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German Law/obtaining german citizenship through grandparent and parent


QUESTION: Hello, I have a question.

This might be a rather complicated one, but I think if I elaborate on my background, it will be much more understandable.

I am born to an Indonesian-German family. My grandmother is a born German, to German parents in 1937. She married an Indonesian, in 1963 as a result of their marriage, they had my father (born in Germany, as they were living there at the time).

He never had the German citizenship, as I assume that before 1975, German mothers cannot pass down their citizenship. In 1969, they moved to Indonesia where my father grew up. In the 1980s, after my grandfather's death, they moved back to Germany. My father then obtained the unbefristete Aufenthaltserlaubnis in 1991. Up until today he still holds the Indonesian citizenship.

My father married an Indonesian, and I was born as a result of their marriage in Indonesia in 1995. I had the Indonesian citizenship since I was born.

I moved to Germany 3 months ago, and am looking at the possibility of obtaining the German citizenship. I speak fluent German (we always spoke German at home), have no criminal record, never served in the Indonesian armed forces whatsoever.

Would it be possible for me to obtain the German citizenship through my descent (Grandmother)? Or would I be able to do so through my father (born to a German permanent resident)?

I have recently contacted the German embassy in Indonesia, but their response was rather unclear. At first they said that I am ineligible for the citizenship. Then they mailed me again saying that I should opt for naturalization here, showing me the address and contact details of a responsible body of authority in my location. I find that rather funny as what I had in mind was claiming a German citizenship through descent rather than being naturalized.

I would like to obtain the citizenship as soon as possible, not having to wait for 3-8 years to be naturalized.

To close, here is a summary of my questions:
-Am I eligible for the German citizenship?
-If I am, who should I go to? The German embassy in Indonesia or the authorities here?
-And if I am, what documents should I bring/compile?
-Through what process will I obtain the German citizenship if I am eligible? Naturalization?

I hope that a neutral, informed party (like you!) can clarify this rather confusing topic to me.


ANSWER: Hello Mark,

as your father was no German citizen as you correctly point out, you cannot claim German citizenship by descent.
In 1963, Germany had no ius soli, so your birth in Germany did also not bestow German citizenship upon you.

Your only chance therefore is naturalization. Due to your language skills, you could actually already have applied for German naturalization while living in Indonesia because there is a possibility to get naturalized in Germany without fulfilling any residence requirement:

Now that you live in Germany, you would however be subject to the residence requirement. Because you fulfil all the criteria for naturalization already, the best way to speed up the naturalization would be to get married or enter a civil union with a German spouse, because then you would get naturalized after 3 years. Other options to speed up the process are if you are very good in a certain sport and if Germany would want to have you on their national team or if you have some valuable information that you would want to share with the German Intelligence Service.
If none of these are veritable options, you might ironically be in a better position if you applied from abroad, thereby circumventing the residence requirement.

For general information on German citizenship law:

Andreas Moser

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

QUESTION: Hi Andreas Moser,

Could you explain more about naturalization through Indonesia? I am intending to return there for a couple weeks vacation.

What exactly is the official German name of that process?

You stated in your article "Naturalization in Germany from abroad" (link: that I have to show my ties to Germany. What specifically can I show? Would it be "ties enough" if:

-I will be in a German university by 2014?
-My grandmother is a German and father is a German PR?

How long would this naturalization process from abroad take?


Hallo Mark,

der deutsche Begriff ist einfach "Einbürgerung nach § 14 StAG".

Da dies eine Ermessens- und keine Anspruchseinbürgerung darstellt, ist es besser, so viele Bindungen an Deutschland wie möglich zu haben. In Nr. 4 meiner FAQ liste ich einige dieser Möglichkeiten auf.
Ich fürchte, daß allein die Absicht, ein Studium in Deutschland aufnehmen zu wollen, und einige deutsche Verwandte nicht ausreichen. In dem Zusammenhang wäre es hilfreich, wenn Dein Vater die deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit beantragen würde, aber selbst dann bräuchtest Du wahrscheinlich noch stärkere wirtschaftliche und andere Verbindungen zu Deutschland.

So ein Prozess zieht sich über viele Monate hin und muß gründlich vorbereitet werden, am besten durch verstärkte Aktivitäten mit Deutschlandbezug über mehrere Jahre (z.B. Deutsch im Ausland lehren, akademische Aktivitäten im Ausland mit Deutschlandbezug, Investitionen in Deutscheland, Unternehmensgründung in Deutschland).

Als angehender Student ist es wahrscheinlich einfacher, das Studium in Deutschland zu absolvieren und danach (oder je nach Studiendauer schon während des Studiums) die Einbürgerung zu beantragen.

Viel Erfolg und viel Spaß in Deutschland!

Andreas Moser

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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

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