New provisions regulating choice of citizenship
On 20 December 2014 the Second Act Amending the Nationality Act entered into force. It contains new provisions concerning the obligation for children born in Germany to non-German parents to choose one nationality (Optionsregelung).
This obligation applies only to persons who have acquired German citizenship under Section 4 (3) of the Nationality Act as a child born in Germany to non-German parents or through naturalisation under Section 40 b of the Nationality Act, i.e. on turning 21 they have to decide whether to keep their German or their parents’ nationality.
Restricting the number of people obliged to opt for one nationality
The Second Act Amending the Nationality Act, which entered into force on 20 December 2014, significantly reduces the number of people obliged to opt for one nationality. Under Section 29 of the Nationality Act in the amended version, anyone who possesses only the nationality of another EU state or Switzerland in addition to German citizenship is exempt from the obligation to choose.
No obligation to opt for one nationality for persons who have grown up in Germany
Furthermore, persons who have grown up in Germany are not obliged to opt for one nationality. Under Section 29 (1) a of the Nationality Act, anyone is considered to have grown up in Germany who
- has been habitually resident in Germany for at least eight years,
- attended school in Germany for at least six years
- completed their schooling or vocational training in Germany.
Notification of the obligation to opt for one nationality
The obligation to opt for one nationality only becomes valid if and when the person concerned receives notification of their obligation to submit a declaration and the potential legal consequences from the competent citizenship authority within one year of turning 21. In this context it should be noted that in cases where the person concerned has moved to an unknown address abroad, notification of the obligation shall be formally served by the Federal Office of Administration (public notice).
To avoid missing deadlines, anyone affected who, upon turning 21, is habitually resident abroad and whose exemption from the obligation to choose has not been bindingly confirmed should contact the Federal Office of Administration in Cologne.
For more information, check out the websites of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the Federal Office of Administration.
If you have specific questions on individual cases, please contact the competent citizenship authority for your place of residence. If you live abroad, please contact the competent German mission abroad or the Federal Office of Administration in Cologne.