Official certification; obtaining from the municipality or administrative community

As the bodies closest to the citizens, the municipalities and administrative communities in particular are generally authorized to certify copies and signatures officially.


The certification of documents officially confirms that a copy (transcript) is identical in content to the original document (original).

The certification of signatures officially confirms the authenticity of a signature or a hand sign.

Certification of documents

You can only have written or electronic documents officially certified if they have been issued by a German authority or if they are required for submission to another German authority. The certification mark will be affixed to the copy or electronic document.

You can go to the authority in person or be represented by someone to whom you have given written authorization.

Signature certification

Official certification of a signature confirms that you yourself have signed an associated text. Signatures are certified on documents which must be presented to a German authority or which must be presented to another authority on the basis of a legal regulation. Signatures and hand signs must generally be executed or acknowledged in the presence of the certifying official.

An identity card or passport and the document on which the signature is to be executed or has been executed must be presented to the authority. Then the document must be signed or the signature acknowledged in the presence of the official. Subsequently, a notation of authentication shall be affixed.

Special notes

§ Section 129 of the Civil Code provides for "public certification" for certain written declarations (e.g. for the documents to be submitted to the land registry pursuant to Section 29 of the Land Register Code). In these cases, official certification by the notary public is regularly required. An official certification by the municipality or administrative community is not sufficient for this purpose. Special legal regulations also apply in other cases. For example, the issuing of certified copies from official registers is often reserved for the authority keeping the register:

  • Civil status documents are not certified. Birth, marriage, civil partnership and death certificates as well as certified printouts from the respective civil status registers are only issued by the registry office (see "Related Topics" - "Civil Status Certificate; Application").
  • Printouts from the register of associations or the land register can only be certified by the respective local court.

The authenticity of public documents that are to be used abroad and have been issued by courts, state authorities or municipalities can be certified by legalization or the issuance of an apostille (see "Related Topics"). Official certification is not usually sufficient for use abroad.

Required documents

  • Identity card or passport

  • in the case of certification of a document: original (original document)

  • in the case of authentication of a signature: document


  • Official certifications are generally subject to a fee.


In the event of a negative decision, if at the same time a decision is made on the existence of a right to certification: depending on the legal area concerned, optional objection procedure or administrative court action; otherwise administrative court action


Responsible for editing:Bayerisches Staatsministerium des Innern, für Sport und Integration

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