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German citizenship for children by declaration

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Over the past few years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of applications for German citizenship. Notably, in 2021, amendments were introduced to the German citizenship law, which significantly expanded the eligibility criteria. Among those applying are individuals who already possess German citizenship and wish to extend this citizenship to their offspring. While children of German citizens have the right to obtain German citizenship in turn, if a year has passed since their birth, an application for German citizenship based on declaration (Feststellung) needs to be submitted.

In this article, we aim to shed light on the intricacies of acquiring German citizenship based on a declaration and elucidate the actual process. Our firm specializes in various processes related to acquiring German citizenship, especially unique cases like citizenship based on declaration. If you are already a holder of German citizenship and intend to extend it to your children, this process could be your pathway. We are more than ready to assist you throughout, ensuring you save precious time and enjoy peace of mind at every step.

German citizenship for children by declaration

What does acquiring German citizenship based on declaration entail?

When an individual has already obtained German citizenship, especially due to ancestral connections to victims persecuted by the Nazi regime, it’s logical to desire the same citizenship for their children. Often, German passport holders wonder why their children aren’t automatically considered German citizens. Contrary to their expectations, children won’t automatically be granted citizenship. Instead, German authorities must be informed about the child’s birth within a year of it happening. This can be done by contacting the German Embassy in Israel and registering the child as a German national.

However, if the parent who holds the German citizenship hasn’t informed the authorities within a year of their child’s birth, a formal application for German citizenship based on declaration (“Feststellung”) is required. The procedure and its bureaucratic demands are identical to citizenship applications under other clauses of the German citizenship law.

How should you navigate the application process for citizenship based on declaration?

To initiate the Feststellung process, official documents from Israel, such as birth certificates and registration summaries for the children, must be gathered. These documents prove the familial relationship between the children and the parent holding German citizenship, detailing their personal status. If the application is for a child over 18 years old, a military service certificate would be necessary.

Parallel to applications under sections 116(2) or 15 of the German citizenship law, the collected official documents should be translated with a notarial certification, and be stamped with an apostille from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The final step involves filling out the application form in German and submitting it, along with the translated documents, to the German Citizenship Department in Cologne, Germany.

Post submission, applicants may expect a waiting period for a response ranging between two to three years . Once approved, they will be invited to schedule an appointment with the German Embassy in Israel. During this appointment, they’ll receive a citizenship certificate, affirming that the children are indeed recognized as German citizens. Following this, another appointment can be made at the embassy for the issuance of the German passport.

Additional Ways to Acquire German Citizenship

Apart from the declaration process, there are other ways to obtain German citizenship for descendants of those who were once German citizens or residents. Historically, obtaining citizenship was primarily done under Paragraph 116 of the German Citizenship Act. This paragraph stated that descendants of German citizens, whose citizenship was revoked due to persecution, are still entitled to obtain a German passport. This provision has assisted many Jews in obtaining German citizenship. However, due to inherent discrimination, some descendants were unable to acquire citizenship through this provision.

In 2021, several amendments were introduced to the German Citizenship Act, significantly expanding the circle of eligible individuals. One of the most notable additions is Paragraph 15, which allows descendants of individuals who were residents of Germany before January 30, 1933, and left after this date, to also acquire German citizenship. During this period, many European citizens lived in Germany without acquiring its citizenship. For many, Germany was the only home they knew and the center of their lives. Today, Germany recognizes that in many ways, these people were effectively Germans, and hence their descendants are entitled to German citizenship.

The amendments also rectified gender discrimination present in the provisions prior to 2021. In the past, German citizenship could only be acquired through the paternal line. Consequently, many descendants of former female German citizens were unable to acquire citizenship. The law has now changed, allowing descendants to acquire German citizenship through their mothers (grandmothers, etc) as well.

These changes enable thousands of Israelis to obtain German citizenship. It’s crucial to familiarize oneself with these amendments to accurately determine eligibility and the conditions under which one may apply. The specific provision dictates the necessary documentation to prove eligibility.

Expertise is the Key to Acquiring German Citizenship via Declaration

The German law on citizenship can be complex for those not well-versed in it. To ensure applications for German citizenship are processed without unnecessary delays or rejections due to incomplete submissions or inadequate documents, applications must be prepared with high-level expertise.

Our law offices, located in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, specialize in the process of applying for German citizenship. This procedure requires collecting numerous documents and extensive work in the German language. We diligently study German law and keep abreast of the latest amendments. We are eager to share our expertise with you and assist you in acquiring the German citizenship you are entitled to. Feel free to reach out to us, and we will be happy to serve you.

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