So, I found this website explaining how a German citizen can apply to vote while living outside of Germany:


I would fall into the category of people who are German citizens but have not lived there for longer than 3 months and would therefore have to prove that I "have become familiar, personally and directly, with the political situation in the Federal Republic of Germany and are affected by it".

This PDF further explains what sorts of situations would qualify under that category:


As far as I can tell, it says that if a person works with groups that deal with German culture, such as a Goethe Institute, that would make them qualify, but I can't tell if that only includes actual paid work, or if it would also include studies or volunteer work.

If there is anyone here who is familiar with these policies, can you confirm whether having a recent Bachelor's degree in German Studies and relatives living in Germany would be enough for a German citizen living abroad to be allowed to vote in Germany or if they would still have to come up with a more detailed argument than that for why they think they are "familiar, personally and directly, with the political situation in the Federal Republic of Germany and are affected by it"?

  • Only a comment, because I cannot provide any level of confidence, but still having relatives in Germany and contact to them would, in my book, be a pretty strong point for the familiar, personally, directly and affected criteria. Jul 13, 2017 at 7:05
  • I also do not know much about this, but while researching Spanish residency, I read in the actual law that non-citizen residents can vote, and I got the impression that this had something to do with some EU rules.
    – WGroleau
    Jul 13, 2017 at 14:28
  • 1
    @WGroleau the basic principle is that residents can vote in local elections (regardless of citizenship). Nonresident citizens can vote in national elections subject to the requirements of national law. I'm not sure precisely what EU law says on the matter, however, but noncitizens being able to vote locally isn't directly relevant to the present question.
    – phoog
    Jul 13, 2017 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


The ties to German institutions abroad does not seem to be about German culture. The Goethe institute (and most of the others listed in the exceptions) are paid for by the German government. Basically, people who's job depends on who is the next chancellor and whether s/he deems this job worth paying for are considered "personally affected" by default.

You must have become “familiar” personally “with the political situation” in the Federal Republic of Germany directly and because of what you have experienced. Passively participating in communication, for instance by consuming German-language media abroad, does not suffice.

Personally means it has to be you, not your relatives. I would say that studying German alone does not qualify you. It's passive consumption. Are you maybe a member of a German party? Maybe you write a political German blog? Are you participating actively in German politics? Maybe you are a Journalist for a German newspaper?

Your being “affected by the political situation” may result from the fact that you are currently subject to German sovereignty, but it is not restricted to that.

You may be otherwise directly affected. There are probably a thousand different ways. Maybe you live in Europe and drive to or through Germany to work every day? Maybe you are, for whatever reason, paying taxes in Germany? Own a property in Germany? Don't like how "doppelte Staatsbürgerschaft" is handled right now and are affected by that?

I don't know what might or might not apply to you personally. And on top, the decision is made by the municipality and we all know that not all of them decide the same.

But German studies and having German relatives does not seem to be enough. You need to prove you know your way around German politics (basically to prove you know what you are doing when you cast your vote) and you need to show that you have a reason to vote (for example you are negatively affected by policies now or might be in the near future).

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