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German permanent residence and German citizenship

Niederlassungserlaubnis and Einbürgerung

There are several types of residence permits in Germany, and it’s easy for a foreigner to get confused trying to figure out what each of them means. There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the terms residence permit, settlement permit in Germany (German permanent residence/PR Germany) and German citizenship: Aufenthaltserlaunbis, Niederlassungserlaubnis and Einbürgerung.

In this article we are going to explain the difference between them, inform you about the PR Germany requirements and German citizenship requirements and give you other useful information about them.

Our company, Nexus-Europe GmbH, assists foreigners with starting a developing their own business in Germany and moving to Germany through business immigration or the EU Blue Card.

Get a residence permit in Germany through business immigration or a Blue Card: info@nexus-gmbh.biz

Residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaunbis)

Let’s start with Aufenthaltserlaunbis. It is a residence permit that is issued for a limited period of time and for a specific purpose. For example, if you open a company in Germany, you may be eligible for a residence permit for the purpose of self-employment. A temporary residence permit is usually issued for up to four years depending on its type and has to be renewed after that time. You are welcome to read our previous articles about the residence permit for self-employed as well as other common types of residence permits.


Watch our video on the German permanent residence and German citizenship by naturalization:

German permanent residence / PR Germany (Niederlassungserlaubnis)

Today, let’s focus more on the topic of Niederlassungserlaubnis. It can be translated into English as German permanent residence permit (also referred to as PR Germany) or settlement permit in Germany. As opposed to a regular (temporary) residence permit (Aufenthaltserlaubnis), a settlement permit in Germany (Niederlassungserlaubnis) is not limited in time. It also allows you to work in Germany. If you are wondering how to get PR in Germany, please keep reading.

PR in Germany: requirements

A settlement or permanent residence permit in Germany (PR Germany) can only be obtained if certain requirements are fulfilled. Please note that these PR Germany requirements can change with time and are different depending on the location, situation and the type of your residence permit.

Here is the general list:

  1. Having had a residence permit in Germany for 5 years.

  2. Speaking German at B1 level.

  3. Basic knowledge of the legal and social order and living conditions in Germany.

  4. Secured livelihood through your own income.

  5. Pension plan. You need to have paid mandatory contributions for at least 60 months.

  6. Sufficient health insurance for yourself and your family members.

  7. No criminal record.

These are the main requirements for a German permanent residence permit, however for some groups of people other requirements apply. For example, the list would change for the following groups:

  • refugees and those entitled to political asylum,

  • graduates of German universities,

  • family members of German citizens,

  • qualified specialists,

  • holders of the EU Blue Card,

  • self-employed,

  • children from 16.

One of the differences for the self-employed is that you may apply for a PR in Germany after having had a residence permit for entrepreneurial activity for 3 years. However further PR Germany requirements in such a case are that your business is successfully established and you can ensure the livelihood for yourself and your family through your income.

One of the fastest ways to get a permanent residence permit in Germany exists for the holders of the EU Blue Card. They may apply for a PR in Germany after having worked there for 33 months in case of having basic knowledge of German (at A1 level) or after having worked in Germany for 21 month in case of having sufficient knowledge of German (at B1 level). So if you plan apply for a permanent residence in Germany with a Blue Card you have good chances for getting it faster than in other cases.

German citizenship by naturalization (Einbürgerung)

After having lived in Germany for a while you may be eligible for Einbürgerung — getting the German citizenship by naturalization. The German citizenship requirements may slightly vary depending on the situation, however the main of them are as follows:

German citizenship requirements

  1. Having continuously lived in Germany for 8 years (in some cases it might be 7 or even 6 years).
  2. Having a valid German permanent residence permit, an EU Blue Card or in some cases a temporary residence permit at the moment of application.
  3. Having successfully passed the naturalization test (Einbürgerungstest).
  4. Having sufficient knowledge of the German language.
  5. Secured livelihood.
  6. No criminal record.
  7. Commitment to the free democratic basic order of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany.
  8. Currently — rejection of any other citizenship you had before.

It is possible to obtain the German citizenship by investment (by being a self-employed) in case all requirements are fulfilled. 

There are certain cases in which dual citizenship in Germany is allowed. Currently the German government considers some changes to the law that might allow dual citizenship in Germany or even multiple citizenships in the future.

It is also being discussed that the number of years after which it is possible to apply for German citizenship by naturalization could be reduced to 5 or in some case even to 3 years. If the respective changes to the law are adopted, we will inform you about them, so please stay tuned.

Nexus-Europe GmbH is happy to assist foreign entrepreneurs with starting and developing their own successful business in Germany and moving to Germany through business immigration or the EU Blue Card. Please contact us to get an individual solution!

Contact us to open a business in Germany and move to Germany:


This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Each situation is unique and professional advice should always be obtained before taking or refraining from any action.

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