Ministry of Labour, Social, Family Affairs and Integration
Residence Recognition of Foreign Public Certificates for Submission to German Authorities
Foreign public documents are often only recognized by the German authorities if their authenticity has been confirmed.
Recognition of Foreign Public Certificates - Hamburg Welcome Portal
Public certificates are for example: civil status certificates (marriage, life partnership, birth and death certificates), registration, residence or single certificates, school certificates, extracts from the commercial register or similar documents.
The basic process to establish the authenticity of the public certificate is the legalisation. International agreements have been concluded to simplify the authentication of documents.
The most important is the Hague Convention for issuing an apostille. In addition, in certain areas an authentication can be waived on the basis of conventions / bilateral international treaties. This means that the certificate will be accepted by the German authorities without further confirmation of authenticity.
The legalisation procedure consists of two steps: First, the relevant authority of the respective state must pre-certify the certificate issued there. Following this, the German Mission Abroad has to confirm the authenticity of the certificate.
If you have further questions, please contact the German Mission Abroad in the country where the authentic certificate was issued. There you will also get more information about legalisation.
The issuing of the “Hague Apostille” is the facilitated form to establish the authenticity of a certificate and replaces the usually necessary legalisation. It applies only to the Contracting Parties of the Hague Convention. The "Hague Apostille" is issued by the relevant Apostille Authority of the state from which the certificate originated. The involvement of the German mission abroad is not necessary.
The authority which issued the public certificate can also tell you the address for the apostille authority. Additionally, you can contact the administration of the district where the certificate was issued or the local German Mission Abroad. They usually have leaflets which state the addresses of the relevant apostille authority and further information on the process.
Waiver of the assessment of authenticity based on conventions or bilateral international treaties
Multilingual, international certificates (according to the ICCS Convention)
Civil status certificates and certificates of no impediment issued by a contracting state in accordance with the terms of the Conventions of the International Commission on Civil Status (ICCS) do not need to be certified for the use in Germany.
Contracting States of the Vienna ICCS Convention from 08.09.1976 (Issue of multilingual extracts from civil-status records: birth, marriage and death certificates) are:
Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, France, Italy, Cape Verde, Croatia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey.
Contracting States of the Munich ICCS Convention from 05.09.1980 (Issue of multilingual certificates of no impediment) are:
Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey.
Bilateral international treaties
Germany has concluded bilateral international treaties with some countries in the field of civil status or the authentication of documents. For certain documents a legalisation or a replacement by a special intermediate certification is waived.
The treaties were concluded with the following countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, and Switzerland.
Please ask the office which needs the public certificate whether you need to certify the document or not.