Naturalization without a Birth Certificate: How to Prove Your Identity

4 July, 2024

Naturalization in Germany is an important step on your path to integration and recognition. But what if you don’t have a birth certificate? In this article, you’ll learn how you can successfully naturalize without a birth certificate. We’ll guide you through every step of the process.


Legal Basis for Naturalization without a Birth Certificate

It can be frustrating if important documents like your birth certificate are missing. But don’t worry, naturalization without a birth certificate is possible. Let’s first look at the legal requirements and the role of the birth certificate.

Section 10 Paragraph 1 StAG: Legal Requirements

The legal basis for naturalization in Germany is laid down in the Nationality Act (Section 10 Paragraph 1 StAG) in the first sentence regarding proof of identity. According to the law, as a foreigner who has been living legally in Germany for five years, you can apply for naturalization provided your identity and nationality have been clarified. The birth certificate is usually the primary proof of identity, but there are situations where this is not available. In such cases, alternative proof methods are used, which are applied as part of a step-by-step model for clarifying identity.

The Importance of the Birth Certificate as Proof of Identity

Primary Proof: In Germany, the birth certificate is considered by the naturalization authority to be the most important proof of your identity and origin. Alternatives: If you cannot provide a birth certificate, other documents or evidence must confirm your identity. Step-by-Step Model: The step-by-step model of identity clarification involves several steps, starting with a valid national passport and ending with witness statements if all other documents are not available. Legal Flexibility: Authorities can make flexible decisions depending on your individual situation and the evidence provided. A birth certificate serves as proof of identity for the acquisition of naturalization. However, you have usually fulfilled the proof of your identity by presenting a valid passport. If it is not possible to clarify your identity with a passport or birth certificate, the next step in the step model for clarifying your identity follows.

Reasons for Not Obtaining a Birth Certificate

There are various reasons why you may not be able to provide a birth certificate. These reasons are divided into objective impossibilities and subjective unreasonablenesses. Let’s take a closer look at these two categories.

Objective Impossibility of Obtaining a Birth Certificate

Sometimes it is simply not possible to obtain a birth certificate because circumstances are beyond your control. A typical example is Somalia. Germany does not recognize the Somali government, which means that any documents issued by that government, including birth certificates, will not be recognized.

This objective impossibility means that you as a refugee must rely on alternative proof of your identity.

Examples of Objective Impossibility:

  • Somalia: Documents are not recognized by Germany.

Subjective Unreasonableness to Obtain a Birth Certificate

In other cases, you may not be able to obtain a birth certificate. This means that obtaining the documents would require personal sacrifice or unethical actions. A prominent example of this is Eritrea. There, citizens are required to sign a declaration of repentance to obtain documents.

This declaration includes the admission of a crime (leaving Eritrea), which is not accepted by Germany. The Federal Administrative Court ruled in 2022 that for this reason, obtaining a passport and documents is subjectively unreasonable.

Examples of Subjective Unreasonableness:

  • Eritrea: Need for a declaration of repentance, which requires a confession to a crime.
  • Other countries with similar requirements: Any state that imposes unethical or dangerous conditions on the issuance of documents.

Court Decision and Guidance:

The Federal Administrative Court has ruled that such conditions are unreasonable. Following the ruling, naturalization authorities were instructed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior to follow the court’s decision and not to ask people from countries where obtaining a passport is subjectively unreasonable to obtain one.


Identity Clarification through the Step-by-Step Model

If you are unable to provide a birth certificate, the staged identity verification model provides a structured way to prove your identity and nationality. This model consists of several stages that can be completed one after the other until the identity is sufficiently verified.

The tiered model is designed to provide alternative proof of your identity so that your origin is no longer unclear to the authorities. Each tier has specific requirements and alternatives that are considered if the previous tier cannot be met.

The Stages of Identity Clarification Are As Follows:

  1. First Step: Valid national passport
    • Proof: Presentation of a valid passport.
    • Alternatives: If a valid passport cannot be obtained, you will be assessed to see whether you meet the requirements of the next level.
  2. Second Step: Expired national passport
    • Proof: Presentation of an expired national passport.
    • Alternatives: If an expired passport cannot be presented either, you go to the next step.
  3. Third Step: Biometric documents
    • Proof: Presentation of biometric documents.
    • Alternatives: If biometric documents are not available, the next level will be checked.
  4. Fourth Step: Other documents (birth certificates, driver’s license, marriage certificate)
    • Proof: Presentation of other official documents, such as birth certificates, driver’s license, marriage certificates.
    • Alternatives: If this stage cannot be met either, witness statements may be considered.
  5. Fifth Step: Other documents such as witness statements
    • Proof: Other documents such as a witness statement according to Section 26 Paragraph 1 and 2 VwVfG, which can confirm your identity.
    • Alternatives: This level applies when all previous documents are not available. Witness statements must be detailed and trustworthy.
  6. Sixth Step: Naturalization without declaration of identity
    • Proof: Proof that all previous stages are not fulfillable.
    • Special Feature: In exceptional cases, naturalization can take place without complete clarification of identity if it can be proven that obtaining all the necessary evidence is objectively impossible or subjectively unreasonable.

