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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993 thoughts on “Dual Citizenship: Is it Worth It?”

  1. Regarding the payment of 25 euros for the certificate: what constitutes the “proof of payment” that the consulate requests? Can we use Western Union and submit a print-screen?

    Reply
    • I found more info, and this might help somebody. We apparently cannot use Western Union or XOOM to pay the 25 euros. There isn’t enough space for all the info. And, both only allow payment to individuals.

      Reply
      • They want a wire transfer from your credit union or bank. Proof of payment is sending them the wire transfer receipt that shows that the amount of money sent is in Euros and the recipient will collect the full 25EUR upon receipt (that is, no fees will be deducted from the sent amount by the sending party).

        There is a limitation on the number of characters that your financial institution can enter but all of the characters I needed them to enter did fit.

        It is an international wire transfer so, unless you bank at a larger institution like Chase (which can batch up international transfers), you generally have to be at your place by 2:30PM Eastern Time because FedWire (the service that does this for smaller institutions) stops at 3:30PM Eastern. My credit union charges $40 per international wire, for what it’s worth.

        Reply
        • Thanks, Wes.
          I just made a wire request at a major bank. I told them that 25 euros needs to be received. But, on the receipt, it says “transfer amount 25 euros” AND “other fees estimated -16 euros” AND “total to recipient estimated 9 euros”. The bank assured me that all is fine. Even if it is, will the consulate accept it?

          Reply
          • I’m not sure if they will. My receipt says “transfer amount 25.00 EUR / other fees 0.00 EUR / total to recipient 25.00 EUR.”

            You may have to wait until the BVA confirms full acceptance back to the Consulate.

  2. George, it sounds like that isn’t going to work. You may want to setup an account at xetrade.com. They do not charge any fees for international transfers if you select ACH. I use my account multiple times a month and only have good things to say about it.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Alexander.

      I’m hoping that the consulate has previously received wire receipts from Bank of America and that the “expected fees” are listed only to protect them from blame.

      Since the receiving bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, is part of the government, they might not charge a fee to accept the wire.

      If the consulate isn’t satisfied with what I sent, I will first complain to Bank of America. They charged $35. But, if only 9 euros are delivered, it’s like paying $55.

      xetrade looks good, thanks.

      George

      Reply
    • Regarding XEtrade: I asked them whether they provide space to include the required code (i.e. bank “instructions”, about 50 characters). They replied that it’s only possible with their “wire service option”, which can’t be cheap because they have to pay to use a wire system.

      Reply
  3. George, I’m not sure what you mean by “bank instructions.” When you book a trade on XE, there is an option listed “Reason for this transaction” to include a reference with your transfer. There are several options available, and you may select “Other,” but the field is limited to 35 characters. That is pretty standard for IBAN transfers in Europe.

    Reply
    • Alexander,
      “Instructions” is a space on a wire form to add miscellaneous information. I just counted again, and we need room for 47 characters. The letter from the BVA says that the 25 Euros won’t be credited if those 47 characters are omitted. So, we seem to be limited to using wire transfers.

      Reply
  4. Since I now have proof that I was born a German citizen, my brother who joined the military in the 1980’s decided to ask his consulate if he then really lost citizenship. They told him that it’s “complicated”, and instructed him to submit an application. He’s excited, and it seems like he talked to someone who wasn’t knowledgeable. Is it not completely clear that he would have lost it?

    I’m starting to wonder whether the consulate never say no. I’m reminded of people whose ancestors immigrated before 1904, yet were told to apply.

    Reply
    • My brother is arguing that since he did not know that he was a German citizen, he should be exempt from needing to ask for permission before joining the US military in the 1980’s.

      I don’t think it works that way. It’s like people whose ancestors emigrated before 1904 arguing that their ancestors were unaware that they needed to register at the consulate. It won’t fly.

      Reply
      • My consulate also said that my brother who joined the military in the 1980’s needs to apply to the BVA in order for them to determine whether or not he lost citizenship. But, the BVA says that they have kept the records from our parents and grandparents, which makes it easier.

        Maybe things aren’t so black and white?

        Reply
          • I found another article, and it seems like voluntarily joining a foreign military before 2000 might be okay.

            The law was changed in 2000 in order to deny citizenship to Germans who joined foreign militaries during the war in Yugoslavia.

            In the article “GER 28” refers to Section 28 of the nationality acts of 1913 and 2000. See the last paragraph on page 21 as labeled in the article. Caution: long download time.

            http://eudo-citizenship.eu/docs/loss_paper_updated_14102010.pdf

          • You’ll have to let me know how your brother fares in this George. I’m in a similar situation and would like to hear the outcome. Good luck to him!

  5. Eden,

    Before 2000, it seems they would not strip a person of citizenship because they joined a foreign military IF that would make them stateless. That is due to Basic Law article 16(1). That might be good for you.

    Since my brother was a dual citizen, it’s iffy. I think he needs to be considered to have ties to Germany. Perhaps having brothers with proven German citizenship would help.

    One article cites a rare book by Massfeller that I’m trying to obtain through interlibrary loan to see if it mentions dual citizens.

    Good luck to you, too!

    Reply
    • George,

      This would be very interesting to find out. I would be curious as to how far back this law goes (if you find it to be true). If a person could not be made stateless, and they had not yet naturalised as a US citizen, then could they have been stripped of their citizenship for not registering with a foreign consulate?

      On that note as well, when I called and enquired about the registrations, the consulate said they didn’t have any such records. How would the government strip citizenship if that was the case? I’m sure there is an answer to this, I just can’t figure it out.

      Reply
      • Karl,

        The Basic Law was created during the reconstruction after World War 2, in 1949. So, unfortunately, it wouldn’t help your ancestor.

        I read that an attorney in Brazil had several applications for certificates rejected because there were no registrations found at the consulates before 1904. And, I also read a person’s complaint that their application was rejected for that reason on quora or reddit. In general, not being able to find a document won’t kill an application. But, it seems to not be the case regarding the consulate registers.

        The German law from 2000-2011 would make a person stateless if they joined a foreign military. I’m sure my brother wasn’t a German after 1999. But, his kids might be Germans if he didn’t lose citizenship in the 1980’s.

        Sorry I don’t have good news.

        Reply
        • Thanks George. It is unfortunate, but maybe the BVA will find things that I was not able to. Who knows. I’m on month 7 so we shall see.

          Reply
  6. My certificate was delivered today. It’s been eleven months and four days since I discovered that I’m a citizen. And, it’s been eight months and six days since my letter of receipt: September 17, 2015.

    The BVA’s letter of determination was dated April 15, 2016, which is not quite seven months after the letter of receipt.

    Reply
  7. Hi Karl,

    I only received the two letters forwarded through the consulate by US mail.

    I did recently email the BVA to ask whether they kept my documents so that my brother won’t need to provide everything, and they responded the next day.

    Reply
  8. Hey everyone. First, I really want to thank everyone for all the personal experiences and advice since I have started the process of getting my citizenship. I don’t comment much, but reading this blog and the comments has been more helpful than any government website or “how to” website. I really hope that more people who do this process have ease finding this blog. So thanks Jenn and everyone.

    Here’s how my process went:

    A little background so that people don’t have to read back – I was born in America to a German mother and American father. She naturalized when I was 6. Thankfully, all the paperwork that I needed (birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports, etc.) were all kept neat and filed because she needed all the same papers for her U.S. citizenship.

    I did this process through the consulate in Vienna, Austria because I was living abroad, traveling and working around. I officially started my application for my Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis on September 21, 2015. The BVA received my paperwork on October 15, 2015. They sent a letter to my home in Austria telling me that. I knew about the wait times and called them at least once a month, asking to speak to my caseworker in order to make sure they stayed on my case. One time I even went to the BVA to prod them in person when I was in Germany. 😛 (Speaking German really helps! If you can get a German speaker to help you with your case, you should! It goes A LOT faster. I promise.)

    They finally acknowledged my case and sent a letter to my consulate in Vienna on March 16th, 2016, who then emailed me saying they needed only one paper from me about my mother’s naturalization in the U.S. and it needed to be translated in German. I had her get with the German consulate in America that helped her through her naturalization and her renunciation of her German citizenship and they had the papers to sent to the BVA on April 29, 2016.

    The BVA emailed me on May 18, 2016 to let me know that my Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis was sent to the consulate in Vienna. I am in America at the moment, so I’ll have them send my certificate through mail to my consulate in America and apply for my German passport here. I have to return to Austria in August so I am pretty excited to be able to finally move there and get health insurance, a good job, a bank account, all the good adult stuff (I am sure my parents are ready for me to as well haha). My birthday is this week also so I look at it as a nice birthday present from Germany. 🙂

    This whole process has been a bit stressful, especially the traveling back and forth every 3 months. However, it only took me about 8 months to complete my process. That’s significantly faster than most people. It makes no difference that I did it within Europe, so you can get it done fast too.

    My best tips are that you send your paperwork off as completed as possible (with everything in German, of course and certified copies as needed), that you call the BVA (again, speaking German GREATLY increases your chances of talking to your caseworker or someone higher up), and if they request paperwork from you, send it back express mail. It’s not so much the getting it overseas that takes long but more that German mail takes FOREVER.

    So, that was my process. I hope it helps anyone who might read it. I’ll try to pop around every now and then to see how everyone is progressing with theirs. Viel Glück und vielen dank für alles! 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah,

      Hopefully your driver’s license shows an address where you can receive your passport, as the consulate requires. My landlord chose an inopportune time to terminate my month-to-month lease extension.

      Since there’s a chance that I will go to Europe in a few months, and I hate to pay $1,800 to break a lease. My unit has already been reassigned. And, I can’t impose on people indefinitely. The state is very strict on changing addresses on licenses.

      It looks like I’m not going to win, and I just need to do something. Anyhow, congratulations!

      Reply
      • Oh that’s awful. Surely you can work something out with the consulate, perhaps to pick your passport up if you have to? My DL has my parent’s address on it, and that is where I stay when I am in America. So I guess it is no problem for me. I don’t know the laws in whatever state you are in but where I am, you need no proof of address to change residence so I’m not really familiar with this. Perhaps if nothing gets resolved, the new people in your unit would be kind enough to accept post for you…granted you trust them enough with that. Either way, hopefully you get it worked out so you can get to Europe soon. 🙂

        Reply
  9. Hi everybody, I hope you will be able to assist me. I’ve sent through all my documention via the Cape Town Consulate to Collogne. The only certificate outstanding, is my greatparents marriage certificate. They were married in Tanzania during 1930 and Tanzania replied that they don’t have any records. I’ve found a letter that was written by my grandfather stating that my grandmother was his wife. It was stamped and signed by a notary. Do you think this will be enough evidence or do you have any suggestions?

    Reply
  10. I have an appointment for a passport in El Paso, where the German Air Force trains pilots.

    It’s six hours away, and there’s no photo booth. I went to Walgreens, and their photo template for Germany looks wrong compared to the German websites. The gap below the chin is smaller and the gap above the head is huge.

    Has anyone successfully used a photo like that? I feel like I need to ignore the template in order to create an acceptable photo.

    Reply
    • The passport photo template at Walgreens has an issue, at least where I live.

      I went to a second Walgreens in town. The guidelines in their software still have the oval for the head too low. But, the second store additionally had guidelines for the eyes, which showed that mine were below the acceptable height. So, the head definitely needs to be moved up a lot after using the oval to size it. The employee protested a bunch before letting me move my head up and outside the oval.

      I also tried going to CVS, where two employees told me that German passport photos are the same size as the US! They insisted that all countries use the same size! Wow.

      Reply
      • I applied for a passport at the German Air Defence Centre at Fort Bliss in El Paso. Their photo scanner accepted a photo that was taken on my balcony in natural light and edited on a self-serve Kiosk at Walgreens.

        Going on the Army base was an adventure. The German soldier lady who accepted my application wore a camouflage uniform. The cost was $116 by money order only. I spend the night in an Army hotel for $53. It probably won’t be possible to apply in El Paso in a few years as the Luftwaffe is leaving.

        Reply
  11. I’m posting a link to the German law for conscription military service (Wehrpflichtgesetz) from 1956. It is Section 8. Part 1 says that one can only join a foreign military with permission, which sounds like a dual citizen lost citizenship by volunteering. But, as noted earlier, Section 16 of the Basic Law protects a person with only German citizenship from losing that.
    http://www.bgbl.de/xaver/bgbl/start.xav?start=%2F%2F*%5B%40attr_id%3D'bgbl156s0651.pdf'%5D#__bgbl__%2F%2F*%5B%40attr_id%3D%27bgbl156s0651.pdf%27%5D__1465770252786

    Reply
  12. Hello Everyone,

    Some of you may remember my story and posts on here from January and I would just like to share my experience.

    I’m a 30 yr old Canadian working in the UK. My German father met my mother in Canada and was a German citizen till 11 months after my birth in Canada.

    I was told by the Vancouver German Consulate that all I had to do was apply for a German passport with proof of my dads previous German citizenship and proof of the date he became Canadian. When I contacted the Edinburgh German Consulate where I am they said I had to apply for my certificate of citizenship first. I took them at their word and i got all the necessary documents certified and flown to me from Mexico where my parents are now and Canada where my German Grandparents (still German citizens) are. While I waited for the documents to arrive I further queried with Vancouver as to why I was being told by Edinburgh to do a different process. I was advised that they always encourage that you apply for the certificate of citizenship, it would make it easier for my potential kids to get citizenship etc but I did not have to apply for that first in my case. They thought maybe Edinburgh weren’t familiar with Canadian documents and felt the citizenship route was simpler and clear for them that I was entitled to citizenship or not.

    I went back to Edinburgh and asked them why I’m being told different things by different consulates. They said they had to be sure I’m entitled to German citizenship. In the end I ended up sending them my prescanned documents and once they saw my Dad’s old German passport, birth certificate and the date he became Canadian was after my birth they gave me the go ahead to apply.

    I submitted my application May 18, paid for express service and got my passport yesterday.

    It took a lot of emails and calls but I was able to get my passport without the certificate of citizenship. In my case I am on a time sensitive visa so I needed to get it as soon as possible so I can stay out here. I still intend to forward my documents to Cologne for the Citizenship Document as well.

    Sometimes you just have to keep querying. Had I not I would have likely been going home in January.

    Reply
  13. In addition I did not have to do a name declaration as I was once told by Vancouver. Not sure why but that didn’t bother me as it took less time for me to get my passport.

    Reply
  14. Hi Everyone,

    Just wanted to see if anyone who has sent their application off has heard anything? It’s been 9 months since I sent it off and 8 since they received it. I sent it through the Houston Consulate. Hopefully no news is good news at this stage!

    It’s funny, I’ll go weeks without thinking about it, then I find some weeks I’m checking the mail with anticipation everyday! Ugh the wait!!

    Reply
    • If it makes you feel any better, I also went through the Houston consulate and the time between when I got my “we’ve received your request and are processing it” letter and any further reply was approximately 15 months. I went the whole of 2014 with no words from the BVA. When I e-mailed Houston to ask them, around Thanksgiving 2014, they said that they don’t even ask for a status check until around two years have passed with silence. I was ultimately successful.

      Hang in there, it’s an exercise in patience. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Thanks Wes! I appreciate your encouragement!

    My biggest fear was that it’d be a straight decline, which makes me wonder if it’s a good sign that I haven’t heard anything yet. George was a month or two ahead of me at the same consulate and heard in May that he was approved. So they must have looked at it at least a month before that. So my thought process is, if they would have looked at mine and seen it was a no go automatically, I would have probably heard by now.

    But maybe I’m just being hopeful. Lol

    Reply
    • Hey Karl,

      Hang in there! Remember that my application was about as simple and well-documented as can be.

      I’m surprised that there aren’t more new people here due to Brexit and the increasing awareness of dual citizenship.

      I suppose the website has become daunting to read due to its length. And, I’ll accept my own hefty share of blame for that LOL. I write a ton when anxious 🙂

      I’ve applied to five master’s program in Germany, and been rejected by two, one just barely. Eventually I should get in.

      Take care,
      George

      Reply
      • I’ve been admitted to a master’s program in Germany. To me, it was easier than the US. Dual citizenship is worth it 🙂

        Reply
          • Thanks, Karl!

            Coincidentally, my passport arrived today. In the photo, it’s as if there is a line down the middle, with my face dark on the left side. Weird.

            I’m leaving for Germany in mid-September. I got into the best school in my field in Germany, which is also the tenth best in the world. I keep thinking that they are going to contact me to say that a mistake was made 🙂

          • Haha!! I think I go through most of my life with that feeling. My professor told me it was called the imposter theory and was very normal. As if at any moment they would realise their mistake and we would be found out. Lol. But as I said, most of my friends have felt that way so I guess we all feel it.

            But seriously, that is a major accomplishment and I am completely jealous! I imagine you’re going to have the time of your life in Germany!!

  16. So I got a letter back from the consulate today regarding my application. It’s been 2 weeks over the eight month mark since they received it in Germany.

    They are asking for more information. They need my great grandfather’s birth certificate, which I simply don’t have. Also a marriage record that would have been in a church book, but I think it was destroyed during the war.

    These are the only documents they are asking for…so I am wondering if that is a good sign?? I mean, it would appear they have looked through my application and have not flat denied it on any base as of yet. If I could somehow find documentation stating these do not exist, I wonder if that would suffice?

    What do you all think? Is this a positive sign? (I can tell you my heart nearly stopped when I found a letter from the consulate in my mailbox today!!!)

    Reply
    • They insisted they needed my grandfather’s birth certificate too, a good while after receiving my application. I let my contact know the family couldn’t save any documents when they were forced to flee their hometown, so my grandfather never had a copy. As far as we knew, the church records had been destroyed during the war as well. So she passed that info along to the folks in Germany. The upside is that they did research on their end and eventually got everything approved. The downside was that it took quite a while. So keep your chin up. It’s definitely not over yet. I’d see if there’s any possible way to find the documents more quickly on your own. But if not, tell them the situation and see what they say.

      Reply
    • Karl,

      Births and marriages were almost certainly recorded in both the civil register (Standesamt) and at the church. Don’t forget to look in both places, as well as to ask the diocese, archdiocese or state archive.

      Question your family history. My family believed that the birth record for my maternal grandfather from near Danzig (Gdansk) was destroyed by fire during the war.

      Last year I obtained images of both the church and civil records of his birth from the Pomeranian Genealogical Society. His birth wasn’t up to Catholic standards; the fire story was a cover up.

      The BVA doesn’t require original certificates. It’s okay to have a record in a ledger transcribed onto a new certified form. I obtained a new international birth certificate (Internationale Geburtzurkunde) for my grandfather’s 1905 birth from the village Standesamt. Marriages can be similarly put onto a new form.

      Maybe you have a few more things to do before you declare that the records cannot be found.

      Reply
  17. Hello everyone!

    I am so glad to have stumbled upon this conversation thread. I applied for my Certificate of German Citizenship 13 months ago via a US German Consulate. My mother was a German at the time of my birth so I was born with dual citizenship- just need the certificate to prove it. I was told that processing times should take one year. However, it’s 13 months later and still nothing! I did receive some correspondence from the BVA requesting additional documentation a few months ago and quickly gave them what they needed.

