizenship application should be pretty straightforward.

    If anyone has any thoughts let me know!

    Thanks for all your help everyone.

    Reply
  77. Oops forgot to add. When I get a copy of my grandfathers Hungarian birth certificate. Is it easier to get it translated? or how can I get one of those international birth certificates?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  78. The Vancouver consulate just got back to me and apparently I don’t need my parents signature for my name declaration. Which is great but does anyone know why i can apparently fly home and apply for my passport out right skipping the German Citizenship application but the Edinburgh Consulate states i need to apply for my citizenship first? I think I’m going to call them one more time tomorrow and advise that I’ve been told i can apply out right in Canada and confirm why i can’t here.

    Thanks again

    Reply
    • That is great news!
      As for a reason Canada is treating you differently than Edinburg – Sarah’s situation bears repeating – Edinburg is perhaps looking at you as a probable citizen with foreign documentation from a third country. The consulate in Canada is familiar(comfortable) with your Canadian documentation. (You also found your GF’s Flüchtlingsausweis – perhaps try Edinburg again letting them know you found it….)
      When you confirm with the Canadian consulate – check with them as to what you need to do with your GF’s BC. Perhaps there is someway of doing this differently (with Canadian help) being that you are temporarily in Scotland. Your consulates can make beglaubigte kopies of locally presented documents – & send them through their channels. If it turns out you need a translation, consulates usually have a list of known good translators.

      Reply
  79. Thanks Mark. I will look into this. I’m wondering if its worth it to fly home and just get this sorted if the Edinburgh consulate won’t let me apply for my passport outright but i can back home.I still don’t understand the whole name declaration or why its necessary though. Does anyone know if having a German Passport but not proof of citizenship effects your working privileges in the EU?

    Reply
    • No work or residence problems for EU passport holders. AFAIK most EU citizens do not have a certificate of citizenship hanging on their wall. You may require one if running for office or other specific positions.

      Reply
  80. So i called the Edinburgh Consulate and they advised i could apply for my passport after my name declaration was processed but it appears all my paperwork for my name declaration has to be originals. Which sadly for me is just not possible. They said they may be able to accept my documents if they are certified by a German consulate. The one near my parents is hours away so i doubt they will go for it. Anyone on here have any other ideas? If not i guess I’ll just have to apply for my citizenship as i previously thought.

    Reply
    • Could you have your parents mail the documents to the consulate there? They can include a SASE to have them returned. I know the NYC mission was willing to do that if you couldn’t make it to the office. It might take a few days or a week or something, but probably better than flying all the way there. I wouldn’t want to make that trip personally only because I was told one thing before travelling to NY to meet with them only to get different information about what was needed once I was there. It would be a heck of a trip if you ran into a similar issue.

      Reply
  81. Hi Jenn,

    I could look into that thanks!
    Vancouver consulate emailed me and said my documents as certified copies for my Name Declaration were fine so now I’m thoroughly confused. It seems the farther I go down this German passport rabbit hole the more confusing it gets.

    Reply
    • I agree with Jenn – there has to be a way.

      I was under the impression that a consulate’s beglaubigte kopies are as original. (I hope so…) I would imagine they could be sent along with other consulate generated documents and instructions via diplomatic channels between consulates. During my last appointment, all of my documents were scanned directly into the ‘system’.

      Is Vancouver aware of your predicament & location? Do they know you would need to fly home – keep us posted as to the outcome!

      Reply
      • Ok so an update. I have received confirmation from both Vancouver and Edinburgh that certified copies are fine for my kind of name declaration. So that’s great. I received my grandparents documents today that i’ll send with my passport application after my name declaration clears. My grandparents sent me certified copies of their identity cards, marriage certificate, my grandfathers refugee card and their current german passports. (They did not send their birth certificates which i hope is ok because of the identity cards)Now that i look at the appendix V for the questions it doesn’t ask for a birth certificate rather passport, identity card or other. SO i really hope thats sufficient. At any rate it looks like I’m applying for my name declaration and passport not the citizenship route at this time as the other is much quicker. Anyways any thoughts are appreciated. Still waiting on my parents as the Canadian consulate in Mexico could not certify my dads German documents (of course) so my parents need to find a German speaking lawyer! what a pain!

