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Naturalization is a major step on the way to successful integration because it gives immigrants numerous possibilities to participate in society, from political engagement to equal status under the law.
At the same time, naturalization demonstrates that the immigrant is accepted by German society. As German citizens, immigrants acquire a number of rights:
Foreigners who have lived in Germany permanently and lawfully for eight years may be eligible for naturalization. The basic requirements for naturalization:
The fee for naturalization is 255 euros per person; the fee for minor children naturalized with their parents is 51 euros per child.
Some exceptions to the naturalization requirements may be made and fees may be waived or reduced for certain groups. Your local naturalization authority can provide more information on these exceptions and on the naturalization procedure in general during an individual appointment.
To find out which is your naturalization authority, ask your local government, foreigners authority or migration advisory services for adults or young people. The Federal Office of Administration in Cologne (Bundesverwaltungsamt) is responsible for the naturalization of persons permanently living abroad. In these cases, local German diplomatic representation (embassy, consulate general or other consular body) may be contacted for initial information.
As a rule, the naturalization test is used to determine whether the applicant has the necessary familiarity with Germany's legal system, society and living conditions. The test consists of 33 questions including three questions which apply only to the German state where the applicant lives. Applicants must choose the correct answer from four possible responses. To pass, applicants must answer 17 questions correctly. In recent years, more than 90% of applicants have passed the test. Persons under age 16 and those who do not meet the testing requirements due to illness, disability or age do not have to take the test. And anyone who has graduated from a German school or from German higher education in law or social, political or administrative sciences does not have to take the test.
You can take a sample test on the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees website. After you have answered all the questions, you can see which questions you answered correctly. Then you can read through the correct answers including brief background information. You may also answer an interactive list of questions online. After each question is answered, the correct answer will be displayed.
This online test is free. A number of private services also offer to help prepare for the naturalization test, but information about the cost of these services is often hidden in the "small print". Be sure to read the service provider's terms and conditions carefully before agreeing to anything.