Traditionally, the confirmation of authenticity is given by a consular officer of the state in which the document is to be used, after it has passed through a confirmative chain of authorities, including those of the state that originally issued the document. This process can take several weeks or even months.
A variety of documents are required before and during your research stay.
In addition, certain documents first must be officially verified before they can be accepted and used by German authorities. Find out more below.
Verifying foreign documents for use in Germany: Apostille or Legalisation?
Certain foreign-issued public documents must undergo an official verification process before they can be used by German authorities. This is to confirm that they are authentic and correct. There are two ways of confirming the authenticity of a foreign public document: Apostille or Legalisation. The main difference is in who gives the confirmation and how fast.
To simplify and speed up the traditional legalisation process, many countries have agreed on a treaty called the Hague Convention. If both states concerned with a document are party to this agreement and consider the document public and requiring legalisation, authenticity of the document can be confirmed by a designated Competent Authority of the state that originally issued the document. This makes it considerably easier and faster to obtain (in most cases, within only a day). For more information see the brochure The ABCs of Apostille.
Verifying German documents for use in Germany: Authentication or Notarisation?
… certifies merely that an original document and its copy are complete and identical or that a signature on a document was made in the presence of an officer. Usually the entity that issued a document will be competent to authenticate its copy or signature. For example, copies of documents (e.g. degrees) issued by TU Dresden can be authenticated by designated university staff, whilst most other public documents need to be authenticated by officers of a local Citizens’ office – Bürgerbüro. Civil status documents, such as birth certificates can only be authenticated by the Civil Registrar’s Office which issued the original document.
… is a special notarial act which certifies that certain persons have signed a document in the notary’s presence and were previously informed of its contents. The laws of each country specify exactly when this form of authentication is required.
Verifying German documents for use in another country: Certification AND Apostille & Legalisation
If you would like to use a German public document (e.g. a degree certificate) in another country, you can have its authenticity verified as described above. First you may need a certified one-sided copy of your original, especially if the original is a two-sided document (see above for certification/authentication). You can then have an Apostille issued for this certified copy by the Competent Authority in Germany. If the target country where the verified document is to be used is not a partner of the Hague Convention, please talk to us about how to get a legalisation of your German document.