Comparing German Citizenship Rules with the Rest of Europe

Comparing German Citizenship Rules with the Rest of Europe

Gaining citizenship in a foreign country is often a complex and nuanced process, with rules and regulations varying from one nation to another. In Germany, significant changes are on the horizon regarding dual citizenship for non-EU citizens. This article explores the upcoming changes in German citizenship rules and compares them with the policies of other European countries.


New Rules in Germany

Currently, only EU and Swiss nationals can retain their original citizenship when becoming German citizens. Exceptions include children with a German parent, refugees, and those from countries that forbid renunciation of citizenship. German citizens wishing to naturalize elsewhere while keeping their German nationality can apply for a retention permit. However, an overhaul of these rules is expected in April 2024, allowing for multiple nationalities and reducing residence requirements.


Austria generally does not allow dual citizenship. Anyone acquiring Austrian citizenship typically loses their foreign citizenship. Waivers are granted only in cases of “extraordinary achievements.” Austrians at birth can maintain citizenship under specific circumstances, and descendants of those who fled the Nazi regime can have their Austrian citizenship restored.


Spain generally requires individuals naturalizing as Spanish citizens to renounce their previous nationality. However, this rule doesn’t apply to nationals of specific countries, like Latin American nations, Andorra, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, and others. While you’ll have to renounce your original nationality legally, you don’t have to physically surrender your other passport.

Dual Citizenship Permitted

Several European countries, including France, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland, and the UK, allow dual citizenship. Each has its own residency requirements, language tests, and conditions for obtaining citizenship. In Sweden, for instance, there’s no language or civics test, but the government is considering changes.


Denmark has strict citizenship laws, requiring a waiting period after obtaining permanent residence. Dual citizenship was allowed after a change in 2015. Former Danes can reacquire their citizenship through a declaration.


After recent changes in regulations, Norway now allows dual citizenship. Those who lost their Norwegian citizenship before 2020 can reacquire it by submitting a notification.


The Netherlands usually requires foreign nationals acquiring Dutch citizenship to renounce their original citizenship. Exceptions exist, such as for spouses’ citizenship or asylum residence permit holders.

Eastern Europe

Many Eastern European countries impose restrictions on dual citizenship, making it challenging for individuals to maintain multiple nationalities.

German citizenship rules are evolving to accommodate dual citizenship for non-EU citizens, reducing residence requirements and offering exceptions for integration and exceptional achievements. While Germany is becoming more inclusive, other European nations have varying policies, some permitting dual citizenship and others adhering to stricter rules. Understanding the citizenship rules in the country you wish to naturalize in is crucial to navigate the process effectively.

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