How to use German public documents in foreign country


German public documents for use abroad

A foreign state may require proof of authenticity for a German public document. International treaties between Germany and certain countries regulate this matter. Accordingly, different procedures to confirm authenticity may apply. In this post, we will write about “Hague apostille”

The “Hague apostille”

In states which are party to the Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation 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 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. For German documents, the “Hague apostille” is issued by the designated German authorities. It is not necessary to contract the consular officers of the state in which the document is to be used. For up-to-date information on States parties to this convention, please refer to the Hague conference website.

Designated “apostille” agencies

In the Federal Republic of Germany the following agencies are responsible for issuing “Hague apostilles”:

1.      Federal documents   

(a) for documents from all Federal authorities and courts (excluding those named in (b)):    Federal Office of Administration, Cologne (Bundesverwaltungsamt)

(b) for documents issued by the Federal Patents Court and the German Patent Office:    President of the German Patent Office

2. Documents issued by the German federal states (Länder)

Responsibility for issuing “Hague apostilles” is not uniformly regulated in the various federal states (Länder). We therefore recommend that you ask the issuer of any particular document which authority is designated to issue a “Hague apostille” for that document.

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