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15 December 2020

Important information for German nationals wishing to apply for British citizenship

3 mins

Many EU countries allow their citizens to hold more than one nationality, especially where the nationalities are all European. However, the German government has announced that German nationals who wish to naturalise as British after the end of the Brexit transitional period on 31 December 2020 will not be able to retain their German nationality. After 31 December 2020, you can be German or you can be British but you can’t be both. The German government has conceded that any German national who applies for British citizenship before 31 December 2020 will be able to retain their German citizenship. The key point is that the application must have been submitted before 31 December 2020, it doesn’t necessarily have to have been decided. German nationals will need to show the German government that they have submitted and paid for their British nationality application before the deadline.  

In brief, in order to apply for British citizenship an individual must:

  • Have lived in the UK continuously and lawfully* for at least five years (three years if married to a British citizen)
  • Have been free from immigration control, either by having permanent residence, settled status or indefinite leave to remain for at least 12 months prior to making their application (this does not apply to individuals who are married to British citizens)
  • Not have been absent from the UK for more than 540 days in the last five years and 90 days in the last 12 months (270 days in the last three years and 90 days in the last 12 months if married to a British citizen)
  • Be of good character and in good financial standing
  • Be of sound mind
  • Have two referees who can vouch for their identity 

More information is available on our nationality FAQ page.

*It is also very important to note that any EU national who wishes to naturalise as British must have had lawful residence in the UK during the three / five year period they are relying on. For EU nationals this means that any time up until they were granted permanent residence or settled status they must have been a ‘qualified person’. Qualified people are those exercising Treaty rights in the UK by working, studying, being self-employed, self-sufficient or actively job seeking. Currently, students and self-sufficient people are also required to hold comprehensive sickness insurance (CSI), although this is being challenged in the courts by the European Commission. If an EU national was not a qualified person before obtaining settled status then they will not be able to rely on that period of residence to meet the three or five year requirement. An application to naturalise as British may still be made on a discretionary basis but we would strongly advise any individual in this situation to seek professional legal advice from an immigration specialist.

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