Schmidt & Schmidt covers the full spectrum of legalization services for documents issued in Germany.
Germany joined the Hague Convention on the Simplified Authentication of Documents on 15 December 1965; the Convention entered into force on 13 February 1966.
The apostille, or the “Hague apostille” is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document (e.g., a birth, marriage or death certificate, a judgment, an extract of a register or a notarial attestation). It confirms the authenticity of the signature and the authority of an official who signed the public document.
Documents issued in Germany and certified with an apostille in accordance with the Hague Convention of 1961 are recognised in all Member States of the Hague Convention and do not require any other form of certification, such as consular legalization, which considerably reduces the costs and time required for the certification of documents. So far, more than 120 states have joined the Convention.
The apostille is not sufficient for use in the states that are not party to the Hague Convention. In this case, consular legalization applies to a public document.
For some countries, there are special regulations because Germany has objected to their accession to the Convention. Consular legalization of the documents is usually necessary for Azerbaijan, Dominican Republic, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kosovo, Liberia, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Moldova, Pakistan, the Philippines, Senegal, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan.
Designated Competent Apostille Authorities in Germany
In Germany, different authorities are responsible for issuing the apostille, depending on which authority issued the document. The Federal Agency for Foreign Affairs is responsible for federal documents. An exception are documents issued by the Federal Patent Court or the German Patent and Trademark Office and for which the President of the German Patent and Trademark Office is responsible. In the case of a federal state document, the responsibilities are regulated differently depending on the federal state.
German federal documents:
- The Federal Agency for Foreign Affairs (BfAA);
- For documents from the Federal Patent Court and the German Patent and Trademark Office, the apostille is issued by the President of the German Patent and Trademark Office.
Documents of the German federal states:Responsibility is not regulated uniformly in the federal states of Germany. Usually responsible for:
- Documents of administrative authorities (except judicial administrative authorities):
- Ministries (senate administrations) for the interior; district presidents; District President; district government;
- in Berlin: State Office for Civil and Regulatory Affairs;
- in Lower Saxony: police departments;
- in Rhineland-Palatinate: Supervisory and Service Directorate in Kaiserslautern;
- in Saxony: regional offices in Chemnitz, Dresden and Leipzig;
- in Saxony-Anhalt: state administration office in Magdeburg;
- in Thuringia: state administration office in Weimar.
- Deeds of the judicial administration authorities, the ordinary courts (civil and criminal courts) and notaries: ministries (senate administrations) of justice; Regional (local) court presidents.
- Documents from other courts (excluding ordinary courts):
- Ministries (senate administrations) for the interior;
- District presidents; District President; district government;
- Ministries (senate departments) for justice;
- Regional (local) court presidents.
The apostille in Germany is a square stamp in German with the obligatory heading "Apostille" and a reference to the 1961 Hague Convention in French (Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961). The apostille certificate’s sides will be at least 9 centimeters long.
Types of documents
|Can be apostillized||Cannot be apostillized|
Specific aspects and document requirements for the apostille in Germany
There is no one designated apostille authority for all Germany-issued public documents.
The apostille process can vary and consist of several pre-certification steps. The processing time often depend on the workload the apostille authorities are. Therefore, some documents will take longer than others to be certified.
In Germany, only original documents are allowed to be apostilled. Electronic documents or electronic signatures will not be recognized in Germany.
A public document must be in good condition and all seals and signatures must be clearly legible.
In some cases, a public document must current (not be older than 3 or 6 months) to be apostilled.
Legalization of German educational documents for use abroad
Educational documents issued in Germany, such as school reports, university degree certificates, transcripts of records, enrollment certificates and other certificates from schools or universities are not effective abroad until they are certified with an apostille. For example, an apostille for your foreign degree may be required to apply for a Master's or a PhD degree program.
In Germany, there are several organisations responsible for affixing the apostille to educational documents. The authority to apply the apostille varies depending on the federal state in which the university is located.
The authorities of each federal state in Germany formulate their own rules for the authentication of educational certificates. In some federal states, the original document can be certified directly with the apostille, in others, the original document must first be certified by certain state authorities. Processing times are different and depend on the respective procedure. If pre-certification of the proof of education is required, the legalization time is extended.
Recognition of the authenticity of public documents within the EU
Bilateral international treaties
Germany has concluded bilateral agreements with Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, according to which certain documents are exempt from any certification if they are sealed by the responsible administrative authorities.
