A definitive guide to German citizenship and OCI for Indians

German citizenship and OCI

The number of Indians acquiring German citizenship has been steadily increasing in the past years. Not only bigger cities but also smaller towns are seeing large number citizenship applications and successful naturalization of Indians.

You too now meet the criteria and planning to apply for German citizenship and become an OCI? Don’t go ahead till you read this all-in-one guide to acquiring the German citizenship and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status.

1. Eligibility

When certain criteria are fulfilled you have a right to apply for German citizenship by naturalization (Einbürgerung).

Permanent residency (Niederlassungserlaubnis)This is normally granted -
- After 5 years of continuous stay in Germany OR
- After 33 months of continuous stay for Blue card holders with German level A1 certificate OR
- After 21 months of continuous stay for Blue card holders with German level B1 certificate
(Other required criteria must be fulfilled for the PR in addition to above - but this is out of scope of this article)
Eight years of ordinary and lawful residence in Germany This period may be shortened to seven years after successful completion of an integration course and with certain integration services even to six years. check this page in German for more details.
Assurance of livelihoodA stable source of sufficient income to provide for yourself and your dependents without any social help and unemployment benefits
Citizenship test (Einbürgerungstest)Successful completion of citizenship test for knowledge of the legal and social order and living conditions in Germany
Sufficient knowledge of German languageeither through successful completion of specified language course or completion of integration course
No case of criminal prosecutionMinor offenses e.g. Speeding fines etc. do not matter
Declaration of loyalty (Loyalitätserklärung)This basically means that you have to give a written commitment to free democratic basic order of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany and confirm that you did not participate in anti-constitutional activities. Signing the Loyalitätserklärung is part of your application form.
Renunciation of Indian CitizenshipSurrender of Indian passport to the German authorities or to Indian consulate depending on which state you live in Germany

A detailed description of the requirements for naturalization (in German) can be found on this official webpage.

The citizenship test

The Citizenship test (Einbürgerungstest) is to verify your knowledge of German legal as well as social systems and living conditions in Germany. You will need to answer 33 questions in this 60 minutes test. Out of the 33, you have to get 17 or more correct. If you prepare well, it’s no big deal to answer all 33 questions correctly.

Here is the link to all the questions and answers in the EinbürgerungstestFragenkatalog zur Testvorbereitung

German citizenship by birth

If any one or both of the new born child’s parents is/are living in Germany for more than 8 years and have a Niederlassungserlaubnis, the child has a right over German citizenship from birth as per the Geburtsortsprinzip.

Renunciation Indian citizenship

One of the difficult dilemmas Indians have while applying for the German citizenship is whether they really want to give up their Indian citizenship in exchange for the German one. Let’s see what you gain and lose by acquiring the German citizenship and renouncing the Indian.

What you gainWhat you loseConsequences
Right to visit a lot of countries without visa or with visa on arrival.
Multi-purpose, multiple entries, lifelong visa to India when you register as an OCI.
Even as an OCI, Special permission is required to visit certain protected areas in India as well as for mountaineering and undertaking any missionary and research workThis is a huge plus. You can save lot of time and money in long term. For more details check this page.
Right to work in any EU country- Right to hold any constitutional post e.g. president, governor, judge etc.
- Right to government employment in India
- Right to buy agricultural land in India
It is up to you to decide what is more important for you depending on your future aspirations!
Voting right in Germany (can even run for Parliament elections)- Voting right in India
- Right to contest in any election
Again, depends on your future aspirations!
Ability to get your statutory pension insurance contribution (Rentenversicherung) reimbursed if you plan to leave Germany later. Yes, it is possible to get your social security contribution (not including the employer's) back when you leave even after 5 years and live outside of Germany for more than 2 years. This could be a significant amount over the years. The '5 years rule' applies only to the countries which have an agreement with Germany. For others, it should be possible to get the Rente contribution back even when you have left Germany after more than 5 years. If anybody has more information on this, please write in the comments section of this article.

For the complexities of the pension insurance outside Germany, have a look at this document in German
Smaller queues at immigration on departure from India and at arrival in EU 🙂surely saves some time and frustration especially when you are with kids!

2. Preparation

When you know that you meet all the criteria for German citizenship and will soon complete the necessary number of years of stay you can start readying various documents.

You can complete the Citizenship test and German language test (if you haven’t already done that) in advance, as it will take 3-4 weeks to get the respective certificates.

Overview of fees

German Citizenship combined with OCI is a relatively expensive affair! Below is an overview of total expenses for the whole process per person, including the OCI, as of year 2015. The OCI expenses are not immediate however, as it can be done anytime after renunciation of your Indian citizenship.

