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Competence and registration

For the marriage ceremony the registry offices are responsible.

Partners, who plan to establish a Civil Union, have to apply for registration at the registrar’s office, in whose jurisdiction one of the partners holds his domicile or usual place of residence. If neither partner has domicile or usual place of residence in Germany, they may register at any registrar’s office in the Federal Republic of Germany (§ 12 par. 1 PStG).

The application must be made by both partners in person. In case, one of the partners is unable to attend, it is possible to authorize the other partner in writing to do so. If both partners are unable to appear, due to valid reasons, the application can be submitted in writing or presented by an authorized representative. In these cases, partners have to affirm in person their application’s statements upon establishment of the Civil Union. (§§ 28 par. 1, 29 par. 1, 30 PStV).

The establishment of the Civil Union does not necessarily have to take place in the registrar’s office, where the application was made. Partners can choose a different registrar’s office to complete/conclude this procedure. After determination that all the requirement of a Civil Union have been met, the registrar’s office, where the application was filed, issues a written confirmation that a Civil Union may be established. This confirmation is valid for six months at the registrar’s office, where the Civil Union is intended to be concluded (§ 13 par. 4 PStG).

Which documents do we need?

1. The necessary papers:

When registering the marriage, the partners must demonstrate their identity, their names, their family status and their domicile for their jurisdiction.

Therefore, Partners have to present the following:

  • Valid Passport, ID or any other official proof of identity, including photograph of the holder Foreigners whose nationality is not specified in the official Proof of Identity must establish their nationality through a certificate from the responsible authority in their home country.
  • If partners are registered in Germany, a residence permit issued by the reporting authority of the main apartment (not a mere registration certificate), with an indication of the family status, nationality and place of residence, unless the registry office and the registration office belong to the same municipality
  • if the partners want to justify the marriage not at the office of the main apartment, but the second residence, additionally a certificate from the registration authority of the second residence,
  • A certified extract or certified copy from the birth register with reference. A mere birth certificate is not enough.
  • In the case of persons who have already been married or had entered one life partnership, a marriage certificate of the predecessor or a life partnership certificate of the life partnership with dissolution notice. If the dissolution in the marriage or life partnership certificate is not registered, the separation judgment with legal force or the death certificate.
  • If the last marriage or life-partnership was not established at a German registrar’s office, dissolution of other pre-marriage or other pre-life-partnerships has to be proven, if the respective examination was not yet carried out by a German registrar’s office on the occasion of a former marriage or establishment of former life-partnership.

All documents must be submitted in the original. Foreign documents must be presented together with a translation by an authorized translator in Germany. Whether and in which form the foreign documents must be certified, you can infer from the following land lists.

Certificates may not be older than six monthes, certificates of residence of the registrar’s office (Meldebehörde) may not be older than 14 days.

2. Ehefähigkeitszeugnis oder Ledigkeitsbescheinigung?

Nach § 1309 BGB sollen Ausländer, deren Eheschließung in Deutschland ausländischem Recht unterliegt, eine Ehe nicht eingehen, bevor sie ein Zeugnis der inneren Behörde ihres Heimatstaats darüber beigebracht haben, dass der Eheschließung nach dem Recht des betreffenden ausländischen Staates kein Ehehindernis entgegensteht. Von der Beibringung eines solchen "Ehefähigkeitszeugnisses" kann der Präsident des Oberlandesgerichts unter bestimmten Voraussetzungen Befreiung erteilen. 

Durch das Eheöffnungsgesetz ist in § 1309 BGB ein neuer Absatz 3 eingefügt worden. Danach gilt die Vorschrift nicht für Ausländer, die eine gleichgeschlechtliche Ehe eingehen wollen, wenn deren Heimatstaat die Eingehung einer gleichgeschlechtlichen Ehe nicht vorsieht.

Tatsächlich ist § 1309 BGB generell nicht auf Ausländer anwendbar, die in Deutschland eine gleichgeschlechtliche Ehe eingehen wollen, auch wenn ihr Heimatland solche Ehen zulässt. Denn nach Art. 17 Abs. 4 i.V.m. Abs. 1 EGBGB unterliegen gleichgeschlechtliche Ehen, die in Deutschland abgeschlossen werden, nie ausländischen Recht, sondern immer deutschem Recht. This is also the view of the Federal Ministry of the Interior in its first supplement to its application notes of 23 August 2017.

Die Ausländer müssen natürlich ebenfalls nachweisen, dass bei ihnen die Ehevoraussetzungen gegeben sind. Sie müssen deshalb eine "Ledigkeitsbescheinigung" beibringen.

Sachlich unterscheiden sich die "Ehefähigkeitszeugnisse" und "Ledigkeitsbescheinigungen" nicht. Die Standesämter haben schon bisher von den ausländischen Verlobten, die in Deutschland eine Lebenspartnerschaft begründen wollten, die Vorlage derselben Unterlagen gefordert wie von ausländischen Verlobten, die in Deutschland eine Ehe eingehen wollten.

3. Country lists:

The following special regulations apply, according to a foreign national’s country of birth. These are listed in:

It is recommended to study both lists. Special terms in the respective lists have the following meaning:

  • Affidavit: (same meaning as in English); written declaration in place of oath, to verify/authenticate a claim of facts.
  • Legalization: legalization is carried out by consular officials at German Embassies or Consulates. Legal basis of their function is § 13 Consular law, which states: "Consular officials are authorized to legalize public documents, issued in their jurisdictional area. The legalization confirms the signature, the capacity, in which the undersigning official has acted, and, if applicable, the authenticity of the seal, with which the document is sealed. The legalization is affected by entry-note on the document." Precondition of the legalization by the German foreign representation is the authentication of the competent authority in the home country.
  • Apostille: Apostille is a simplified form of legalization, which confirms the authenticity of a public document, which has, for this reason, presented in the original version. Apostille is given by an authority of the country, which has issued the document. A participation of a German foreign representation is not required, different from legalization.
    Which authority granted the Apostille in the country concerned, can be found here.
  • Special examination rules: In several countries, German foreign representations have stopped the legalization of documents. They charge local attorneys with the examination, if the statements of facts of the case in that respective document are correct. The partners cannot apply for the respective examination themselves, but the examination is initiated through the registrar’s office (Standesamt) by request of administrative aid, after the Partners have furnished all necessary documents to the registrar’s office. Countries, in which these examinations are implemented, are listed here, section: “Urkundenverkehr: Merkblätter”. 
    Under this link you can download recommendations of the respective German foreign representations (Merkblätter) concerning the examination procedures and documents which have to be presented.

Several states issue documents of single-status/marital status only in case the person to be married is mentioned by name. Other countries demand an additional document of the Engagement, authenticated by a Notary Public. In these and other cases § 9 par. 2 PStG provides (summary of the paragraph’s wording):

If necessary documents can only be procured with difficulty or with high costs, then other documents may be used.
If substitute documents are also unavailable, then the official at the registrar’s office can ask for and take affidavits of partners and other persons as certification of facts.”