Implications of dual citizenship Germany/America
December 9, 2021 5:54 PM   Subscribe

I'm a current US citizen who is (as far as I understand) eligible for dual German citizenship. If you or someone you know is has both, I'm wondering if there are any implications I haven't thought of.

I live and work in the US and all of my property/ bank accounts are in the US. Most info I can find is about dual citizens living in Germany. I'm sure I should ask a lawyer but I'm looking for anecdotal information before I move forward.
posted by beyond_pink to Law & Government (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Are you draftable age?
posted by Hypatia at 6:11 PM on December 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


You should talk with a tax expert to make sure you understand the financial implications (I do not know what those are, but it can a really bad thing to get wrong).
posted by aramaic at 6:20 PM on December 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


Unlike a lot of other countries, dual German citizenship is actually quite hard to get/keep as it's not permitted under German law in a lot of cases. You'll need to look into the detail, but I'm pretty sure they only let you keep it without renouncing your other citizenship if you're residing in Germany and speak German and some other things.
posted by ryanbryan at 6:32 PM on December 9, 2021 [1 favorite]


Best answer: You cannot apply to become a German citizen in this case (assuming you are asking because one or both of your parents were German citizens at the time of your birth). You either are a citizen already and would ask Germany to confirm you are a citizen and give you a passport and birth certificate or you aren't a citizen. There are certain conditions and exceptions.

Basically, you would just be alerting the German government to the fact that you already are a citizen.

Germany, like almost every other country in the world, does not tax non-resident citizens (this is something that the US does that almost no other country does), so this won't change anything for you as far as taxes. Germany also no longer has conscription, so no need to worry about the draft. As far as I am aware, as someone who has been a dual Canadian-German citizen since birth, there are no significant downsides.

ryanbryan: Dual citizenship by birth is absolutely permitted under German law and definitely does not require residence or speaking German or anything at all of that nature. German citizenship is a right that a person has from birth in most cases and is not contingent.
posted by ssg at 6:47 PM on December 9, 2021 [5 favorites]


Unlike a lot of other countries, dual German citizenship is actually quite hard to get/keep as it's not permitted under German law in a lot of cases. You'll need to look into the detail, but I'm pretty sure they only let you keep it without renouncing your other citizenship if you're residing in Germany and speak German and some other things.
There are exceptions for direct descendants of German victims of Nazi persecution. If someone tells you that they're eligible for German (or Austrian) citizenship, assume that may be their situation, and the usual rules may not apply.

Several of my family-members have recently been granted Austrian citizenship. I don't think they've found a downside. My nephew would be required to perform national service if he ever moved to Austria, but it's not really relevant, because he doesn't intend to move there.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:49 PM on December 9, 2021 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: I understand that dual citizenship is not always allowed, but I'm eligible based on the documentation. Thanks for the clarification ssg - that I would be notifying them of my citizenship, not applying for it. I'm in my 40s and female, not sure about draft age?
posted by beyond_pink at 7:12 PM on December 9, 2021


Don’t worry about conscription. It only applies in case of war (since the abolition of mandatory peacetime military service in 2011) and even then is restricted to men up to the age of 45. Moreover, it’s not enforced for citizens who live outside of Germany. So even if you were a man and Germany were at war, you still wouldn’t be affected unless you moved there.
posted by wachhundfisch at 7:00 AM on December 10, 2021


It could possibly impact your ability to get US security clearance.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Security_clearance#Dual_citizenship
posted by mattiv at 8:29 AM on December 10, 2021


Best answer: I have dual Canadian/Netherlands citizenship (both by birth, so it was just a matter of notifying the Dutch authorities, as ssg said). I've also spent a fair amount of time looking more broadly into dual citizenship.

Having citizenship in an EU member state has opened a *lot* of doors for me, and has allowed me to fairly easily reside in a number of countries that I'd never have been able to live in before.

As for the taxation angle, yes, the US will want to tax your earnings wherever you live, but there are tax treaties in place to avoid double taxation. You will want an accountant for this, but lots of people keep US/Other citizenships, live abroad, and don't find it to be a huge burden.

Travel with multiple passports is easy and could provide you with some benefits -- you'll want to remember that you need to enter the US on your US passport, and the EU on your EU passport, otherwise you're bound by tourist/visitor visa rules. Once I mixed this up and the border guard was quite friendly about it. There are *lots* of people crossing borders with multiple citizenships, and it's not shocking or exciting for the border guards (in the EU at least).

The process for getting my NL citizenship (I was born in Canada) was quite involved, and I needed a *lot* of documentation for it. It took about 18mo, if I remember right. There was an age cut-off for my citizenship claim, so it was necessary to start the process well in advance of that, so as to avoid disappointment. Further, simply having NL citizenship doesn't avail me immediately of NL social services (for example). They have an equivalent of a SSN, and since I've never been a permanent resident there, I don't have one. If I do move to NL then I'll have to go through yet another bureaucratic process to get myself recognized by them -- right now I just have a passport.

Any other questions, send me a MeMail. I have spent a fair amount of time in Germany and could give some tips on their processes, should you need them.
posted by jpziller at 4:04 AM on December 12, 2021


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