Legalisation and apostilles for foreign documents

Authorities or courts in Germany often only recognise foreign public documents if their authenticity or legal relevance has been established through a particular procedure.

You thus either need a legalisation from the German foreign representation (German embassies and consulates abroad) or an apostille (also known as the "Hague Apostille") from the relevant authority in the country which issued the document.

Apostille

The apostille enables the document to be directly recognised in Germany. The German foreign representation thus no longer needs to be involved.

The need for a legalisation or apostille depends on the country in which the document was issued.

For marital status documents in particular, there are also bilateral contracts with various countries to waiver legalisation and apostilles.

Legalisation

Public documents for which no international convention applies can be legalised by the German foreign representation (embassy or consulate in the respective country).

In most countries, documents can only be legalised after an initial pre-certification by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or another authority in the issuing country.

Please note! Legalisation is currently restricted!

Due to conditions in the respective countries, some German foreign representations are currently unable to legalise documents, as they cannot sufficiently verify the authenticity of the documents. The representations have thus ceased legalisation, with the consent of the Department of Foreign Affairs, until further notice.

Assessment as part of the administrative and legal assistance programme

As part of the administrative assistance programme for German authorities or the legal assistance programme for courts, German consular clerks at the relevant foreign representations can – depending on the local conditions – assess whether the certified facts are correct or not.

German authorities or courts requiring documents from one of these countries (for example to register a marriage or record a marriage entered into abroad in the marriage register) can request such an assessment.

Note: The assessment costs must be borne by you, as the holder of the document.

Onlineantrag und Formulare

Hinweis: Sobald Sie eine Postleitzahl oder einen Ort angegeben haben, können wir Ihnen an dieser Stelle den Onlineantrag und die Formulare der zuständigen Stelle anzeigen. Ort angeben

Zuständige Stelle

For legalisation

  • German foreign representation (German embassy or German consulate) in the respective country for documents issued in its administrative district
    • Embassies or consulates of the Federal Republic of Germany
    • For pre-certification:
      Ministry of Foreign Affairs or other authorities in the issuing country

For the apostille

Each contractual state appoints which authorities issue the apostille in its state – enquire at

  • the centre which issued the document, or
  • the competent German foreign representation
Tip: The German foreign representations usually have a datasheet containing the addresses of apostille authorities and additional information on the procedure; more information can be found on the websites of the German foreign representations.
Hinweis: Sobald Sie eine Postleitzahl oder einen Ort angegeben haben, können wir Ihnen an dieser Stelle weitere Informationen zu der für Sie zuständigen Stelle anzeigen. Ort angeben
Warum soll ich einen Ort angeben?
Mit Hilfe der Ortsangabe können wir die für Sie passenden Informationen, Formulare, Dienste und Ihre zuständige Stelle anzeigen.
Welchen Ort soll ich angeben?
Zum Beispiel Ihren Wohnort, wenn Sie einen Reisepass beantragen wollen oder den Unternehmensstandort, wenn Sie ein Gewerbe anmelden möchten.

Service details

Procedure

First contact the competent German representation abroad to find out whether your document has to be legalised, and, if so, which requirements must be met for the specific legalisation process.

If you have to submit the document to a German registry office, this office may also be able to assist you further.

  • You must lodge the request for document legalisation with the competent German representation abroad. If you, as the document owner, cannot call into the foreign representation yourself, for example because you are staying in Germany, you can also send the application and document by post. The application can also be submitted on site by relatives or acquaintances if they have been properly authorised by you.
  • If a document requires pre-certification, you must first contact the relevant authority in the country of issue.
  • If you only need an apostille, contact the relevant foreign (apostille) authority.

Delivery

If postage is not reliable enough for you to send the application and document to the German foreign representation or competent authority in the country of issue, you can hire an international, commercial courier service.

Help and assistance

If, when pre-certifying documents for legalisation or issuing the "Hague Apostille" abroad, you encounter language or other difficulties which make it impossible to establish direct contact with the competent authority abroad, please contact the local German foreign representation.

In exceptional cases, the German foreign representation can act on your behalf. However, this only applies if you are a German citizen.

Note: 
  • More information on the legalisation process can be found at the German embassy / consul in whose administrative consular district the document has been issued.
    • Embassies or consulates of the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Note that some countries do not have a German embassy, and that the relevant administrative district is attended to by a German embassy in a neighbouring country.

 

Required documents

  • original document
  • for legalisation: pre-certification from the issuing country
  • if applicable: power of attorney for the representative

Deadlines

When collecting the apostille from the competent foreign authorities, waiting times can sometimes be long.

Costs

Legalisation

Fees and expenses according to the Law on Fees and Expenses Charged Abroad and the Ordinance on Fees and Expenses Charged Abroad are charged by the German foreign representations for the legalisation. The fee is currently between EUR 20.00 and EUR 80.00 per document.

Even if the legalisation cannot be performed, for example because the document proves to be false, a 75 percent processing fee is incurred.

Apostille

Fees and expenses are also charged for apostilles according to the legislation of the respective foreign country.

Assessment as part of the administrative and legal assistance programme

The costs incurred for the assessment as part of the administrative and legal assistance programme depend on the individual case. The assessment generally only takes place when the document owner has made a relevant advance payment.

Release note

Based on the German version authorized by Sächsisches Staatsministerium des Innern