Was my ancestor a German citizen?

Your ancestor is likely to have been a German citizen if he or she was:

  • born in what is now Germany before 1914,
  • granted a German passport (not being an alien’s passport), or
  • employed by the government or public sector of Germany before September 1953.

Does that mean I am a German citizen?

Maybe, but it is often complicated. In many cases – but not all – a child born in any country to a German parent will have inherited German citizenship.

For this reason, it is sometimes possible for German citizenship to be “passed down” through many generations. Therefore, you could be eligible for German citizenship even if you or your parents never visited Germany.

Generally, before 1975 citizenship was passed down via male ancestors only. After 1975 it could be passed down by both male and female ancestors. In some cases, such as statelessness or children born out of wedlock, citizenship can be passed down via a mother even before 1975.

Did my ancestor lose citizenship? What would that mean for my claim?

There are many ways a person can lose German citizenship, for instance by continuous absence from German territory for 10 years before 1914, or by acquiring non-German nationality – although this is subject to exceptions.

Nearly all Jewish German citizens lost citizenship between 1933 and 1941. If your parent or ancestor lost citizenship in this way, then you and your children may qualify for the restoration of German citizenship. It does not matter if your ancestor emigrated from Germany well before 1933.

If a German citizen parent lost their citizenship before the birth of a child, the child would not acquire German citizenship through that parent.  However, a child who missed out on citizenship could potentially obtain citizenship by restoration or discretionary naturalisation.


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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