To produce a certified copy, an authorised official compares the photocopy with the original document, and, if there is no discrepancy, affixes a seal to the photocopy and signs it, certifying that the photocopy and the original are identical in content. A fee is usually charged for certification.
A properly certified copy will:
- bear an original stamp/seal (round or oval in shape)
- include the certifying official's signature
- have part of the authority’s stamp on every single sheet in a stapled set of pages
Certified/authenticated copies may be issued by a variety of institutions in your home country or Germany. These include public authorities with an official seal such as:
- local government and clerical offices in Germany (e.g. Passau)
- courts and notaries in accordance with national law
- German diplomatic missions (embassies, consulates) abroad
- your home country’s diplomatic missions abroad
Please note that a photocopy of a certified photocopy is not itself a certified copy; it is merely a copy and does not constitute an official document. German public officials are permitted but not obligated to authenticate foreign-language documents.
If your document is written in a language other than English or German, you will have to have it translated by a sworn translator. Sworn translators are authorised to issue translations such that the translation itself becomes a legally valid document in Germany. If you intend to re-use the translated document, you should have certified copies (see above) made of the certified translation and keep the original certified translation.
Please keep in mind when commissioning a translation that not all professional translators are sworn translators, so you will have to make sure you ask them about this service before commissioning the translation.
Most German embassies and consulates general maintain lists of sworn translators recognised by both uni-assist and the University of Passau and may publish them on their websites. Please ask the embassy or consulate in your country or, if you are in Germany, your municipal administration office for a list of sworn translators.
Alternatively, you may be able to find a sworn translator for your language on the following website: http://www.justiz-dolmetscher.de