German citizenship can be acquired through adoption by a German parent or lost through adoption by a non-German parent.

Acquisition of German citizenship:

  • From 1959 to 1976, a child adopted by a German parent could obtain German citizenship through declaration. The deadline was 31 December 1979.
  • Since 1977, a child adopted by a German parent is entitled to German citizenship.

Loss of German citizenship:

  • Prior to 1977, a German child which was adopted by one (or both) foreign parent would not lose his/her German citizenship.
  • Since 1977, German citizenship is lost if a German child is adopted by foreign citizens. This, however, only occurs if the child acquires a foreign nationality because of the adoption – careful consideration of the adopting person’s adoption laws must therefore be had in every individual case.

The adoptee will not lose their German nationality if at least one remaining legal parent is a German citizen

Currently, whoever adopts a child will legally be considered the parent of the child and will give him/her their family name. Similarly, the child will automatically obtain German citizenship if one or both of the parents are German citizens.

To be recognised in German law, the adoptive parent(s) must be financially stable and be at least 25 years old; couples, however, may adopt if one of the adopting parents is at least 25 and the other at least 21. Adoption orders made by foreign authorities must be approved in order to be valid in Germany.

Adults can be adopted as well, but the German law considers this to be a “weak adoption”, which means that the relationship is limited between the adopting parents and the adoptee (thereby excluding other familial ties). This also implies that German citizenship is not passed on to the adult adoptee.


The German government processing times for citizenship applications outside of Germany have increased to over two years, therefore we feel unable to provide new clients with the service that we would want to. So, for the time being, we are not providing services to German Citizenship aside from our existing clients.

We are monitoring the situation and may resume services should things change. We hope that the information above was useful. If so, please let us know on one of our social media platforms, such as our Facebook page.


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H.A. - Pretoria, South Africa