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Britons Are Racing to Get German Citizenship

  • Number of naturalized Britons soars almost fivefold in 2016
  • German data show large pool of Britons still to make the jump

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A record number of Britons took German citizenship in 2016 as the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, according to the German Federal Statistics Office.

German authorities granted citizenship to 2,865 U.K. nationals last year, compared with about 600 in 2015, the agency said in a statement Tuesday. Only 3.9 percent of Britons who have lived in Germany for 10 years or longer have taken on local citizenship, according to the data, suggesting that further increases may lie ahead as the U.K. exits the EU.

With the clock ticking to EU exit in March 2019, the near fivefold increase in those rushing for a German passport show that many Britons are unwilling to wait and see what kind of Brexit the U.K. eventually pulls off. That uncertainty over the future status of British nationals living and working in other EU countries has been increased by Theresa May’s election debacle that cost her party its majority and left her weakened just days before Brexit talks are due to begin.

Among nationals of Europe’s biggest economies, only Italians -- 3,597 of them -- surpassed Britons in pursuing German citizenship, according to the latest statistics. Of the 110,400 foreigners naturalized last year, the biggest group was from Turkey, followed by Poles, Ukrainians, Kosovars and Romanians. Britons ranked 10th.

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