    Was anyone else told the process should take a year & are still waiting??

    Reply
    • Hi Marie,

      Your time frame doesn’t seem that unusual, especially if they needed more information. I (and I believe several others who have shared stories here) were told two years was the average, and that they generally don’t check up on things for you until that point. If they’re asking for more info and not flat-out rejecting you, I’d just take that as a good sign and try to be patient while they verify whatever they need to on their end. 🙂

      Reply
  18. Hey ideas ! I am thankful for the analysis – Does someone know if I can get ahold of a sample SSA SS-5 copy to edit ?

    Reply
  19. Since others have mentioned an interest in educational opportunities in Germany, I thought I would pass along information about a strange and inconsistent difference in how students are classified as international. This does relate to dual citizenship 🙂

    Generally speaking but not always, in Germany, international students are not identified by their nationality. They are identified by where they earned their university entrance credential (e.g. US high school diploma). So, I am an international student with German citizenship. The converse is also true: a person without German citizenship who earned their entrance credential in Germany is not an international student.

    They use the terms Bildungsausländer for foreign-educated applicants, and Bildungsinländer for applicants educated in Germany. Again, this holds true most of the time.

    In addition to the possibility of inconsistencies between schools, there can also be inconsistencies within schools. I am being called an international student, but not when it comes to student apartments. At my school, international students receive a preference for placement in apartments. But, the housing office says that my German citizenship makes me ineligible for that preference.

    It seems likely that, although I am a German citizen, I am viewed as bringing diversity to campus as a Bildungsausländer. I am also one of the few German citizens in my program. I think that dual citizenship might have helped me to be admitted 🙂

    Another difference with the US: students must have health insurance (Krankenkasse) to enroll. For those under age 30, there are cheap and high quality “statutory public” policies. If a person is over age 30 and not employed, they must buy a “private” policy, which can be expensive if a person is significantly over 30 and has health issues. German friends say that the government might have a Krankenkasse for me, as well as housing assistance called Wohnungsgeld. Perhaps I can recoup the cost of claiming German citizenship 🙂

    So, a dual citizen will usually be called an international student. And, dual citizens might look appealing to admissions committees.

    Reply
  20. I received my Certificate of Citizenship 14 months after I had applied for it through the Consulate in Atlanta. I had already had a German passport for 19 years before that (also through the Atlanta Consulate), but I had lived in the EU not Germany for a few years and when I renewed my passport there in the EU a few years ago, I was told to get the certificate though they did renew my German passport without it (my mom is a German citizen living in the USA, and I was born in the USA).

    Reply
  21. Hi everyone,

    Quick update. I received a request for more information on the 1st of August. I managed to get a couple of certified death certificates trying to link my great grandfather to his father. And sent responses from three archives in Germany indicating the marriage record I was looking for didn’t exist as those in that time frame were either destroyed or lost in the war. I also sent a copy of entries made in a death book which stated my great grandparents were married as it was impossible to locate a marriage record. I sent it all to the consulate and they received it on Wednesday September 7th. Now the waiting game again…

    Does it seem to be quicker once they’ve initially responded and you send documents back?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  22. Just submitted my own application, after learning my mother was naturalized shortly after she was born. I found this website after trying to figure out how long processing might take, and now I suppose the long wait begins…

    I can only hope my circumstances will make it easier for them to prove I am German. See, my mother, along with my grandparents, were naturalized when they were in the United States. My grandparents were stateless at the time, having been expelled from their homes following World War 2, but my mother was born in the US. So, since she was already American when she was naturalized, it’s not possible for her to have lost her German citizenship by *becoming* American.

    Also, because she was naturalized while in the US, the naturalization was done by the very BVA that processes these applications, and the BVA has already confirmed they have all of her paperwork, even though my grandparents lost her naturalization certificate.

    Anyway, I’m sure I’m being overly optimistic, and I am prepared to wait a year or two, but hope does spring eternal!

    In the meantime, thank you all so much for sharing your success stories! Reading them has been the source of great encouragement, and I’m sure I’ll return to read them again from time to time.

    Reply
    • Hello “A”

      Your family history is interesting. But, I question whether it was the BVA that handled your relatives’ naturalization.

      The German government after World War 2 decreed that all refugee identification certificates (Fluechtlingsausweise) were to be regarded as official proof of citizenship. It was a collective naturalization, and individuals were not given naturalization certificates, as doing so would be superfluous and create a lot of work.

      Another poster here (Michael?) was born to two parents who were naturalized ethnic-German refugees from Eastern Europe. The key in his case was to obtain his father’s refugee identification certificate (Fluechtlingsausweis).

      I’m curious to know whether included a copy of your mother’s Fluechtlingsausweis or naturalization certificate with your application.

      Best wishes,
      George

      Reply
  23. Yes, I’ve heard of the Fluechtlingsausweise.

    I don’t know why my grandparents’ circumstances were different, but they were indeed naturalized by the BVA instead, pursuant to a law called the (First) StAngRegG. I have copies of both their naturalization certificates, which I included with my application, and the documents were clearly issued by the BVA.

    My grandparents lost my mother’s certificate, but I was able to get a letter from the BVA confirming she was naturalized with my grandparents, and that all of her paperwork was still on file with the BVA in Cologne.

    Reply
  24. How long did it take for you all to receive confirmation that the BVA had received your paperwork?

    I’m going on a month now, and still no word whatsoever. Is that normal…?

    Reply
    • I had my appointment at the consulate at the end of October last year. They sent it to Cologne in the middle of November and I got confirmation in December. So I’m sure you’ll hear something soon! 🙂

      Reply
      • It was a physical letter. I emailed about 4-6 weeks after my appointment to verify everything had been received and a few days later the letter came.

        I think it’s perfectly fine to touch base every once in a while. That’s what I’ve been doing and they’ve been very nice.

        Reply
  25. Anyone know how I can get a letter from the USCIS to confirm that my grandfather and dad never became US citizens? I can only find information if you happen to be an employer seeking confirmation.

    Reply
  26. In light of the election right now, I would like to know if anyone had to disprove that their ancestor ever became a US citizen and how they did that? Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • From what I’ve seen, they can say no record of naturalization exists, but that does’t always mean they didn’t naturalize (saw an example where someone later found the certificate after getting the letter stating its non-existence).

      I can’t offer much advice on getting that letter, but it could help to gather any other records you can. Pull up copies of census records that might list his status. You mentioned previously your father was in the military here — maybe enlistment records would state something. If you can show through other documentation that he hadn’t naturalized before you were born, it won’t matter if he naturalized eventually or not. Only that date really matters.

      Reply
  27. Hi everyone. I just got home to find a letter from the post office that I have a certified letter, from what I suspect is the consulate. Unfortunately, the post office is closed for the day. :-(. I haven’t received a yes or no but did have to supply further information back in August.

    Does anyone have experience receiving a certified letter? When they asked for further information it was in the regular mail. I’m so nervous that this could be a decision.

    Thanks for any help!

    Reply
    • I’m pretty sure my approval letter wasn’t certified. I vaguely remember just finding it in my mailbox one day. But that was about 4 years ago, so they may have changed their process. Or it might depend on which mission / consulate you’ve been dealing with. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and hope it’s good news. 🙂

      Reply
  28. I wasn’t in a huge rush to get my German passport (got my citizenship papers 4 years ago). But I have to admit, after this election, it would just make me feel better to have it. So I’m pushing that up and planning to apply at the consulate in NYC next month. I figure it’ll be a good excuse to go up around the holidays, which I like doing anyway. 🙂

    Have any of you applied for your passport (especially there) while you have your staatsangehörigkeitsausweis? I know I’d need that, my U.S. passport, driver’s license, fee, and photos. Not sure why they need my marriage license if my husband’s not a German citizen and I don’t have his last name (kept my maiden / German name… or reverted back to it a while ago I should say). But I’ll bring that too anyway.

    Anything else I should know or expect or bring? Any insight’s appreciated. 🙂

    Reply
    • Do you absolutely have to establish dual citizenship or nationality and receive the staatsangehörigkeitsausweis in order to apply for a passport? I was born in the US and my father is a US citizen and married my mother who is a German citizen but I’m not sure my mother ever registered my birth officially with any German government offices. I spent the first 9 or 10 years of my childhood living in Germany when my father was stationed there again. My mother and her family still live in Germany and I’ve visited off and on through the years and am planning to move there but was not sure if I could just apply for a passport straight away or if I needed to confirm my citizenship status first. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

      Reply
      • If you have good proof of your citizenship by birth to a German mother, you can apply for a passport right away and should have it in a few weeks. My daughter applied for her passport this summer and she wanted to apply for her citizenship papers at the same time and the agent at the NYC consulate actually tried to discourage her from applying for the citizenship certificate at all. He said that most people in Germany don’t have them, only if they want to have a state job. I suspect that maybe the refugee situation has stressed resources and that is why he tried to discourage her. She insisted on it anyway, assuming it would be better to have the certificate when and if she has children and wants to get them German passports. I don’t know how old you are, but German citizenship can only be passed to children by the mother if the child was born after January 1, 1975. For children born prior to that, citizenship was only passed through the father.

        Reply
      • timing is important.

        if your parents were married before you were born, and you were born after Jan 1 1975, then you are a german citizen without the need of having been registered.

        if your parents were married before you were born, and you were born before Jan 1 1975, then you are only a german citizen if your mother registered your birth before 1978. If she did not register your birth (regardless of where you lived) then it is unlikely you have german citizenship (if this is the case for you, I would still inquire with legal authorities before giving up).

        If your parents were not married when you were born, then you are a german citizen citizen and your mother did not need to register your birth.

        As for passport vs application for cert. of citizenship… I would suggest contacting the consulate directly via email or phone. Explain how you are a german citizen (per one of the conditions i’ve suggested above)

        In my opinion, if you have time (a year or so), go ahead and gather the appropriate documents to apply for a certificate of citizenship to save yourself headaches down the road.

        Reply
  29. Well…Afters years of research and over a year waiting for my application to process, I received a denial. 🙁

    Although my great-grandfather did have german citizenship, they didn’t find any evidence that he registered before the 1913 deadline after being away from Germany for 10 years. It was really close, but I guess even a few years doesn’t count.

    Oh well. I always knew this was a possibility, but got hope when I received a letter in August asking for further info. I thought, if they’re just asking about a marriage and birth, surely everything else looks good. Nope.

    Thanks for everyone’s help and support through this! It’s a sad week, with the election and now this, but as my partner is British, it won’t be long before we head over there, so that’s nice.

    Good luck to you all!!

    Reply
  30. Hi everyone,

    I just found this thread and it’s been fascinating, if disheartening, reading. I had no idea it would take around 2 years. I heard from someone else in HK (British) whose application took 6 weeks, but it seems his father lost his citizenship due to persecution as a result of the war, so I guess those applications are more straightforward.

    I submitted my application last week. I live in Hong Kong but I’m British. I only found out that I was German after I started to read articles after the UK Brexit vote.

    My father was German but was made a POW in May 1945 in the UK. When he was released he decided to stay in England (he was from a part of Germany under Russian control). He married my Mum in 1951 and I was born in 1960. He was naturalised British in 1970. I have my grandfather’s birth certificate (1900), my dad’s birth certificate (1925), Kriegsmarine disharge papers, 1950s Reisepass, Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis, naturalisation document (1970), German Kennkarte and a few more besides. I hope it will be plain sailing but time will tell.

    Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this message board. I’ve learnt some interesting information as a result.

    Reply
  31. Hi Steve,

    Assuming that you included marriage certificates, your application sounds as well documented as mine. So I think that you’ll have a certificate in August.

    Reply
    • Hi Jenn and George,

      I included my parent’s marriage certificate but I don’t have my grandparent’s marriage certificate.

      One question, perhaps a silly one, but how do you go about contacting a town hall in Germany to request records? Simply email them via the town’s website? Presumably using Google translate (my German is very limited at the moment).

      Thanks for any help you can give on this matter.

      Reply
      • Hi Steve,

        I think your grandparents’ Heirat Surkunde is essential. I was able to receive a birth certificate from the Standesamt of my grandfather’s village in Bavaria for free. I made the request by email in German. Can you find an email address for the Standesamt?

        Reply
        • Hi George,

          Yes, I have an email address. I don’t know when they were married, perhaps if I just give their names and a rough idea of the date they may be able to help. It is a town in the Harz mountains so I’m hopeful records weren’t destroyed in the war.

          Fingers crossed. Thanks!

          Reply
          • Wow! Within 30 minutes of emailing them I had a reply from the Standesamt saying they had the marriage certificate of my grandparents! It will cost 6.25 euros to send it to me but that’s fine. Thanks for suggesting I did this, George!

          • That’s great! I think you should tell the consulate that you “forgot” this document. There’s a chance that they haven’t yet forwarded your application to Cologne, in which case everything can be sent together.

  32. I hope it’s OK to ask another question.

    As I mentioned previously, last week my documents were forwarded to the Bundesverwaltungsamt for processing, so it’s very early days. However, yesterday my daughter asked me “Should I still wait until your citizenship is finalised before I start applying?” I had to answer that I didn’t know. My question, therefore, is do I have to be in receipt of my own citizenship certificate before she starts the process? Without one would her application fail at the first hurdle?

    Any help from people who have been in the same situation would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
    • Steve
      Your daughter can apply with you. My brother and nephew applied with me. All 3 certificates were issued on the same day. 3am in Germany, must sleep:-)

      Reply
      • Thanks George. I think in your case all three of you were applying through the same ancestor? In my case, her application would depend on me getting mine. Then again, maybe she could start the process and we’ll worry about my documentation when the time comes.

        Sleep well.

        Reply
        • Insomnia:-) She can apply with you. My brother applied at the same time as his son. My father is still living, and he didn’t apply, ever. He didn’t know he was a German until last year at age 81.

          Reply
          • Thank you so much for your reply. That’s very good to know! She’ll be so pleased, it can’t happen soon enough for her.

            I’m sorry for your insomnia, I hope it doesn’t last.

  33. Also since I’ll have to go the citizenship route instead of the passport route. Did anyone need information on their other non-German parent? They wanted my moms passport when I was applying for a passport, but I’m not sure if I would need it if I’m applying for citizenship.

    Reply
  34. Question for those of you that already obtained German Citizenship- How long did it take for you to receive your certificate of citizenship after you paid the fee?

    Reply
  35. Hi all,

    I found this blog helpful so I thought I’d share my journey. Mine is a pretty straightforward case

    I discovered that I hold german citizen by chance (randomly reading internet articles about different citizenship laws around the world). It was very neat to discover that I am a german citizen, because I have always dreamed of holding german citizenship and planned to, at a minimum, retire in germany. Imagine my delight when I discovered I was already a german citizen! I felt that I must’ve been mistaken in some way, so I scoured the internet for weeks looking for some caveat, that maybe I was missing fine print somewhere, and that maybe I was wrong. However, after weeks of searching hard for evidence to the contrary, i found none… I am in fact, a german citizen (now i just need official recognition!).

    My grandparents (father’s side) were both german citizens and arrived in the US in the 1950’s (arrived separately, they met in the US through friends). They met, got married in the US within a couple years. Then, my father was born a little over a year after his parents were married. My grandparents eventually naturalized as US citizens several years later, however since by dad was born in the US to a german father and mother, he acquired duel citizenship at birth and of course did not lose his german citizenship when my grandparents naturalized. He never knew of his german citizenship (I don’t think my grandparents realized it either) until i discovered it this past summer. I acquired german citizenship from him since he was/is married to my mother since before i was born. We had our first consulate meeting before i discovered this blog. At our first consulate visit, my sister, father, and I submitted…

    my and my sister’s birth certificates
    my parent’s marriage certificate (proof they were married before i was born)
    My father’s birth certificate
    my grandfather’s german passport (also valid at the time my dad was born)
    my grandparent’s marriage certificate (proof they were married before my dad was born)
    both my grandfather’s and grandmother’s naturalization certificates (showing they naturalized in the US several years after my dad was born).

    The consulate told us that we should already have sufficient documentation submitted. Then, I discovered this blog and saw that many people were contacted several months after submitting their papers and were asked to show proof of ancestry back to before 1914 (birth certificates, etc).

    Therefore, i spent the next couple of months collecting documents. It was actually a very easy process, of simply finding the email address to the various city archives where my ancestors were born and lived.

    From the city archives in Germany that i contacted, I collected:

    my german grandfather and grandmother’s birth certificates (1920’s)
    My great grandparent’s marriage certificates (both on my grandmother and grandfather’s side and each were married before the births of my grandfather and grandmother)
    My great grandfathers’ birth certificates (both on my grandmother and grandfather’s side, each born in 1898).
    I also have the divorce papers from my grandfather’s first marriage from before he came to the US.

    Although the BVA has not asked for these additional documents, I am going to submit them very soon to the consulate to be sent and added to my file. Hopefully it speeds up the process (if it speeds it up by even just a day, it will all we worth it) in case they need them in the future.

    We originally met with the consulate last August. the BVA sent our letter of receipt in september (we actually got it in the mail in october). Based on some others who have gone through this process (and their start time in August), I hope to have my certificate by May. We shall see and I’ll keep you updated. I hope Brexit hasn’t completely overwhelmed the BVA with applications…

    Reply
  36. I’ve been a follower of this great website for a number of years and have successfully gotten German/American Dual-Citizenship for myself (born in Hannover to German Parents 1948) My daughter (Born in the USA but derived thru me, My sister (Austria birth 1944 during Occupation). I’ve read most every post here during the past few years and thought I saw an answer to my latest quest: Getting Dual Citizenship for my brother. My question is, most of my family now are German American Dual Citizens as we immigrated to the USA in 1952 and eventually were naturalized via our parents USA Naturalizaion in Late 1957. Big problem is my brother was born in the USA 1959 and, laws being laws (and special circumstances can be allowed). Is there a good probability
    of getting him a dual citizenship on the fact that, most of our relatives and heritage is in Europe, and that these are “special circumstances) otherwise our family would be broken apart? I remember reading something about something similar a few years ago but can’t seem to find the references. Ideas?

    Reply
  37. Hi Karl-Heinz,

    I think the previous topic that you were thinking of might be whether a relative can retain German citizenship instead of losing it, in order to not be separated from family. It sounds like you believe that your brother never had a claim to German citizenship.

    I believe that my brother lost German citizenship by joining the US military in the 1980’s without seeking permission from the German government. He will probably receive a decision in two months.

    I left Germany because my father passed away in the US. I don’t know yet whether I will return. I might have discovered too late in life that I am a German citizen. We’ll see.

    Best,
    George

    Reply
    • Thanks for the reply George. in my case, both parents became USA citizens about 16 months before my brother’s birth in 1959. The German law for this period states he is not elegible due to their conversion in 1957. My sister, my daughter and I have dual citizenship as we were not affected with this law. I had read somewhere that sometimes the authorities do allow for a family to stay together – a waiver of sorts. Especially with existing close family ties in Germany.

      Hmmm…

      Reply
  38. Update: I submitted my paperwork to the German authorities in January, 2016. I received a form letter acknowledging receipt of my application dated February 2, 2016. I have heard nothing since.

