Since the first German citizenship law of 1870, a child born illegitimately to a German mother would acquire German citizenship at birth.

If the child was born illegitimately with only a German father, however, he or she would not have a claim for German citizenship if born prior to July 1993. The claim would only appear once the child was legitimated.

Legitimation occurred when his/her parents married before July 1998 and paternity was proven.

Since 28th March 2013, the German authorities have also allowed people who are living abroad, who lost out on German citizenship because of their illegitimacy, to apply for discretionary naturalisation.

  • The requirement is that the illegitimate father was a German citizen at the time of the child’s birth
  • and that the paternity was proven or established before the child turned 23 years.

Since July 1993, a child illegitimately born from a German father will be a German citizen if paternity is proven.

This is a complex area and the simple summary above is not comprehensive.

Please also note that the decree of August 2019 has facilitated discretionary naturalisations for illegitimately born children of German fathers who were victims of Nazi persecution and their descendants.


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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