The BVA processes different procedures in consultation with the Federal Foreign Office's missions abroad. The individuals' often tragic backgrounds have to be treated individually and with respect.
The BVA carries out specific procedures to determine whether or not applicants with German ancestors, many of which live in Eastern Europe, are still German citizens.
Victims of the Nazi regime who were illegitimately deprived of their citizenship between 1933 and 1945 are entitled to ‘renaturalization’.
Germans living abroad usually lose their German citizenship on becoming foreign nationals unless they have applied at the BVA for a permission to retain German citizenship.
Another task refers to young people who are nationals of Germany and another country and must declare, upon reaching 18 years of age, which citizenship they want to keep (‘opting procedure’). The BVA is the competent authority for such youngsters living abroad.
The Federal Expellees Act is the basis for the recognition of people as ethnic German resettlers. The BVA decides upon the admission of ethnic German resettlers and places them in the federal states.
For applicants living abroad, the Federal Office of Administration is the competent authority to deal with citizenship matters.
People can become naturalized citizens on the basis of either discretion or legal entitlement to German citizenship. When they are naturalized, they are granted citizenship through a decision of a public authority. The Federal Office of Administration still carries out numerous naturalizations of people whose citizenship was revoked during the National Socialist era and their descendants, restoring the German citizenship to which they are legally entitled.
Since 1 January 2000, children born to foreign parents within the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany have acquired German citizenship by birth under the conditions specified in Section 4(3) of the Nationality Act. Children born in Germany between 2 January 1990 and 31 December 1999 had the right to acquire German citizenship by naturalization pursuant to Section 40b of the Nationality Act.
Germans who become naturalized citizens of another country lose their German citizenship unless they have received a retention permit prior to naturalization. For this reason, the request to retain German citizenship should always be made before requesting naturalization in another country.