        Reply
  82. Dear Jenn,

    Thanks for your great article, love the personal touch.

    Jenn i write to you because I have a question:

    I have a client that is trying to obtain dual citizenship.

    All documents are apostilled and reday to go, however there is a crucial marriage certificate to prove the lineage that they only have a photocopy and obtaining an original has become impossible.

    The question is: In your experience the authorities will accept a document apostilled on a notarized photocopy or does it have to be original?

    Thanks and happy thursday!

    Luis Massieu
    luis@apostille.net
    https://www.apostille.net

    Reply
  83. Hi Jenny – sorry for the delayed response, I was out exercising my passport…

    Have you tried the German Consulate in Mexico?, they would be the ones to certify your parents German documents. You should not need a lawyer? At your passport appointment, you can apply for the certificate of citizenship, that way in the future you will not need all of your parents & grandparent’s documents. Your passport will arrive quickly, the certificate, not so quickly.

    Reply
    • Hi Mark,

      The consulate it a plane ride away as my parents live on the baja peninsula, oh well. They found a notary/lawyer who is doing it. One thing though i have received my grandparents certified documents but as i’m looking at the application instructions for the citizenship application it says the back and front of each document need to be certified and the solicitor did not do this! I’m hoping this is not a big issue as i’m just applying for my passport at this time. i can’t really do my citizenship and my passport at the same time as i only have one certified copy of each and the passport application and citizenship would go to different places. Apparently my grandfathers Hungarian birth certificate was lost ages ago but i do have a certified copy of his german identity card showing where he was born. i’m hoping this is sufficient as i’m at a loss as to where to obtain a Hungarian one. Hoping the refugee document, identity card and current german passport are enough for my passport application combined with my grandmas and parents documents.

      I should be doing my name declaration in the next 2 weeks.

      Reply
  84. Hey everyone. So it’s been 4 months since I got confirmation about my application being received. I know I’ve got lots of time to wait still, but thought I’d ask, does anyone know what the timeline is for those who got rejections? I obviously know acceptance can take years…but if you are rejected, do you know quite a bit sooner?

    Reply
    • That’s a good question Karl, I am wondering if anyone knows that as well. My application was accepted by the BVA on Jan 8th, 2015. I checked in at year 1 and was informed it was still in the queue and nothing was needed of me paperwork wise. I keep wondering if the answer was no, would I have most likely heard already?

      Reply
  85. Hi everyone, I have been reading this blog for months while I was preparing my application to prove my German citizenship and that of other family members. I appreciate what Jenn and many others have done through this blog. It’s been very enlightening and full of supportive messages.

    I wanted to share a little of my story to encourage people to dig into your roots and to let you know that sometimes it’s not such a lenghty process. I started with no documents over a year ago and now I have my German passport after only 4 months since I submitted my application to prove my citizenship!

    A little bit about my family story: my great-grandfather came from Germany to Mexico many years ago while he was young and got married with a local woman and had children (including my grandfather). Later he was named German Consul and lived in Mexico until he died. My grandfather had dual citizenship at birth (he lived in Mex & Germany) but got married and had 10 children in Mexico. He died young and nobody in the family had any documents to prove his or his father’s German citizenship. For decades no one really tried to find the required documents (we did not even know when and where my grandfather was registered at birth). Fortunately I was able to find several documents including a birth certificate for my great-grandfather, passregisters from both in Germany and other support documents with the help of a great investigator in Germany. I also had to find other documents in Mexico. That process took around a year…

    After I had decent proofs, I submitted my application to prove my German citizenship(along with other family members) on November 2015 through the Mexico City Embassy. I heard from them the standard response that it may take even a couple of years to get a definitive answer, so I was mentally prepared for a looong wait…

    Nevertheless, I received the Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis on January 2016, after only two months! I quickly applied to get my German passport with that and now I just received it as well! This process will now help dozens of cousins, uncles, aunts and other family members to get their own passport as the required proofs from our common ancestors have been submitted and accepted…

    I have to say I was very dilligent while preparing my application and was able to submit birth & marriage certificates, passregisters and even an exequatur from the German Auswärtiges Amt proving that my great-grandfather was German Consul. I guess that helped to expedite the process…

    So my message here for those in the process of searching for the documents or waiting for a response is to have faith. Maybe you’ll get a positive response sooner than you expected!

