Emigration documents

This guide was last updated in 2009

Most German states required those who wished to emigrate to first obtain official permission.

The individual had to show they had performed their military service, their parents were dead or adequately provided for and that all debts had been settled.

Even then, permission was not automatic. Many just chanced their luck and left – especially those who did not want to do their national service or were avoiding the political police. If they did request permission, their details should be in the local archives under Auswanderung (emigration).

There are no records of passengers leaving Germany or other North Sea ports except Hamburg and then only from 1850 to 1934. This information is available on www.ancestry.com.

Many immigrants naturalised in the UK after some years – especially in the late 19th or 20th centuries. However, the proportion doing so was tiny up to 1914. The process was expensive and not necessary to stay here.

Those who did naturalise will have given their date and place of birth and their parents' names and you can find these details on their naturalisation certificate and in their Home Office file at the National Archives at Kew.

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