How to Get an Apostille in Germany
If you intend to get married, set up residence, take up employment, study, or establish a business anywhere outside Germany, you may be asked to provide documents so that you can be registered legally. If your documents are in German, then you may be asked to legalise and translate them.
An apostille issued in Germany is a simplified legalisation method that affirms that the signature or seal on a document issued in Germany and to be used in any foreign country which is a signatory to the Hague Convention is genuine. Note that the German apostille is only a confirmation of the genuineness of the signature or seal on the document, not the content of the document itself.
How to get an apostille in Germany
You do not need an apostille if you have been asked to provide a German issued official or legal document for someone or an agency already within Germany or (for most documents) in any other member state of the E.U.
Officially, apostilles are only recognised by countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention. The number of countries belonging to the Hague Convention is currently over 110 with the number increasing on a regular basis. Even countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention may ask for an apostille, but then follow this up with further legalisation by their own embassies.
Who actually provides the apostille?
In Germany, apostilles are provided by either a federal or state agency, depending on whether the document is a federal or state issued document.
For most federal documents, apostilles should be obtained from the Federal Office of Administration, Cologne (Bundesverwaltungsamt).
For documents that may have been issued by the German Patent Office or Federal Patents Court, use the President of the German Patent Office.
Each state, or Länder, has its own method of issuing apostilles for documents that have been issued by that state, so you do need to check with the relevant state authority to see where to obtain an apostille locally.
Requirements for getting an apostille in Germany
German public documents issued by a federal agency should be sent by post with the appropriate application form for authentication of signatures and issuing of an apostille. The apostilled documents will be returned only to an address within Germany and the fee (currently 25 Euros) should be paid by cash on delivery. More information can be obtained on the website of the Federal Office of Administration (Bundesverwaltungsamt).
Note that this does take considerable time and you should prepare well in advance if you need to legalise documents with an apostille needed in a foreign country.
Certified translations of German Apostille
As documents issued in Germany will be in German it is standard procedure to have these translated by a sworn German translator (in German, Beglaubigte Übersetzungen). For the apostille to be issued, both the translation and the original document must be presented. Sworn translators in Germany have taken an oath at a regional or higher court in Germany and are authorised to faithfully produce an accurate and complete translation of the original document.
Because there are now so many people wanting to travel, marry, get jobs, study or just go and live as a retiree in other countries, there has been a surge in requests for apostilles. Fortunately, this has been matched by an increase in services that can be trusted to get an apostille for you when you need it quickly. Note that when apostilles are needed for a country where German is not the official language, they also need to be translated into the language of the country that has requested it. There are excellent apostille translation services available that can get you the apostille(s) you need in the language you need quickly and efficiently. To use a sworn translation service, you need to get your apostille first then have it translated by a sworn translator. Use Translayte to assist you in swift and professional translation of apostilles.