Having a Baby

For the last few decades, Germans have been worried about declining birth rates and increasing life expectancy and the obvious demographic problems caused by these two trends. For that reason, they’ve instituted a raft of generous programs to encourage couples to have children and multiply. In addition to excellent care, pregnant women and new mothers receive additional benefits related to health care and prenatal care. One of the most outstanding benefits is 14 weeks of paid maternity leave – six weeks before the expected birth and eight after. The government also provides a number of other benefits to new parents, including the possibility of taking a maximum of 14-month postnatal leave. During this time the parent who stays at home with child can receive a monthly allowance (Elterngeld) equal to 67% of the last net salary, but there are limits on the maximum amount. More importantly, the stay-at-home parent is protected from dismissal during this period. In addition, the government provides monthly allowances (Kindergeld) for each child.

Birth Certificates

Should you have a new member of your family while living in Germany, you’ll need to register your baby with two countries. First of all, the birth must be registered with the German authorities. The hospital can register the birth. They advise that you bring the passports of both parents as well as your marriage certificate – if there is one.

The hospital will then take care of registering the birth. However, you’ll have to ask where the birth was registered, then go there to pick up the birth certificate (Geburtsurkunde).

One interesting quirk about registering your new baby is that there are certain restrictions on what a child’s first name can be. German law requires that the first name be clearly distinguishable as either male or female. This means that unisex names are out. If you really have your heart set on an unusual name, German authorities may require you to prove that the name is common in your home country.

After you’ve registered the birth of the child with the German authorities, you’ll almost certainly want to register your new child with your own consulate or embassy. You’ll need the German birth certificate when doing so. It’s essential to note that there are a number of forms contained in the birth certificate, and you should bring along the one designated Abstammungsurkunde with an “EC” in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll also need your passport (of both parents if you’re both citizens of the country for which you’re seeking citizenship for the child) and your marriage certificate. These procedures are fairly standard for most countries, though details can differ. For instance, the US Consulate insists that you appear in person with the new baby, as the authorities are required to actually see the child and parents. Finally, you’ll have to drop by the Registry office (Standesamt) again and register your new bundle of joy as a new resident at your address.

Just because your child is born in Germany does not automatically mean that the child will acquire German citizenship. The laws pertaining to citizenship are complex, but generally speaking, a child will acquire German nationality if one of the parents is a German national. If neither parent is German, it is still possible for the child to acquire German citizenship at birth if at least one parent has legally lived in Germany for more than eight years and also has a permanent residence permit.