For your university application and other official needs, you have to certify documents and every copy of the documents (amtlich beglaubigte Kopie) you are handing in. Simple copies will not be accepted. The certification (Beglaubigung) guarantees the authenticity of the document.
A certified copy needs to fulfil specific criteria, like having a note, a signature and a seal from the certifier on it. Learn more about these criteria from uni-assist.
Document certification costs some money. If you receive financial help from the Jobcenter or the Sozialamt, they may be able to give you a refund. Please ask for refund possibilities before you order a document certification. Read more about it at the “Anerkennung in Deutschland”-Website.
Where can I get my documents certified?
If you are abroad (not in Germany), you can get your documents certified
- by the school/university where you studied (if it is a school-leaving/university certificate),
- by the specific ministries or state departments that have the authority for these kinds of documents (e.g. Education ministry for school-leaving certificates),
- by official departments or from notaries who have the permission to create certified copies,
- by German embassies or consulates.
If you are in Germany, you can get your documents certified at every public institution that has an official seal, like
- town halls (Rathäuser),
- Courts (Gerichte),
- district administrations (Gemeindeamt, Bürgeramt etc.),
- notaries (Notar) etc.
- Schools/universities can make certified copies of their certificates as well.
German institutions are not always able to certify the authenticity of non-German documents. In this case you need to ask the embassy of your country of origin or a notary for certification. If your documents are not in German or English, you should get a sworn translation of these. Translators are only allowed to certify copies of their own translations, but not the document in the original language.
How do I send my certified document (copies)?
For your university application, you usually have to send your certified documents in paper form/per post. It is not enough to send a scan per mail or only a simple copy.