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Foreign public documents for use in Germany

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If a foreign public document is presented in Germany, the receiving German authority may require a proof of authenticity. International treaties between Germany and certain countries regulate this matter. Accordingly, different procedures to confirm authenticity may apply.

I. Legalization of foreign public documents

Foreign public documents to which none of the exceptions mentioned under II, III and IV apply, can be legalized for use in Germany. 

Legalization is performed by the consular officers of the German embassies and consulates in the country where the document was issued. For further information please see the website of the relevant German embassy/consulate.

II. The "Hague apostille"

In States which are party to the Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents of 5 October 1961 public documents no longer need to be legalized. All that is required for these documents is the so-called "Hague apostille". This Convention applies to all public documents (i.e. marriage and birth certificates, university degrees etc.) with the exception of documents executed by consular officers and documents issued by administrative authorities, which relate directly to commerce or customs.

The "Hague apostille" confirms the authenticity of a public document, the original of which must be submitted to the designated authority. The "Hague apostille" is issued by designated authorities of the state which issued the document. It is not necessary to contact the German mission in that country.

For up-to-date information on States parties to this convention, please see the Hague Conference website. 

III. "International documents" (CIEC Conventions)

Civil status documents and certificates of no impediment (for marriage) issued by one of the Contracting States following the model contained in the International Commission on Civil Status Conventions (CIEC) are exempt from any form requirements in Germany.

States parties to the Convention of 8 September 1976 (on the issue of (multilingual) extracts from birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates) are: 
Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cape Verde Islands, Croatia, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey.

States parties to the Convention of 5 September 1980 (on the issuance of multilingual certificates of no impediment to marriage) are: 
Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Moldova, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey.

IV. Bilateral international treaties

The Federal Republic of Germany has concluded bilateral treaties in the field of civil status and the certification of documents with the following states:
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

In these treaties it was agreed to abolish legalization for certain types of document or to replace it with a provisional legalization procedure.
There are in addition special international treaties which deal with documents used in legal assistance or commerce.

V. Alternative ways of authentication

Some German missions abroad needed to suspend legalization until further notice due to formal reasons. This change in procedure currently pertains to documents from the following states:

Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Liberia, Libya (legalization is only suspended for certain documents), Madagascar, Mali, Morocco (legalization is only suspended for certain documents), Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria (legalization is only suspended for certain documents), Tadzhikistan, Togo, Tunisia (legalization is only suspended for certain documents), Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan

In most countries however, the local German consular officers can offer alternative procedures to verify the authenticity of documents. However, this service is available upon request of German authorities only. It cannot be requested by the holder of the document alone.

For further information see the website of the German embassy/consulate in the country where the document was issued.

VI. Certification of translations

If German authorities and courts require translations of foreign documents, these translations should be done by a sworn or certified translator in Germany.

Since translators do not produce public documents, translations cannot receive the “apostille” or be legalized.

VII. Consular documents

Documents issued by consular or diplomatic missions of foreign states in Germany cannot be authenticated by German authorities. Please contact the respective diplomatic representation directly to be informed on the legalization process for these documents.