    Cheers,

    Jorge

    Reply
    • That’s fabulous news Jorge. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m thrilled that others have had a much easier process than I did, and I hope your story gives some readers hope and encourages them to start this process if they were otherwise concerned about delays. 🙂

      Reply
  86. Well folks, I’ve decided it’s time. I’m finally going to get my German passport (already have citizenship documents). Can any of you point me to the right place to start, or should I just head back to the NYC mission the next time I’m out that way? I’m assuming it’ll be pretty clear cut now that citizenship has been established. Did any of you run into any trouble if you followed a similar process (I know some of you went for that first instead)? Appreciate any info you can pass along. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Jenn,

      How exciting — passport next!

      After waiting 2 years 8 months for my certificate, I wanted to apply for a passport straight away.

      Because the appointments for passport applications in NYC had such a long wait (2 month wait in Sept of last year), I applied through an Honorary Consul in Philly. If you check the NYC mission website, you’ll see that one can apply through certain honorary consuls, who are listed on the website. If one is closer to you than the NYC mission, you’ll save time – big time.

      Got an email very quickly with an appointment offered as quickly. I did ask whether I needed anything else besides my certificate, and the answer came back YES. So you need to look at what they will require (and much of it is the same stuff one needed for the certificate in the first place.) I didn’t bother to ask why — the bureaucracy is beyond me.

      Photos can be done at some Walgreens and CVS. They have the template for the German (and indeed many other) passports there. I did have to have mine redone because they didn’t quite fit but at least the Walgreens was opposite the honorary consul’s office and I could have them redone before the consul had another appointment.

      I applied for expedited delivery, which I was warned would take 4-5 weeks (!). Mine came on Thursday of the fifth week.

      I moved to the UK in December 2015 and am now a resident here, complete with job. The first time I used my German passport to enter the UK it was amazing. No queries about the purpose of my trip, how long I’m staying, etc, etc. When I get asked if I’m American (because of the accent), I say I’m German or I have dual nationality.

      I’m going to apply for German identity card so I don’t need to lug my passport with me. Wish I had done it at the same time as the passport, even though they are separate applications (meaning separate appointments).

      Good luck to you! I still keep up with postings here. And if I have anything constructive to add, I’ll continue to post.

      Kind regards,
      Marianne

      Reply
      • Wow Marianne. Our situations are so similar. I’m thrilled you chimed in with that great info! 🙂

        Actually Philly would be a bit closer for me as I live in SE PA, so the news about the honorary consul is fantastic. Also, great to know there’s a Walgreens there should anything need to be re-done with the photos. I hadn’t thought about applying for a German identity card at the same time. Appreciate that tip. 🙂

        I hope they’re not going to expect my grandfather’s birth certificate. Did you need anything like that? That’s what we didn’t have which took them the extra time to sort out. All I know is they found what they needed in Berlin, but I was never told what exactly they found to confirm things. I’d hate to run into a similar delay. But I guess they’ll have everything on record. I still have my case number available from the citizenship inquiry.

        We’ll have to chat some time about your move to the UK, as that’s my ultimate plan too. I’m gathering as much feedback as I can from the few people I know who have made that transition — the more info the better before a jump like that. My main difference is that I run a business, so I’d have to figure out the relocation issues involved there as opposed to finding traditional work.

        Thanks again!

        Reply
        • Hi Jenn,

          I’ve been snowed under with work so I’ve let my social media go…

          Please do get in touch with me on my email and we can certainly chat about my move to the UK.

          I moved here before the Referendum in the UK about its continued membership, which is next week. If the result is Brexit, EU citizens may no longer have free movement into the UK.

          Have been urging all my friends to vote ‘Remain’. I can’t vote in the Referendum because only British citizens and citizens of the Commonwealth have the right to vote in it. On the other hand, I did vote in the London mayoral elections and have the right to vote in local elections.

