Marriage registration in Germany
Marriage is commitment. Marriage has to endure many hardships. However, perhaps none of them is as difficult as having your marriage recognized in Germany.
This post aims at clarifying exactly how you can do that, and what documents you will need to achieve marriage registration in Germany.
It isn’t actually that hard, but if you don’t know the system, it feels really daunting. Coming from the experience of being an American marrying another American in Copenhagen, here are some tips on how to go out getting your marriage recognized without feeling completely deflated.
Before starting the process in Germany
You have settled on staying in Germany for a while and now decide that you and your non-German partner don’t want to go through the German system for getting married. This because you’ve heard the paperwork is so difficult that even Germans go elsewhere to get married. For this you have 2 options.
- You can decide to fly to Copenhagen, Malta, or any of the countries (particularly Denmark) that offer an international marriage license. This document is de-facto recognized by German authorities because it has a German translation, without the need for additional documentation.
- If you tie the knot in some other country however, you will need the Apostille.
Little warning about changing names: If one of your wants to take on the name of the other partner, makes sure to have this done when you marry. The German authorities can only register the marriage and not change names after the fact.
What is the Apostille?
It’s an international convention for official documents so they can be recognized by other countries than where it was produced. This is a “stamp” that Germany requires on marriage certificates from other countries in order to do marriage registration in Germany.
As for citizens from EU countries or other countries, or if your marriage license comes from a non-EU country, it is a good bet that you will need the Apostille. To get this, you can go to the city hall of where you were married and most likely get the stamp there. Depending on the country it might also be the local parish or other entity.
This page from the German foreign ministry explains what is needed based on which country your marriage certificate comes from.
The process of marriage registration in Germany
When both partners are foreigners(Eheregister)
Once you have the right certificate (and stamp if applicable), you will need to make an appointment or walk-in to the Bürgeramt in your respective neighborhood/city.
The employee might try to send you to the Standesamt instead because they are used to dealing with marriages involving German citizens. This is not right: if both spouses/partners are foreigners, registration takes place at the Bürgeramt in the Melderegister.
When we made an appointment online to get our Eheschließung recognized, it kept sending us to the Standesamt’s website to make an appointment, which resulted in waiting for an hour at there to learn we were in the wrong place. (This was Berlin however, results may vary in other cities).
It’s not always clear how to make an appointment online for this as well, so your best bet is to go to your Bürgeramt and try to get it done that day. You can also book an appointement by phone: a human might work better in this case (tips on how to book a Bürgerarmt appointment in Berlin). If not possible, they can walk you through how to make n appointment.
We thought there must be specific places that allow this type of recognition to happen, but the best way to find that out is to just go to your Bürgeramt and ask if it’s the right place you can get your “Eheschließung Anmeldung” (Marriage registration in Germany).
When one partner has German citizenship
If there a German citizen involved, you might need to proceed to your Standesamt instead (Eheregister). The process is usually better known by city clerks. There are therefore appointements slots available for that online usually.
However, some people reported in the comments that it might also just be fine to go to the Bürgeramt and have it registered there.
Bring the right documents
Bring with you:
- Your international marriage license (and the Apostille depending on your case).
- A translated version of your birth certificates. Depending on your country, this can either be obtained directly from your home country, in the form of a international certificate, or it will need to be translated to a certified translation (more about this here).
If you are coming with your certificate from Denmark specifically, they may not ask for anything other than your passports and your marriage certificate, but as we have learned after living with German bureaucracy for a couple years, it’s always good to be prepared for marriage registration in Germany.
In doubt for Berlin, you can check this page which lists all the documents that might be required. For other cities, try to google “Nachbeurkundung einer Eheschließung im Ausland [city name]” to get to the city portal.
Pay the fee
After they fill out your German recognition for your marriage, they will ask if you want to pay for the copy of it. We did, and it was 10 euro. If your certificate is from somewhere like Malta, it may be slightly more.
Depending on which Bürgeramt you go to, it may also only accept EC cards. Again here, fees may vary from city to city.
Please note that paying the fee might not be the end of the process. It does happen that the Bürgeramt asks for additional documents to finish the process.
All done with marriage registration in Germany, what now?
After getting your marriage recognized in the German system, 2 things will happen:
- You will receive a letter in the mail with your new Tax ID number for you and your spouse as a married couple.
- You should probably consider switching tax classes to get a better tax return. We show you how to do that here.
Ultimately, the process of marriage recognition in Germany wasn’t nearly as complicated as it ended up being. Not knowing how things work is really difficult and debilitating and took much longer than it should have. Hopefully this helps people going through similar situations feel a little more prepared for the process. Good luck and feel free to ask questions in the comments.
This post was originally written by Lauren Piper, an American living in Berlin, based on her experience. It was edited by Bastien Allibert (SiB’s Editor) for clarity.