German Law/Citizenship


QUESTION: My wife, who is German lost her German Passport in a fire together with other important papers.  Now at age 65, she has the right to
collect German Social Security, but they require that she can prove to be a German.  Many attempts to get that from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. have failed.  She is now considered "illegal" in this country, can't get a U.S. Social Security # and the Germans in Berlin approved her Social Security Payments but she must have a notarized Statement showing a valid German Passport to get her Benefits.  We are totally stumped, that the Germans try to tell her
that they can't find out if she gave up her German Citizenship.  She could never do that, since her Passport burned.... Any advice on what else we can do would be appreciated.
Thank You

ANSWER: I am also a bit shocked,  because it should be very easy to find out if your wife still has German citizenship.

Whoever issued her last passport (whether a German Consulate or an agency in Germany) should have a record of it.
Also, if your wife used to live in Germany, the last place of residence will still have records.
Also, she should be able to get her birth certificate from Germany if she was born there.

The only way she could have lost her German citizenship is by applying for US citizenship (which your wife will know if she ever did that) without obtaining a "Beibehaltungsgenehmigung" in accordance with 25 II StAG (which the Consulate or the Bundesverwaltungsamt which issued this permit to keep German citizenship should have).

I'll be able to help in a more specific manner, including with all the research, if your contacts me at with more details about her history (where she was born, when she moved to the US, if she ever applied for US citizenship, any other potential citizenships, what kind of documents she has from Germany and so on).

Andreas Moser

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

QUESTION: Thank You for your quick response.
My wife has her birth certificate, German Drivers License that were issued in 1968..We got married in Germany at the Franfurt Standesamt and have the original certificates.  She came with me to the United States in 1977 and in 1982 her Passport burned and I have tried for her to become a legal resident, but since we do not have her original passport, we are having trouble. I was stationed in Germany, got out of the Military and resided as a civilian in  Germany for a while, but my health got worse, and I wanted to return home. Since my wife was pregnant at the time, we did not have the time to apply for her to become a resident of the U.S.  After we got here, I was told that my income was not high enough to sponsor my wife!! So, we just went on with our life.  She NEVER applied for a U.S. Social Security #, NEVER used one for any purpose, NEVER worked in the U.S. but we made a living.  She found out that she is entitled to her German Social Security and applied for it.  Berlin approved it, but the last hurdle before they can pay her is her Certificate of Life and Citizenship from the Deutsche Rentenversicherung that the German Embassy won't sign, because she does not have a valid German Passport!! They are just giving us the run-a-round to avoid paying her. I do appreciate your timely response, and I will make a donation to you and maybe if it is not too expensive hire you to represent her.
Thank You again for your timely response..


if your wife could get documents from Frankfurt stating that she lived there until 1977 and that she was a German citizen by then, and she signs an affidavit that her German passport was later burnt (maybe there is also an insurance claim or a newspaper report about the fire which you could attach?) and you both sign an affidavit that she never applied for US citizenship or never obtained US citizenship in any other way, then I think you should have everything that you need.

If the German Consulate makes your wife's claim dependant on her having a German passport, she will simply apply for a German passport with the German Consulate. Then they'll have to make an official decision whether to issue one or not. If they don't, your wife will be able to appeal.

As to your question about my fees, I charge 150 EUR = 200 USD for an in-depth consultation over the phone.

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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