          Hope that you’ll be able to figure out how

          Reply
        • Hi Jenn,

          I’ve been snowed under with work so I’ve let my social media go…

          Please do get in touch with me on my email and we can certainly chat about my move to the UK.

          I moved here before the Referendum in the UK about its continued membership, which is next week. If the result is Brexit, EU citizens may no longer have free movement into the UK.

          Have been urging all my friends to vote ‘Remain’. I can’t vote in the Referendum because only British citizens and citizens of the Commonwealth have the right to vote in it. On the other hand, I did vote in the London mayoral elections and have the right to vote in local elections.

          Let me know when’s a good time to chat.

          Reply
  87. I hope this means you’ll have to break it in with a TRIP !

    NYC has a passport photo booth right past security – it was inexpensive.

    My standard answer would be to take a look at the form & give them a call to see what you need in addition to your certificate. (first time applicant, have certificate) Appointments seem to fill in this time of year in advance of summer vacation travel.

    I just got back from a trip – off season air fares were 1/3 of summer peak & no lines at the tourist attractions.

    Reply
    • No trips to Germany planned just yet. But within the next couple of years I’m looking at moving to the EU — most likely the UK (if they stay in the EU), but France and Germany and also possibilities. I’ll likely take a couple of trips over there before a move to decide where I want to settle in, so I’ll get there in time. 🙂 Given that it’s not a big rush for me, I might just hold off until Fall then. Or I’ll wait until I’m going to the city for another reason and do it then instead of making a special trip (have family there anyway).

      Appreciate the info Mark! 🙂

      Reply
  88. Ok everyone I’m willing to try and do the citizenship route again. What are my chances if my father doesn’t have a passport and served in the US Army when he turned 18? He has a german birth certificate and his alien registration card. He has an expired german passport and it states ungültig. I have an official copy of his mothers birth certificate, his parents marriage certificate and letters stating his fathers date of birth. I also have their death certificates. I have my parents marriage certificate, my mothers birth certificate and her passport. Is there any way that I can prove that my dad is a citizen of Germany still?

    Reply
    • If he served in the U.S. army, chances are he’s not a German citizen anymore (though rules might be different for draft service vs. voluntary — hopefully someone will have more info for you on that). And if he lost citizenship by serving in a foreign military that young, and you weren’t born yet, then it wouldn’t pass to you either unfortunately.

      Edit: The rule I just read said he’d lose citizenship if he served willingly in a military for a country he’s also a citizen of. So if he wasn’t a U.S. citizen, you might be OK. You might have to prove the lineage back to 1914 though. And if he served in the military here you might need to show he’s not a U.S. citizen (though I’m not sure they’d be able to find that out anyway unless you tell them). If he has a valid green card, I would imagine that would suffice.

      Reply
  89. It has now been six months since the date of my letter of receipt from Cologne: 17 September. I haven’t received a reply, and my case is very straightforward.

    I was born in wedlock in Chicago a few years before 1974. My father was born in wedlock in Chicago a few years before his father became a citizen. My father’s father was born in Bavaria in 1905, and immigrated to the US as an adult.

    It should be approved eventually.

    Reply
      • Kevin,

        Sorry I missed your post until today. In case you haven’t already found my other posts, my citizenship certificate was created in April, seven months after the date of my letter of receipt from the BVA.

        My older brother who joined the military in the 1980’s is expecting an answer from the BVA around April. I’m not hopeful. But, we have another option: Hungarian citizenship.

        I received my grandmother’s birth certificate from Serbia (then Hungary) last week!

        I plan to move to Germany ten days.

        I hope that you hear something soon!
        George

        Reply
  90. I wish to share some feedback from the consulate regarding the Germanization of the spelling of names.

    Apparently, that’s only allowed when naturalizing. For a dual citizen, the name on the birth certificate will be the name in the passport unless a lengthy legal process is pursued.

    Maybe it’s for the best. Georg sounds funny to an English speaker. And, having umlauts on some documents might create a fuss back in the US.

    Reply
    • Hello George,
      I don’t know about the umlaut issue. My US brith certificate doesn’t have the umlaut over the O in my last name and neither does my German citizenship. But both my German reisepass and my Personalausweis have an umlaut.

