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German Law/German citizenship by birth and/or parentage


QUESTION: Hallo Andreas,

I was born in Berlin in 1966 to a German mother and Iranian father.  At the time, German law required that I had to be considered an Iranian citizen.  My family now lives in the United States, and since the mid-1980s, my family and I are all now American citizens.  My question is could I qualify for German citizenship (or ideally dual German-American citizenship), based on either my birth in Germany or my maternal heritage?

danke für ere hilfe,

ANSWER: Hello Konrad,

even if we could somehow retroactively establish German citizenship for you due to you having been born by a German mother in Germany, you would have lost that German citizenship when you were naturalized in the US. German citizenship law states that German citizenship is lost when voluntarily accepting another citizenship, even if your parents applied for it on your behalf (§ 25 I 1 StAG).

Of course you could apply to get re-naturalized in Germany, but Germany would require you to give up your US citizenship. Funnily enough, you would not be required to give up your Iranian citizenship because Germany is aware that you don't have this possibility under Iranian law.

For more on German citizenship law:

Andreas Moser

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

QUESTION: Hallo noch mal Andreas,

Vielen danke für ere schnell und detailed antworte.

One quick follow-up question: Does my birth and/or maternal heritage offer me any legal advantages over the average foreigner if rather than citizenship I only sought German residency instead?


Hello Konrad,

you have no legal advantage, as in the strict eyes of the law you are a US/Iranian citizen.

But of course you have an indirect advantage if you still speak German, as you will either find employment more easily (leading to a work-based residence permit) or as you could more easily enrol in a German university (leading to a student residence permit).

Andreas Moser

German Law

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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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