    Reply
    • It’s dispiriting to read this. I only submitted my application at the end of November and I can’t help but open Gmail every day in the hope I will have heard from the Consulate. I wish I was a more patient person! Ha! Seems I have a loooong wait ahead of me. *sigh*

      Reply
      • agreed. I’ve seen a few people submit August and receive their materials the following May.

        I’ve been hoping that since I also submitted in August I would get mine in May as well… in my mind i only have a few more months (hopefully so).

        I check my snail-mail every day hoping for a letter from the consulate.

        Reply
    • Update:

      I have made an error with the dates above. Plus, I have received a letter indicating I will be issued a certificate of German Citizenship. This is the correct timeline:

      Mailed application directly to Berlin: May 16, 2016
      Received letter of receipt of application from Berlin: June 2, 2016
      Received letter stating a certificate of citizenship will be issued from the Consulate General in Miami: February 28, 2017

      I had no other communications with the authorities. Fast!

      Reply
        • I submitted mine in May of 2016 to the San Francisco Consulate. Did you get an actual physical letter that it was received?
          I just got an email from the SF consulate that it was sent to Cologne and that the consulate would handle communications to me.
          I have not heard anything since.

          Reply
          • I submitted to the Houston consulate and received, from the consulate, a letter from the BVA (in german) and a letter from the consulate (in english) in the same envelope. The english letter briefly stated what the german-language letter says. The german-language letter says that the case is opened and that cases are worked on in the order in which they are received. They also give you a code to use for future communication regarding your case.

            Im sure letter vs email doesn’t matter (there are plenty of people on this forum that have been communicated with via email). However, if the email from the consulate states the items have been “sent” but you haven’t received anything stating that the Bundesverwaltungsamt has “received” the documents, I would be a little concerned. Specifically, you want to make sure you have the letter from the BVA stating that they received your documents and that they gave you a case number/code for future communication.

            If you weren’t ever given a case number/code for your case file, I would contact the consulate nicely asking if they received confirmation that the documents arrived at the BVA. The consulate may have not forwarded the BVA letter to you since you work directly with them, however it may also be the situation that the consulate never received a letter of receipt from the BVA.

          • In the subject line of the email from them there appears to be what is a code that is prefixed with and “RK” and then has my last name as a suffix. I assume that is the code? Communication from the Consolate tends to be short and to the point without much detail. I assume they are quite busy these days so I try to limit my inquiries to when its necessary.

          • I think that the RK code is the Consulate’s file number. There should be a second code, in the PDF scan of the letter, that starts with IIB or SII and followed by a series of numbers that (among other things) looks like the date that the BVA received your request.

            That second, longer, number is your file number at the BVA and what you would use to enquire with the BVA directly, if you go that route (which I don’t recommend since the Consulates handle the work). You will also see that number, though with a different set of letters as a prefix, on your certificate of citizenship.

          • Thanks for your response. Actually there was no pdf scan of a letter attached. It was just an email saying it was forwarded to the BVA, the process would take several months and they would let me know if they needed any additional information.

          • then it doesn’t sound like you received confirmation that the BVA received your documents. It is likely that the consulate received the letter from the BVA but did not forward it to you. However, things can, on occasion, get lost in the mail. I don’t think you would be out-of-bounds simply sending the consulate an email as a follow-up asking if they received an acknowledgement letter from the BVA. I have found that the staff working at the consulate are very friendly, and to-the-point.

          • Tom,
            Did you learn anything more about why the San Francisco consulate did not send you a letter from the BVA? My brother applied there around July 2016, and he also didn’t receive a letter from the BVA.

          • George

            I did not specifically ask about that. I just inquired about the status of my application (11 months in process so far). The response I got was simply that it could take up to two years, not to worry, and they would let me know as soon as they knew anything.

  39. I plan to apply as soon as some necessary documents arrive. I have two questions:

    (1) Is the NARA certified petition for naturalization showing the naturalization certificate enough to establish the date of my great-grandfather’s naturalization?

    (2) Both my grandfather and father were drafted into the U.S. military. Should I attempt to get paperwork proving this or let that part of the application speak for itself?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • The certified petition for naturalization should be sufficient. But, the consulate told me that they would prefer for me to send the entire set of naturalization papers with the ribbon-seal from the archive.

      You can always ask them to make copies and include a return envelope for the originals.

      Reply
    • Per your second question about draft orders, I would go ahead and submit the paperwork you have and attempt to get official documentation stating that they were drafted and did not volunteer. I can imagine this being something that significantly delays your application.

      In my case, I submitted additional documentation after my original application went out. These included birth/marriage certificates for my great-grandparents that were not ever specifically asked for, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to hand them in to expedite the process. Also, on the application i stated that my grandfather was previously married and divorced prior to marrying my grandmother. I submitted the divorce papers from his first marriage at a later date (from my original application) because I saw some complications that others had regarding marriage/divorce on this forum, I don’t want anything to be left to doubt and delay the process.

      I don’t know this for sure, but I imagine that what the BVA does, is look at your submitted documents and attempt to produce the same documents themselves from the respective agencies. Handing in the correct/most complete documents would allow them to know specifically which agency to contact regarding the acquisition of correct documentation. If they don’t know where to look, it could take a little longer to get your certificate.

      Reply
  40. This place has been very helpful. Have you thought of starting a Facebook group? I’m part of the one for Dual U.S.-Italian Citizenship (yes, my tree is full of early-20th century immigrants). There’s so little information on German citizenship by descent online (and a lot of it, elsewhere, is wrong), and the folks here are so knowledgeable, I know it would be popular.

    Reply
    • There is a group on Facebook called ‘Selbsthilfegruppe dualcitizenship US-Deutsch’. It might be useful to some people here (but isn’t relevant to me).

      I hope people still post here. I have found this group/page to be very informative, helpful and interesting and I enjoy reading updates to your applications.

      Reply
      • i check this page every day for new postings. It’s one of the first pages that pops up in a google search on the topic. A very helpful web page indeed.

        Reply
      • I think that the Facebook page ‘Selbsthilfegruppe dualcitizenship US-Deutsch’ is for Germans who want to acquire US citizenship via naturalization without giving up their German citizenship, which is a very different process from claiming dual citizenship by birth, as is the focus of this blog.

        Reply
  41. Hello,

    I have been following along for a while now as I am going through the process of obtaining German citizenship as well. It has been a huge source of help and encouragement!

    I wanted to share my case for others who may be curious about timelines.

    I submitted my application November 8 to the Consulate in Toronto. The letter from Germany confirming receipt of my application was dated December 1.

    Hopefully things go smoothly. Wish me luck, and I’ll be sure to share more as I hear back from BVA.

    Reply
    • My letter from Germany is about a week earlier than yours so it’ll be interesting to see who gets citizenship first. 🙂

      Good luck!

      Reply
    • Emily, I’m wondering if you could speak to your experience at the consulate in Toronto?

      I am almost ready to make my application through the consulate in Toronto and am wondering how the process took? I’m going to submit applications for myself and two children. Were they able to notarize all of your document copies there or did you do it before your appointment?
      How long was your appointment? Anything else you feel might be if interest?

      Thanks!

      Reply
  42. Steve – I’m also curious. Best of luck to you as well 🙂

    Eric – The Toronto consulate was wonderful, very speedy and helpful with all my questions. I went once to determine if I was truly eligible, then returned a second time with all of my required documentation.

    They notarized my documents there, but said they prefer if you bring them already notarized. I had a couple extra documents I needed and ended up mailing them my full application with additional notarized copies I got myself (I live in London and it is a long drive for the appointment).

    The appointments were both very punctual and speedy, I would say under 30 minutes.

    As for the application for your children, I believe you would just need the notarized copies, and fill in three separate forms that have their information (Anlage V? I forget).I would check with them to be sure, as I was the only one to apply from my family (my sister may piggyback on my file if it gets approved in the future).

    Hope that helps. Good luck 🙂

    Reply
  43. Sorry I sent my comment before I was finished.

    What I was saying is that although I would have had them notarize everything it’s good to know they prefer it be done before – no need to put anyone out if not necessary!

    Thanks again

    Reply
  44. In case this is useful to this discussion about application procedure, I am British but living in Hong Kong, so I applied via the German Consulate here. Having found out I was eligible (my father was German at the time of my birth) I collected all of the supporting documents and made photocopies and completed forms F and V. At the Consulate I handed everything over and was done in 20 minutes or so. They notarised everything free of charge.

    They emailed me a few days later and said they needed my parent’s marriage certificate and once I had supplied a copy they sent my application to Cologne. I was told my case seemed to be clear cut but that the volume of applications meant it would be quite a while until I heard from them.

    I prepared copies for my son and daughter to apply but I was advised it would be better to get mine first and then let them apply. Once I had citizenship their case would be trivial and would be approved quickly. I remember somebody on this page did it this way (in San Francisco I think) and their daughter was approved very quickly.

    Anyway, my letter from the BVA is dated 24 Nov. 2016 so it’ll soon be 4 months. Still early days but every day is one closer.

    Reply
  45. Emily – thank you for the information, I do find the information helpful in that I have a bit more of an idea of what to expect.

    Steve – thank you for your post. It does seem like it would be a better idea to get my situation sorted and then my children afterwards. Would be quite straightforward for them at that point.

    Question for anyone – I believe most people include an explanation of their situation and documentation in their application package. If you don’t speak and write German what did you do to get it translated? Did you use a translation service or find someone that wrote German good enough for this purpose?

    Reply
    • Ah yes, I forgot about the letter. I wrote a paragraph stating my fondness for Germany, how proud of being German I was, and also that Brexit was unfair to many of us who identify with being European and who want open access to jobs etc (especially true for my kids). I just wrote mine in English and the lady dealing with my application – the Head of Consular Affairs – accepted it with no comment (other than to laugh and say Brexit was causing a huge number of applications from Brits!) Had she said it needed to be in German I would have used Google Translate (as my German is very rusty).

      Reply
        • I didn’t include a letter either. I don’t imagine it is anywhere necessary. The process is simply confirming whether or not you have german citizenship already – it is not a naturalization process since we were born with the right to german citizenship.

          Reply
  46. Thanks for your response Steve. Glad to see they aren’t too picky about it. I suppose I could get my dad to dictate it to me in German but he’s been in Canada now for close to 50 years so I’m not sure how up to date his style of writing is, and the fact that he’s from the part of Germany where they speak Schwabisch so I’m sure it will be littered with slang. Maybe I’ll just include an English letter and German translation and just hope for the best!

    Emily – iirc, and it’s been quite a while since I read through the entire thread so I might be wrong, but a lot of people include a letter with their applications just outlining what each document is and how it ties into their application. I don’t think it’s mandatory, but just an explanation so they might not have to contact you for clarification and delay the application longer. If I have it wrong please someone correct me.

    Reply
    • I did not write a letter with my application. And, my certificate was issued seven months after the date of my letter of receipt from the BVA (15-April-2016 and 17-September 2015, respectively). I would not worry about this either way. We were born German citizens. It is our birthright. End of story.

      Reply
    • Adding a cover letter makes for good business practices. Simply put, you are essentially providing those that will take care of your quest with a little “schmoozing” – think of it as being on the receiving end. Just my 2 cents.

      Oh and Google translate is an excellent source to assist you especially if you keep it short.

      Reply
    • The lady at the consulate did walk through a checklist with me where we explained what each document was, so perhaps that was done instead of a letter.

      I can see how a letter would help make things easier on their end in Germany. I’ll just have to wait and see if what I sent was okay with them.

      Reply
  47. Haha very true George! WE know we are born German citizens, but we have to show the bureaucrats the evidence! Hopefully mine will go as quickly as yours. Seven months seems like one of the quicker waits

    Reply
  48. Hi all..!!!
    Firstly, thanks for all the great info on this site! It’s amazing!

    Secondly, I’m about to submit my papers to the embassy but wanted to check on a particular item in case someone has experience.

    My grandparents were Germans (both), the emigrated and had an only son abroad in wedlock (dad), who then had me (only son).

    My dad had a German passport, and I have all the documents for everyone dating back to 1914 (Birth, marriage and death certificates as well as a pile of over 10 passports!!)

    All original documents, with translation to German and Apostille where applicable.

    Now the problem is this…

    My father had a first marriage which took place in Germany (1975). Shortly after they separated and his wife went M.I.A and never to be heard from again….

    12 years later (1987) he got the marriage recognized abroad, and also got a sentence for divorce on the grounds of being separated for well over 3 years and the spouse not being found.

    AFTER that, he married my mom.

    So I have all the marriage AND divorce papers that are applicable, but I think I may need to get the divorced rectified in Germany first.

    This sucks (pardon my french) as I have all the other paperwork needed for my citizenship application…. and doing this paper now will add 3 to 4 months to the overall application (apparently it takes that long, but nowhere near the time it takes for the citizenship)

    is this really necessary or am i going above and beyond??

    Can i apply for citizenship and at the same time get the divorce registered in Germany? I reckon noone will look at my citizenship application for a few months…. can I then add that paper onto my file?

    Anyone with similar experiences here?

    Thank you all.!!!

    Mike

    Reply
    • Yours is an interesting situation and I’m curious about how it will turn out. There’s little information for how the german government would handle a divorce under those circumstances. I agree that you should get all of your ducks in a row first – so I don’t think you are “going above and beyond.”

      I would wait to make sure the german government recognizes the divorce…

      Your biggest hurdle is getting the german government to recognize the foreign divorce declaration. If the german government recognizes the divorce, then you should be good to go. If the german government doesn’t recognize it, then you would likely have issues because you would have been born to an “unmarried german father” and would have needed to declare german citizenship by your 23rd birthday.

      I would do one at a time.

      Reply
    • When I submitted my application (I’m British, living in Hong Kong) I was told I was missing my parent’s marriage certificate. As a stopgap my sister (in UK) emailed a photo of it to me. The Head of Consular Affairs here said she would submit my application with the notarised photo but that I should get the original as soon as I could. I was able to take in the original and copy a week later and she forwarded it to the BVA so that it could be added to my file.

      My understanding is that cases are investigated on a first come, first served basis, so my advice would be submit what you have now and in the meantime try and get the document you are missing. You can always add it to your application later if needed. That way your case is in the pipeline as quickly as possible.

      Reply
      • Steve,
        Thanks, that is interesting.

        To get the divorce recognized in Germany takes about 3 months (tops)… or so they say.

        My fear is to start the Citizenship process to only then have everything delayed because they are missing this paper…

        Let’s say I do both at the same time (divorce recognition and citizenship) can I then add the divorce papers once they come back from Germany?

        Would they go straight into my file or will that cause my entire file to “go back to the beginning of the queue”…. if that makes any sense.

        Cheers!

        Reply
    • Hi Mike,

      I just wanted to confirm something. Was your dad still a German citizen when you were born? If so you should be able to apply for a passport outright. My dad was German when i was born but became Canadian 7 Months later. I had to provide proof of when he became Canadian and the necessary documents for a passport and i was able to get it without the Certificate of Citizenship.

      Reply
      • Hi Jenny,
        Yes my dad was German when I was born… no doubt about it since I have his passport.

        The thing is that since he was divorced, apparently they want to see divorce papers as well…

        I can’t go straight for passport…. have to do the citizenship.

        Which is odd to say the least, but they sure don’t make it easy for you so not surprised!

        Reply
    • Here’s what I would do:

      Send in the documents you have. Don’t send anything related to the previous marriage as it technically doesn’t have anything to do with your case.

      Your case depends on your father’s German status and his marriage to your mother. If you can document those things, do it.

      I highly doubt they’ll dig to see if he was married previously. The marriage between your parents was valid when and where you were born. And Germany acknowledges other countries’ marriage records for these purposes. Give them what’s necessary, and no more. If they want more information, they’ll ask for it and you can cross that bridge when you get there. Don’t complicate things more than necessary.

      Reply
      • Thanks Jenn,
        That was my hope as well…. but after much digging on all the guidance I was able to fetch from different German Embassy websites it seems that they want to see the divorce papers of any previous marriages.

        Not sure if they would actually look into it…. but my parents marriage certificate does say they were both divorced, so I fear that might trigger them to ask more questions

        Reply
    • Mike,
      It seems that you were born after 1974. If so, then you would be German even if your father were not married. Or am I wrong? Anyhow, Jenn and Steve are right: keep it simple and enter into the queue with what you’ve got.

      Reply
      • Not necessarily… per the consular website

        “Children born out of wedlock to a German father before July 1, 1993 may acquire German citizenship by declaration before their 23rd birthday, if paternity has been established and if they have resided in Germany for at least three years. The declaration can only be made in Germany at the child’s residence.”

        this is why it is important that he makes sure Germany recognizes the marriage of his mother and father as legitimate first.

        I only bring this up because someone else in the thread a few years ago was denied because their father’s divorce in Germany wasn’t ever finalized, yet that person remarried in Nigeria and was recognized as legitimate in Africa, but not Germany.

        In my own case, my grandfather was married and divorced in Germany prior to moving to the US. He was married in the US to my grandmother (also a german citizen. My father was born while they were still german citizens). I made sure to submit my grandfather’s divorce papers from his first marriage because his birth certificate that I received has the 1st-marriage-date stamped on it (the city archives keep these sorts of records when they can). Yet the city archives did not stamp the divorce date. I submitted the divorce papers to show that there was a clear record of the divorce because I didn’t want them coming back and saying that my grandparent’s marriage in the US was not legitimate for any reason. (however, even in the case that they did come back and say it was illegitimate, my grandmother was a german citizen also at the time of my father’s birth, so I still have claim to german citizenship from both grandparents through to my father).

        Something as important as this isn’t something to tread lightly on and “hope” they miss a detail that you don’t think is important. Make sure all your ducks are in a row to save time and headaches in the future.

        Reply
        • Dan,
          I don’t think those details apply to Mike. I think those apply to a person whose father was not legally determined at birth.

          Reply
        • Dan,
          Yeap that’s pretty much my thinking….

          If I don’t get the divorce recognized in Germany first, that would make the second marriage invalid and impact me as a result.

          My only dillema really is whether I do the divorce papers first and then bundle them with everything else i got to apply for citizenship, OR

          I start both processes at the same time (divorce recognition and citizenship application). Since the divorce should come back quite quickly (they say from a few weeks to 3 months tops) i wonder if I can “add” those papers to my citizenship file without messing up the whole process.

          From what I’ve read your citizenship application is likely to just sit on a pile of papers for a few months before anyone even looks at them… If that is true it would make sense to do both at the same time and then just “add” the divorce papers.

          Otherwise I have to wait 3 months before I can even start with the Citizenship…

          I guess my fear is that adding papers at a later stage might delay the whole thing (perhaps this is not true, just my fear)

          Reply
          • “I guess my fear is that adding papers at a later stage might delay the whole thing (perhaps this is not true, just my fear)”

            No, that’s not true. It’s not uncommon at all to add papers later in the process. I added information on my own. And they requested additional information. And when I couldn’t find what they requested in Germany, they actually dug and found what they needed over there (that’s what actually held my own process up a while).

            Adding paperwork later will absolutely NOT put you back at the front of the queue.