      The US doesn’t care what my German documents say and as for my German passport and ID I didn’t file anything special I just told them the proper spelling and the consulate said ok.

      Best regards
      Heinz

      Reply
  91. Thanks, Heinz.

    What do you mean by “correct spelling”? Did you use an umlaut on your application for the certificate or for the passport?

    Perhaps the answer that I received from the consulate only applied to my first name?

    Kind regards,
    George

    Reply
  92. Hi George,
    By correct spelling I mean the way my family name is spelled in Germany by my family. When my father immigrated to the US the Ö was changed to O only not OE. So when I filed for my German citizenship paper Köln sent it and the paper just uses the vowel O not ö. When I filed for my passport I told the consulate that the proper spelling of my family name is with an umlaut and both the German ID and German passport for my daughter and myself show Ö.

    I have found that what a person is told from one consulate to another can very a bit.

    I don’t know if that helps or not.

    Bis später
    Heinz

    Reply
    • Hi Heinz,

      I asked the Houston consulate for clarification about the umlaut. They replied that I could try to request a German birth certificate with my name spelled with an umlaut. But, it would take a minimum of three years.

      A friend in Germany told me that he has often come across my name spelled with “ue” rather than an umlauted-u. At least it’s going to look normal 🙂

      Kind regards,
      George

      Reply
  93. I’ve spent the past three days reading through the comments and find everyone’s stories fascinating. I’m about to embark on my journey of trying to get my German citizenship established and thank everyone for their input over the years as I find it extraordinarily helpful.

    I thought this would be quite straightforward as I was born in Canada in 1973 to a German father who married my Candian mother in 1972 ( in wedlock). I thought I could just stroll Into the consulate in Toronto and get my passport but it is obviously a bit more complicated than that.

    Here’s a little bit of my background and the documents I have. My dad was born in 1945 in a Russian gulag. His family were ethnic Germans living in Hungary that appears to have immigrated to Hungary in the 1700s. My dad has a book about ethnic Germans living in Hungary and when certain family names immigrated which is quite informative and fascinating. When my Oma was sent to the forced labor camp, as she was pregnant with my father with another young son she was placed on a family farm to look after children. At some point after his birth they were sent back to Hungary and then expelled to Germany. At some point on this journey my dad’s four year old brother became sick and died. My dads father was also killed during the war prior to his birth. I find it amazing living in the times we do now that a story like this exists not so long ago but there are millions of stories like this from that time period in Europe!

    My dad immigrated to Canada in 1966, married my mom in 1972 and had me in 1973. As far as documentation is concerned I have my dad’s landing papers to Canada, his old German passport issued by ther German consulate in Toronto from 1974 to 1984 ( 5 year extension in pp), his Canadian citizenship card that he was granted in 1984, an official document from Germany that states he does not possess a birth certificate as he was born in a gulag among other German documents that he possesses and I have yet to go through. I also have my parents marriage certificate from Canada which will prove I was born in wedlock

    I do not have his German pp that he had in 1973 as I imagine he probably had to turn it in to get the new pp in 1974. I wonder, would the toronto consulate have a record of this or a copy of his old pp if he turned it in?

    I understand that at some point he may have been issued a Flüchtlingsausweis when he was registered in Germany. I do not believe he still has that. If he was a baby at the time, would they have give him a Flüchtlingsausweis or would they have just listed him under my Oma’s document? My Oma passed away in 2012 and I remember going through all of her stuff after the funeral and I seem to remember seeing a document that appeared to look like a Flüchtlingsausweis. As my dad’s entire family is still in Germany I will need to contact them to see if they have it if people think that will help. If he was issued a Flüchtlingsausweis o can also have my Aunt go try and get his document number which they will hopefully have on record.

    Can anyone think of anything else I should do in order to prove my citizenship. I believe I clearly am German but as always the difficulty is proving it!

    Is it also worth taking everything I have and attempting to get a pp issued at the consulate in Toronto? I am still going to apply for the citizenship document but would like to try for a pp first given the long processing time.

    In regard to the name declaration, is that necessary for me to do? Not too sure when that is needed and I would have to book a second appointment for that purpose if needed.

