You are here:

German Law/Born 1962 to German mother and American father


QUESTION: Dear Andreas,

my question is about acquiring German citizenship, however my background to this question is rather long. I was born in the United States in 1962 to a German mother and American father. My parents divorced and in 1976 I moved with my mother to her hometown Hamburg, where I completed my schooling and further education. I received an "unbegrenzte Aufenthaltserlaubnis" and at the time my mother felt that it would be more advantageous for me to keep my American citizenship rather than to acquire German citizenship and that the Aufenthaltsgenehmigung would be sufficient. This proved to be the case and I lived in Germany for 10 years and did not consider acquiring citizenship. I left Germany in 1986 and have not lived there since,  although I still travel to Germany 4 times per year to visit my mother and my German side of the family. I have also worked in tourism for many years dealing with German travellers and have a strong connection to Germany. I speak fluent German. I am married to a British citizen and reside in the U.K. and also have British citizenship. I have made enquiries in the past about aquiring German citizenship, however was told that since I was born before 1975 it would not be possible. I have now heard that this regulation has been changed and have stumbled on this website. I have read the link to the German regulations and it states that besides showing strong ties to Germany I must  prove that I could support myself, and here is my question, I have been a housewife for the past 8 years and have not been working, therefore cannot show that i could support myself. How would this impact on my chances of aquring German citizenship? With BREXIT approaching I feel like my link to Germany is being torn away from me as my husband (speaks passable German) and I have always thought of moving to Germany in a few years. Sorry for the long story. I would greatly appreciate if you could advise me whether I would have any chances without being able to show a working history.

Thank you and kind regards
Patricia M.

ANSWER: Dear Patricia,

you have two options:

a) You could apply for naturalization from abroad based on being the child of a German mother born before 1975. See no. 8 of my FAQ on more of this:

But as you have correctly noted, you would need to show the ability to provide for yourself financially. You do not necessarily be in employment, but unless you have enormous savings that you can live off, or you have property that you could rent out, you will have a hard time meeting that requirement.

b) Your other option is to move to Germany, live there and then apply for regular naturalization.

The advantage of that option in your case is that you can get up to 5 years of your previous stay in Germany counted towards the residence requirement ( 12b II StAG). Because the general residence requirement is between 6 and 8 years depending on your language skills, you may only need to live in Germany for one more year (that is if you speak German at least at B2 level, which you do).

For naturalization from within Germany, you also need to show that you can support yourself, but this does not need to be regular employment. You basically need to show that you have other sources of income than welfare or unemployment benefits.

Because you have your mother in Germany, you may even register yourself at her address (if there is enough space to make it credible that you live there), pretend that you live in Germany and apply for naturalization after a year. If your mother lives in Hamburg, it's a large enough city that nobody would find out that you are not there all the time (this would not work if she lives in a small community where everyone knows everyone). And we would need to think of a creative way to portray your economic/financial activity during that time.

c) Keep in mind that you would need to give up your US citizenship, but if you finalize the naturalization before Brexit enters into effect, you could keep your UK citizenship (also after Brexit).

In summary: It's a bit complicated, but something can be worked out.

Andreas Moser

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

QUESTION: Hello Andreas,
thank you for your very helpful advice. When I gave up working in tourism, I studied massage therapy and worked freelance for a while as a therapist, but have given that up due to developing tendonitis and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. If I were to register at my mothers address in Hamburg, I could say that I am a Massage- und Wellnesstherapeutin, open a bank account there and have my mother make regular payments into the account. Just enough to register as a taxpayer perhaps. Not sure if something like this would be an option. Also my mother is planning on going into an assisted living complex sometime next year and the idea is that she gives me her apartment, which I would rent out. So next year I would own property in Hamburg. Eventually we wanted to move into that apartment ourselves. Brexit is really making a hash of our plans.

Another option is for me to find work in England and work here just enough to pay taxes for the next year and then apply for German citizenship. At my age and with such a large gap of unemployment, it will be a stretch to find full time, well paying work though. How much salary do you think the authorities would want to see in order for me to show that I could support myself?

Many thanks for your help

Dear Patricia,

first of all, thank you very much for your donation!

To satisfy the income requirement in Germany, you only need to show that you can survive without recourse to welfare. That means that if you live in an apartment of your own (or of your mother's without her charging rent), something like 500 EUR/month can be absolutely enough.

Setting up a business is not a bad idea. The only thing is that if you were asked to produce bank account statements upon application for citizenship, it would be a bit suspicious if you only receive money from one "client".

Rental income could be enough depending on how much you receive from that. You have to consider that it should be enough for you to live in Germany elsewhere and pay your own rent plus all other expenses.

Because you are bilingual, you may also be able to work as a freelance translator for English and German. That's something you can do from home and it may provide some extra income. And with work like that, nobody can really tell if you were working in Germany or in the UK. Of course you would need to declare your income for taxes in Germany.
I also work as a translator to finance my travels and I will write an article on my blog in the coming days about how to find clients and how to get jobs as a freelancer.

Lastly, I don't want to complicate things, but if your mother is planning to transfer her apartment to you in order not to have to sell it to pay for the assisted living, this may cause problems. If she doesn't have enough insurance to cover the expenses for the assisted living and the state will have to pay part of the fees for her, they can take recourse and demand the return of the apartment for 10 years ( 528 I 1 BGB).

Because an application from abroad ( 14 StAG) would take a long time to process (up to several years) and because it looks like the EU will be quite tough on UK citizens after Brexit (if only out of reciprocity), it would be advisable to move (at least officially) to Germany rather sooner than later to get the clock counting on your residence time there. If the income will only be coming in over the next months, that won't be a problem.

Andreas Moser

German Law

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.