Practical Procedure if Birth Certificate is Missing

It is understandable that the process of naturalization without a birth certificate can seem overwhelming at first. However, with the right preparation and documentation, you can significantly increase your chances of successful naturalization. Below we explain how you can proceed systematically.

Preparation and Documentation

Thorough preparation is the key to success. It is important to collect all possible alternatives to a birth certificate and document them carefully. Start by making a list of all the documents that can prove your identity and your stay in Germany.

Remember to document each step of the identity acquisition process so that the naturalization authorities can track your efforts.

Important Steps:

  • Create a List: Create a list of all available documents.
  • Organize Documents: Organize documents according to their relevance and importance.
  • Make Copies: Make copies of all documents for your records and for submission to authorities.
  • Document Identity Acquisition: Record all steps of the document search and document acquisition in writing.

Collecting Alternative Documents

If the birth certificate is missing, other documents will be required to confirm your identity. These alternative documents can be of great importance and should be carefully collected.

Examples of Alternative Documents:

  • Identity Card or Expired National Passport: Even an expired passport can provide valuable information.
  • Driver’s License: Your driver’s license can serve as an official document.
  • Marriage Certificate: Documents marital status and can support your identity.
  • School or University Certificates: Confirm your education and can further confirm your identity.
  • Work Permit or Other Official Documents: Other official documents that confirm your identity.

Organize Witness Statements

Witness testimony can play an important role when official documents are not sufficient. It is crucial that witness testimony is detailed and credible.

It is important that the identity of the witness is established. This can be done with a passport or if the witness has already been naturalized. The witness does not necessarily have to be in Germany, but must go to the authorities to give evidence.

Tips for Organizing Witness Statements:

  • Select Witnesses: Select trusted people who can confirm your identity.
  • Clarify the Identity of the Witness: Make sure that the identity of your witness is clarified and that there are no problems in this regard.
  • Prepare Witness Statements: Ask witnesses to provide detailed statements about your identity and your background.
  • Documentation of Statements: Have the witness statements recorded in writing and, if possible, notarized.
  • Document Steps: Here too, document every step in organizing and obtaining witness statements.

Application and Administrative Procedures

After you have collected and documented all the necessary documents and evidence, the next step is to submit an application. Here you will find out which documents you need for the application and how the naturalization process works without a birth certificate.

Important Documents for the Application

To successfully submit your application, you must ensure that you compile all the required documentation completely and correctly. This includes both the alternative documents collected and any additional required documents.

Important Documents:

  • Application Form: The completed naturalization form, which you can obtain from your local authority.
  • Proof of Identity: Any alternative documents you have collected (e.g., identity card, expired national passport, driver’s license).
  • Witness Statements: Written and ideally notarized witness statements. A personal presentation is even better. Not every authority accepts written statements.
  • Proof of Residence: Documents that prove your legal stay in Germany (e.g., registration certificate, residence permit).
  • Language Certificates: Proof of sufficient knowledge of German (e.g., language certificate B1).
  • Proof of Integration: Evidence of your integration into German society (e.g., participation in integration courses, proof of employment).
  • Financial Evidence: Documents that prove your financial situation and self-sufficiency (e.g., income statements, bank statements).

Submission of the Application

After you have collected and organized all the documents, the next step is to submit the application to the responsible naturalization authority. It is important that you follow all instructions from the authority carefully and, if necessary, provide any additional documents or information required.

Steps for Submitting the Application:

  • Submission at the Responsible Authority: Submit your application and all required documents to the responsible naturalization authority in your place of residence.
  • Completion of the Application Form: Fill out the application form completely and accurately.
  • Proof of Fees: Make sure that you pay any required fees for processing the application.
  • Personal Interview: In some cases, a personal interview may be required. Be prepared for such an interview and have all necessary documents with you.

Final Advice:

Submitting an application for naturalization without a birth certificate can be a complex process, but with thorough preparation and careful documentation, you can successfully complete this step. If in doubt, do not hesitate to seek professional advice and support.

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