Certified Copies

What is a certified copy and how can I get one?

A certified copy is a copy of a document that has been legally certified in Germany. It means a stamp would be attached to the copy that proves it is identical to the original document. It does not verify that the original document is valid. 

A certified copy consists of:

  • the note certifying a document as a true copy
  • the official stamp/seal (“Dienstsiegel” or “Emblem”) of the certifying authority. The seal is bound to the person or office with a seal number.
  • the official signature of the certifying person

A certified copy prevents you from carrying around the original document which may be lost or damaged.

In case your original document gets lost or damaged, you can use a certified copy of the original document. Furthermore, you might be asked for a certified copy from different authorities. For example, if you apply to university you might be asked for a certified copy of your original high school degree. What kind of certified copies will be accepted differs from university to university. Make sure to ask at the university’s international office which certifications will be accepted or check at the online assessment of uni assist.

In Germany, your university degree can be recognized by the “Zentralstelle für ausländisches Bildungswesen (ZAB)”. You need a certified copy of your university degree for the official recognition. Please note that the required documents depend on the country from which you received your degree and the requirements of the ZAB.

Where can I get a certified copy?

Notary (“Notar”)

Administration authorities

City administrations

„Pfarramt“ of publicly organized churches

Insurance companies and banks

School and University

Court and „Standesamt“

Embassy

In order to have a document certified, you need to have the original document and a normal copy. Please note that you have to pay for the service.

The person in charge will check your copy (or make a copy) and the original document. If both documents are identical you will receive a stamped and signed certified copy. The amount you have to pay for that service is different in every city and authority. In case you receive financial support from the Jobcenter, keep the receipt as the amount of money might be refunded. 

Important

Ordinary translators cannot certify copies of documents. Some of them might offer to do so, but the result will be fake and not accepted by the authorities. Make sure to go to a sworn translator if you need your documents translated and certified.