German Nationals In The UK: What Happens After Brexit?

Brexit is rapidly approaching and there is still uncertainty about the destiny of German nationals living in the UK who wish to naturalise as British citizens.

Since 28th August 2007, German nationals can acquire with EU citizenship without losing their German nationality. However, they cannot naturalise as citizens of a non-EU country without compromise their right to maintain a status as German citizen.

There are some cases in which German Nationality Law would tolerate dual nationality although the second is a non-EU nationality, which are:

  1. Citizens of some non-EU countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica are not allowed to renounce to their citizenship; another example are Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uruguay which allow renunciation only if the citizenship was acquired involuntarily by birth there to non-citizen parents; another exception applies if the applicant would face an unduly difficult, humiliating or expensive renunciation process (this is the case for Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, USA citizens); the final clause prescribes a more discretionary category which includes all those cases for which the renunciation process means enormous disadvantages for the Applicant.
  2. If a German citizen acquires a non-EU or non-Swiss citizenship with the permission (“Beibehaltungsgenehmigung [de]”) of the German Government; this would happen whether the applicant was able to demonstrate that he has existing relative ties or property in Germany or in the other country or that the occupation abroad requires domestic citizenship for execution. The acquisition of this permission is functional to avoid losing automatically German citizenship once obtained the non-EU nationality.

In light of the imminent and likely exit of the UK from Europe without a deal, German nationals living in the UK and British nationals living in Germany feel threatened by the deadline fixed on the 31st of October 2019. This is due to the fact that the German Foreign Office initially would establish that only German nationals who acquire British citizenship before Brexit could have kept German nationality; conversely, those receiving a decision after Brexit would have risked losing German nationality, becoming British citizenship a non-European citizenship after the 31.10.2019.

The same principle should have been applied for British nationals living in Germany, however, it seems in the new transitional Draft Law published by the German Foreign Office, British nationals would be allowed to acquire German nationality even though they would receive a decision after Brexit. This has undoubtedly resulted unequal and arbitrary considering that the same clause has not been specified in relation to German nationals living in the UK who wish to naturalise as British citizens.

Due to these discrepancies, German nationals have brought attention to this aspect and it seems that, although only unofficially, the German Foreign Office has accepted to extend the same clause to Germans residing in the UK in the process of naturalising as British citizens.

The source are still unofficial and German nationals still have not received assurance through an official channel in relation to their future status.

Ultimately, it would be totally discriminatory if German nationals will not be allowed to keep German nationality when acquiring British citizenship after the 31st of October.