If you have been trying to take up German citizenship, you might have noticed that the process can take forever. Now after so many people have written to ask, how long the process takes, here’s a break-down.
For the requirements on becoming German, check Becoming German: Applying for German Citizenship (Einbürgerung).
Assuming you have all the requirements and you are about to hand in your application at the local Ausländerbehörde (Einbürgerungsamt).
Step 1: Application Review – (2 – 6 months)
After you hand in your application at your local Einbürgerungsamt, your application has to be reviewed, this includes a police check and schufa check. Depending on which level your Einbürgerungsamt is from the Regierungspräsidium, it might take a little more time. If your Einbürgerungsamt is right at the very top of the level, i.e. at the Regierungspräsidium and you’re very lucky, this can even take a month.
At the end of this process you get the Einbürgerungszusicherung (Assurance of Naturalisation).
If you have applied to retain your Kenyan citizenship (Beibehaltung), you instead get a Einbürgerungsurkunde (German Naturalisation Certificate), in that case, your next step is Step 6.
Step 2: Translation – (1 day – 1 week)
If you have a Einbürgerungszusicherung (Assurance of Naturalisation), you will need to have it translated before sending it to the Kenyan Embassy in Berlin. Depending on where you get your translation done, it can take anything between a day and a couple of days.
Step 3: Renunciation – (3 – 18 months)
Just like the Germans ran a background check on you, the Kenyan side should usually do the same before allowing you to renounce your citizenship. This process basically depends on luck, there’s no real way of calculating how long it will take. Some say if you were born and applied for your first passport in Nairobi, your process is much faster than for those that were born outside of Nairobi. Even longer is for those that have their documents in different towns across Kenya (e.g. your birth certificate was issued in Kakamega, your ID was issued in Marakwet and your passport was issued in Mombasa).
Those applying for renunciation after June of this year have to expect a longer waiting period, considering this is an election year. (I know it shouldn’t affect the process but it unfortunately does.)
At the end of this process you receive a letter from Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kenya confirming you have renounced your citizenship and a letter from the Kenyan Embassy in Berlin confirming that that letter is real.
You also officially lose your Kenyan passport and ID, the Kenyan Embassy doesn’t send them back.
Also remember the Einbürgerungszusicherung is only valid for 18 months, if in case your renunciation takes longer than that, you will have to start the process again…..
Step 4: Translation – (1 day – 1 week)
The letter from the embassy is both in German and English, but the letter from MFA is only in English, you will need to have that translated. Again, depending on where you get your translation done, it can take anything between a day and a couple of days.
Step 5: Confirm Renunciation – (3 – 6 weeks)
With the letter from MFA and the Embassy, you need to confirm to the Einbürgerungsamt, that you have renounced your citizenship. Some Einbürgerungsämter will also ask for your salary slip to confirm that you haven’t lost your job while the process was ongoing. With the back and forth, this can take 3-6 weeks.
At the end of this process you receive an Einbürgerungsurkunde (German Naturalisation Certificate), meaning you’re now officially a German.
At this stage you have to give back your Aufenthaltstitel (residence permit). Before your German ID and Passport are issued, you practically have no form of identification.
Step 6: Applying for an ID and Passport (2 – 4 weeks)
With the Einbürgerungsurkunde (German Naturalisation Certificate), you can now apply for your German identification documents.
You also have the option of getting the Vorläufig documents which are only valid for a year and are issued within 24hrs; or apply for express delivery which takes 3-4 working days and costs an extra €32.
Costs: ID – €28.80; Passport – €59
So to answer the question, how long does the process take?
Time: 2 – 6 months
Cost:€342,80 – €434,80
Time: 6 months – 27 months
Cost: €672,80 – €764,80
Please note not included in this calculation is:
- time of stay in Germany (usually 3 years for those married to Germans and 8 years for the rest)
- time required to have paid taxes (at least one year)
- cost of language courses and naturalization test (Einbürgerungstest)
- postage costs
- costs incurred in the back and forth communication
- and any other costs that might come up in a special case