Someone who went through the process kindly shared their experience with us.
Please note that the new coalition government is in favour of allowing dual citizenship but it is not legislated yet. We will update our website as soon as we know more.
Summary of the steps to apply/obtain German citizenship through naturalisation (assuming you have satisfied the legal pre-requisites):
- Ensure that you satisfy the legal pre-requisites for applying for naturalisation (see the German Nationality Law)
- Arrange for a pre-check (Beratungsgespräch) with the local naturalisation office (Einbürgerungsbehörde) where they check your general eligibility.
At this meeting, you will also get the application form and be told which requirements you have to fulfil / which documentary proof (in form of a checklist) you have to obtain in support of your application. (for example in Munich: https://www.muenchen.de/dienstleistungsfinder/muenchen/1080548/)
- Once you collected all the necessary documentation (including things like your “Einbürgerungstest”, proof of language ability, etc), you can go and formally lodge your naturalisation application at the naturalisation office. Please note that all English documentation (from SA for example) has to be duly translated into German.
- The naturalisation office will then process your application – this can take between 6 and 12 months.
- Once your application for naturalisation has been approved in principle, you will get a letter from the naturalisation office that confirms that you are eligible for German Citizenship through naturalisation.
This letter will also confirm which prerequisites you have to comply with before you will be awarded German citizenship – this normally indicates that you have to renounce your South African citizenship.
- With the confirmation of eligibility for German citizenship through naturalisation (“Einbürgerungszusicherung”) you can apply to renounce your South African citizenship from the SA Consulate/Embassy.
This document needs to be translated into English before you can apply for renunciation. The processing time for the SA Embassy/Consulate takes around 9-12 months.
- During the time that your renunciation application is being processed by the South African authorities, your South African documentation (passport, etc) remains valid and can be used for travel.
- Once your renunciation has been duly processed, you will receive a notification from the SA Embassy/Consulate to hand in your South African documentation (all passports and ID documents). As soon as you have handed in your documentation, the SA Embassy/Consulate will hand over the confirmation of your renunciation to you (called the “Renunciation Certificate), as well as a letter confirming that you handed in your South African documents and can now apply for a South African permanent resident ID. (We have had reports that for some reason, only the embassy in Berlin issues people with this letter – the Consulate in Munich somehow does not and we are unsure why).
- The confirmation of your renunciation (the Renunciation Certificate) will also include your new ID number which shows your new status as a non-citizen with permanent residency. See the screenshot attached. (The third last digit of your ID number will change from a “0” indicating that you are a citizen, to a “1”, showing you are now classified as a permanent resident – see Wikipedia on how this works).
- You will need to submit your Renunciation Certificate (of course, again, duly translated into German) to your local naturalisation office for the naturalisation office to finalise your German Citizenship documentation. The naturalisation office will need roughly 3 to 8 weeks (up to 12 weeks) to issue your naturalisation certificate.
- Once your naturalisation certificate has been issued, you will be invited to collect the naturalisation certificate at your local naturalisation office (at this point you will also have to pay your naturalisation application fee, which is currently 255€).
- With the naturalisation certificate, you can subsequently apply for your German documentation (Ausweis and Passport). The processing time for a new Ausweis is (currently) approximately 2-4 weeks. The processing time for a new passport is approximately 4-6 weeks. You can apply for an “express” Passport for an extra fee, which reduces the issuing time to roughly 72 hours.
This is what the Renunciation Certificate looks like:
This is the letter from the Embassy confirming that you handed in your documents and may now apply for a South African Permanent Residency ID Document:
Permanent Residence in South Africa
South African-born nationals automatically retain their right to permanent residence in South Africa.
You can apply for your new Non-citizen identity document as soon as you received confirmation of your renunciation of South African citizenship
As a German citizen, you can stay in South Africa for 90 days without a visa, but having a right to permanent residence allows you to stay indefinitely.
Here is an example of a letter confirming the right to Permanent Residence for South African citizens by birth who renounced their SA citizenship during the course of naturalising as a German citizen.
- South Africa Immigration Act 13 of 2002
- South Africa Citizenship Act 17 of 2010
- Germany – Nationality Act
- Federal Foreign Office – Law on Nationality
- Federal Foreign Office – German Citizenship
- Federal Ministry of the Interior – Naturalisation