Dual citizenship after Naturalization: How to keep your national passport

Update: Attention! The new naturalization law is coming on June 27. 2024!!

From June 27, 2024, important things will change at Naturalization. The federal government's new naturalization law will then come into force. Dual citizenship in particular is strongly affected by the new regulations.

The changes in the new law have three particularly important points:

  1. Dual citizenship is permitted: From June 27, 2024, you will no longer have to renounce the citizenship of your home country in order to be naturalized. The exceptions according to § 12 StAG will also no longer be necessary. Dual citizenship is enshrined in law!
  2. The Naturalization after 5 years: The new law reduces the requirement for legal residence in Germany from 8 years to 5 years. From June 27, 2024, you can apply for Naturalization in Germany after 5 years of legal residence!
  3. The Naturalization after 3 years: With special integration achievements: With special integration achievements such as a C1 language certificate and academic achievements, professional achievements and voluntary work, you can be naturalized after 3 years. Previously, this was only possible after 6 years.
In principle, dual citizenship is not provided for under German law at Naturalization . However, there are some exceptions and options that make it possible to have both Naturalization and dual citizenship. This blog article shows you various options for combining the two and what you need to bear in mind with dual citizenship.
Written by:
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Valentin Radonici

Journalist

Expertly reviewed by:
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Christin Schneider

Expert in Immigration law

Table of contents
Dual citizenship after Naturalization: How to keep your national passport

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Legal basis of dual citizenship

All the important legal facts about dual citizenship can be found in the Citizenship Act. It sets out exactly what German law says about dual citizenship and how this issue must be handled.

§ Section 10 Nationality Act 

In principle, German law according to § 10 StAG does not provide for multiple citizenship at Naturalization . Section 10 (1) no. 4 states that foreigners must meet the conditions for Naturalization if they renounce the citizenship of their country of origin. 

It is clear from this that German law basically does not accept dual citizenship at Naturalization . Giving up citizenship is therefore one of the prerequisites for an application to Naturalization to have any chance of success.

How to combine Naturalization and dual citizenship 

Although § 10 Para. 1 No. 4 StAG states that a foreigner must renounce their citizenship in order to be eligible for Naturalization , there are some exceptions that must be taken into account. In the respective cases, the exceptions lead directly to the fact that you can keep your citizenship and still be naturalized. 

These exceptions are listed in § 12 StAG. If one of these exceptions applies, the requirement under § 10 Para. 1 No. 4 StAG automatically ceases to apply and is replaced by § 12.

Case 1: Home country does not provide for the transfer of citizenship

There are countries that do not provide for resignation or renunciation of citizenship, or that regularly refuse to renounce citizenship. In this case, the requirement in Section 10 (1) No. 4 cannot be implemented and does not work. This is the case in most Arab countries.  

As an Afghan citizen, you have the problem that Afghan law prohibits the involuntary loss of Afghan citizenship. The situation is similar in Iran. Iranian law does not provide for the renunciation of Iranian citizenship. Similar regulations exist in countries such as Syria, Eritrea, Morocco, Tunisia, Cuba, Nigeria, Libya and Algeria. 

Case 2: Home country does not provide for loss of citizenship

In some countries, there is no provision for losing your citizenship. These include Brazil and Argentina. If a citizen renounces their nationality, they would lose their citizenship. Accordingly, in such cases you automatically have two passports according to Naturalization. 

Case 3: Home country refuses to release citizenship without justification

There are also countries around the world that allow citizenship to be withdrawn. In individual cases, however, these countries surprisingly refuse to grant citizenship. These are very complicated cases because the states are actually violating the provisions of their legal system. In such cases, too, legal assistance is needed to make it clear that it is not possible to be released from citizenship in the home country.

Case 4: Home country imposes unreasonable conditions 

In other countries, conditions are imposed for the surrender of citizenship that are unreasonable for the person concerned. These countries include Angola and Iraq and sometimes Serbia and Thailand. 

Although these states accept a loss of citizenship, they attach impossible conditions to it for the citizen. The result is that multiple citizenship is accepted by Germany after Naturalization .

Case 5: Threat of economic disadvantages

There are examples in which a foreigner who applies for Naturalization and resigns from the citizenship of their home country can suffer considerable economic losses and financial disadvantages. 

Legal help is also very necessary in such situations. It is necessary to provide detailed evidence of these disadvantages to the German state. If this condition is recognized by the German state, two passports will be approved according to Naturalization .

Case 6: Always dual citizenship with refugee status

If a foreigner has refugee status, then dual citizenship automatically follows after Naturalization . In principle, however, it can happen that citizenship of the home country is lost due to the basic legal system in the home country. 