            The best thing you can possibly do is get yourself an ally and advocate at your nearest German mission. My contact there was a lifesaver. They served as go-between between me and Germany. They answered all sorts of questions I had. They helped me sort out what I needed, and didn’t need, document-wise. When waits got too long, they followed up on my behalf and usually came back with updates to let me know where things were in the process. And once they heard my decision was taking longer than the 2 year average (might have changed since I went through the process), they reached out to the folks in Germany and got it rushed along much faster after that, and ultimately approved.

            So make a contact. Have someone who can guide you through the process who actually has the connections to help things along. If THEY tell you not to submit anything until the divorce paperwork is finalized, then wait. If they tell you to go ahead and get the processes started simultaneously, or that you don’t need to do that for some reason, do as they say. Document everything they tell you via email (not on the phone). It could very easily be more than 3 months before Germany even asks you to send additional documentation about a divorce or anything else. So I’d get it started to get in that queue unless your contact at the mission tells you otherwise.

          • As Jen said, if your only fear is adding papers causing a delay, then don’t fear that.

            I didn’t know that the divorce reconciliation would be so quick! your citizenship papers will definitely take longer than 3 months, so get both started at the same time then. As Jenn said, you won’t be causing your file to go to the back of the line.

      • That would be correct but only if you’ve lived in Germany for 3 years AND you declare your citizenship before your 23rd birthday.

        I never lived in Germany and the 23-years old ship has sailed a long time ago LOL 🙂

        If you were born after 1993 then you are golden…. it doesn’t matter if your parents were married or not. You can get citizenship from your father if you are born out of wedlock

        Reply
        • Mike,

          This stuff about claiming citizenship by age 23 via “declaration” (what Dan cited) never applied to you. It is for those born out of wedlock.

          The consulate probably encouraged you to provide divorce documents only because you asked and they didn’t know what to say. For them it is a safe answer.

          Your father’s divorce will be registered for the date that it occurred regardless whether it is done before or after you apply.

          I think you have made this too complicated.

          Reply
          • Also, there are risks with asking an office in Germany to recognize the marriage. They might be required to search for his ex-wife for a period of time. They might need to determine whether she could have claimed alimony. My thinking is to “let the sleeping dog lie” unless the BVA asks for more information.

          • George, While i generally agree with you, Mike’s concern is that the german government would possibly not consider the marriage legitimate. Just because one country accepts a divorce decree, doesn’t mean germany would also agree…

            His concern mirrors what happened to Chris on this thread (look up Jan 22, 2014). Chris’s grandfather was previously married in germany and married a new person in Niger. Chris was denied citizenship because the marriage was considered bigamous.

            Also consider Marianne Jeager’s situation (October 7, 2015; August 28, 2015; and others). She had to prove that her father divorced his first wife before marrying the second wife.

            While i’m sure Mike’s application will be approved, i agree with his thinking that it should not be taken “with a grain of salt.” The german authorities will know that his grandfather was married to a german woman and that the marriage was not divorced in germany. He will definitely want to make sure that germany recognizes the divorce decree of his current country (USA?) as legitimate (especially since the divorce was on the grounds of being separated for 3 years and she was never found to sign papers).

          • Dan,
            Yes, you are spot on.

            The divorce abroad is not recognized automatically, so any subsequent marriages are therefore not valid.

            The good news is that once you get the divorced recognized in Germany it has retroactive validity. Meaning any subsequent marriages that before were “void” then become legal once again

  49. Mike,
    Does your father know for certain that his ex never divorced him? Perhaps he can enquire about the status of his “marriage”.

    Reply
    • Yeap, I called the Civil Registry Office (Standesamt) and confirmed that the marriage is recorded but not the Divorce (bummer).

      They were very helpful by the way… which was a surprise. Very quick to reply to all my queries over email.

      Hopefully this is the case for other offices involved in these proceedings.

      Reply
  50. A friend of mine noted my dual German/USA citizenship and asked me this question:

    His parents, both married in Germany 1948 and are both German citizens) became naturalized USA citizens on September 1959. He was born in the USA June 1959. Would he qualify for a dual citizenship?

    Not sure of the answers as the German Laws have changed so much.

    Anyone have a clue? Me? I would think he has a good shot at obtaining Dual citizenship but… Hmmmm

    Reply
  51. Hi Karl-Heinz,

    Since he was born in wedlock to a German father, it seems that he’s a German.

    I have a question. When I returned to the US, I showed my German passport at the airline check in. They told me that I needed an ESTA. Since I was running late, I showed them my US passport. And, the lady was happy. I told her that I thought it was illegal to not present myself as a German. Are others here obtaining ESTAs?

    Reply
    • As a US citizen, it is my understanding that you are supposed to show your US passport when entering and leaving the US. When entering and leaving the EU, you are supposed to show your german passport.

      An ETSA is essentially a tourist visa. It could pose serious problems for border control to see a tourist visa in your german passport (tourist visas are only good for 90 days visitation) since you would likely be in the US for much longer than 90 days. Since you are also a US citizen, it is appropriate that you use your US passport to demonstrate your right to enter the country.

      Reply
  52. Update:

    Applied for my German passport today at the Consulate in Miami with my Certificate of Citizenship. They also needed a copy of my parent’s marriage certificate. This is not listed on the website as needed documents. This was the only issue and they provided a form to mail this to them. Processing takes 6 weeks regular, 3 weeks express. They were super friendly and very helpful.

    Reply
    • Awesome Kevin! Congrats!

      Out of curiosity, when did you receive your Certificate of Citizenship? Your letter of receipt from Cologne for your documents was June 2, 2016 correct? (read from earlier post).

      Correct me if i’m wrong, but it was 8 months turn-around from the time Cologne received your documents until you received your Certificate of Citizenship?

      if this is the case, and i am similarly as lucky as you, I might only be 1 month away from receiving my certificate :-).

      Reply
      • Mailed application directly to Koln (did not go through a US consulate): May 16, 2016
        Received letter of receipt of application from Koln: June 2, 2016
        Received letter stating a certificate of citizenship will be issued from the Consulate General in Miami: February 28, 2017

        About 9 months of processing time. The approval date from Koln is February 6th so it took the Miami Consulate until February 28th to notify me. The Miami Consulate notified me of approval not Koln.

        My application was straightforward. I also sent in all original documents, had german birth records for my grandfather, all US documents with Apositlle and had all documents translated with a certification. Perhaps overboard – we will never know.

        Reply
  53. Will the Atlanta consulate copy certified copies of American vital records for submission with my application? If so, how much do they charge and what methods of payment are accepted?

    Reply
  54. Thank you all for sharing your stories! It’s been very helpful to know you all have been, or are going, through this same process.

    I submitted everything to my local consulate in September of 2016. I received confirmation that everything had been received by the BVA in October. I recently emailed the BVA, and they estimated it takes about 8-10 months, on average, to receive a response.

    Here’s to hoping my case takes closer to 8…

    Reply
    • Good luck!

      My application was received on 24th November so I’m about a month or so behind you. I have my fingers crossed for the summer…

      Reply
      • Just received word that the BVA would like a copy of my parents’ marriage certificate. Hopefully that’s better news than outright rejection, but I’m surprised by the request. My mother is German, and I was born at a time when children of German mothers inherited citizenship regardless of their parents’ marital status.

        Further complicating matters is my inability to obtain the original document. I can get a certified copy from the relevant government agency, but my consulate is concerned that won’t be acceptable. They’ve asked the BVA for a definitive answer. Hopefully I hear good news from them soon…

        Reply
        • I’m really surprised to hear that. I think a lot of us have submitted multiple certified copies of documents from an issuing authority. I would be very surprised if it was a big issue. If you can get a certified copy I think you’ll be fine

          Reply
        • I’m sure it is more of a formality and documentation of your family marital history and lineage than anything else. When we submitted our documents (me, my father, and sister), I think they requested that my sister submit her marriage certificate with her documents (clearly that had no bearing on her german citizenship).

          Also, the certified copy should work just fine, you shouldn’t need original documents. For example, many of us need to prove citizenship lineage through ancestry back to before 1914, and it is based on certified copies of birth certificates and marriage certificates of our grandparents (and sometimes great grandparents). In my case, my grandfather came to the US in the 1950’s, but I obtained certified copies of his birth certificate and his parent’s birth certificates and marriage certificates (all certified copies, clearly not originals).

          This isn’t something to stress about, so breathe easy as long as you have clear documentation of descent from a german ancestor and the line isn’t broken 🙂

          Reply
        • I forgot to add to my first point in the previous post. The purpose of the marriage certificate is likely so that they can put it in your file. When you get your certificate of citizenship, it states what agency verified your citizenship and documents a file number. I imagine that file number is a real file of all the paperwork you submitted that is forever stored in the government records for reference if ever needed in the future (i.e. future descendants that request a certificate of citizenship wouldn’t need to go back to 1914, just to your document)

          Reply
          • Yeah, I can’t imagine how much work this is for the average person. My mother was naturalized as a child, so I only had to go back that one generation. And even that has taken a lot of effort! Of course, most of that work was just finding a naturalization certificate no one in the family ever remembers receiving…

  55. Good news, my sister received her letter in the mail today (We are still waiting for mine and my father’s, all three are at different addresses, so I’m thinking they are just a day late in the mail).

    Timeline for those interested:

    August 31, 2016 – submit documents to consulate in Houston

    October 4 2016 – receive letter in mail from consulate saying BVA has received the documents in germany (letter from BVA dated late september 2016)

    June 8 – 2017 – [sister] received letter from consulate saying the certificate of citizenship is ready (BVA letter is dated May 19, 2017).

    Reply
    • just a quick update. Yes, my letter came in today telling me that my certificate of citizenship is ready at the consulate. I’m very excited, and crossing my fingers for the rest of you that your application is processed speedily as well.

      Reply
      • Great news Dan! Very happy for you all.

        My application is at the 7 month stage. I think it is quite straightforward so I have my fingers crossed I might hear something next month.

        Reply
    • another general update for those interested (because i was curious about these things, i’m sure others are as well).

      I applied for and received my passport 🙂

      When i applied, I asked for express service because I am traveling to the EU soon. The people at the consulate were skeptical about it arriving on time, but I didn’t mind paying the extra fee just in case.

      My passport arrived at the consulate within 2 weeks. Since i live close, i was able to pick it up directly instead of it being mailed to my house. I imagine it would have been 1 additional week if they mailed it directly to my house.

      They make no guarentees regarding how long it will take get your passport to you, which is smart on their part. I wouldn’t expect everyone will have the quick turn-around that I did, but I’m just putting this information out, since it doesn’t appear elsewhere on the internet.

      Reply
  56. Well I finally made the four hour drive to Toronto to submit my application to confirm my citizenship.

    It went well to a certain extent but there were a couple of things I was disappointed about.

    To recap my circumstances. My father was born in a Russian gulag in 1945. His entire family were ethnic Germans living in Hungary and were expelled from Hungary after the war and returned to Germany. My dad moved to Canada, married my mom in 1966, married my mom in 1972, had me in 1973 and did not become a Canadian until 1984.

    My father’s dad was killed in the war before he was born so when they returned to Germany it was with his mother and both sets of grandparents. According to everything I’ve read, they were given collective citiZenship at some point upon their return.

    I have my dads German passport that was valid from 1974-1984 ( I was born in 1973), marriage certificate and my birth certificate. I have the family register that’s shows he was born in a Russian gulag and thus was never issued a birth certificate. I have his landing papers from Canada in 1966 which lists his German passport number at that time but it would not have been valid at the time of my birth unless it was extended. If it was extended it would have been at the consulate in Toronto sometime around 1969 but the consulate informed me today that they had a fire in 2007 so any record of that time have been destroyed. My father is going to contact the issuing authority in Cologne to see if they have any records but I’m not see if they will.

    My disappointment is with my great grandfathers Fluchtlingsausweis. For Germans expelled from the eastern Bloc this document appears to be viewed as proof of their citizenship and I thought having it would be a big help. Problem was as it was his mother’s father, it was not helpful in establishing my fathers citizenship and they did not even take a copy.

    This leaves my application a bit thinner than I thought and based on everything I read in this forum I can’t see them approving my application without asking for more info.

    I’m going to have my aunt in Germany go to the standesamt to see if she can get any records of my paternal great-grandfathers Fluchtlingsausweis and hopefully my father can get some info about his passport at the time of his birth.

    My father insists that no one else in the family were issued a Fluchtlingsausweis other than the heads of the family. He only says this because he says my oma kept every document she ever had and the only Fluchtlingsausweis she had when she died was from her father.

    Just a bit frustrated with all the hoops we have to go through when we are clearly German citizens by birth. I know, join the club!

    Some questions hopefully someone can answer.

    Does anyone have a telephone number for the passport issuing authority in Cologne?

    Does anyone know if they issued a Fluchtlingsausweis to only the head of family or did in fact every single person in the family get one?

    Thanks for any help!

    Reply
    • Hi Eric,

      Taken from my letter approving my German citizenship, there are two numbers listed for Cologne:

      +49(0)22899358-4157
      +49(0)221 758-4157

      I wish you good luck!

      Reply
      • One of those numbers was correct in getting my dad to the right people to answer his questions. He said they were very nice but told him that they can’t provide any information to him until we get a request from the BVA. Seems foolish that they wouldn’t allow us to gather as much info as possible while the application sits there. If I was able to fill in the blanks before they looked at it then the process would be quicker. Has anyone ever had any luck getting old passport info from Cologne without an official request from the BVA?

        On another note, my dad was happy as he said the lady was amazed how perfect his German was considering he’s been in Canada for 50 years

        Reply
    • “Does anyone know if they issued a Fluchtlingsausweis to only the head of family or did in fact every single person in the family get one?”

      One was issued to my father – he was around 12 yrs old when he arrived with his family. Before I found it, I was told if need be the document record (specifically document number) would be found at the town hall they first arrived or registered at. If you look at the Flüchtlingsausweis you have, it should be stamped with that town’s stamp. Contact them for the others.

      Reply
      • That’s perfect Mark, thank you very much. I had my Aunt go to the town hall last year to see about my dad’s but she had no luck. In looking at my great grandfather’s yesterday I realized that there were two different stamps, one from Aalen which was the main town in which they were registered and a stamp from the Burgermeister of Neuler, the smaller town in which they lived. I figured out that Aalen did the registration and issuing of the document but the a Neuler stamp was for the issuance of basic supplies that were issued to them. My dad said my aunt went to the Burgermeister and not the office in Aalen so I think I may be in luck. Thank you again!

        Reply
  57. So I sent a request by email to the Standesamt where my family were given their Fluchtlingsausweis and received a reply stating that there is a form that must be filled out for each person I am seeking information. Through the use of google translate I was able to navigate the website and found the form and submitted them. When I translated the original email from them there was a statement that translated to “kindly refrain from sending any more questions”! I think something is lost in translation as the tone of the email was very friendly. Got a chuckle out of that.

    A couple of questions:

    1. For those of you that have sent in requests to a Standesamt, how long did it take to receive the information you were looking for? I saw some previous replies that it was very quick but I’m wondering if that is outside the norm.

    2. Has anyone run into any issues with the BVA as far as anglicised names are concerned? My dad’s first name is Johann on all of his German documents but all of his Canadian documents list him as John. The consulate noticed it but did not indicate it would be an issue

    Reply
    • 1) Each Standesamt i contacted responded fairly quickly. If you know specific information about the person you are inquiring, it is a fairly straightforward process. I think the longest I had to wait is a few days if i was to receive an email reply. (It appears that they have a very efficient cross-referencing catalogue system to make it easy to find individuals based on a variety of given criteria). Most of the time, when i submitted a request for a document, i never received a reply but received the document in the mail within 2 weeks time (Germany->USA). They enclose payment instructions with your requested document.

      2) I doubt anglicized names are a concern. Once you obtain your certificate of citizenship, you may need to submit a name declaration before getting a passport. When you read through all of the literature regarding german laws governing usage of your name, it is always possible your German documents will have a different name than your name in the other country of citizenship. Therefore, i doubt it is a concern regarding ancestors.

      Reply
    • I forgot to add that My Oma’s maiden name on her marriage certificate is spelled slightly different than the maiden name on my father’s birth certificate and it wasn’t an issue.

      Reply
  58. Wow, that is very interesting Dan, thank you for the information. The information I provided was quite specific so I will watch the mail. Shocked that they would send the document first and ask for payment after you have it. Honour system at it’s best I guess.

    I figured the Anglicisation wouldn’t be too big a deal as I’m sure they see it all the time. Was worried that the BVA seem to be stickler’s on a lot of things so thought this might be an issue. Thanks for setting my mind at ease!

    Reply
  59. For those of you with German lineage from German expellees from eastern Europe, have any of you looked into whether you are eligible for citizenship from the country your family was expelled from? Not that I’m looking to open yet another complicated application process, but I wondered if I’m somehow eligible for Hungarian citizenship but the information I’ve found isn’t very straightforward as far as Donauschwabens are concerned

    Reply
    • I’m actually a fellow Donauschwaben, and only discovered my German citizenship while researching the law in the countries in which my family lived before being expelled, Hungary and Serbia. In both cases, my grandparents were stripped of their citizenship upon expulsion, breaking the chain of descent. It’s that resulting statelessness that made them eligible for German citizenship in the first place. While at least Hungary offers an easy way for the grandparent to have their citizenship restored, that has no effect on their descendants. But they do have a “simplified naturalization” process for those people, though that process requires significant matter of Hungarian.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the reply Alex. I didn’t really have any interest in pursuing the Hungarian angle as I don’t have have any identity as far as Hungary is concerned but I was interested to see if the possibility existed.

        Reply
        • I definitely understand, and agree. I was just surprised to learn more about how the Donauschwaben were treated by the law of these countries. My grandparents certainly didn’t understand the full complexity of what had happened. Despite identifying with Germany more strongly than any other country, including the US, I didn’t think there was any hope I was actually German until someone from the Serbian embassy asked why I was interested in them when I was German. They insisted I research the question, so I did, and so here I am!

          Reply
  60. Big news: the BVA is giving my older brother a certificate. He is the one who joined the US military in the 1980’s. I thought that it would be automatically disqualifying. The BVA took about eight months. I’m happy for his children. I was worried that they would have to instead claim Hungarian citizenship to live in the EU. I’m hoping to return to Germany. I’m still helping my mother since my father passed away. At least he lived to see me receive a certificate.

    Reply
      • Hi Steve,
        Actually, I’m not sure how long the BVA took because my brother never received a letter of receipt (and he’s not good at recalling dates). He said that his entire wait was about 11 months. So, the BVA took 9 or 10, I guess. One interesting thing, the consulate initially told my brother that he could receive a passport based off of my certificate (since he’s older) had he never joined the military. Because he feared a negative decision, he enclosed a cover letter that was polished by an interpreter. So, it’s probably good to enclose a cover letter when a case isn’t obvious. Anyhow, hope you receive good news soon!

        Reply
    • I was curious, and someone else can probably confirm or deny this, but I was wondering what the rules were regarding service in a foreign military.

      I checked out the german version of the consulate web site and it appears that loss of german citizenship for military service went into effect after Jan 1 2000. This makes sense for George’s brother’s case. Of course, new rules went into effect after 2011. But i’m just throwing this information out there for interested parties.

