Retention Certificates are issued by the Bundesverwaltungsamt (the “Federal Office of Administration”) in Cologne, Germany. To obtain one, a German national must file an application at the appropriate German Consulate. The Consulate will preview the application before submitting it to the Federal Office of Administration for final approval; the latter’s decision with regard to each application is discretionary.
In the Retention Certificate application, the applicant must show: (a) that he or she continues to have such close ties to Germany that keeping German citizenship upon acceptance of foreign citizenship is justified; and (b) why acquisition of foreign citizenship (in his or her particular situation) is advantageous or why it avoids significant disadvantages. Examples of acceptable specific benefits include training, study, employment, business relations or inheritance matters. In contrast, a general disadvantage, such as the lack of eligibility to vote, will not suffice. Moreover, the other state must allow dual citizenship.
Of course, dual nationality can occur as the result of a variety of circumstances. For example, one may automatically acquire another citizenship through birth or marriage. In such cases, it is not likely that German citizenship will be lost. Rather, the loss of citizenship occurs only when a German citizen becomes a US citizen based upon application.