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Contents of dual citizenship

Multiple nationality always has different backgrounds and brings with it various important key points. Before thinking about dual citizenship, you need to consider and be aware of the issues associated with it.

Tax effects

In some countries, dual citizenship has the consequence that you have to pay tax both in your home country and in the country of your newly acquired citizenship.

German tax law focuses on ensuring that every citizen pays taxes where they live and where they are economically active. To ensure this, Germany has so-called double taxation agreements with various countries. 

A list of all countries with which Germany has such an agreement can be found on the website of the Federal Ministry of Finance. With dual citizenship, it is important to pay attention to certain reporting obligations. The reporting obligations may relate to disclosure of foreign accounts, assets abroad and financial flows abroad.

Military service or civilian service

Depending on how young you are, the issue of military service or civilian service may also come into play. As a rule, the country in which you live and reside is the first point of contact here. This means that if you live in Germany, you don't need to worry about this. 

Compulsory military service and compulsory civilian service were abolished in 2011. This means that if you have German citizenship and citizenship of your home country with Naturalization and have not completed military or civilian service, Germany is generally considered your place of residence and not the rules in your home country.

Political participation and right to a say

A very important advantage, in addition to the greater choice of visa-free travel options, is political participation. Dual citizenship offers the right to participate in political elections both in Germany and in the home country and to have a say, thus maintaining a connection and proximity to the home country. 

This means you can vote in presidential and parliamentary elections in your home country and vote in the Bundestag elections in Germany at the same time.

This picture shows a passport on a white table. It is open and you can see travel stamps.

Paths to citizenship

There are various ways to become naturalized and obtain German citizenship or citizenship in general. The options vary in complexity and the paths are sometimes complicated and lengthy and sometimes very simple.

Nationality by descent

One option is to obtain citizenship of a particular country if you come from that country. In this case, everything proceeds according to the so-called principle of descent. 

This principle means that if you have parents or grandparents from a particular country that is not your home country, you may be able to obtain citizenship of that country. The reason for this is that you automatically come from your parents' or grandparents' country and can obtain citizenship.

Nationality by birth

Another very simple and automatic way is citizenship by birth. In the country of birth, you are also a direct citizen through the place of birth principle. It does not matter whether the parents were born in the same country or not. You have citizenship of the country of birth from birth and cannot lose it.

Naturalization through marriage of a national

Another way to obtain citizenship is to marry a national. Marrying a German citizen, for example, makes it possible to become a naturalized citizen after just 3 years compared to the 8-year residence period that is normally required. The decisive factor here is the condition that you have already been married for 2i years and are not divorced or separated.

Nationality after work or study stay

If you stay in a foreign country for a very long time and work there, you have the option of applying for citizenship of that country after a certain period of time. In Germany, it is important to know that Naturalization does not work with a student visa. 

So you have to change the Residence permit to be eligible for a Naturalization be considered for citizenship. The path to citizenship via studying and then working works. The decisive factor is the regulation of the respective country.

Conclusion and summary

As you can see, the issue of dual citizenship after Naturalization is very complex. The most important points are summarized for you here:

  1. In principle, German law does not recognize dual citizenship
  2. In principle, the provision under Section 10 (1) No. 4 StAG stipulates that citizenship of the home country must be renounced.
  3. There are some exceptions that deviate from this regulation and can be found under §12 StAG.
  4. If your home country does not provide for the transfer of citizenship, then dual citizenship is automatic.
  5. If your home country allows you to give up your citizenship in principle, but makes impossible demands, dual citizenship is also the result.
  6. If you can prove that you would be at an economic disadvantage if you surrendered your citizenship, then it is not necessary to surrender your citizenship.
  7. Refugee status automatically leads to dual citizenship
  8. You can also obtain dual citizenship if your home country does not recognize your loss of citizenship
  9. You also do not have to renounce the citizenship of your home country if your home country illegally prevents you from renouncing your citizenship.
Do you still have questions about dual citizenship?
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FAQ - The most important questions and answers about dual citizenship according to Naturalization

Yes, even if § 10 StAG requires you to give up your citizenship of your home country, there are some exceptions that make dual citizenship possible.

Yes, if you have Residence permit refugee status, you will be granted dual citizenship. However, it depends on the legal situation in your home country whether your citizenship of your home country is lost when you become a German Naturalization .

Yes, according to § 12 StAG, the threat of economic or financial disadvantages is a reason why you do not lose your citizenship and automatically become a dual citizen.

If your home country prohibits you from giving up your citizenship, you automatically become a dual citizen. Section 12 (1) StAG then applies.

Yes, Argentina and Brazil are examples of this. Argentinean and Brazilian citizenship law does not provide for the loss of citizenship. Accordingly, you then become a dual citizen directly at Naturalization in Germany. 

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