You are here:

German Law/German CItizenship from maternal Great Grandfather


QUESTION: My mother's mother's, father (my great grandfather) was born in the US from German parents who did not become US citizens by the time he was born.  Am I a German citizen under ius sanguinis?  

I don't know if it matters but I was born in 1979 and my grandmother in the 1920's and my great grandfather, grandmother, or mom never served in the military.

Thank you,


ANSWER: Hello Rob,

the answer depends on whether your grandmother was a German citizen and whether your mother was.
Citizenship can only be passed down through ius sanguinis if the chain is un-interrupted through the generations.

See no. 2 of my FAQ about German citizenship:

In order to find out about this, we would need to research all of the citizenship-relevant records for your ancestors and the laws in place at the times between your great-grandfather coming to the US and now, with all their changes. A complicated (and therefore expensive) endeavour unfortunately.

Andreas Moser

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for the answer.  

The only reason that I asked is because some web pages say that citizenship can only be passed from father to child, not from mother to child if the parents were married when the child was born.  

Does citizenship pass from either mother or father in the same way?

Thank you,


Hello Rob,

the answer to that question again depends on when the birth occurred and on the law in place at the time of your or your ancestor's birth. As the German citizenship law has changed a number of times throughout the turbulent 20th century, there is no one answer for all cases.

Andreas Moser

German Law

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Andreas Moser


Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.


Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.


2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

©2016 All rights reserved.