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German Law/UK citizen, after Brexit


Hi Andreas, hope you're having a good time on your travels. I came here from your blog so have read about the numbers of enquires you are getting on this topic. I have also read answers here before posting my question so as not to replicate asking q's already asked as per your instruction.

I could't find an answer that really fit (Conran's was closest i guess) so here goes:

I was born in 1973, (my bother, also asking the same question, in 1970). Our mother is German, born 1939, was married to a Portuguese at the time of our birth and still now, and has been living in the UK for some 50 years now. She has always retained a german passport.

We both (my brother and I) are currently UK nationals & passport holders and would like either some way of retaining links to German heritage and the EU post Brexit. I was born slightly after the UK's accession to the EU after all, so consider myself European, esp due to having no English parents.  

I am considering the same question of gaining duel nationality via Portugese heritage (so UK & Portuguese perhaps) but believe duel nationality is possible (from what I've read so far) for Germany too.

The fact is throughout childhood, I had far more contact with the German side of my heritage and exposure / visits to german based family culture and language.

It may therefore be more "proper" to apply via German roots, what do you think? My Spoken German is pretty ok, and would get better if I spent time practicing, but written is non existent really, I've never really had cause to learn it.

I know about the pre 1975 "mother does't pass citizenship on to kids" rule but as in your reply to Conran, you seem to say this is being repealed due to the obvious discrimination.

Before I read that reply,Ii had no idea there was any requirement for German language proficiency, and the timeline you indicated for this duel citizenship application may also be problematic (you quoted 2 years right?)

What with the article 50 triggering UK leaving the EU in around October. Please advise me/us if you can on the best course of action and if you think I / we are in fact eligible for duel citizenship based on the information detailed above, thank you in advance, Mark.

Good advice is hard to get and the clock on this is ticking!

p.s, what is a good donation amount? I'm happy to pay of course but have no idea and don't want to get the amount wrong to either the low or high side :)

Dear Mark,

sorry for my late reply, but as you can imagine I am getting inundated with questions from British citizens after the Brexit referendum.

I can see that you have already done considerable research, so I won't start from zero again, but just clarify a few points and reply to your specific questions.

1. Yes, as long as the UK remains in the EU, German law allows dual citizenship even in cases of naturalization. If the UK will leave later, you can still keep dual citizenship. Nothing will be revoked retroactively.

2. You can pursue the Portuguese and the German route at both times and end up with three citizenships (again, as long as the UK is in the EU by the time of you receiving German citizenship).

3. Because German mothers could not pass on German citizenship to their children prior to 1975 (exception: if the mother was unmarried, which is not the case here), you and your brother did not gain German citizenship at birth. Germany is rectifying this by allowing you to apply for naturalization without any residency requirement in Germany ( 14 StAG).

4. However, you need to meet all the other requirements for German naturalization, including passing a German exam in writing and speaking at C1 level, which is basically fluency. That's quite a high level (particularly in writing) and corresponds to the level required to study at a German university. You can check out sample exams at the website of the Goethe Institute: Because there is no time limit on your application, you can of course train yourself to that level, but now we have the added problem of Brexit. As you mentioned, in my experience, these applications can easily take more than a year because there is a huge backlog.

5. The other big hurdle is that you need to show very strong ties to Germany: family living there, regular visits, student exchange, academic interests in Germany, business ties and so on. If you have more to offer in one area that can outweigh a deficit in another area, but you need to present quite a convincing case because these applications are decided based on discretion. There is no points-based system, so the more you can show, the better. Obviously, I can help with the application letter, but we will need something to work with.

6. The other requirements are that you can support yourself financially and that you could afford health insurance if you were to move to Germany. And you shouldn't have a (serious) criminal record, of course.

7. So, ultimately my advice would be:
a) Find out the requirements for Portuguese citizenship because it may be much easier.
b) Test your level of German. Because you mentioned that you don't write it, I would find it very hard to get to C1 level in a short time.
c) Alternatively, you can of course move to Germany or any other EU country now and then apply for naturalization after meeting the residency requirement. In Germany, that would be 6 years if you get to B2 level (less than what is required for naturalization from abroad) or 7 years if you get to B1 level within that time. Because Portugal and Germany are in Schengen and thus nobody really knows when you will be there, you could also work something out where you live in both countries. But that option of course depends on your job, your qualifications, your family situation and your priorities.

8. Thank you very much for asking about the donation! Because my answer did not provide any great breakthrough or any shortcut, I would say that something around 20 EUR is absolutely fine. I would appreciate that a lot! Alternatively, I am also very thankful if someone mails me a book from my wishlist:

All the best to you and your brother!

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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