      Reply
    • That’s fantastic news! Can you tell me what your brother submitted along with his application that helped him? Especially in regards to his military career.
      Thanks,
      Eden

      Reply
      • Hi Eden,
        My brother did not submit any military documents. On the application form, he provided the information about the dates of his service, which began in the 1980’s. He also wrote a letter that he is being too shy to share. I think that he was probably whining that he shouldn’t be responsible since he was unaware of his German citizenship. Apparently, all that mattered was that he joined prior to 2000. I hope that’s also the case with your father!

        Reply
  61. Went to the consulate yesterday, to give them my parents’ marriage certificate. Turns out their concern was the lack of an apostille, rather than it just being a copy. They sent the document along to the BVA anyway, because I live overseas and an apostille would not be easy to acquire, but does anyone have experience with submitting documents to the BVA without an apostille? Were they accepted?

    The consulate asked the BVA if the document would be acceptable, and attached a scan that I had sent them earlier, but never heard back. I’m surprised the BVA would simply ignore a message from a colleague like that!

    Reply
    • I sent documents in that were certified copies from the United States. Some of the certified copies were from the government agency that issued them (birth certificate, marriage license), some were copies that are certified by a notary (a couple of letters). Some of the copies were *also* certified by the honorary consul in my area but some, like the ones I sent in when the BVA asked for additional information in a second letter, were not.

      The BVA accepted all of them without question or an apostille.

      Reply
  62. My nephews’ passport applications might encounter a problem. At the time of their births, their mother was a citizen of the Asian country where she was born. They have no documents from that country to state whether or not they are citizens of that other country. Does anyone have experience in this situation?

    Reply
  63. Not sure if I’ve lost a RSS feed or perhaps things have been really quiet these days. I have asked questions from time-to-time and am quite impressed with the broad base of credible knowledge everyone brings to this forum (?).

    So now another question that I can’t seem to find the answer to that I assuming folks here would have the answer…

    If a German woman marries a foreign man circa 1948, would the foreign man assume his wife’s German citizenship through the marriage? Hmmm.

    Reply
    • I am very sure (although not 100% certain) that a foreign man would not gain german citizenship by marrying a german woman in 1948.

      The only scenario that I think it may have been a possibility is if the man was stateless at the time of marriage, however even in this scenario i do not think there were any laws allowing it.

      Reply
      • Thanks Dan – on two counts:

        1. Verifiying my RSS feed etc is working properly and,

        2. Answering my question – I kinda thought that the case but decided to ask this forum.

        Thanks again and keep up this informative forum with thanks to Jennifer

        Reply
        • I did find a more affirmative answer to this question:

          Before may 23, 1949, german women who married a foreigner lost their german citizenship even if it made them stateless

          between 1949 and march 31 1953, a german woman who married a foreigner lost her german citizenship unless it made her stateless.

          Since 1953, a german woman did not lose her german citizenship if she married a foreigner.

          So, to answer your question, a male foreigner definitely could not acquire german citizenship by marrying a german woman. In fact, the german woman lost her german citizenship in the process.

          Reply
  64. My turn to announce great news! A few minutes ago I received an email from the German Consulate here in Hong Kong to say my Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis is ready for collection after I have paid the 25 EUR.

    For those interested, I applied in early November 2016 and the letter from the BVA was dated 24 November 2016 (to say they had received my application). The letter saying my application was successful is dated 27 July 2017. That means the entire process (not including the time it takes for the Consulate to notify me of these letters) was a few days over 8 months.

    Off to make the payment now! So happy!

    Thanks to Jenn for providing this excellent discussion forum and I wish everyone waiting the very best of luck!

    Reply
    • That’s such wonderful news Steve. Congrats! 🙂

      I’m finally trying to get my German passport. I’d heard mixed stories on what’s involved, having already gone through the document process (which took 3 years in my case). Sadly it’s been about a week and a half and I still haven’t heard from the mission. I’ll give it another week or two before trying again, but for now I’m back in limbo.

      Reply
      • I thought you already got your passport last year sometime? My understanding is that it takes about 4 weeks (although I could be wrong). Hope you don’t have to wait too much longer.

        Reply
        • No, I planned to but something came up and I wasn’t able to get back to the city unfortunately. Just hoping to have it before I travel to Europe (was going to be in November, but probably in the winter now). So hopefully it won’t be too long. I just need to make sure they don’t need to see some of the same old documents because they’re no longer available to me, and it looks like their rules about copies have changed since I last went through this.

          Reply
    • Congratulations Steve! great news!

      Jenn, regarding passport:

      The items on the consulate website that they list for needing a passport are pretty standard, but they do sometimes require extra materials. For example, if you are married you likely need to do a married-name declaration first (if your name changed in the US when you got married). If i were you, i would bring the list of items on the consulate web site, and bring an application for a name declaration based on marriage (and the associated paperwork). Sign up for both a certification of signatures and the passport appointment on the same day so that you can get all done at once. Let them look at your passport application and determine if you need to do the name declaration. They’ll likely be able to take all the paperwork at once, but if they need a name declaration first, they’ll probably be able to hold on to the passport application at their office until after the name declaration is completed.

      I learned a lot about german laws regarding last names when I got my passport.

      When you go get your passport, you might also want to get a personalausweis in the same appointment. I wish i had done that (the paperwork is all the same as the passport). I actually have an appointment with the consulate today to apply for my personalausweis.

      On another note, i just got back from spending a week in the UK. I travelled into the UK on my new german passport and it was pretty cool to be able to go through the EU citizens line. My wife was jealous that she had to fill in a landing card upon arrival since she is not a citizen and I did not have to fill one out. In many EU countries, hotels want to scan your passport when you check-in so I was excited to show each hotel we stayed at my shiny new german passport. Unfortunately though, only one of the 4 hotels in the UK asked to see my passport (I was bummed i didn’t get to use it as much as i wanted lol). The hotel that wanted to see it was in London, and i think it is only required in london because of your proximity to parliament and the queen (but that’s just a my guess)..

      Reply
      • My issue is that they want to see your old German passport. With this being my first, and my birth certificate being from the U.S. instead of Germany, I’m guessing they’ll want extra proof of citizenship first. I’ve heard the certificate I already have is considered a secondary source, so some folks have had to prove descent. And sadly most of the older documents are with my grandmother, who has since moved quite far and there’s no way I’d be able to get those from her again. So my hope is if they want more, they’ll still have a record of my case. At the time, they made the official copies, but they no longer do that, so I’m not sure it would count as valid anyway. And my certified copies are about 6 years old, and I think the notary’s license has to be current, so not sure they’d still work either. That’s what I was hoping the mission would clarify, so I don’t make a several hours’ long trip only to show up without the right documents.

        I’m married, but kept my maiden name, so hopefully just the certificate will suffice there. Good tip about the personalausweis. I’d totally forgotten about that, but the more I can take care of at once, the better.

        It sounds like you enjoyed your trip. 🙂 That’s where I’m hoping to visit within the next six months or so as well. Not a big deal if I go on my US passport, but it sure would be nice to have all of this sorted first! 🙂

        Reply
        • ok, that makes sense. I can help out with that because i had the same issues.

          Not a big deal if you’ve never had a german passport (i didn’t either). You obviously don’t have to bring that. on the application, leave blank items 19, 20, if they don’t apply (the consulate will know how to handle it).

          Your staatsangehörigkeitsausweis n(certificate of citizenship) is not secondary proof of citizenship, it is primary proof (and the only formal proof of german citizenship). But it is not a form of identification. You will need to bring your staatsangehörigkeitsausweis.

          So based on the list on the consulate website:
          http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/05__Legal/02__Directory__Services/03__Passport/__Passport__Adult.html

          –You need the application (fill out everything you know and its ok to bring it partially blank to ask them questions, for example items 18 and 19).
          –2 passport photos (walgreens can make german passport photos, but the person behind the photo counter may not know about it. it is an option on the computer you will use. note that CVS apparently has problems getting german passport photos right).
          –birth certificate (US birth certificate is OK and doesn’t need to be translated)
          –marriage certificate (doesn’t need to be translated)
          –US passport (to show proof you are in US legally)
          –if your last name has ever changed bring proof of how it changed (otherwise don’t worry about this)
          –Staatsangehorigkeitsausweis
          –US state drivers license
          –money to pay the fee (visa or mastercard works)

          the above items you’ll need just a photocopy and the original. No need to get the photocopies notarized.

          In my case, they also wanted my parent’s marriage certificate. I think this was to certify my last name. Before 1976, german law required the wife to take the man’s last name if both were german citizens. My grandparents were both german citizens, so my dad automatically got his dad’s last name by default. My parents were married in 1978. Since my mom is not a german citizen, the consulate required proof that my mom changed her name in the US before I was born. Normally one would think that a birth certificate would show this, but texas birth certificates state the mother’s maiden name. She signed it with her married last name, but the other problem is that birth certificates are made after a person is born. So, after much thought, the only document i had access to was my older sister’s birth certificate which showed my mom signing her name with her married last name. The consulate accepted this and i did not have to do a name declaration. So to save headaches for yourself, if i were you, i would do an appointment for certification of signatures on the same day as the passport application and bring a name declaration form for children of age (16? i think).

          Reply
          • I found the Personalausweis to be more practical than the passport. You can travel throughout the EU with it. Once I got a Personalausweis, I just left the passport in my apartment in Germany, even when I left Germany.

            When returning the USA, it will be your US passport that permits you to obtain a boarding pass.

            Just a reminder about photos, you can take a nice photo at home and use the self-serve kiosks at places like Walgreens to create a German passport/Ausweis photo.

            Congratulations, Steve!

          • Jenn, I guess i should also be clear in case i wasn’t (I kind-of got off topic), that you needn’t worry about all of the stuff you had to submit for your certificate of citizenship (grandparent’s birth certificates etc). The certificate of citizenship is your proof that you are a german. Since it is not an identity document, your US passport will serve to verify your identity with the german government since you don’t have a german passport yet (and never have had one). So you need not worry about anything beyond the list that I provided in the previous post (unless they ask you for a name declaration, which sounds unlikely but just be prepared for it if you want to save some hassle).

            For anyone else interested: I am curious who on this thread had to do a name declaration and what was the reason the consulate gave for needing to do it? It might help some people who are in the process of getting their passport to understand the circumstances under which they were required to submit for a name declaration.

            I find it interesting (but totally understandable from a legal perspective) that it is entirely possible for your official german name to be different than your US (or other nationality) name in rare circumstances.

    • Congratulations! So happy to hear your news.

      I am about a week behind you in queue (letter from the BVA acknowledging my application was dated December 1). Hopefully I’ll be hearing soon as well.

      Enjoy 🙂

      Reply
  65. The consulate told my brother (He says.) that they do not care that his wife was a Korean citizen when his kids were born. He insists that they are not Koreans because his wife’s male relatives never registered their births. I don’t think that the German consulate will accept that. My brother will visit an honorary consul next week. I told him to take his wife’s naturalization papers and to be prepared to indicate on the forms that his kids are Korean. He and his wife are only taking her US passport to the appointment. Maybe I’m wrong or they will get lucky. We’ll see.

    Reply
    • I’m interested in this. for what reason does it matter if the mother was korean or not when they were born? they derive their german citizenship from their father.

      is it because the german consulate wants a record of the other citizenships the children acquired at birth?

      Reply
  66. A question about the Personalausweis application form.

    I am going to apply for my passport and Personalausweis next week. I have completed the passport form but I’m unsure about the ID – do I fill in another identical passport form or is there a special form for the ID? In fact, I have found a form (on the London consulate website) that says it is for ID applications but part of it is confusing and I don’t want to make a mistake on it.

    If you’ve applied for a Personalausweis I’d appreciate any advice on this. Thanks.

    Reply
  67. Hi everyone,

    I heard back from the BVA today, and they have requested further documentation. They are looking for evidence of the date my grandfather became a Canadian citizen.

    However, I already submitted in my application his card from the Registrar of Canadian Citizenship.

    I am wondering if there are other Canadians that can share what documents they sent in as evidence of timelines for obtaining Canadian citizenship? Is there some kind of documentation I can get from Immigration today that would show the records? The card I sent in is from 1957 so it would be going back quite some time.

    I also would appreciate any help from others for what they submitted as the record to show dates of citizenship being obtained that meant relatives giving up their German citizenship, I know there aren’t many Canadians that check in to the forum.

    Thank you,
    Emily

    Reply
    • I am not Canadian, but i can tell you what i submitted:

      We were lucky enough to have my grandfather’s Certificate of Naturalization for the United States. So that is what we submitted. The document is signed and dated so that solved the date problem you seem to be having.

      I am curious, what “card from the Registrar of Canadian Citizenship” do you have/did you submit? Did you contact the Canadian office and simply ask to verify he was a Canadian citizen? Or Do you mean that you submitted a copy of his certificate of Naturalization for Canada?

      Something that may help you: For other purposes, I was able to contact the USA national archives and get a copy of my grandmother’s petition for naturalization. The document is stamped with her sworn-in date (i.e. when she was sworn in as a US citizen). It might be worth contacting the Canadian National Archives and having an official copy made of your grandfather’s petition for Naturalization. Relevant dates are very likely to be recorded on that document.

      Reply
    • Hi Emily,

      Fellow Canadian here. What they are looking for is proof of the date your grandfather became Canadian. The card provides a date but it’s just the date the card was issued. Back then Canada gave the citizenship card and Commemoration of Canadian citizenship certificate. While that certificate is not considered proof of citizenship alone it is proof of the date the person became Canadian and that’s what they need. If you don’t have this I think the only thing you can do is order a new certificate of citizenship from the government and that could take a few weeks or months depending on how busy there are. They stopped the card and commemorative certificate in 2012 so now it’s all on one document.

      Take a look at this link and you’ll see the information about the commemorative certificate part way down the page.

      http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/citizenship/documents.asp

      Any other questions let me know. My situation is a bit different. I did not have to go through the BVA as it was my dad who was German and became Canadian after my birth. I just had to bring his documents, my moms and mine to the German consulate and applied directly for my passport.

      Any other questions let me
      Know and I’ll try and help 🙂

      Reply
      • Thanks, Dan and Jenny.

        Dan – the card works like an ID card to verify citizenship, but as Jenny explained, apparently the date is when the card was printed. Although I think my grandfather’s actually reflects the date he became a citizen. I’m sure the cards have changed many times since 1957. The cards are accepted proof of citizenship, but apparently not the date citizenship was acquired.

        I’ll have to dig around and see if I can find his certificate of citizenship. Hopefully I have it with the other documents that my mother has at her house because when I looked at the immigration website, it says that you are only allowed to request documents for deceased people if it directly relates to the execution of their wills and not just because you want the documents. Also, even if I get access, apparently there is a 5 month wait period.

        I tried calling the helpline but it said the helpline was too busy and then hung up on me. Trying to speak with someone about Canadian citizenship is proving even harder than it has been to speak to the BVA.

        Jenny- if you know a better way to reach out to their offices to speak with someone so I can explain my situation that would be great.

        I will keep you updated as I work through this, hopefully to save others from issues in their applications in the future.

        Reply
        • Hi Emily,

          I always had a lot of success emailing my consulate back home. So for me i was corresponding with Vancouver. I live in the UK so that was just easier for me. I would go to your local consulates website and contact them that way. They were always pretty quick to respond at least within 24 hours. Which is pretty decent. My dad became Canadian in 1987 his certificate is just a piece of double sided white paper with ‘Commemoration of Canadian Ciitizenship’ His serial number that matches his citizenship card, name and address. Then a few sentences about him becoming Canadian and a stamped dated. The back is a bunch of legal jargon to immigration about how the certificate is not proof of Canadian citizenship and to use the citizenship card

          At any rate thats what my dad’s looks like for 1987, could be different for you.

          Out of curiosity do either of your parents have their German Citizenship?

          Reply
          • Thanks, Jenny. I emailed the consulate on Tuesday but haven’t heard back yet so I’ll wait and see.

            I think I recall seeing a piece of paper like that, I have to wait until my family gets home from vacation to have them pull all the documents out again. Fingers crossed!

            And no, my Mom (who I would get it through) wasn’t aware she was eligible for the citizenship until I did some research. So technically she has her citizenship, but no documentation aside from my application.

    • My dad also became a Canadian Citizen after I was born but he no longer had the official certificate. What I did was apply for a citizenship records check for him. They sent a form showing the date he was naturalized and was accepted by the consulate (my application is in process). I think it cost somewhere around $50 but the problem is the estimated wait time is about 6 months to receive the document. There are instructions on how to apply for this “urgently”. Here is a link to the page with more info

      http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/citizenship/search-how.asp

      Reply
      • Thanks, Eric. I was hoping to somehow avoid that wait time, but it may be inevitable. Appreciate your help.

        I am also looking into making a freedom of information request to see if they can share the date citizenship was acquired. That is only $5 and my hope is that it may be faster than the 6 month wait time.

        Best of luck with your application as well, Eric.

        Reply
        • Thanks Emily. In my line of work I have to respond to ATIP requests (what we call information requests here in Canada) and there is generally a very quick turnaround that is mandated by law (usually within a week). You will likely receive an answer quickly but it may be highly vetted and redacted as it has personal information. I would be interested in hearing about what you receive back in a situation like this.

          Reply
          • Hi Eric,

            Thanks for the info on information requests. Luckily for me, my mom managed to dig up the original citizenship certificate which will save me loads of time.

            I’m just waiting for the certified copy to arrive from her before sending over to the BVA.

            I wouldn’t be shocked if they request any other documents though, so I may need this information down the line if it isn’t approved with this document.

  68. Hi Emily,

    Fellow Canadian here. What they are looking for is proof of the date your grandfather became Canadian. The card provides a date but it’s just the date the card was issued. Back then Canada gave the citizenship card and Commemoration of Canadian citizenship certificate. While that certificate is not considered proof of citizenship alone it is proof of the date the person became Canadian and that’s what they need. If you don’t have this I think the only thing you can do is order a new certificate of citizenship from the government and that could take a few weeks or months depending on how busy there are. They stopped the card and commemorative certificate in 2012 so now it’s all on one document.

    Take a look at this link and you’ll see the information about the commemorative certificate part way down the page.

    http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/citizenship/documents.asp

    Any other questions let me know. My situation is a bit different. I did not have to go through the BVA as it was my dad who was German and became Canadian after my birth. I just had to bring his documents, my moms and mine to the German consulate and applied directly for my passport.

    Any other questions let me
    Know and I’ll try and help 🙂

    Reply
    • I have an update: My mother was able to find my grandfather’s original certificate of citizenship.

      She found it today, and the date he received citizenship was August 22, 1957 – exactly 60 years ago to the day. I’ll take that as a sign of good luck with the rest of my application 🙂

      Reply
  69. I finally got my letter for approval for my German Citizenship yesterday. I sent my application in May of 2016 so it took over a year. After a year of waiting I was starting to think that something was wrong. However after a follow-up email to the SFO Consulate in May 2017
    they told me it could take 1-2 years. Not sure why it took 15 months versus the 8 that many of you have experienced. My case was relatively simple too. Anyway don’t give up hope if it takes longer than it took for other folks on this forum.

    Just want to say “Thank-You” to everyone on this forum, and to Jenn for starting it! Its has provided very helpful insight in getting through this process!

    One other question; what is the best and least expensive way of going about paying the $25 fee to get the certificate? My bank
    wanted a to charge $76 in fees to do this for me, and its a 45 minute process through them. Seems like there should be something a bit more reasonable
    out there.