Citizenship testEUR 25.00
Zertifikat Deutsch Level B1EUR 120.00 approx.
Application for birth certificate at Indian embassyEUR 25.00
German translation and attestation of birth certificate, marriage certificate etc.anywhere from EUR 60.00 - 100.00
German CitizenshipAdult - EUR 255.00
Child - EUR 51.00 if applied with parents, otherwise EUR 255.00
German national id card (Personalausweiß)EUR 28.80 if age > 24 years, otherwise EUR 22.80
German passportEUR 59.00 if age > 24 years, otherwise EUR 37.50
Indian passport surrender certificate/ renunciation of Indian citizenshipEUR 115.00 (for adults as well as child)
OCI cardEUR 216.00 (for adults as well as child)

The total expenses for acquiring German citizenship and OCI for a family of 4 can easily run upward of 3000 Euros.

3. Application

Here’s a list of documents required to apply for the naturalization.

Completed application formHere's an example how the application form looks like and what information you need to provide. You should be able to find a downloadable copy on the official website of the city/ town you live.
Biometric photoThis document gives information about the format of the biometric photo.
Copy of the Indian passport and Niedelassungserlaubnis
Curriculum VitaeA 1 or 2 pages cv, possibly handwritten
Birth certificateOriginal + translated and attested (Beglaubigt)
Marriage certificate if applicableOriginal + translated and attested (Beglaubigt)
Certificate of successful completion of Einbürgerungstest
Certificate of successful completion of German language test
Last 3 months payslips
Employer certificate confirming the permanent employmentShould be obtained from your employer
Rental contract of residential property or sale deed if property owner
proof of payment of social security (Rentenbescheid)
Confirmation of tax filing of last 3 yearsIt is not a problem if you are not up to date with your tax filing
Proof of health insuranceCan be obtained from your health insurance provider
Confirmation of receipt of KindergeldCan be obtained from the Familienkasse in your town
If you are applying the for the citizenship of children along with you, following documents need to be submitted as well - Certificate that the child is attending school if applicable, School reports (Jahreszeugnisse)Can be obtained from your child's school

Before submitting the application, you can make an appointment with the authorities to discuss what documents need to be submitted. They are generally helpful and will advise you accordingly.

After you have completed the application form and gathered all the required documents for all applicants, you can submit your file. The processing takes anywhere from 6 to 16 weeks depending on where you live and your circumstances. In the meantime you might be asked to submit additional documents/ proofs if necessary.

4. Grant of German citizenship

After everything’s satisfactory and authorities finish the required formalities, you will finally get a letter informing you to collect your naturalization certificate (Einbürgerungsurkunde). Before rushing to accept the citizenship, make sure that you don’t have a trip planned to India or in fact anywhere out of Europe. At the time of accepting the German naturalization, you will have to surrender your passport and you are forbidden to travel to India on your Indian passport. If you have a trip planned, either cancel it or postpone your appointment to get the Einbürgerungsurkunde. You can still travel on your Indian passport. After naturalization, do not expect to visit India as an OCI within the next 3 to 6 months. You need a tourist visa if you want to visit India. An error-free OCI processing can take up to 6 months and requires huge amount of patience.

After getting the naturalization certificate, you can immediately apply for the German Ausweiß and passport. Make sure you get a proper passport (Reisepass) for your children and not the Kinderreisepass as it is not accepted for travel to India and for OCI. You can get detailed information about the Ausweiß on this website.

5. Obtaining the OCI status

P1150310The The final and most tedious step in completing your German citizenship endeavor is completing the OCI registration. OCI is necessary if you still want to keep a connection with India more than as a tourist! The OCI grants you parity with Indian citizens except for some points already discussed in the listing above.

The OCI application has to be made online at the OCI website. This website provides comprehensive information on OCI like eligibility, benefits of OCI, what is permitted and what is not, documents required, process for submission of forms etc. The status tracking of your application is provided online as well. Indian embassy in Germany is normally not able to provide any information over phone or otherwise about the status of your application.

Here’s the OCI faq on the Indian embassy website.

What about Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card?

As of January 2015, the PIO card scheme has been withdrawn.

6. Change of status in India

If you have not yet changed your Indian bank account to NRE/ NRO and changed your status as NRI for tax purposes, now is the time to do so. If you have any demat and trading accounts in India, get them converted from resident to non-resident. If your accounts are already non-resident, Check their KYC requirements as OCI. Check with various other institutes as applicable e.g. life insurance, investments, PPF, mutual funds etc.

