Brexit: Becoming German

As a Brit who has lived in Germany for 26 years, it’s fair to say I have a fairly selfish reasons to want Britain to stay in the EU. Once you’ve seen the benefits of the EU up close, it’s impossible to see leaving Europe as anything but a regression.

And so despite still feeling very British in many ways, I decided to apply for German citizenship in April 2016. (This was before the referendum, but even then it felt like brexit was a very real possibility). Plus staying European is more important to me than staying British at this point 🇪🇺.

How to become German

If you’re an EU citizen (hurry up Brits, the clock is ticking), the process is fairly straightforward. You need to have been in Germany for at least 8 years, lots of paperwork, a bit of patience and €255. The general requirements are listed here.

Here’s the process here in Munich:

  1. Go to the Einbürgerungsstelle at your local KVR without an appointment and tell them you want to do Einbürgerung. They’ll give you a list of documents you need, will make an appointment and ask you to sign a waiver so they can look at your Ausländerakte.
  2. Collect all the required documents and bring them to your appointment. Note: The earliest appointment they had when I applied was in 6 months, so be sure to put it in your calendar and set a reminder a few days in advance so you can go over your documents.
  3. If everything goes as expected, pay €255 at the Kasse in your KVR and go collect your citizenship documents.

What you’ll need

For all documents you’ll need to bring the original and a copy. Arrange them in the order of the list they give you, it makes things much easier. This is what I needed to bring:

  • Birth certificate: A copy of your original and a translated copy by a certified translator. No, you can’t translate it yourself, you’ll need to get someone to do it who is certified (“Vereidigter übersetzer” / “beglaubigte Übersetzung”) .
  • A document certifying you can speak German. This may be the German test you took, or your German school or University degree
  • Your current rental contract or something else to prove you have a place to live
  • Your 3 most recent payment slips from work
  • Your current pension benefits status: This you can apply for online at the Deutsche Rentenkasse if you’re a regular employee.
  • A form signed by your employer, confirming that you work there
  • If you’re married, a copy of your marriage certificate and the same employer confirmation for your spouse
  • The completed form they gave you
  • Copies of your current passport

Dual citizenship

German allows dual-citizenship for citizens of EU counties, so while Britain is still in the EU, you can keep both passports. After March 2019, current German law would mean that you would need to give up British citizenship. All-in-all it took about 12 months for me to complete the entire process, so don’t leave it too late.

Get it done

Three appointments, a few forms and a fair amount of paperwork. It’s a bit of a hassle, but easier than doing your taxes. Go team Europe.