    Thanks

    Tom

    Reply
    • Try Transferwise. I used them to order my GGF’s Prussian birth certificate from Poland (the fee, which was a few bucks, exceeded the fee for the record).

      Reply
    • Congratulations Tom! I got my certificate last week – it’s a great feeling.

      I just used online transfer from my internet bank account. I think the charge was about HK$200 (which is about US$25).

      Reply
      • Thanks! How long did it take for the consulate to send you your certificate after you sent them payment? Did you go through the SFO Consulate?

        Reply
        • Hi Tom,

          I received an email from the Consulate to say my certificate had arrived and giving me payment details (the bank is in Trier if I remember correctly). I paid the fee online and printed out the confirmation screen. Next morning I went back to the Consulate (I am in Hong Kong so it is just a short taxi ride away) and showed them the printout and they handed the certificate to me.

          Reply
  70. I have my German passport!

    Very impressed by the speed – only 2 weeks from handing in the documentation and having my fingerprints scanned etc to receiving the passport. My Personal ID card will take another week.

    Now to advise my sister and my kids with their applications.

    Reply
    • great news Steve.

      I have a question regarding the ID card. I received my letter in the mail telling me of my PIN and PUK. Is this meant to serve as confirmation that also my card arrived at the consulate and is ready to be picked up at the consulate? or will i be contacted separately by the consulate?

      I guess I could email the consulate but thought i’d check with anyone here first

      Reply
      • According to a pdf document I downloaded about the ID card it says:

        “Once your ID card has been issued, you will receive a PIN letter with a five-digit activation PIN, a PUK code and a blocking code. The activation PIN, the PUK and the blocking code are important if you wish to use the eID function.

        To use the eID function, the five-digit activation PIN must be replaced by a personal six-digit PIN. You can change your personal PIN at home with the help of a
        reader or in all identity card authorities at any time and
        as many times as you want. Whenever you use the eID function, you must enter your six-digit personal PIN.

        If you enter the wrong PIN three times, the eID function will be blocked. It can be unblocked by entering the PUK.”

        So it seems that if you have been sent the codes then your card must be ready for collection.

        Reply
    • I think so. I think most germans have an ID card since it is wallet size and works for ID and travel within the EU. For germans not living in the EU, I think a passport is better if you were choosing one vs the other. I have a passport, but went ahead and got the ID card also for two reasons: 1) i can carry the ID in my wallet when I travel to and around the EU and 2) the electronic ID verification function that the new ID cards have in the case i ever need it.

      Reply
    • I applied for both, for the same reasons that Dan states. I got my passport last week and I had an email today saying my ID card is ready for collection. For me it is the final step in a process that started about 10 months ago, when I found out that I have been German all along.

      Reply
  71. My brother is getting ready to send his application to Köln. What is the “usual” method via our FedEx Insured and signature required or?
    He was born in June and our German parents got their USA naturalization papers in September of the same year. I don’t foresee any problems considering my sister, my daughter and I already hold dual citizenship. Then again… 😂

    Reply
  72. Hi all.

    I’m FINALLY getting everything together to apply for my passport and ID card. I’m hoping to get the photos done soon. (Any suggestions where? I think someone mentioned Walgreens before.)

    Can someone point me to the application download and fee info for the ID card please? I’m sure it’s in these comments somewhere, but there are so many it’s a bit unruly, and I haven’t figured out a good system to manage these yet other than just splitting them into pages and getting the recent ones first.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  73. all the information you need for a passport and ID card is here:

    http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/02-Service/Common-subjects/03__Passport/__Passport__Adult.html

    it is the same form for both, but you may need two appointments if you do both at the same time. (just schedule two appointments back-to-back).

    also, you may need a name declaration. It would be worth emailing your regional consulate asking them if it is necessary to do that before you apply for the passport.

    http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/02-Service/Common-subjects/04-Family-Matters/Name__Declaration__Marriage.html

    and yes, go to walgreens. I believe i remember seeing a note posted on the wall in the consulate that stated the CVS machine wasn’t calibrated properly for the german specifications

    Reply
    • Thank you so much Dan!

      I went back to my maiden (German) last name after I got married for professional reasons, so hopefully that won’t add any hassle. But I’ll make sure I’m prepared just in case.

      Thanks again!

      Reply
      • something I forgot to add:

        Although it is not listed in the “items to bring” on the passport information website i posted, one thing that was asked for at both my appointment and my father’s appointment was a copy of the parent’s marriage certificate.

        So, if possible, bring a copy of the marriage certificate. I happened to have a scanned digital copy available that was acceptable for mine, but i planned ahead and had my dad bring his parent’s marriage certificate for his appointment.

        Reply
  74. Hi everyone,

    So today marks a year since the BVA received my application (I sent it about 13 months ago now).

    They requested additional paperwork for my grandfather’s citizenship to clarify the date he gave up German citizenship to become Canadian. I sent that directly to the BVA the first week of September.

    Has anyone had to send additional paperwork and wait this long? I’m starting to get worried they didn’t receive it, and whenever I email the BVA there is no direct response.

    Any tips on timeline expectations or how best to gain information would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Emily

    Reply
    • Yes, it absolutely can take that long. I applied through the Houston Consulate so all documents and communication came through them. I never sent forms or queries directly to the BVA. Here is my timeline:

      – Documents sent to Houston: 15 Sept 2013
      – Letter from BVA confirming receipt dated: 30 Oct 2013
      – Request from BVA for more information (asking for a marriage license and a biographical form to be filled out): 12 Jan 2015
      – Response to request sent to Houston: 9 Feb 2015
      – Letter from BVA stating approval: 16 Jun 2015

      Note the 16-month gap between “we got your packet” to “please send more info.” I asked the Houston Consulate, at the one-year mark, if this was usual or if something needed to be done. They told me that they don’t even start getting concerned about no word from the BVA until two years have passed.

      Don’t worry. Your application is still moving along. The usual advice is 18 to 24 months of waiting. In the two years since I got mine done, my understanding is that the BVA has received an even greater volume of requests for certificates.

      Reply
    • Just to add to Wes’s comment:

      They don’t send a “we received your additional documents” if you send in information after the initial application. Rest assured, that they were very likely received and filed with the rest of your paperwork. the BVA may take a while to process an application, but my impression is that they are a well-oiled machine.

      It takes about 9 months from the initial application to provide an answer at a minimum (if they have all the documents that are required without needing to request additional documents). I imagine the need to request additional documents adds a bit of time.

      It will be here before you know it 🙂

      On another note: i find it very interesting that there are so many people that have had the same experience as me (i.e. lived a bit of their lives not even realizing they were born a dual citizen). I’ve told my friends that they should look into their ancestry and citizenship laws of the countries their ancestors came from to see if they qualified as well. So far, i’ve helped another friend discover that she is an Italian citizen by descent.

      Reply
      • That makes me feel better, thank you! Hopefully not much longer now…

        And Dan, same here. I wish I had found out sooner, although I count myself lucky to have found out at all.

        Reply
      • Me too. I was 56 when I applied and my Dad had been dead for 15 years (he would have been pleased). Anyway, now that I have citizenship, my kids (in their early 20s) will be getting theirs which, considering the state of the UK, is a good thing.

        PS My application was received in Cologne at the end of November 2016 and I received citizenship in July 2017 – so just over 8 months, start to finish.

        Reply
      • I’m 47. After spending three months in Germany last year, I’m more worried that I might have found out too late (2015). But, I’m glad that I got to share my experience with my father before he passed away in January.

        I don’t have kids, but I started wanting one when I was 40. I have a lot of nieces and nephews. One teenage nephew is committed to going to Germany for school.

        I discovered that all but one of my brother’s kids inherited their mother’s undesirable citizenship. I verified it with the consulate, but my brother and his wife are both in denial and upset with me. For one child, it’s too late to renounce citizenship.

        I hope to return to Germany in January. Learning how to navigate government bureaucracy and how to appease potential landlords has consumed a lot of time. For example, I kept being incorrectly told that I was ineligible for the better, cheaper public health insurance because I had never lived in Germany.

        I think that a young person can easily find a shared flat (in order to register their address) and can find other young people to help. Somewhere around 35 it becomes difficult.

        Reply
        • George,

          It is my wife’s and my intention to move to Germany within the next few years. (i’ve always wanted to live there, I discovered my citizenship one day searching online for how to obtain a work visa). We currently are taking german language courses so that we are readily employable, but once we reach B1/B2 status, we’ll probably make the move.

          You mention difficulties navigating the bureaucracy and appeasing landlords. Do you mind elaborating if it is information that may be beneficial to know for those of us that intend to move over there?

          Also, if you could provide your experience with the health insurance system, that would be beneficial as well.

          Reply
          • I would also like to hear more about your difficulties.

            I am currently 28, so it looks like I’ve learned about my citizenship earlier than a lot of you.

            I would like to make a move overseas, but the language and bureaucratic barriers seem to make it difficult. My plan is to consider the UK where it seems easier to integrate (although once Brexit is through, I’m not too sure about that).

  75. Hi,

    I am new to this forum. I just spent the last hour reading through all the posts. I am so excited to hear the stories and know that I am not alone in this process.

    Both of my parents as well as my grandparents, great great grandparents and so on were born in Germany. My parents moved to NY in the 1960s but never because US citizens. My brother and I (both born in the US) are trying to get our dual German citizenship.

    I have met with the German consulate in NYC twice already. I have provided them with birth certificatesand marriage certificates for my parents and grandparents. They are now telling me that I need to prove that my Father did not become a US citizen before my birth. I had an appointment with US Immigration last week and they told me that due to confidentiality laws, they cannot provide me with any green card history for my Father. Has anyone here had the same situation and if so how did you handle it? The consulate also mentioned obtaining a Certificate of non naturalization to prove my Father never became a US citizen. The US immigration person I spoke with said this was “made up” by the German Consulate and doesn’t exist. I’m at a loss.

    Thanks
    Michelle

    Reply
  76. Hi Emily and Dan,

    I encountered a lot of people who were in disbelief that I was a German. Some of those people in offices tried to shoo me away.

    By law, every resident of Germany must have health insurance. Enforcement ties into the requirement that everyone in Germany must register their address with the government by obtaining an Anmeldung, for which you need both a lease and a form signed by the landlord stating that you have moved in. The Anmeldung permits you to open a bank account and apply for services (e.g. cheaply converting your driver’s license). Most Germans use cash in stores and restaurants, but other things like insurance and rent are paid for by giving permission to withdraw from your account.

    Regarding health insurance, there are only two companies, I think, that offer “public” health insurance: AOK and TK. There is a rule like “once you obtain private insurance (i.e. not AOK or TK), you cannot go back to public”. Private can save money in the short run, but it’s virtually impossible to re-enter the public system. One way is if you have no job and claim benefits, which we Germans can do.

    I believe that students under age 31 must take the “public” insurance from either AOK or TK. It’s about 80 EUR monthly for excellent insurance. After age 31, non-German students are usually forced to buy private insurance, which is often cheaper but not very good. Since I was over 31, I purchased public insurance as a Voluntary member (Freiwilliger). I kept being told by the public insurers that I could not have public because I had not lived in the EU for one year prior. After umpteen trips, I won that battle. But, my effort was unnecessary since I subsequently received social benefits. The district paid 170 EUR monthly directly to my public insurance company. If you have a full-time job upon arrival, I think that your employer will place you with AOK or TK.

    It’s wise to convert your driver’s license upon arrival, even if you have no plans to drive. After you have spent 180 days of your life in Germany (They will check for time spent before you discovered your citizenship.), you will have to obtain a license the German way, by paying $3,000 for mandatory classes. I paid about 40 EUR to obtain a 15 year license, and all they did was check my eyes. They insisted on keeping my US license, so I just said that I lost it when I returned to the US.

    Finding an apartment is tough. Advertising is scant, and most units seem to be owned by little old ladies. People searching for flats advertise themselves, even posting pictures. For example, “friendly, young professional couple seeks unit near “X” in price range “Z”.” Popular sites like immobilienscout24 and immowelt charge you to create a profile to advertise yourself. The ideal applicant has a certificate of income, a German credit report, references and so on. Deposits are 2 or 3 months ” cold rent” (i.e. without utilities or Nebenkosten (nonsense). In addition to rent, there is the Nebenkosten, which can be 200 monthly for stuff like cleaning the stairwell. Always identify the Nebenkosten and whether it includes utilities. “Warm rent” refers to rent with Nebenkosten, which often does not include heat or other utilites.

    A room in a shared flat is a “WG”, and this can be an easier situation when a person first arrives.

    Reply
    • Lots of good information, George. Thanks so much for sharing your experience – that sounds like a lot of complicated processes to navigate on top of the stress that comes with moving across the Atlantic. Well done!

      Reply
      • Emily,

        Glad it seemed useful. I should have mentioned that you will be asked your religion when registering your address because Catholics and Protestants (Evangelische consortium) are taxed. A Protestant friend who wanted to become non-religious had to obtain signatures from a religious leader and pay him money.

        Before I arrived in Germany, I put a cheap smartphone on layaway at MediaMarkt, which is the same company as Saturn. Cell signals in Europe travel on different frequencies from the US, but an expensive US phone often works in both places. In Germany, they don’t require money to set an item on layaway. I bought a prepaid SIM card there, too. I had to choose a fake address to register the SIM. You can find cards to top up at most stores. Google maps is invaluable!

        MediaMarkt/Saturn also sells electric toothbrushes cheap, and that is how I got a charger for my US Oral-B (and a spare brush).

        Unemployment benefits come from the JobCentre, other “Sozialhilfe” benefits come from the district office (Landratsamt or Bezirksamt).

        If you receive help from either place, you can receive a voucher for free German classes (Deutschkurs) from BAMF (the bureau of migration and refugees). There is a special form just for German citizens who are deficient in German. The JobCentre might not require a person to look for work if they are enrolled in a Deutschkurs. But, they can also make brutal demands that you scrub toilettes in exchange for benefits.

        Benefits in Germany were slashed around 2005 with the Hartz reforms. You get about 450 EUR per month plus health insurance plus money for housing, which is often just a bedroom in a shared flat. Also, you are exempted from the monthly television tax.

        Busses and local trains are expensive. If you’re a student, you can get a cheap semester pass. Some people on benefits receive a reduced rate. Fares are mostly on the honor system. If a person is caught in a random check, the fine is said to be pretty high, like $75. I once boarded a bus, stupidly walking behind a lady who was counting change for the driver while two discreetly uniformed men watched. As soon as I sat down, I realized that I was going to be busted when the bus left the stop. Fortunately, there was still time to escape through the back door.

        Reply
  77. Michelle,

    I was told the same thing by the German Consulate in Chicago. I didn’t know how to show the Consulate that my dad hadn’t become a US Citizen. But thanks to Spencer, I might have the answer I’ve been searching for!

    Thank you Spencer! I could give you a big hug right now!

    Now to see if I can get one and how long it takes to receive it.

    Reply
    • Also, search for USCIS FOIA. They have a form and a fairly informative website (a comment above with links is awaiting moderation).

      All I know came from Dual Italian citizenship sites and a Facebook group on the subject. There’s a lot of info that is applicable to Germans seeking recognition (I happen to qualify for both).

      Reply
  78. Hi all, I applied for confirmation of my German citizenship last year–this group discussion has been extremely useful. I thought I’d contribute my story in case it’s helpful.

    My mother was born in Berlin in 1943 to a Jewish mother and Protestant father. She and her family left Germany after the war, settling in the US. She and the rest of her family became US citizens a few years later, and our family was under the assumption that she’d renounced her German citizenship when she became a US citizen.

    Last year, I went to the German Consulate in NY to see if any of the laws concerning restoration of German citizenship would apply to us, because my mother’s family is Jewish and my grandfather had spent the war in a work camp.

    Imagine my surprise when the employee at the consulate told me that my mother, and through her, myself and my sister, are already German citizens! Normally, when a German citizen acquires a new citizenship, Germany views them as renouncing German citizenship.
    However, the consulate worker told me that under German law, minors cannot renounce their citizenship. And my mother naturalized when she was 9 years old.

    It seems to good to be true, and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I collected all the necessary documents, going back to my maternal grandparents’ birth certificates (both in 1909). It was surprisingly easy to request all the documents from the Standesamt using the website forms the Consulate directed me to.

    I submitted my application in June and received receipt confirmation from the Consulate on June 13 2017 and from the BVA dated July 27 2017. Based on others’ recent experiences, I hope to have a response in the spring.

    My list of supporting documents:

    1. My birth certificate
    2. My passport
    3. Parents’ marriage certificate
    4. Mother’s US naturalization certificate
    5. Mother’s birth certificate
    6. Grandparents’ marriage certificate
    7. Grandparents’ birth certificates

    Reply
    • that’s great news, congrats.

      And thanks for sharing. I have a cousin who may benefit from this knowledge as well. Her adoptive father naturalized US when he was 4 years old. so if this is true, that would be one hurdle for her to be removed. Then, she would just have to research the law regarding how citizenship passed to her through her adoption in the US by a german/US national.

      I look forward to hearing about the final result. keep us posted.

      Reply
    • “However, the consulate worker told me that under German law, minors cannot renounce their citizenship. And my mother naturalized when she was 9 years old.

      It seems to good to be true, and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop…”

      If it makes you feel any better, my experience lines up with yours and I applied for a certificate through the Houston Consulate. I was told that minors cannot act on their own authority so if the parent of a minor secures naturalization for a child, the minor didn’t “voluntarily” apply for citizenship so loss of German citizenship doesn’t kick in.

      That was borne out by my success. My mother was also adopted and her parents had her naturalized as a US citizen but Germany still considers her to be a German citizen and issued the relevant certificate.

      Reply
    • I just received word that my application for a certificate of citizenship was approved! This community was very helpful, and no doubt helped me to avoid snags. Thank you!

      So my timeline was:

      Submitted application at NYC Consulate: 6/13/2017

      Received confirmation from BVA: 7/27/2017

      Received approval notice via email: 6/4/2018

      Reply
  79. I want to thank Jen for keeping this blog post alive. The comments have helped me greatly in knowing what to expect in my path to prove my dual citizenship status. I thought I’d add my story to the mix so maybe others can learn some from my successes and failures in finding needed documents.

    I started a genealogical project and discovered during my research that my German born father was naturalized US two years after I was born. His father was Prussian born in 1902. This means that I and my older brother are German citizens! My children were born after 1978 so they are also German by birth to their German mother (me). So my task was to find all the documents to prove this lineage.

    Online I was able to get the needed forms in English and German, and directions that showed what documents were needed.

    I got certified, apostilled copies of my birth certificate, my marriage certificate, my parents’ marriage certificate, and my children’s birth certificates. Each of these were from different authorities in different states. I had to write the state vital records departments and they send the certificate to the state authority who adds the apostille to the certificate and then mail it me.

    My father has his original US Naturalization certificate and his birth certificate from Berlin. My difficulty was in finding my grandfather’s certificates. Daddy knew his parents were married in Berlin. Berlin has MANY Standesämter, and to get copies of certificates you have to know the exact registration district. This is the issue with many places in Germany. You must know exactly where and when things happened to find the certificate on file. Then you have to find out who, if anyone still has them. I know that church and state records were required to be duplicated and sent to Berlin, but wars and relocation of records have caused older records to be lost.

