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Opt­ing pro­ce­dure

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.

If you are Ger­man ac­cord­ing to these pro­vi­sions, you must de­clare, up­on reach­ing 21 years of age, whether you want to keep the Ger­man or the for­eign cit­i­zen­ship (so-called ‘opt­ing pro­ce­dure’, Sec­tion 29 of the Na­tion­al­i­ty Act), un­less

  • you have had your ha­bit­u­al res­i­dence in Ger­many for eight years,
  • you have at­tend­ed school in Ger­many for six years,
  • you hold a school-leav­ing cer­tifi­cate or have com­plet­ed vo­ca­tion­al train­ing in Ger­many.

You are ex­empt from the opt­ing pro­ce­dure if you have ex­clu­sive­ly the na­tion­al­i­ty of an­oth­er EU coun­try or Switzer­land in ad­di­tion to the Ger­man one.

In case you do not meet the re­quire­ments stat­ed above, the com­pe­tent na­tion­al­i­ty au­thor­i­ty will con­tact you af­ter you have reached the age of 21 to ful­ly in­form you about the opt­ing pro­ce­dure, your rights and obli­ga­tions as well as fur­ther steps to take. In the mean­time, you do not need to do any­thing.

The Fed­er­al Of­fice of Ad­min­is­tra­tion is the com­pe­tent au­thor­i­ty with re­spect to the opt­ing pro­ce­dure for Ger­mans liv­ing abroad. If we are un­able to con­tact you, this let­ter will be pub­licly served to you. If you fail to de­clare with­in two years which cit­i­zen­ship you want to keep, you will au­to­mat­i­cal­ly lose your Ger­man na­tion­al­i­ty. There­fore, it is im­por­tant that you no­ti­fy us of your ad­dress or any change of ad­dress.

Please note:

You can re­quest the com­pe­tent na­tion­al­i­ty au­thor­i­ty al­ready be­fore your 21st birth­day to es­tab­lish that you do not have to de­cide for one cit­i­zen­ship any­more.

Peo­ple liv­ing abroad are asked to use the re­quest form of the Fed­er­al Of­fice of Ad­min­is­tra­tion. Please see the ap­pro­pri­ate fact sheet for more de­tails on the pro­ce­dure and the re­quired doc­u­ments.

Please note that the whole ap­pli­ca­tion pro­ce­dure must be con­duct­ed in Ger­man.

More information and forms are available on our German web pages.

your contact

Sup­port / Ser­vice


50728 Köln

Competent organizational unit