Multilingual documents (under CIEC Convention)
Civil status certificates and certificates of marriageability, which are issued by one of the contracting states according to the model of the Convention of the International Commission (CIEC Convention) for Civil and Civil Status Affairs (CIEC), are exempt from any formality in Germany.
Contracting states of the Vienna CIEC Convention of 08.09.1976 (issuance of multilingual extracts from civil status registers: birth, marriage, and death certificate) are:
- Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Germany, Estonia, France, Italy, Cape Verde, Croatia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey.
Contracting states of the Munich CIEC Convention of 05.09.1980 (issuance of multilingual certificates of marriageability) are:
- Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, and Turkey.
Regulation on public documents (EU) 2016/1191 of 6 July 2016
Furthermore, Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 of 6 July 2016 on public documents simplifies the circulation of certain public documents that must be presented in an EU Member State and have been issued in another EU Member State, thus exempting public documents from the confirmation of authenticity with the Apostille with the aim of reducing administrative burden and costs for citizens.
Consular legalization of German documents for use abroad
Should a German document be used in a country that does not recognize the Hague Convention, such as Canada, China and the United Arab Emirates or other countries not listed as a contracting party, the procedure of consular legalization, also called “embassy attestation”, applies. For a complete list of countries that accept and use apostilles, click here.
Consular legalization is the process of authenticating or certifying a legal document so a foreign country's legal system will recognize it as with full legal effect that is carried out by the diplomatic or consular mission of the country in which the document is to be used.
Consular legalization is more complex, time-consuming and costly than the simpler apostille procedure. Whereas apostille is usually issued within one step, consular legalization requires several pre-certifications before a public document can be certified at the embassy or consulate of the destination country in Germany.
It is a common requirement that the document has to be translated into the official language of the destination country before submission to the embassy. It is up to the diplomatic mission to decide about the authentication procedure.
The main differences between an apostille and consular legalization of documents
The common feature between apostille and consular legalization is that they authenticate an official document for presentation to institutions in another country. However, they have many differences.
|Legal effect||Can be used in all countries that are party to the Hague Convention on the Simplified Legalization of Documents.||Use between States one or both of which is not a member of the Hague Convention, or where one of the contracting States has protested the accession of the other.|
|Difficulty||Moderate. To obtain an apostille, contact the competent apostille authority of the state of origin of the document.||High. For consular legalization, various inland authorities and a diplomatic mission of the state of destination must be involved.|
|Pre-certification||Usually not required.||Is obligatory.|
|Attestation at the state of destination embassy in the state of origin of the document||No need to contact the Consulate of the country of destination.||Is the final step of legalization.|
Apostille and consular legalization in all federal states of Germany
We offer apostille and consular legalization services for the public documents originating from all 16 federal states of Germany.
In each federal state, the apostille and therefore pre-certification procedure have their own specifics. Depending on the type of document and the issuing authority, different state bodies are designated to issue the apostille.
If the important documents are lost or damaged, or current copies of the documents are needed, the re-issue of the documents is required. It is not unusual for people outside Germany to encounter difficulties with obtaining new documents when abroad. Our consultants will help you procure new documents from Germany remotely, and we can arrange for your documents to be sent by courier anywhere in the world.
Copies and transcripts of civil status documents can be translated into any language by a sworn translator in Germany or the translation can be done in the country of destination. We offer certified translations of civil status documents with further certification. The cost of the work is calculated according to the volume of the document in question.
Does the translation have to be apostillized?
Any foreign document issued in one country and used in another country must be legalized for use abroad. Therefore, the authenticity of a certified translation from Germany needs to be certified by an apostille. Consequently, many authorities may not accept certified translations from Germany if the translation has not been properly authenticated in Germany for use abroad. To avoid this confusion, translations should better be made in the state of destination of the document.
Price of apostille and consular legalization of documents in Germany
We offer a wide range of services and supplies related to the legalization of documents to suit all your needs. If you have a tight budget or need to have your documents legalized in record time, we can find a suitable solution. The deadline begins with the receipt of your documents.
Document procurement in Germany
The service includes:
- State fee
Due dates: from 14 working days
incl. German VAT 19%
Price excl. VAT from 50€
Apostille for document in Germany
The service includes:
Due dates: from 7 working days
incl. German VAT 19%
Price excl. VAT from 100€
Consular legalization of a document in Germany
The service includes:
- The service includes
Due dates: from 30 working days
incl. German VAT 19%
Price excl. VAT from 120€
Certified translation of documents into foreign language
Due dates: from 2 working days
incl. German VAT 19%
Price excl. VAT from 35€