    Thanks again to everyone who has contributed and look forward to any advice

    Reply
  94. Hello,

    I am researching this issue on behalf of my 15-year old son, basically for all of the reasons that Jenn lists in her post. My son is of German descent on his father’s side. His paternal great grandfather(and grandmother) was born in Germany prior to 1914 (just beginning to research, but likely around 1870-1890) coming to the U.S. between then and 1913 when my son’s grandfather was born. So we know that my son’s great grandfather was born in Germany prior to 1914 and his grandfather was born in the U.S. prior to 1914. If his great grandfather never renounced his German citizenship, is it just a matter of documenting the births, marriages, etc. going back to his great grandfather? Since his grandfather also was born prior to 1914, wouldn’t he have inherited the citizenship even though he was born in the U.S.? Thanks for any information you can provide. We would like to begin the process so we can complete it by the time my son graduates from high school. He has attended a French immersion school in the U.S. and we want to have as many options as possible for future international travel, residency, etc. Thanks again.

    Reply
  95. Hello,

    I wanted to update everyone on my post from July 26, 2015, in case this may help anyone in a similar position to my family. This website has been such a valuable source of information!

    I have been trying to get my German citizenship for me and my mother for about a year now.

    My mother moved to NY with her family from Bonn, Germany, when she was about 5 and she was born in 1967 and I was born in 1985 in NY. She has never become an American citizen and my Opa has never become an American citizen. Because my Mom moved here so young, she did not have a Kinderausweis and she let her American green card expire in 1997.

    I found out I was required to track down birth certificates of my great-grandparents on my Opa’s side. Eventually, I was able to track down my family’s birth certificates on all sides and marriage certificates going all the way back to 1878, which I think is so interesting.

    I submitted all the birth certificates, death certificates, applications, and print-outs of a PDF from USCIS from a CD-ROM of my mother’s entire immigration file from 1971. Trying to obtain my mom’s immigration files took about 4 months for me to get from the US government, meanwhile I received all birth certificates from Germany within about 3 weeks going back almost a hundred years. I found this amazingly efficient on behalf of Germany compared to America.

    Almost exactly 6 months later, they wanted more information. I then had to have the German Consulate in NY mail the original CD-ROM from USCIS to Germany along with a copy of her driver’s license, as they wanted a recent picture of my mother.

    About 2 months after that was submitted, they requested that my Mother submit a signed affidavit in English and in a certified German translation that she has never become an American citizen through her own application, that she has never become an American citizen through her father’s application, and that her father has never become an American citizen.

    I’m about to send this to the NY German Consulate and I think that will be all that they need from my mother and then she can finally become an official German citizen and get her German passport and travel more and she will be able to renew her American green card more easily and I should be able to also get my German citizenship and get a German passport and be an official dual-citizen of America and Germany. Hopefully, this will all be done in time to leave America before Trump gets elected, God forbid. JK.

    What I thought would be a simple process has turned out to be a little complicated and has taken almost a year because even though my Mother was born in Germany and I was able to trace back our roots to 1878, they still required a lot of proof that my Mother never became a naturalized American citizen.

    Good luck everyone!

    Reply
    • Michael, I’m in a similar situation with my family. How did you get a letter from the US Consulate stating that your mother was not a US Citizen? Also did they not ask about her becoming a citizen of another country? They asked me and I didn’t know how to prove that he didn’t. How can I suggest that to the German Consulate here in Chicago to have my dad sign an affidavit to prove he didn’t become a citizen of another country?

      Reply
  96. A letter arrived today… the BVA is issuing to me a Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis.

    The Houston consulate received my application in early August of 2015. The BVA’s letter of receipt was dated September 17, 2015.

    My case was simple. My father’s father was born in 1905 in Bavaria. He emigrated from Bavaria to the US at age 23. My father was born in wedlock in the US before my grandfather naturalized. I was born in wedlock to TWO dual German-US citizens, a few years before 1974.

    My parents and I were unaware that we held German citizenship until June 2015. I also have Polish and Hungarian ancestry, which was apparent in my application.

    Thanks, Jenn, and everyone, for sharing your stories and advice.

    Best wishes to all,
    George

    Reply

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