    I learned in my genealogical research that the record books often have margin notes that would not be included if you get a transcribed copy of the documents. I used the Berlin web site to request an actual copy of the record book with margin notes of my father’s birth record. They required payment of 10 Euro by econto. I have a newly acquired Dutch son-in-law who helped with this transfer, although there are web sites that will do this for a nominal fee. After payment, I received the document within a week. In the margin was luckily the information I needed! Eltern heiratet Berlin 12a 435/33. Translated to mean they were married in the in the 12a district of Berlin in 1933 with file number 435. If I had only asked for the transcribed, typed birth certificate, I would not have seen this information.

    So almost there I thought. I used the same Berlin web site to request the Heiratsurkunde from the Berlin 12a district. No such luck. They only keep marriage records back to 1935. Before then you must ask at the Berlin 1 district which houses the state archives.

    So I asked at the correct district, getting the copy with the margin notes again. The notes included information about where each of my grandparents were born and the file numbers of the birth certificates they presented to get their marriage registered. My Dad had thought that grandpa was born in East Prussia in a town that is now in Russia. Any remaining records from this area were either destroyed or taken to Russia and they have repeatedly refused to release those records. But the Heiratsurkunde showed he was born in a town with the same name in West Prussia, now Poland. My next mission was to find who, if anyone has that town’s records.

    And then, my daughter, who lives in Thailand, and my son, who lives in Texas announced they were coming to visit so we could go see the total solar eclipse together. That gave me a time that we were all together to get all of our forms and documents together and submit them in one packet to the Chicago consulate.
    So on August 25, 2017, my daughter and I had appointments in Chicago to submit our applications. My son was not able to stay that long with us, so we took his signed forms with us so we could submit all the apps at once and not have to duplicate the effort.

    We submitted form F for each of us and a form V for me, my father, and Grandfather. That would take us back to 1902. I took originals and front and back copies of any documents I didn’t want to let go of. The man there certified the copy of my dad’s naturalization certificate for $10. We submitted documents to prove citizenship and legitimacy of the line: copies of our US passports, our certified/apostilled birth certificates, my marriage certificate, my parents marriage certificate, my Dad’s German birth certificate, my Dad’s US naturalization certificate, and my Grandparents German marriage certificate that also shows Grandpa’s birth place and date.

    On Aug 28, Chicago sent a letter saying that the applications had been forwarded to the BVA and the “processing time varies, but may take up to 18 months”

    On Sept 21, Köln sent the infamous “don’t call us we’ll call you letter” with our registration numbers. It was forwarded to us by Chicago on October 9th.

    So now we wait, but not without acting. In case grandpa’s birth is questioned, I have asked for and received his SSA form 5 and his naturalization application from the national archives. Both list that he was a German citizen. I have also asked for a USCIS FOIA search since this should have a birth certificate in there. That is now running about 6 months to receive the information.

    I knew that Berlin 1 is supposed to be the holder of records from the “former eastern states”, so I asked again with them since I had correct information about grandpa’s birth. No go. I asked the Protestant Church Archives (EZA), no go. I also found that the German Consulate in Gdansk Poland will help find which Polish city to write for birth records in former German territories of Poland. I wrote them and again found a date issue. The local archives are passed on to the Polish state archives when they reach a specific age. There is an online catalog of what records are in the Polish archives. Grandpa’s town had sporadic listings, but his birth year was one of those listed. It showed which of the many archives to write to, and with the help of Google Translate, I wrote a letter to the Polish Archives. After another econto transfer, I am now in possession of my grandpa’s Geburtsurkunde. Should Köln need the document, I have it to send.

    I am hoping that before this year is over, I and my children will be in possession of our Staatsangehörigkeitsausweise. And then my brother and his children want to apply for theirs also.

    Reply
    • Hi Linda,

      I have several questions for you! One, can you tell me how you wrote a letter to the Polish State Archives for your grandfathers birth certificate? I’m trying to get my grandfathers as well but Germany doesn’t have one and his USCIS alien states that he lost it. I have his marriage license which has the number on it but I didn’t know who/ what to write since he was born in Brieg/Brzeg. Also how long did it take to get a reply from them? Two, I tried to send in my paperwork two years ago and they said that since my dad didn’t become a US citizen that I would need to prove that he didn’t become a citizen of another country. Did the Chicago office give you any trouble? Who did you make the appointment with there?
      Thanks,
      Eden

      Reply
      • Eden,
        There is a search utility for the Polish state archives at http://szukajwarchiwach.pl/ This is for births over 100 years old and marriages over 80.

        If you use Google Chrome to open this, it will translate to English for you automatically.

        In that search box, put in the city of your grandfather’s birth and you will get a LOT of results. On the left side of the page, click on vital records and civil registers, and then refine, and it will bring it to a more manageable number of results. If you see the right year and the right kind of records listed (births = urodzenia, confirmations = konfirmacje), click on the Archiwum at the bottom of the listing and it will bring up a page describing the listing. Where it says “storing place”, click on the name of the Arciwum and it will bring up the address, phone, email, and web site.

        I sent them a letter in Polish, with apologies for using Google Translate, because everything I saw said they don’t work in English. Include name, date, place, file number if you have them. I gave them my address and email address and I think I sent a printout of the search page that described the archive. They responded by email saying they had found my grandpa’s name in their archives, and gave me an account and a reference number to send money for a copy. It cost 5 zloty for the certificate and 5 zloty for certification. (about $3). Total turn around including mail both ways was 3 weeks.

        You may also have luck at http://www.ezab.de/english/parish_registers.html That’s the Protestant church archives. They have some of the old parish registers. Click “search our parish registers” and it will show the places and dates for what they have. My grandpa’s town was listed, but not his year. I emailed anyway to verify. They responded quickly.

        As to the proof of non-citizenship, isn’t your father required to have a valid green card to live in the US? If you get citizenship, you must turn that in…..so if he has a green card, he isn’t a US citizen. You also have to list all places he has lived. Did you list any other country besides Germany or US? If so, then I can see them asking about other citizenships, if not, I don’t know what the issue was.

        For my appointment, I went online on the Chicago Consulate web site and made an appointment to talk about citizenship matters. No specific person.

        Oh, and as to the USCIS FOIA search, I sent that in August 28, and now Feb 28, I’m 1370 of 46520 in line. I expect those results about the end of April.

        Reply
        • One other thing…whenever you send document requests to Europe, always say it is for citizenship matters and that the request is for your father, grandfather etc. You must have a legitimate interest and be a relative of the name in the document or they may not send it.

          Reply
        • Thank you for those websites Linda. But unfortunately the year of my grandfathers birth is missing. I’m hoping that when I do submit that the SSA and the packet from USCIS that it will be enough. Good luck to you!

          Reply
    • Linda,

      If i were you, i would go ahead and send your grandpa’s Geburtsurkunde to the consulate to forward to Cologne. Cologne will most likely ask for it and it will save you time in the long run.

      I also did additional research after submitting the original forms. When i gathered additional documents (documents I didn’t know I needed until i read this blog) i gathered them and submitted them several months later.

      I’m not sure if Cologne would have ever asked for the documents, but I think I did the right thing because i received my certificate of citizenship ~8 months after my initial appointment.

      General rule – if you have more relevant documents, go ahead and send them.

      Reply
      • Dan,
        I emailed the Chicago consulate to ask if I should send the birth certificate. Their response was “I suggest waiting if the BVA is requesting this document. Perhaps they do not require it”

        I think this is because the date, place, and file number of his birth record is on his marriage certificate.

        So, only time will tell.

        Reply
  80. I also have a question for the married women out there…..

    Is the Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis issued with your married name or your birth name? I filed the application listing my family name and my birth names.

    Will they honor the “family name” as my current name and thus make me not have to file a name declaration? Or will it be issued with my birth name and then I’ll have to file a name declaration and delay a passport application for a few more months?

    Any women out there with experience in this?

    Reply
    • I wish I knew. In my case I applied before getting married. Then a couple of years after marriage I went back to my maiden name anyway for professional reasons. I’d not gotten around to doing a name declaration of any kind between those two points.

      Reply
  81. Just a little update on me. I got my dad to sign for a USCIS FOIA on his alien file. I also requested a certificate of non existence for him in regards to not being a US citizen. He is now number 37,638 in line out of 46520 as of this past Monday. Their website states that it takes 123 days from date of receipt before working on it but I think it’s going to take longer than that. Nothing to do now except more waiting.

    Reply
  82. I just received a certified copy of my maternal grandfather’s birth certificate from the archive in Gdansk (Danzig). The regional Pomeranian Genealogical Association has scanned and indexed records, which can be searched on their website. I emailed the archive in English and with Google translate. They charged under two EUR, and the certificate arrived in the US in two weeks. Hopefully the situation elsewhere in Poland is similar.

    Reply
  83. Update:

    I submitted applications for me, my brother, and my father in May 2017 via the Atlanta consulate. A month or two later, each of us received letters from the BVA confirming receipt of our applications.

    Today, my dad got a call from the consulate asking that we submit certified copies of our U.S. passports. I think we might be in the home stretch.

    Reply
    • Thanks for posting. I submitted my application in July of last year, so I’m just a few months behind you in processing.

      Have you made any progress since your last update?

      Reply
      • Today (my birthday!), I (and my brother and father) received scanned / e-mailed letters confirming our citizenship and asking for the fee ($25).

        Although I applied to have my Italian citizenship recognized earlier in May 2017, the German government has won the race.

        Reply
    • Thanks for the the link, very interesting and similar to my family. My dad was born right after the war to ethnic Germans living in Hungary. I submitted my paperwork almost a year ago buyback felt like I needed to track down giant fluchtlingsausweis number as I think they might end up asking for it. I’ve hadn’t no luck so worriedly if I hit a dead end.

      Looking at your story I didn’t realize that th they issued expelled Germans naturalization certificates through the BVA. I imagine he would have been issued one as he was living in Germany. Do you think the BVA would automatically look it up or would I have to ask them to do it ( even though it seems pretty obvious that they should)?

      Reply
  84. Well, I finally applied for my German passport on Wednesday. It was not a great experience. 🙁

    Couple of tips:

    1. If you want to apply for your passport and your ID card, you need 2 separate appointments. I originally did make two appointments. Then they sent confirmation emails that flat out said ONE appointment per person or they’d cancel all of them. So I cancelled one. It’s the exact same form and documentation for both applications, so there’s no reason they couldn’t take both then. Should have been simple enough. But no. She refused to take my 2nd application for my ID card. I had to set up another appointment – a month out was the soonest they had – and now I have to make another 3-hr trip (which isn’t cheap between tolls, gas, metro, meals there, and a day of work lost, so that’s frustrating). The thing is, I showed up early. The appointment before me didn’t show. She finished my application at my appointment’s START time, so she definitely had time to take it and enter it into the system. Worse, there was NO ONE waiting there for a later appointment. No one at all. It was a completely empty office. Just me. At my appointment start time. And she wouldn’t take the damn application. I showed her the printout saying I couldn’t have more than one appointment (even though the site initially implied otherwise). Her answer was essentially that they don’t really mean it. They’re just trying to discourage people from signing up for all of them and then selling them (what she said at least). But it didn’t say you can’t have a lot of appointments. It very specifically said ONE per individual, no exceptions. So try to follow the rules, but you’ll never know what the rules are because the website, their emails, and their staff will all tell you something completely different. I’m still livid about this.

    2. The documents they tell you they’ll need on the website are not all they actually need. They don’t mention needing a parents’ marriage certificate there for example. But they needed it. Thankfully someone here pre-warned me, so my mother went up to NYC with me to get a certified copy (she couldn’t find the previous one). So I had that. But then they also asked for my parents’ PASSPORTS. WTH they needed that is beyond me. My mom had hers with her, but an expired one (as back-up ID for the city clerk’s office, which didn’t need it). Gave them that to copy, but wth are you supposed to do if they don’t have passports? Not all Americans do. Worse, I’m estranged from my father (for over 20 years), and to the best of my knowledge he’s never left the country and isn’t the type to even have a passport. So I sure hope they can process without this. This is what I went through a friggin’ 3 year process for — all the damn documentation they could ever need, which they made their own copies of, and I gave them my case number from that so they could verify (though my certificate of citizenship should have been plenty). I sure hope they don’t start asking for my grandfather’s documents again. My grandmother left NYC for Georgia years ago, and there’s no way I’ll be able to get my hands on the originals again (and they no longer take notorized copies like they used to). When I brought them the originals the first time, she didn’t want them out of her sight, so she came with me to the consulate for them to copy everything themselves.

    So yeah. Show up with more documentation than you think you’ll need, or you could end up in an endless back-and-forth again with them requesting more docs. Thankfully they accepted the photos without any problem, so at least I didn’t have to scramble for new ones there. She said they’d email me if they need more documentation (lord knows what else they could possibly need — I proved my identity and citizenship without question years ago. Gave them more than they asked for now. So hopefully this process will be much faster than the certificate of citizenship was (3 years for me).

    Ugh. I’m frustrated. But I’m also happy to have at least that application out there. Hopefully I’ll get it without further drama, and the appointment in May for the ID card will go smoother. Fingers crossed!

    Reply
    • Sorry to read about your bad experience. Mine, here in Hong Kong, was so much easier. I took two sets of identical documents and two forms but they discarded one set of documents and used one set for both passport and ID card applications. I can’t remember what documents I took but certainly not my parents’ passports. That sounds so strange. I guess we are lucky here in that it is a small German Consulate, not a big Embassy. In fact, I didn’t need an appointment, I just turned up and handed the stuff over the counter.

      I went with my sister and my kids to the London Embassy in October (to hand in their citizenship applications) and I noticed things were much more formal and strict there.

      I hope things go more smoothly for you. I only had to wait about 2 weeks for my passport, the ID card took another week. Good luck!

      Reply
      • That sounds lucky indeed. I remember years ago I was told I could show up or make an appointment – my preference. Now their site says in NYC you have to have an appointment for these kinds of applications.

        I’m nervous for my brothers and their kids now. They procrastinated. When I did mine, notorized copies of things were okay. So I had those copies made for them. That rule changed a couple of years back, so now they might be out of luck. I doubt there’s much chance they can get the originals from my grandmother (who moved far out of state and who wouldn’t let the docs leave her sight last time — she went with me to the consulate). I sure hope me going through it helps. But mine was approved in 2012, so I doubt they still have the original copies the consulate made (in 2009).

        I hope it’s as quick as a couple of weeks! I’m half expecting a couple of years again. LOL

        Reply
  85. Jenn,
    Wow, sorry for the bad experience. Unfortunately, it seems to not be rare for German bureaucrats to inconsistently apply rules, or to just make them up. Given that Germany is the paragon of efficiency, I suppose that we should be grateful that we didn’t discover that we’re citizens of Italy or Spain.

    Reply
    • The worst part is when I got the weird confirmation message, I actually emailed them first to confirm whether I needed one or two appointments. That was more than a month before my ultimate appointment date. They never bothered responding.

      Reply
  86. A pleasant update finally!

    After the nonsense with my last appointment (see previous comments for that bit of fun), I went back to the NYC mission yesterday and things went much better.

    I got a different woman this time. I handed her all the same paperwork (for my ID application) as I did for my passport, just like the previous woman (who was sitting next to this one) said I would need. She seemed very confused — told me I didn’t need any of the stuff about my mother that was insisted on last time, especially my mother’s (a non-German) U.S. passport. Kind of rolled her eyes when I said the previous person asked for all of that and told me to bring it back.

    She also told me they didn’t really need to see anything because it was already in their system from the passport application a month prior. Didn’t even seem to enter it into the system again. So yeah… the woman last time definitely could have processed both at once like some of you had experienced. It took just a few minutes.

    And while she was in the system, I asked her to see if there were any notes about needing additional info from me that maybe I hadn’t gotten a letter about yet (since I dealt with 3 years of that for the citizenship documentation). She said nope. And then she told me the passport was already approved (why she didn’t need to see everything again), and it was ordered. It’ll be printed in Berlin shortly, sent to them, and then FedEx’d to me, and I should have it in a couple of weeks. Said I should get an email from them about the ID card before too long as well (since the documents were already reviewed and approved), and as soon as I get the letter from Germany I can go back to NY to pick up my card (have to do that in person to set the PIN apparently, which is fine).

    So, all’s well that ends well, and it should be finished up shortly! 🙂

    Reply
    • Your experience seems the opposite of mine. Had a very nice lady tell me that I didn’t need to file for citizenship but can directly file for a passport. Came back with all the paperwork and my family, my husband and two very young kids. Then I was basically told that I was told wrong and was yelled out of the office crying by two of their employees. I seem to be the only one who was told that they have no chance because my dad let his passport expire.

      Reply
      • What does the passport expiring have to do with it? I had to show my grandfather’s (German passport). It had expired in the 1940s or 1950s, never having renewed it after moving here and becoming a US citizen 5 years later. When I was there last month they asked for my mother’s US passport (no idea why as she’s not in the German line and the girl this time said that wasn’t necessary at all — seemed confused as to why I’d even have it with me). That was recently expired. They still approved my German passport. So whomever told you they had to have an active passport is full of it. My father (the one my citizenship would have come from) has never had either a US or German passport, is estranged and has never applied for his German citizenship papers, and had absolutely nothing to do with the process. The German passport was only because we didn’t have my grandfather’s birth certificate to show them he was a citizen as records were destroyed by the Russians during the war. But in Berlin they must have found some kind of documentation, because that’s what the last year-long hang-up was all about before approval. They never gave me specifics though.

        The thing about German bureaucrats I’m noticing is that if you ask 3 people, you’ll get 5 different answers. Ask someone else.

        Reply
      • As Jenn said, it has nothing whatsoever to do with your father’s passport. My father’s passport had expired by the time I was born but that fact was irrelevant to my application.

        It is troubling that you say you were yelled out of the office in tears. What very odd behaviour by staff who are representative of their country.Completely different to what I and my family experienced both in HK and London.

        Good luck!

        Reply
    • Jenn, thanks for keeping this up after all these years. You’ve created a really great resource!

      I went to the consulate in NYC yesterday to pick up my Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis and apply for a Passport and ID card and lo and behold was asked for a copy of my mother’s non-German passport, which I happened to have with me. The woman behind the glass told me that it had something to do with me applying for a first-time passport and accounting for name changes, but that didn’t really make sense as I already had proof of German citizenship.

      What’s more, she also asked for a copy of my non-German father’s non-German Passport, which I did not have. She then relented and said “we’ll, maybe we won’t need it. We’ll see”. She promised to contact me if they need more info.

      Hopefully I should have the passport and ID card on a few weeks, but “we’ll see”

      Reply
      • I would bet anything you had the same woman I did. LOL The message sounds awfully familiar.

