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German Law/German birth mother but adopted by a British family.


Dear Andreas,

I wonder if you can help.

I would like to know if I have any entitlement to German citizenship by birth. I was born in the UK in 1979.  My mother is German with a full German passport, and my father is of Italian (maternal) and Irish/English (paternal) heritage and holds a UK passport.

I have close contact with both my biological parents and have done since I was in my early teens.

My mother lived in Germany until she was 8 months pregnant, and then came to stay with friends in the UK until after I was born.

I have 'inherited' British citizenship through the location of my birth and at around months old I was adopted by a British family. I therefore hold a British passport.

I have ordered copies of my adoption certificate and also my pre adoption birth certificate which I know states my birth mothers name.
I'm yet to see if my fathers name is on it. (He was kept out of the picture despite requests to be involved and did not actually sign anything to consent to my adoption).

I would really appreciate your consideration in answering my question.

Kind regards,

Saskia :)

Dear Saskia,

as your mother was German at the time of your birth, you automatically received German citizenship at birth. It didn't matter that the birth took place in another country, nor that you received other citizenships as well.

However, then came the tricky issue of your adoption.

27 StAG (the German Citizenship Act) states that you would have lost German citizenship when you were adopted by foreign citizens IF you obtained their citizenship in the process of the adoption.

So, if you already were British due to being born in Britain and/or because of your British father, the adoption did not bestow British citizenship upon you (again) and you would have maintained your German citizenship. If one the other hand, the adoption automatically led to you acquiring British citizenship, then you would have lost the German citizenship in the process.

Your other line of argument could be that 27 StAG requires that the foreign adoption is recognized by German laws. If your father was kept out of the whole adoption, it may have been a legally faulty adoption. In that case, the consequence of 27 StAG (loss of German citizenship) might not apply. But that one is a very tricky issue because we would need to research the adoption laws in place at the time in both countries.

So when you go to the German Consulate and apply for a certificate of German citizenship (the step which is necessary before applying for a German passport), you will need to show that and how you obtained British citizenship at birth and the adoption therefore had no influence on your citizenship.

I wish you all the best!

Andreas Moser

PS: Thank you very much for your donation!

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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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