From the meetings that I have had on this matter so far, it feels like it might be a multi-parter kind of blog post. The fact is, yes, I am becoming German. According to my mum this is something that is not just happening on paper. After twelve years of living on and off in Germany I am not surprised that some of it has worn off on me, but officially becoming German is still not as straight forward as it sounds, not least because I still don’t feel German!
Then again, I don’t feel 100% British anymore. I’m kind of stuck between the two. This was all fine as long as I could think to myself “well, we’re all European anyway”. Apparently this cosy thought doesn’t cut it anymore, since my country voted against something which defined the basis of my family.
So, if I’m no longer European on paper, how is this going to affect me? A drunken lady at a cocktail bar in Berlin implored me to become German and do it quickly, a colleague at a conference reinforced this in January. When my best girlfriend told me her plans to look into becoming German, I was almost convinced. I have to say though, being able to keep hold of my British citizenship was really important to me and it was only when I phoned the British embassy and they told me that it was possible to hold duel citizenship with Germany “for now” that I realized I had to act. Soon.
According to this article on the BBC, I’m not the only Brit trying right now to get a German passport as their last ditch to staying european.
This vague worry of missing the boat was confirmed by my meeting with the lady at our local office for immigration and naturalization. She seemed harmless enough when I entered and told her I was just there “to inform myself about becoming German”. She sat me down at a separate table and chair opposite her and asked if I had planned in a bit of time. Luckily I had, thinking that typical Germany there would be a thousand forms to fill in, but for once this wasn’t what she meant.
For the next 40 minutes she carried out an interview with me which involved her giving me information about the citizenship process whilst spontaneously interjecting questions about my life which I then needed to quickly respond to.
The questions are pretty deep and I have signed so many forms in the meantime that I am not sure how much I am really allowed to share here hmmmmmm. Point is, becoming a citizen of another country is more demanding than I thought. Which I find reassuring on the one hand and a little insulting on the other. On leaving her office with my stack of paperwork a man let the door drop in my face. I briefly wondered whether the British citizenship test includes practical tests in queueing and apologizing for, well, everything really. What do you think the country’s tests should include?
Well I can tell you that in Germany I needed to prove my language proficiency up to level B1, I am also going to sit my “Citizenship Test” in May. I have downloaded an app to practice and some of the questions are tough! I’m going to have to learn more about the German political system than I thought.
Of course, I have to make sure that they even accept me! Results are pending for this…. The lady kindly informed me that becoming German costs €255 and you get the invoice with your confirmation of approved citizenship. But if you are unsuccessful you also get an invoice for €190….with your rejection letter.
You might be wondering what the point is of becoming German for us as a family. The main reason for me right now is that we do not all have one common passport. The girls and Dennis are already German because of the blood line, the girls and I are also British. If we enter countries which have agreements with one and not the other this could mean separate queues and visas.
The main emotional reason though is that I feel now, after twelve years, duel-citizenship reflects who I am. I don’t just live in Germany, I also love in Germany, had children in Germany, built a house in Germany and plan my future here too. There are words in German that I don’t even know in English because I only experienced it here (childbirth, for example). According to my mum I am also a lot more direct nowadays (sorry for any offense you guys) as a result of being here, and she mentioned something about sunbeds, but I will not comment any further on that!
I’d love to hear from you, are you a duel citizen? Have you got children and partners with different citizenship to you?
I’ll keep you updated. Who knows, maybe they’ll get sick of us Brits rushing to claim our identity! I hope not, Vorsprung durch Technik and all that.