My 18-year-old daughter was born in the USA to a German citizen (her father). We moved to Australia when she was 6 months of age and she became naturalised as a dual US/AU at about 5. She has spent time in Europe with her German family and would like to move to Germany for university when she graduates. She doesn't want her US citizenship, but would like to keep her Australian citizenship, as her sister and I still live here, plus she has friends etc.

If she first revoked her US citizenship, then applied for German citizenship, how can she keep the Australian one? I know it is possible but my question is, how? For example, if she had an apartment in her name, would she be able to use real estate ties as a reason.

Or, can she, through her father, somehow obtain permanent residency there, and would that be easier?

  • 1
    Under German law, she probably already is a German citizen. She wouldn't need to renounce her US nationality, and I don't know anything about Australian nationality law, but she probably won't lose it unless she renounces it. If Australia is like most countries, she doesn't need a "reason" to retain her Australian nationality; she just keeps it until she renounces it.
    – phoog
    Apr 13, 2017 at 22:01
  • Yes that's true she is. However to obtain a passport, she needs to go through the process. It doesn't take long. The problem is retaining her australian citizenship, and it is not australia, but germany that doesn't allow dual citizenship except in certain cases. That's what I am wondering about. Thanks.
    – alli
    Apr 13, 2017 at 23:40
  • I did some research and wrote up an answer but then I realized that it was incorrect because of Germany's rules against dual nationality. It looks to me like there are two possibilities: (1) your daughter lost her German nationality when she naturalized in Australia, in which case she can't get a German passport, or (2) her naturalization didn't cause her to lose German nationality because she was a minor, in which case she's already a dual (well, triple) citizen. In neither case will retaining her Australian citizenship be a problem.
    – phoog
    Apr 14, 2017 at 2:13
  • Thanks! I have done some research too but it seems inconclusive because of Germany's rule against dual nationality. Maybe it makes sense to check with the german consulate here in Australia.... Or maybe she could revoke her US one and not mention the Australian one? Seems a bit dodgy though!
    – alli
    Apr 14, 2017 at 7:26
  • 1
    Dodgy indeed. I would try to ask the German consulate. Was she naturalized together with her father? If so, I think she's out of luck. (Are you aware that it costs AUD 3172.50 to renounce US citizenship?)
    – phoog
    Apr 14, 2017 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


There is a special rule to simplify naturalisation for former German citizens (reacquisition) and it does not seem to require giving up any other citizenship the applicant might have (all that stems from a distinct part of the law which doesn't seem to apply here). That would seem the logical route to try. Do note that this is a so-called Kann-Einbürgerung, where the authorities have some freedom of appreciation, not an automatic right by any means.

In fact, the German embassy in Australia has a page on this procedure. It does suggest that while renouncing other citizenships is not a legal requirement, they still take a skeptical view of dual citizenship when considering applications.

There is no point in renouncing US citizenship, at least from the perspective of German nationality law. Dual or multiple citizenships by birth are perfectly fine. It's naturalisation that's more complicated:

  • When a German citizen acquires another citizenship, they automatically lose their German citizenship, lest they apply for permission before gaining the other citizenship. That ship has long sailed. The law explicitly provides that this disposition covers children who gained another citizenship together with their parents.

    However, Wikipedia suggests there are some pending court cases testing the constitutionality of this disposition and precedents exempting people who did not have a choice in acquiring that citizenship. Maybe there is a case to be built there but it's a long shot.

    The website of the German embassy in Australia also suggests that it's possible to reacquire German citizenship more easily if the applicant would have met the conditions to retain their German citizenship at the time they lost it and still meets them today. That's where ties to Germany become relevant and they do not specify exactly what's required, although property is mentioned as one element.

    There are two difficulties with that in this case: (1) There is a 12-year window to apply under this procedure and it seems your daughter just exceeded it and (2) a Beibehaltungsgenehmigung (permission to retain German citizenship) would have been issued if you applied for it in time. The latter suggests that having ties to Germany now might not be enough if your daughter cannot show she had some back when she became an Australian citizen.

  • When a foreign resident becomes German through the regular naturalisation process (i.e. §10, not §13), they have to renounce their former citizenship, except in a limited number of cases: EU and Swiss citizens, or if renouncing that citizenship is impossible or would create an undue burden for the person. None of this would seem to apply here so retaining Australian citizenship would seem impossible in this case.

    Of course, regular naturalisation comes with a bunch of other requirements, speaking German, living in Germany for 8 years, etc. It's not a quick and easy route to residence and my understanding is that having a father who used to be German would not make any difference.

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