What is a notarized paper

Welcome to the website of the Federal Foreign Office

The following information is intended to illustrate to you that there are basically two different forms of the creation of public documents under German law: The form of the signature certification and the form of the notarial certification. A document is signed for both forms. Legislators and case law determine when which form is used.

Signature certification

The signature authentication is the "simpler" form. With the signature certification, the notary or consular officer confirms that the named person has signed the document in front of him. The signature must be made personally in front of the responsible consular officer or recognized by him. There is no instruction about the legal meaning of the document to be signed.

In many cases, the authentication of the signature is sufficient to make a document legally effective.

Some examples are:

  • Declaration of approval or confirmation of power of attorney: Someone has signed a contract or made a statement on your behalf without your prior authorization. You will now be asked to approve this declaration retrospectively so that the contract can take legal effect.
  • simple powers of attorney: Powers of attorney in which the principal is less strongly bound, e.g. B. revocable powers of attorney for a single legal transaction such as
    - Entries in the commercial register
    - simple inheritance powers of attorney
  • Applying for a Certificate of good conduct
  • Explanation for Rejection of an inheritance

However, this includes Not: General powers of attorney, precautionary powers of attorney, living wills - these usually have to be notarized.

To certify your signature, please bring:

  • the document to be signed (the diplomatic missions cannot formulate this for you)
  • in the case of declarations of approval, also the contract that has already been concluded; proof of the value of the legal transaction in the case of powers of attorney
  • a valid government-issued photo ID (passport, ID card or US driver's license)
  • if you are not in your own name, but in the name of z. B. of a company, a ward, etc., plus proof (in the original or certified copy) that you are authorized to represent the company / person
  • Proof of residence (US driver's license, rental agreement, electricity bill, etc.)

Signature certification by notary public or honorary consul

A signature authentication can usually also be carried out by a US “Notary Public”, but in many cases also requires an apostille. Therefore, please clarify in advance with the office in Germany to which the document is to be presented, whether an apostille is also required.

As a rule, authentication of signatures can also be carried out by the German honorary consuls; an apostille is not required.

fees

The fee for a signature authentication is based on the value of the legal transaction and can between EUR 20 and EUR 250 be. The fee can be either in euros with credit card (Visa or Mastercard) or at the respective daily rate of the responsible German diplomatic mission abroad in US dollars in cash to be paid.

Appointments for the signature certification

Whether you need an appointment for the signature certification or whether you can call without an appointment during opening hours depends on the respective diplomatic mission. Please find out on the website of the diplomatic mission responsible for you under "Opening times" whether you need an appointment or not. You don't know which of our nine agencies is responsible for you? Please consult our consulate finder

Appointments must be made in advance for the embassy and some consulates general.

Notarial certification

For some legal transactions, the certification of the signature is not sufficient, rather a notarial certification of the record by the consular officer must take place. A notarial certification can thereforeNot be carried out by a German honorary consul or by a “public notary”.

Examples of legal transactions to be notarized are:
- Application for a Certificate of inheritance
- Application for the issuance of an executor's certificate
- declaration of an oath (e.g. on civil status, in pension matters, in the event of loss of driver's license, etc.)
- Acknowledgment of paternity
- maintenance obligation

But: Not everywhere in the US there are consular officers who can do any kind of authentication. So please clarify by all means in advance with the diplomatic mission responsible for you, whether the required certification can be carried out. In particular, general powers of attorney, power of attorney and living wills can be obtained from the diplomatic missions in the USAnot notarized become.

fees

The notarization fee is based on the value of the legal transaction. You will be informed in good time before the notarization date which means of payment are accepted and the exact amount of the notarization fee to be paid.

Appointments for the notarization

Every certification must and can be prepared only by prior individual appointment be made. Please ask the representative responsible for you how you can make an appointment. You don't know which of our nine agencies is responsible for you? Please consult our consulate finder

Please bring:

  • a valid government-issued photo ID (passport, ID card or US driver's license)
  • if you are not in your own name, but in the name of z. B. of a company, a ward, etc., plus proof (in the original or as a certified copy) that you are authorized to represent the company / person
  • further documents by prior arrangement with the notifying consular officer.

Certification of photocopies

Certified copies can be made by the diplomatic mission in the USA, an honorary consul or a public notary upon presentation of the original. If the copy certification is carried out by a public notary, please make sure that this is the Correspondence between the copy and the original confirmed ("This is a true copy of the original" or similar). More information on the requirements for certified copies made by a public notary can be found in our leaflet.

Except for California and New York: Notary public notaries from these countries do not recognize photocopies, especially the Federal Office of Administration. As a precaution, it is better to have photocopies for the Federal Office of Administration certified by the diplomatic mission responsible for your place of residence.

Appointments for the certification of photocopies

If, as an exception, a German authority does not accept certification by a public notary and insists on certification by a German diplomatic mission, please contact the diplomatic mission responsible for you to make an appointment. You don't know which of our nine agencies is responsible for you? Please consult our consulate finder

Appointments must be made in advance for the embassy and some consulates general.