BERLIN (Reuters) – Driven by the prospect of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union next year, the number of British passport holders who became German citizens jumped by 162 percent last year, Germany’s Federal Statistics Office said on Wednesday.
Nearly 7,500 Britons acquired German citizenship last year. This follows a 361 percent rise in 2016, bringing the total for the two years to around 10,400. This is more than double the number of Britons who became Germans in the 15 years from 2000.
“A link to Brexit is obvious,” said the Office, adding Britons were the second biggest group to be granted German citizenship last year after nearly 15,000 Turks.
With no Brexit deal yet in sight, despite a leaving date of March 2019, many Britons are worried they will lose the right to live and work in Europe’s biggest economy, which is enjoying an unusually long period of growth and record low unemployment.
Britons usually need to have lived in Germany for eight years to qualify. Applications take more than six months to process and Britons can take up dual citizenship while Britain is still an EU member.
Overall, the number of people becoming German rose by 1.7 percent last year to 112,200, the highest level since 2013.
Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky