Marriage. Such a beautiful word to say but so difficult to commit to as well. Numerous are the hardships a marriage has to endure. 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, without the need for additional documentation.
If you tie the knot in some other country however, you will need the Apostille.
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 sometimes Germany requires from marriage certificates from other countries in order to recognize the married in Germany.
Again, it’s not always needed. For example: if your international marriage license is from Denmark, and you are both Americans, or one of you is German, you will NOT need an Apostille.
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 clears up what is needed based on which country your marriage certificate comes from.
The process to marriage registration in Germany
1- Go to the Standesamt (Eheregister)
Once you have the right certificate (and stamp if applicable), ready to get recognized in Germany, you will need to make an appointment or walk-in to the Standesamt in your respective neighbourhood.
When we made an appointment online to get our Eheschließung recognized, it kept sending us to the Bürgeramt websites to make an appointment, which resulted in waiting for an hour at the Bürgeramt to learn we were in the wrong place. (This was Berlin however, results may vary in other cities). The confusion might arise from the possibility of registering your marriage at the Bürgeramt, in the Melderegister. This can only be done after having your marriage recognized though.
It’s not always clear how to make an appointment online for this as well, so your best bet is to go to your Standesamt and try to get it done that day. For Berliners, here is the relevant link to try to book an appointment. If not possible, they can walk you through how to make an 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 Standesamt and ask if it’s the right place you can get your “Anerkennung der Eheschließung.”
2- 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.
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.
3- 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, so if you are one of those N26ers, may be worth borrowing a friends EC Card. 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.
4- Go to the Bürgeramt (Melderegister)
Although it’s not a legal requirement, you avoid a lot of problems, by register your marriage in the Melderegister. Just do it. Ask for “Eheschließung beim Bürgeramt in das Melderegister eintragen lassen.”
All done, what now?
After getting your marriage recognized in the German system that you will receive a letter in the mail with your new Tax ID number for you and your spouse as a married couple. Congratulations, you can now change tax class and maybe earn a little more every month depending on your case. More info how about 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.