7. Regaining the Indian Citizenship

Finally, when you give up your Indian citizenship, all is not lost forever. If you decide to go back and live in India, you can regain your Indian citizenship. The criteria is continuous stay in India for 12 month and readiness to renounce your German citizenship. For more information see this document.

Are you ready to apply for German citizenship and OCI? Do you have any questions or information that others might find useful? Use the comments area below to write your comments, queries, opinions, experience. You can also use the EUIndians Q&A forum to post any questions.

References and useful links

 

Disclaimer: Various requirements for naturalization, passport, Id card and any other documents granted by German and Indian government can and will change from time to time and contradictory information might have been published in different publications! Great care has been taken to provide correct information based on first and second hand experience and by referring various sources on the official and unofficial websites. The author cannot be held responsible for any mistakes or out-dated-ness of the information in this article and any loss and/ or damage arising from the use of it in any manner.
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20 thoughts on “A definitive guide to German citizenship and OCI for Indians

  1. Great. Never seen such a detailed article with all info at one place. Great that you have also summarized various costs. Really helps in planning. Thanks for this article.

  2. Thanks for this detailed article and for pointing out the pension refund issue. IF the 5 yesrs rule does not apply to Indians then it the citizenship should not matter actually. So even if I return to India as a german citizen and later give up german citizenship and get the indian citizenship, I should be able to get the pension refund. Isn’t this true?

    1. Thanks Berliner. Technically you are right. The rule says that if you are no more liable to pay your social security contribution and lived outside of Germany in a non-member country, you can request for the refund of your social security contribution. But nobody can tell for sure how it will apply to a person’s individual circumstances and the authorities who is handling your case.

  3. HI Thank u for a detailed information it is really great and very helpful
    1. Can a person allowed to travel to US or other countires outside EU after applying for citizenship?
    2. U said we need to return back the Indian passport at time of recieving german passport (Urkunde), so to whom we need to return back indian passport? To german office in the local city where the Urkunde is givenß
    3. Lets say if I apply for German passport and then I got a reply from them but in the same month if I am travelling to other country can I first complete my trip and then later collect the passport/urkunde?
    Please comment on these so that it will be helpful for many to plan

  4. Hello, Thanks for this information, i have below question.
    What will happen with my properties in India after becoming OCI, specially agricultural land?
    Regards PT

  5. Is there a change in the rule for withdrawing the pension amount since May 2017? I heard that from this month onwards, it is not possible to withdraw the amount till 67yrs.

  6. Hi Thank you,

    After Acquiring German Citizen ship, What will happen to the PF which we might paid in India? One could keep this as is Or should withdraw it? Also any about LIC and other security deposits?

    1. Even as a NRI, in theory you are not allowed to have PF account in India. Once you become NRI the interest you earn in the PF account is drastically reduced. This is not yet strictly monitored by the banks in India unless you go out of your way and inform them. Anyway as a OCI card holder PF becomes less attractive because your savings in India are anyway not taxable.

  7. I think it should not be a problem because you have your Indian passport with you. As long as your Indian passport and Germany visa has validity, visiting India and coming back to Germany should not be a problem.

  8. hi.first of all thanks a lot , for this comprehensive report. iam planning to take German citizenship and have few questions. It would be great if you could throw some lights on these topics.
    1) I own a property in India, and derive monthly rent out of it. will I end up paying double taxation?
    2) I heard that Inheritance of property in India, is subject to huge taxation for a German citizen. IS it true?
    3) I have PPF accounts and bank accounts in India. Will I be subject to taxation on that too?

  9. Dear,

    I am an indian having applied for german Naturalisation three weeks back. The naturalisation process will take between 3-6 months.
    However my marriage date is fixed by Dec 2018, my query is (1) can I still marry without any extra documentation in india ( to an Indian) after receiving my einburgerungkunde ? Or (2) it is advisable to get married with an indian passport before receiving German naturalisation? ( in that case whether my new marital status affect the naturalisation process?)

    Kindly help me with an answer, thank you!!!

  10. Hi,
    One information that I came across is that by being a German citizen, it is easier to bring parents to Germany.
    Is it correct

  11. Hi,

    Just a small Update for users planning to get an OCI Card.
    This can de diffrent from Person to Person, but I recived my OCI Card withinn four Weeks of appling for OCI.
    Date of Acknowledgement : 24-Jan-2019
    Document Printing Status : Processed on 14-Feb-2019
    Dispatched From MEA(OCI) : New Delhi on 15-Feb-2019
    Document Recieved at : Munich on 20-Feb-2019

    Cheers T.

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