Management of StudiesCertification of Documents

Formal Requirements for the Certification of Documents

Who is Allowed to Certify?

Any authority or other public body holding a seal of approval may certify. Notarizations by notaries and churches organized under public law are also accepted.

The certification of lawyers, associations, auditors, accountants, experts, experts, translators (with the exception of own translations), health insurance companies, etc. is not accepted.

The formal requirements for the certification of documents result from § 33 Administrative Procedure Act of the State of Baden-Württemberg (LVwVfG).

As the sample shows, the notarisation must at least contain the following information:

  1.     A note certifying that the copy corresponds to the original (certification note),
  2.     The place and date of authentication, the signature of the authenticator, and
  3.     The imprint of the official seal. An official seal usually contains an emblem. A simple written stamp is not sufficient.

Certifications for Multi-Page Copies

If the copy/script consists of several individual sheets, it must be proved that each page originates from the same document. It is sufficient for only one page to be endorsed and signed, provided that all the sheets (e.g. overlapping) are laid over one another, stapled and sealed so that part of the stamp appears on each page (see illustration at the top left of the model).

Of course, each page can also be certified separately. In this case, however, make sure that your name appears on each page of the original. If it is not mentioned everywhere, it must be included in the credentials, together with a reference to the type of document.

If there is a copy on the front and back of a page and it depends on the contents of both pages, the notarisation must refer to the front and back (e.g. "This certifies that the copy in front of/around the page corresponds to the original"). If this is not the case, the front and reverse sides must be certified separately.

In the case of a notarised certification (with cord and seal mark), the certification mark on only one side of the copy or copy is sufficient.  

If there is a seal pressed into the paper (a so-called embossed seal) on the original, this will generally not be visible on the copy. The certification mark on the copy must then be extended so that the original bears an embossed seal of the issuer of the certificate/document.

If you submit official certificates, e.g. certificates from authorities, please make sure that the original of these certificates contains an official seal imprint. A certificate generated by electronic data processing which does not contain a signature or seal imprint is valid if it is presented in the original; photocopies of such certificates must, however, be duly certified.


The following institutions outside Germany are authorised to authenticate your documents:

  • the schools or universities that issued your documents or the relevant Department of Education in your home country
  • the Diplomatic Missions to the Federal Republic of Germany
  • the Culture Department at the Embassy of the country in which the certificate was issued
  • the public authorities and notaries authorized to carry out official authentications in the respective country.

In Germany, any public authority that holds an official seal can carry out official authentications. These are, for example, Gemeindeverwaltungen, Landkreise and lower administrative authorities (such as an Ortsbürgermeister or Ortsvorsteher, Stadtverwaltung, Bürgeramt, Rathaus, Kreisverwaltung). Courts and notaries are also included. Public authorities in Germany are entitled, however not obliged, to authenticate foreign-language documents. If you are already in Germany and are unable to find a German public authority that will authenticate your documents, please contact the embassy of your home country.

Please note that translators cannot authenticate any original-language documents, only the translations they have issued themselves.


The translation of certificates essentially has to be carried out by an official authority, e.g. by the authorized department of the institution that issued the certificate, or by a sworn translator. Any translations done by German translation bureaus that do not fulfil this requirement will not be accepted. Any translations done abroad have to be carried out by an institution authorized to carry out sworn translations (or equivalent) in that country.

Certificates must always be submitted in the original language of the home country, and also in English or German translated form.
If a certificate issued in a non-English speaking country is issued in English as well as in the original language, then the English-language version counts as an original certificate. This applies to certificate versions in German as well.
Certificates issued in other languages cannot be accepted, they have to be translated into German or English.

Please note: Translators cannot authenticate any original-language documents, only the translations they have issued themselves!

Please note that translations have to be certified. However, if the copy of a translation which you submit bears the translator's original stamp, an additional certification is not necessary.