Are you a Brit thinking of applying for German Citizenship before Brexit? Time to get your skates on! Katie from Red Tape Translation gives us a detailed account of what it’s like to be a Brit going for “Einbürgerung”.
Brexit day is looming, and with a whole host of uncertainties. As we all know, after 29th March 2019, us Brits will no longer be classed as EU citizens, and that date is coming up pretty fast. If you’re thinking of applying for German citizenship, it’s important to know that the German Cabinet has passed a bill, affording British citizens until the end of the transition period (20th March 2019 – 31st December 2020) to apply for dual nationality. This means you won’t have to forfeit your British citizenship. Of course, in the case of a no-deal Brexit, this bill will no longer apply. As the jury is out on deal/no-deal for the time being, the proverbial clock is tick-tocking.
I am a Brit, married to a German and together my husband and I have two Berlin-born girls. I have lived in Germany since I was 22, so taking the plunge and applying for my very own German passport seemed like the logical next step for me. So, on a cold November morning, armed with only my passport, I set off to my local Bezirksamt.
From reading extensively online, I knew that each case for applying for citizenship would be treated individually, because the circumstances of application are specific to your country of origin, reason for application etc. I arrived at the “Einbürgerungsamt” in the Bezirksamt, wrote my name down on a list and waited to be called in. After a very short wait time (only 10 mins!) I was called into a private office. I stated simply that I was here to apply for German citizenship. I handed over my passport and was asked a few questions to determine my eligibility; how long had I lived in Germany? Did I speak German? Was I married to a German citizen? The case worker quickly determined that I was indeed eligible and took me through exactly what I needed to do next. She gave me a list of documents and forms and told me to register at a Volkshochschule in Berlin to take the German citizenship test.
I went home and got to work, rifling through my personal files frantically to retrieve documents and making a neat pile of copies to be sent. The application itself costs 255 EUR, and I needed certified German translations of my birth and marriage certificates. I have to admit, given the tales you hear about German bureaucracy, I didn’t find the requirements overwhelming. That being said, I was glad I’d kept my personal files in order, as filling out the application required an unbroken account of where I’d worked and lived in Germany since first coming here a decade ago.
Here is a brief list of the documents I needed to provide (all as copies except for the passport photo):
- A biometric passport photo
- My current passport
- My birth certificate + a certified translation into German
- Our marriage certificate + a certified translation into German
- My husband’s passport
- My husband’s birth certificate
- Our children’s birth certificates
- Our address registration (Anmeldebestätigung)
- German language certificate (DSH, TestDAF or equivalent)
- The most important pages of our rental agreement
- Proof of rental payments for the last three months
- My employment contract and my last three payslips
- My husband’s employment contract and his last three payslips
- Proof of payment of 255 EUR for the application
- Proof of payment of 25 EUR and registration for citizenship test
The next day I went to my local Volkshochschule and waited to register for the next available German citizenship test. This is also something that has to be done in person. I handed over my passport, paid the fee of 25 EUR and got a date for the test within 6 weeks. The proof of registration for the citizenship test then landed neatly onto my growing pile of papers. How satisfying.
Once the application was complete, I stuffed it all (carefully) into a very sturdy envelope, which I sent via registered mail directly to my case worker.
So far, so simple. Here’s the plan: I ace my citizenship test in mid-January and then I wait. My case worker wasn’t able to give me an estimated processing time. Given the current climate and application volume, I’m not holding my breath. If you are also thinking of applying for German citizenship, I would head to your local Bezirksamt sooner rather than later to get the ball rolling.
Here are six tips for skittish Brits planning a visit to the Einbürgerungsamt / Staatsangehörigkeitsbehörde
- Figure out where you, specifically, need to go, exactly when they’re open, and whether you can book an appoinment. Appointment booking is only available in two districts.
- As the Germans say, bring some time with you. The Einbürgerungsamt is only open for limited time periods on certain days of the week, depending on the Bezirksamt. If you’re walking in and get there late, your name will be at the bottom of the list.
- B1 level German is necessary to apply, but even if your skills exceed B1, take a German speaker with you if you’re not used to dealing with German bureaucracy at this level.
- Don’t worry about which documents you might need before you get to the “Erstberatung” – each application is so very case-specific and your case worker will tell you exactly what they need to see.
- You’ll leave with a pile of application forms once you’ve visited the office for the first time. These forms are sacred and can only be obtained in person, so take a sleeve or folder to transport them safely home.
- For the love of God, don’t forget the only thing you need to take with you – your passport!
By the time the citizenship interview rolls around, you might not need an interpreter anymore, but we can certainly help you with the application forms and certified translations. Get in touch with Red Tape Translation to learn more.