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German Law/Documents for ius sanguinis


QUESTION: Dear Andreas Moser,

I am interested in applying for confirmation of German nationality by descent, and while doing research, I found your website and answers to be of great help. So first, I'd like to thank you for that.

I believe that I may qualify for ius sanguinis. My great-great-grandfather was born in Hamburg in 1881 and, after immigrating to the US in 1885, married and had a son (my great-grandfather) all before becoming a US citizen. The lineage is all paternal and all generations were born in wedlock.

My issue is that, because of the destruction of San Francisco in 1906, I cannot obtain the marriage certificate of this German ancestor nor the birth certificate of his son, my great-grandfather. I do, however, have several census documents that prove his marital status as well as the fact that he had not yet naturalized even when my great-grandfather, his son, was 16 years old.

I have available to me all birth and marriage certificates except these two. Are there ever exceptions made for documents that are impossible to obtain due to natural disasters? In this case, might census documents be evidence enough to complete Appendix V?

Also, I have found in your previous answers that between 1871 and 1913 Germans lost their citizenship if they did not register with the consulate every 10 years. How might I be able to find whether or not he registered with the consulate? Additionally, he was a minor for his first 14 years of living in the US and had his son, my great-grandfather, when he was 22. Was he still required to register with the consulate as a minor, or is there an exception?

Thank you so much for your help.



ANSWER: Dear Tyler,

the census documents are not 100% proof because they rely on self-reporting, but in the absence of any other documents, I would include copies of them and hope that they would be accepted. The earthquake and subsequent fire in San Francisco of 1906 should be known to the German Consulate, but you may want to include a letter from City Hall stating that the records from previous years were destroyed in the fire.

Because you have a strictly paternal line of descent, the issue of marriage is not as relevant. If the father was German, the child received German citizenship irrespective of whether the parents were married or not. In this case, you would only need the birth certificates.

Legally, I should point out that the burden of proof is completely on you because you are the applicant. So the German Consulate may say "tough luck" in the case of destroyed documents. This also pertains to the consular registration between 1871 and 1913 (see OVG NRW 19 A 1170/11 for example).

This can be proven even with the consular register at the German Consulate (which unfortunately also was lost or destroyed in some cases) or if you have German passports of your ancestors from that time. For minors (until age 21 at the time), the registration of the parent was relevant. Lack of such registration also led to the loss of the minor's citizenship ( 21 II StAG 1870).

Good luck with your research and your application!

Andreas Moser

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QUESTION: Andreas Moser,

Thank you so much for your quick response. I really appreciate your help and we would all be lost without it.
I also wanted to ask you how i can obtain the birth certificate of my German ancestor from Hamburg. I found it online through the Hamburg State Archives. Am I to order a certified copy directly from Hamburg, or is it possible to have it sent/faxed to the consulate where maybe they can notarize it?

Kindest regards,


ANSWER: Dear Tyler,

if you already have a case with the Consulate or if you inform the Consulate that they will receive the birth certificate and for what purpose, you may indeed ask the archive in Hamburg to mail or fax it directly to the consulate. In that case, there shouldn't be any doubt about its authenticity.

Good luck with your application!

Andreas Moser

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QUESTION: Dear Andreas Moser,

Thank you so much for your help! Due to your advice at the beginning of the process, my application has officially  been sent to the Bundesverwaltungsamt!
A consular official has informed me that it will take at least one year to process the application. Since you have experience with the process, how long does it usually take to hear back from the Bundesverwaltungsamt?
Thank you again.



Dear Tyler,

these applications sometimes take years.

There is a huge backlog at the moment because many British with German ancestors are filing after the Brexit decision:
And if Donald Trump were to become President, you can expect the numbers to increase tenfold. In that case, it's good that you got your application in early. ;-)

All the best!

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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