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The German Code on citizenship says that a German who voluntarily obtains the citizenship of another counrty loses his German citizenship automatically. You will not notice this legal consequence, because you do have your German passport and nobody will take it away from you. But if your passport is expired and you apply for a new one, you will be asked if you have ever obtained a foreign citiship, and then you will have to answer "Yes". The authority will then know you lost your German citizenship and will decline to issue a new passport! However, if you can answer the question with "Yes, but I have a retention certificate", you will be issued a new German passport.
Every German citizen, who voluntarily obtains another citizenship and wants to retain her or his German citizenship needs a retention certificate. If you apply for a second citizenship for yourself and your children, then the children will need a retention certificate as well.
In order to keep your German citizenship, you need to have received your retention certificate before your swearing-in ceremony. As soon as you have perfected the oath, you formally have a new citizenship. If you do not have a retention certificate at this point, you automatically lose your German citizenship, even if you have already applied for a retention!
From the time of the filing of your application until you receive your certificate, usually 3 to 6 months pass. If you have already applied for your new citizenship, it is usually not too late. You can postpone the appointment for your swearing-in ceremony until you received the retention certificate.
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