Which groups are exempt from taking a German citizenship test?

Which groups are exempt from taking a German citizenship test?

There are several groups of people who are exempt from taking a naturalisation test as part of their application for German citizenship. Who are they? 

The process of applying for German citizenship

Since the Bundestag passed the country’s new citizenship law, people across Germany have been gathering personal documents to get their application underway. Newly allowing dual citizenship, the law has opened up the possibility of getting a German passport for many long-term residents who previously had to give up their original citizenship to get a Reisepass.

But the application process can still be a long one, with many forms to fill out and requirements to meet, and that’s without considering the years-long application processing times in some German federal states.

Alongside a minimum of five years of residency in Germany - three in cases of “exceptional integration” - and proficiency in German to at least B1 level, applicants are required to complete a naturalisation test, also referred to as citizenship test. However, some groups are exempt from taking this test.

Do I have to take a citizenship test to get a German passport?

German naturalisation tests last an hour and consist of 33 multiple-choice questions. The questions are taken from a bank of 300 questions concerning the themes “living in a democracy”, “history and responsibility” and “people and society”. Three of the questions also relate to the federal state in which you live.

Authorities use this test to assess whether applicants have a basic understanding of German law and society. However, the naturalisation test isn’t the only way to prove that you have this understanding, which is why several groups can move forward in their citizenship application without the hassle of studying and booking an appointment to take the test.

If one of the following applies to you, you won’t have to take a naturalisation test as part of your citizenship application:

You have done a “Leben in Deutschland” test

If you have done an integration course in Germany you will have been required to take a “Leben in Deutschland” test to complete the course. If you have done one of these tests you can use it as proof of your understanding of German history, politics, law and society, since many of the questions are similar to those posed in a citizenship test.

You have a degree in certain subjects from a German university

If you have studied politics, law, or an administrative or social science subject at the bachelor, master or doctorate level at a German university, and you studied the subject in German, then your degree can be used to prove your understanding of German society as part of your citizenship application.

You have a vocational qualification in a political or social science subject

If you completed vocational training in Germany and studied social science or political courses to attain a Berufsschulabschluss, then your qualification can serve as proof of your understanding of German history, politics law and society.

You studied at a German high school

Anyone who went to school in Germany and completed their school leaving certificate there can use this qualification as proof of their knowledge. This includes Berufsbildungsreife, mittlerer Schulabscluss and Abitur qualifications. 

How do I know if I have to take a citizenship test?

If your personal circumstances mean that it is still unclear to you as to whether you have to take a naturalisation test as part of your citizenship application, it is best to ask the local authority which is responsible for processing applications. Since incomplete applications lead to a longer backlog, it is best to make sure your application is complete so you won’t have to wait as long for a decision.

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Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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