Living without a passport: The situation of stateless people in Germany

Policy Brief | May 2023

For most people, having a nationality is a matter of course. It links them to a particular state through a set of rights and obligations and gives them the protection of that state. People who are stateless or whose nationality is undetermined have correspondingly fewer rights. Especially in the context of refugee immigration since 2014, the phenomenon has gained in importance: in 2022, around 29,500 stateless persons and around 97,000 persons with an unclear nationality were living in Germany - twice as many as in 2014. Knowledge about these groups has so far been limited; they barely play a role in the public and political debate. This is despite the fact that they are a particularly vulnerable group and statelessness is considered internationally as undesirable.

The Policy Brief takes a first look at these groups and examines their socio-demographic composition as well as their legal situation in Germany. It shows that around one-third of those with an unclear nationality were already born in Germany; for the group of stateless persons, the number was 16 per cent. Two-thirds of the stateless persons and more than half of those with undetermined nationality have been living in Germany for more than six years; many have either only a temporary residence title or no residence title at all. Overall, it is clear that the barriers to recognition of statelessness are very high, as there is no transparent and systematic determination procedure.

The Policy Brief was funded by the Robert Bosch Stiftung.