We want to be German!

    Deutscher Reisepass mit Antrag auf Einbürgerung.
    © Christian Horz/istock.com
    Von Inez Sharp

    When on 24 June 2016 it became clear that Britain would be leaving the European Union, many of the 1.3 million Brits living in continental Europe found themselves facing an uncertain future. What would happen after Brexit? Would they still be able to live and work in Europe? To be on the safe side, many decided to apply for additional citizenship in an EU country — around 3,000 in Germany alone in 2016.

    3,000 Brits

    applied for additional citizenship in Germany in 2016

    According to German law, any EU national who has lived in the country for eight years or longer can apply for citizenship and still to retainbeibehaltenretain his or her original nationality. If you marry a German, you can start the process after three years.

    Along with documentation about income, real estateGrundeigentumreal estate owned in Germany and a CV (curriculum vitae)LebenslaufCV, EU citizens applying for dual citizenship in Germany usually have to take a language test and a citizenship test.

    Matthew Langham and Tom Heaven are Brits living in Germany, and here they tell Spotlight about their experiences of Brexit and their decision to apply for German nationality.

    Here for 40 years: Matthew Langham

    I was born in Oxfordshire, England, in 1964, and when I was 11, my parents moved the family to Germany. We came here because of the economic crisis in Britain in the 1970s. My mother had studied German, which was one reason why my parents chose Germany.

    Now I have been living in Germany for exactly 40 years. I married my German wife in 1993, and we have three grown-up children. Before the Brexit vote, I had never ever thought about taking on German citizenship. There was no downsideNachteildownside except not being able to vote in national elections. I had grown up with all the advantages of Europe. I could travel freely between the countries without showing a passport, I could work and live where I wanted to.

    Then Brexit happened. I was very surprised — everyone was very surprised — by the result. And I think it was the next day that I made the decision to to kick off (ifml.)anstoßen, lostretenkick off the process to get German citizenship.

    The reason, and this still stands today, is that the impactAuswirkungimpact of Brexit is not clear. There is no outlineEntwurf, Leitfaden, Übersichtoutline as to what will happen. What angered me was that we expatim Ausland Lebenderexpats were not allowed to vote on Brexit, but the decision impacts us. It’s all very iffy (ifml.)fraglich, zweifelhaftiffy at the moment and has left us in an insecure situation.

    We expats were not allowed to vote on Brexit, but the decision impacts us

    I was fortunate because I had taken the German Abitur, so I didn’t need to do the Einbürgerungstest. But I did have to prove that I could support myself and my family, and I had to get my birth certificate translated into German. The Einbürgerungsamt also asked me to provide a statement of ownership for any property I have in Germany. Finally, I had to fill out a long form and to submiteinreichen, vorlegensubmit a handwritten CV.

    The process wasn’t really emotional for the most part. When I got the certificate of citizenship, though, that was. At the Einbürgerungsamt, you have to stand up and say that you will protect the German constitution. Then you get the certificate, and that’s it.

    Most of my family and friends were pleased. They were very interested in the process — a lot of jokes were made around football. I didn’t feel any different at first, but then I applied for an ID card, and I slowly to come to terms with sth.etw. akzeptierencame to terms with the fact that I had this nationality. An ID card says it a lot better than the certificate.

    On the whole, I feel that it is sad that I had to go through this process. It needn’t have happened. But I am also very grateful that Germany allows that. I am really happy now that whatever happens with Brexit, it will only to affectbeeinflussenaffect me slightly if at all. I can always say I’ll give up my British passport if I don’t agree with whatever terms are made — and I can keep my German nationality. I would prefer to stay European no matter what Brexit has planned.


    Proud to be German: John Heaven

    I come from Birmingham and have been living in Hamburg for six and a half years. I offer copywritingVerfassen von Werbetextencopywriting, translation and online marketing services through my website www.native-speaker.hamburg.

    My wife, Nora, is German, and this is a big part of why I ended up in Germany. I met her during my Erasmus year here while studying law and German law. I also had a German grandmother, but unfortunately I didn’t learn the language from her.

    A friend of mine first to float an ideaeine Idee in die Welt setzenfloated the idea of applying for German citizenship when David Cameron promised a referendum in his manifesto for the 2015 election. I thought my friend was being overly cautiousübervorsichtigoverly cautious, because I didn’t think Brexit would happen. But we both applied, and I received citizenship in March 2016, well before the referendum. I think I would have applied for it at some time regardless of sth.von etw. unabhängigregardless of Brexit, because it makes life easier: having an ID card and being able to vote in elections — and because Germany is my home.

    The process was relatively straightforward. It took about nine months from start to finish, and my claimAntragclaim was based on the fact that I’m married to a German citizen. For me, the emotional burdenBelastungburden wasn’t so big. As an EU citizen, I’m able to retain both nationalities. Being anchoredverankertanchored here in Germany, and having invested time and money to build up a life here, including learning the language, I think it’s only right to have citizenship and play a full, active role in society. Germany’s a great country to live in, and I’m proud to be German.

    When Brexit hit, I was glad that I’d to acquireerwerben, erlangenacquired German citizenship, because the UK to abandonfallen lassenabandoned those of us who have moved abroad with no regardRücksichtregard for our interests. People who have lived abroad for 15 years or more couldn’t even vote. My outlookEinstellung, Haltungoutlook on life feels more European than British at the moment, so it’s right that my citizenship should reflect that. I’ve got absolutely no qualmSkrupelqualms about turning my back on the UK, because they abandoned me and other expats with all this Brexit nonsense.


    Brexit made me feel more European


    Receiving my German citizenship was rather unspectacular. In a drabgrau, tristdrab office next to a very busy road in Hamburg, I handed over a few documents then signed a couple more. The moustachioedschnauzbärtigmoustachioed Sachbearbeiter presented me with my citizenship certificate against a backdropHintergrund, Kulissebackdrop of fadedverblasstfaded karate certificates and awards from his time in the Bundeswehr. He shook my hand, then we had a short conversation about Brexit, and off I went. I’ve come to the conclusion that you to cobble together sth.etw. zusammenschusterncobble together your own uniqueeinzigartig, einmaligunique identity from a mixture of family, traditions, culture, friends and work. ultimatelyletztendlichUltimately, Brexit has changed my identity to some degree. I’d say it’s made me feel more European — less British and more German, because this is my home now.

    Related audio

    Explore the topic further by following this link:

    Article: Brexiles in Germany