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German Law/German Citizenship by Decent


Hello Andreas,

Thank you for the helpful information you have posted regarding German dual citizenship.

My maternal German grandmother was born in Germany near Vilshofen in 1937. She married my grandfather, an American serving in the US military, in Munich in 1957.

She then immigrated to the US where I found she became a US citizen in November, 1964. My mother was born to her and my grandfather here in the US in October 1964...just over a month before my grandmother became a US citizen. So, my grandmother would have still been a German citizen at the time of my mother's birth. My mother has never pursued a confirmation of dual citizenship or anything.

In this situation, does it seem that I would have German citizenship through my grandmother? My mother has not dome anything that would have rescinded her German citizenship.

Thank you in advance for your help!


Hello Brandon,

I grew up very close to Vilshofen, in Amberg. But now to your question:

Unfortunately, your grandmother did not pass on German citizenship to your mother because prior to 1975 only German fathers could pass on citizenship. The law was rather old-fashioned back then and favored the paternal line.

However, Germany has now acknowledged that this was a bit discriminatory and therefore allows people like your mother to apply for German citizenship from abroad without having to give up their other (in her case US) citizenship. See no. 8 of my FAQ on naturalization from abroad:

Sadly, this would only help you if you were a minor. Otherwise, you will not be covered by your mother's naturalization and it won't have any effect on your citizenship because it won't be backdated to your birth.

Sorry that I don't have better news,
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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