        I’m glad you had your mother’s passport with you at least. In my case, I just got lucky. My mom couldn’t find her marriage certificate, so I had to bring her to the city with me the first time to go to the city clerk’s office (they got married in NYC thank goodness). We got it that day, and she just happened to bring her passport (even though expired) along with her birth certificate because she wasn’t sure what ID the clerk’s office would need. Whew! LOL

        I couldn’t figure out the name change argument either. I still use my married name. And my mother’s name change was already accounted for because her maiden is on my birth certificate, and I gave them her certified marriage certificate. I even brought her birth certificate to be safe. She didn’t even have a passport when my parents were married. As for my dad’s I’ve been estranged from him for over 20 years, and I let them know in no uncertain terms I wasn’t going to change that. To the best of my knowledge he’s never left the country anyway, so he likely doesn’t even have a passport. They didn’t fight me on it.

        They also told me they’d email me if they needed more documents. And I found out at the second trip a month later that it was approved and awaiting printing. So I’d guess you’re fine with just her passport. 🙂

        Reply
        • Jenn,

          For what it’s worth, I had the blonde lady at the middle window…

          And yes, I thought the name situation was pretty clear as presented with marriage and birth certificates for me, my mother and my grandparents! I’m really not sure how my mom’s US passport helps matters at all.

          I didn’t have a physical copy of my mom’s passport, but I had a PDF copy that I was allowed to email to the consulate. Odder still, as I never was asked to produce the original.

          I’m travelling at the end of the month, and wanted to use a German passport if possible, so I paid for the expedited fee. Initially, the woman told me that she could not expedite first time passports, but after checking with her supervisor said that it was OK.

          I’ll post updates when I have them.

          Thad

          Reply
          • I was in the middle window the first time too (the left one when I went back). I guess you could say she had dark blonde hair, so maybe the same one. The second woman I talked to had very light blonde hair (the one on the left when I went for the ID application). But given the language is so similar, I’d bet we had the same one helping us.

            I’ve read that we might need to bring all of this information again every time we renew. I sure hope not. That would be a real headache. When we’ve already proved citizenship and have their own documentation to prove it, proving our identity should be all we need. This seems quite a bit like overkill.

            Hopefully yours will be expedited without any issue and you’ll get it soon. 🙂

          • Just picked up my Reisepass! Only 17 days after applying with the expedited option! Yay!!

            I first applied for my Certificate of Citizenship last July, so it’s been about 11 months of working with the consulate after a few months of gatherhering documents. Seems I was pretty lucky with my timeline!

            Thanks again, Jenn for this great resource!

      • Thad,

        Yes, it was likely name change issues. Just because they issued your certificate of citizenship under one name, that may not have necessarily been your official name according to German Law. German law is very specific regarding what a citizen’s name is. A few countries do this, with the result that sometimes a person’s legal name is different for each country they have a citizenship with (which can cause issues/confusion with regards to two passports with two different names and booking airline tickets).

        In Germany, a citizen can’t change their name just whenever they want (in contrast with the USA, where a person can change their name at-will). Also, in Germany, when two people get married, they choose at the time of the issuance of a marriage certificate what the official names of each spouse will be and it is written on the marriage certificate. In the USA, most counties do not officially change a person’s name when they get married (instead, a woman who want’s to take their husband’s name must change several documents individually, such as drivers license, passport, social security).

        These laws in Germany have changed over time (in the 1950’s, a german woman automatically took the Man’s name, since the late 1970’s, a woman had the option to take the man’s name).

        So just because your name may be “Bob Smith” in the USA, it very well may not be legally “Bob Smith” in Germany. Since the certificate of citizenship is not an identification document, the official name on the certificate doesn’t matter. However, since the passport is an official ID document, the german government has to verify that the name they put in the passport conforms to your official legal name according to German law.

        These things are more straightforward depending on who (mother or father) you derive your citizenship from. In my case, I derived my citizenship from my father, so the consulate wanted to know my mother’s legal name at the time of my birth according to US law. All they needed was an official document that had my mother’s name at the time of my birth indicating that she had taken my father’s last name by the time I was born. Since she didn’t have a passport, the only surviving document that I had possession of was my sister’s birth certificate (in which my mom signed her name with my father’s last name, indicating she had taken my father’s name according to US law at that point and it was on an official document, aka my sister’s birth certificate).

        Take the above example and compare how it would have been different if I instead derived my citizenship from my mother. If that was the case, and she changed her name in the USA to take my father’s last name (after a marriage in the USA), her name change would not be legally valid in Germany, since she would also need to change her name officially with the German authorities. So, at the time of my passport application, as far as my mother would be concerned, Germany would still have only recognized my mother’s name in her maiden-name form. That would have required a retroactive name change on the part of my mother OR a name declaration on my part indicating I wanted to take my father’s name OR my mother’s name as my official name.

        Reply
        • I obtained citizenship through my father. From Thad’s past comment, it sounds like he obtained his from his mother’s side. And we were both told the same exact thing by what sounds like the same person. I suspect she just didn’t understand something, because the next person at the consulate said things like the passport weren’t ever necessary. It was requested even after my mother’s name change was shown (my birth certificate, her birth certificate, and her marriage certificate). Asking for her passport (over 20 years after she was divorced, which in no way would reflect her relationship with my father anymore anyway) was completely irrelevant. Even if my citizenship had derived from her, her name 20 years on isn’t what would have determined mine in their eyes — it would have been her maiden name or married name, and whether or not it was declared there, at the time I was born. So this one woman was definitely asking for things she shouldn’t have (especially when people travel hours to get there and there’s no mention of this anywhere on the consular site). And it wasn’t needed in any way to have the passport approved.

          Reply
          • I also had my name changed from that silly consulate.

            I obtained citizenship from my mother and also applied for and received my proof of citizenship and passport from the German Consulate in NYC…in 2014, I believe. I’ve lived in Berlin for the past 3 years.

            They’re doing some FUNKY stuff in that office. They never give you the same story and they’re super unfriendly. I must have gone there 10 times when I got my passport although it’s pretty straightforward. My mother is a German citizen, born in Germany with only German citizenship. Since my mother hadn’t had a passport since her childhood, to renew her passport, they wanted birth certificates, marriage certificates, certificates of relocation, proof of paternity, my grandfather’s last passport (he died in 1965, but insanely, my mom kept it in a small plastic bag in her DVD drawer). Every time I went, they thought up something new that they wanted. Finally, I cried and said my mother wasn’t getting any younger and it was my dream to surprise her with a trip to her birth town for mother’s day. THEY CAVED!

            Anyway, they changed my name as well – to my mother’s ex husband’s last name, even though they were divorced before I was born and she had never changed her name from her maiden name in Germany. Super weird, and every time I go to the Bürgeramt, bank, insurance office, or do any official business here, I’m told that that is the most ridiculous story they’ve ever heard and it’s not a rule that anyone in the room has ever heard of. I also has a cousin who works for the office that issues passports in Leipzig and she looked at me like I was nuts when I told her the story. But alas, now that all my paperwork is in this new name, I’m not about to go about the process of changing everything over to my old name.

          • Jenn,

            Yep, you’re right. I traced back from my mom to her dad for citizenship. Her mom was also born in Germany, but that didn’t matter as she was born before 1974.

            My grandpa never naturalized, and my grandpa naturalized at 15 (in 1927) so he never lost his german citizenship.

            Dad’s family has german roots as well, but back in the 1730s.

        • Dan,

          Thanks for your long and detailed reply. You’ve got me half convinced, but that’s good enough I guess. In the end, they asked for the document and I had it.

          I do wonder what would have happened if I was unable to provide it. My mother didn’t have a passport until a few years ago, what other documentation would they (or perhaps just the one woman!) require?

          Reply
  87. Michael,

    Regarding your mother’s name. Depending on when she was married, she would not have applied for a name change. German law used to have women automatically change their last name to their husband’s name when they got married. So if she got married during that time, and then got divorced and didn’t apply change her name back, then officially her german name was still her ex-husband’s name at the time of your birth (which is why you carried that name). She may not have been aware of the automatic name change at the time of her marriage.

    Nor do I think the story is odd. I write the following assuming that you were getting your mom her new passport in the USA, because she was living in the US (if I am mistaken my apologies)? I am not surprised that the consulate asked for all of that information from your mother, especially if she had an expired passport (in fact, I wonder what they said about that, since she would have needed an active passport to live in the US since was a German citizen only). So, asking for a bunch of information to prove her identity would be logical for a person living in a foreign country (of which they are not a citizen) who is requesting a passport renewal many years after their former one expired. In fact, it is even more interesting because, to my understanding (and I could be wrong), to have a residence permit in a foreign country, one needs a valid passport for the residence permit to be valid (and I only mention this because the consulates want to see evidence of legal residency in the foreign country when you apply for identification documents such as ID card or passport).

    I’m not meaning to sound like I am trolling, I am just defending some of the things that the german bureaucracy does that actually makes sense when you think it through. the above situation may not be accurate for your mother, but from what I gather, the above is my take on it.

    Reply
    • A) There is never any defense for reps in a single government office to give differing information. The NYC branch is notorious for it — not just giving different people in different circumstances different information, but giving the same people with the same background different information every time they talk to someone different in the office. Even their own website and email system give conflicting information, which is how my first appointment got f*d up and why I had to make an entire second trip (not a quick hop from here). So no. Their behavior doesn’t make sense when “you think it through.” They’re inefficient and sometimes unprepared for the circumstances they have to address. It wasn’t like this there when I worked with them the first time, from 2009-2012.

      B) And no, a non-citizen would not have needed an active passport to live in the U.S. Only to get in (and have the stamp to show when applying for the green card). Green card holders use that document to re-enter the country, and the U.S. doesn’t require those docs to leave. They’d need an active foreign passport to enter another country (other than somewhere like Canada by land where their green card is enough). If they don’t plan to travel, having an expired passport isn’t problematic from the U.S. side. It’s not required in order to live here. The only issue would be if the immigration wasn’t legal (like an overstayed visa where they never applied for citizenship and never got permanent residency status).

      Yes, there’s a reason for a lot of the documentation they request. And yes, they may have been justified in a particular case in requesting certain information (though those requirements should be laid out on their site far better than they are currently). In Michael’s mother’s case it might have been sensible (I don’t know her exact situation), even though it shouldn’t have taken them nearly that many visits to be asked for what was needed in her case. But please don’t spread misinformation on my site that could negatively influence someone else going through, or thinking about going through, this process.

      Reply
      • Jenn,

        I stand corrected and glad admit when I am wrong. You are correct that a permanent resident’s passport can expire and the green card is still valid (I should have looked this up before i typed).

        My apologies for being in error on that.

        I guess the best advice for anyone moving forward is to bring everything you can possibly think of with you to an appointment (even if you think it won’t be relevant) that has been mentioned on this site with two extra copies of each. It may save yourself a headache and it may not solve all the problems that people are experiencing at the NYC consulate, but it wouldn’t hurt. I personally would also suggest, for anyone reading this and moving forward, to email the consulate and ask for a specific list of items that would be needed. That way, there is at least a paper trail. Again, it might not solve the problems, but it wouldn’t hurt either.

        In the end, all of us on this thread are super fortunate. German citizenship is a significant thing in today’s world and the fact that we derived it at birth and did not have to go through a lengthy and costly naturalization process is wonderful. For anyone who experiences headaches with the german bureaucracy, just keep that in the back of your mind and it may help ease the pain a little.

        Reply
        • Unfortunately, they (at the NYC office at least) are notoriously bad about emails too. Again, it didn’t used to be that way, so I’m not sure what happened over there in recent years. When I went through the process, a very nice woman walked me through it and stayed my point-person through the process for 3 years, and pressed them in Germany when she found out it was taking so unusually long. This time I went over a month with no response. I’d emailed them months ago with questions about my documents for the passport, and they never responded. So if you can get someone on the phone, maybe that would be a better route to go. And even when I did get lists the first time from someone, they kept asking for more. So, as you said, bring everything you can think of and can get your hands on. They didn’t want copies when I went (the site said they would, but the email confirmation said not to bring them oddly). And notorized copies aren’t acceptable anymore like when I first did this. So make sure you have originals or certified copies of anything you think you’ll need to prove the line of citizenship. And even after you prove citizenship and have their own documentation, you’ll probably still need more. So the more applications you can knock out at once, with the same set of documents, the better.

          Reply
    • Congratulations, Jenn! I’m jealous because passports issued starting March 2017 have an image of the Brandenburg gate.

      Reply
    • Well that was quicker than expected. I just got my letter today saying my ID card is in NYC and ready to be picked up too. I applied a month after my passport, and it came a day after. I guess I’m going back to NY next week. 🙂

      Just to verify, I don’t need an appointment just to pick it up, right? The woman I saw when applying for it said I didn’t repeatedly, but you know how they are in that office… the story changes every time. What were your experiences?

      Reply
      • My ID card was ready for collection about 7 days after my passport. In both cases I got an email telling me and in both cases I just turned up, no appointment. I realise the small German Consulate where I am is less busy than NYC but I doubt they work differently.

        And congratulations, by the way! After reading George’s reply I had to get out my passport to find the Brandenburg Gate – inside front cover. 🙂

        Reply
          • One final (I think!) update from me: I just drove to NYC this morning and picked up my Personalausweis. So now I have my certificate of citizenship, ID card, and German passport. All should be good for 10 years now I believe. 🙂

          • Great news!

            (It has been almost 8 months since my sister and mt two kids applied. That’s the time it took for me to get my citizenship. Keep hoping they’ll get notified soon.)

  88. Hello,

    It has been a while since I’ve posted but I wanted to share that I was successful and received my letter from the BVA yesterday to confirm Citizenship! I cannot tell you how happy I am 🙂

    As for timelines:
    November 5, 2016 mailed to Toronto consulate
    December 1, 2016: Date of letter confirming receipt of application at the BVA
    August, 2017: Request for extra documentation confirming my grandfather’s date of acquiring Canadian citizenship
    June 4, 2018: Date of letter from the BVA confirming citizenship
    June 21, 2018: Date of letter from Toronto consulate detailing how to pick up my Certificate of Citizenship
    June 25, 2018: Received BVA and Consulate letters in my mailbox

    A very long process that has tested my patience, but I am so glad with the outcome.

    As for paying the 25 Euro fee, has anyone used Transferwise? I tried, but there is limited room to include my information that they requested on the letter. It is much cheaper than a bank wire transfer, but I will go through the bank if necessary.

    Reply
    • Emily, I just looked back to August 2017 when I announced getting my citizenship. You congratulated me and said you applied about a week after me (Nov 2016) and we both hoped it wouldn’t be long for you – sad to see it took almost another year.

      My sister and my 2 kids applied 8 months ago and every day I hope they’ll tell me they have been successful. Waiting (even when it isn’t your own application) is so frustrating and tense! 🙂

      Reply
      • Thanks, Jen and Steve! Yes, we did Steve. I hope your sister and kids hear soon. It should just be a matter of time.

        I was thinking about it, and wondered if mine may have taken longer because I was proving citizenship through my grandfather. So they would have had to prove my mother’s citizenship, and then mine which may have added to the wait?

        Oh well, it was most definitely worth it.

        I’m hoping to visit Europe soon and have my German passport to save some wait time at the airports. I’ve also discovered that a German passport allows the most visa free travel of any passport so I am excited about using it for that (Brazil, and Turkey are two I know of that I would like to visit one day)

        Reply
      • Thanks, Pollex. I just tried them, but unfortunately it only works for US bank accounts.

        I believe Transferwise is our only option outside of the banks.

        Reply
  89. When they come to a decision on your application does the consulate normally contact you by email or regular mail or both? I submitted my application in Toronto June 22 last year and other than the initial acknowledgement of receipt by mail I haven’t heard anything else. Just wondering where I’m most likely to find a response

    Reply
    • Hi Eric,

      When they requested more paperwork, they contacted me over email. I always had communication with one of the staff there, Franziska.

      When they contacted me about the final confirmation it came by snail mail.

      I did send emails to both Franziska and the BVA in between (mostly because of my impatience and worry over them having received documents) and they both responded. It could be worth the try to email and confirm that things have been received and are moving along.

      My application happened to get approved by the BVA about a week or two after I emailed them to confirm they received my second set of documents.

      Reply
  90. Thanks very much for the response. Just getting a little bit anxious to hear one way or the other. I was hoping to hear something by now – going to Germany on Tuesday and it would have been a good opportunity to try and track down any documents they might have asked for. Oh well, need to keep patient I guess

    Reply
    • Just got back from Germany and still no response. Seems like at least a couple people here submitted their application around the same time or after me and have already heard a response.

      I wonder if the BVA will do some digging on their own without requesting info? My dad was expelled from Hungary so he would have been issued refugee documents. I contacted the standesamt to try and see if I could get any info on his refugee documentation and they did not have the information. I did have a copy of his family registration when they were settled in Germany showing he was born in a Russian gulag but not sure if the BVA would want more information and are contacting other agencies looking for it. Just trying to sort out why I wouldn’t have either received an acceptance letter or request for more info by now.

      I expected to wait awhile so not being impatient, but others getting decisions makes me wonder if maybe my application was lost in the shuffle

      Reply
  91. Hi All,

    I have a question regarding a complicated scenario that I will warn you takes a few minutes to read. I emailed the BVA, but their reply was to complete an application.

    I have German citizenship. But, I’m curious to know whether my mother is a German citizen.

    Her father was born in West Prussia (now Poland) in 1905 to an unwed mother. His mother left him with his grandmother, and went alone to the US. In 1912, his grandmother took him to the US.

    Here is the issue. In 1914 in the US, his mother married a citizen of Russia. The man was from Russian occupied Poland. Under German law, my great grandmother lost German citizenship by marrying a foreigner. And, under Russian law at the time, she became a Russian citizen.

    But, did her marriage affect my grandfather’s German citizenship? Does it matter that the man was not his biological father? I have read that a child can be “legitimized” by men other than his biological father. Does it matter if my grandfather was raised by his grandmother?

    In 1921, the Soviets stripped the citizenship of all Russian citizens who were absent from Russian territory for five years. So, my great grandmother and her husband became stateless. Her husband never naturalized. They both died in 1923, when my grandfather was 18.

    My grandfather naturalized in 1940, three years after my mother was born. If he were still a German in 1937, my mother would be a German citizen. But, did he lose it permanently when his mother married a Russian citizen in 1914? Did he lose it in 1914 but regain it in 1921 when the Soviets stripped people of their Russian citizenship?

    I’ve been telling people for years that my mother was born in wedlock to a German father. But, was she?

    Reply
    • For a definitive answer, you could contact Andreas Moser (google his name and you will come across his blog). He is an expert on german citizenship law.

      My two cents: it sounds like your dad was still a German citizen when he had your mother.

      My rational: Citizenship law changed in 1914, so he would be under the modern definitions.

      Loss of German citizenship happens only when the act is done voluntarily by the person. Since your great grandmother voluntarily married – that was also an act of voluntary naturalization as a Russian citizen.

      Your grandfather may have become a Russian citizen at the time of the marraige, or by legitimization. However, if the act of his becoming a citizen was not by his own application, he did not lose German citizenship in the process.

      I know significant changes to the law were made in the early 1950’s, but I don’t think the above paragraph was affected (and thus has existed since 1914).

      Therefore, I believe he was a German citizen until he naturalized in 1940, but I could be wrong.

      Reply
  92. Dan,
    Sorry, but earlier I did not give the correct date for the marriage. It was October of 1913.
    Regards,
    George, presently in Leipzig

    Reply

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