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German Law/German citizenship by descent from mother


QUESTION: Hi Andreas,

My wife was born in Frankfurt, Germany at a US military hospital in 1965 to her German citizen mother. She received an American birth certificate and subsequent US passport due to her father's US citizenship. She is speaking German fluently, has lived in Germany for some years of her youth, and went to school for 6 years in Germany until she was 18. Eventually she moved from Germany to the US to attend college and has lived in the US ever since.

My question to you would be if she could easily obtain German citizenship based on these facts. She wants to be able to freely move to Germany or stay for extended periods to be close to her aging mother still living there. Possibly, we may even consider work or retirement in Germany in the future if citizenship can be obtained for her.

Unsure how difficult the application process may be, I am wondering if it is best to seek facilitation by a lawyer to expedite the process. Is it complicated and lengthy to go through the paperwork?

Thank you so much for all the information you have provided here and on your blog. Without it, we may have never found about the changes in the law related to maternal descent before 1975. I am grateful for any direction or help you may be able to provide.

ANSWER: Hello Cris,

yes, there is a good chance!

Germany offers an easier path to naturalization to people like your wife who only did not receive German citizenship by descent because until 1975, German citizenship could only be passed down the paternal line.

This naturalization is easier in two respects:
(a) It is not necessary to reside in Germany, so that your wife can apply while you still live in the US.
(b) It is not a requirement to give up US or any other citizenship.

As your wife is fluent in German, she has cleared the biggest hurdle already. She will also need to show sufficient income (there is no specific amount as it depends on her circumstances) and pass the citizenship test (it's an easy multiple choice test that you can prepare for because all the questions are online).

You don't need a lawyer for this application really. You find all of the requirements listed here: The application needs to be filed with the nearest German consulate.
It's not a very complicated proceeding, but it's not unusual for it to take several years because paperwork will be sent back and forth between the consulate and authorities in Germany, and due to the workload they have.

All the best!

Andreas Moser

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

QUESTION: Hi Andreas,

Thank you very much for your detailed reply. We surely will get the paperwork together and my wife will apply soon. We will follow up and let you know how it goes. Perhaps we may ask you another question as we go through the process in the future?

Thank you kindly, again!


Hello Cris,

yes, of course you may contact me anytime again!
It's probably best if you will then include a link to this thread, so that I will remember what we already spoke about.

And thank you very much for the most generous donation through AllExperts!

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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