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Under legalization : (word origin Latin-neulateinisch a formal procedure should be understood in the by) diplomatic or consular mission of a country by a foreign public document used as evidence, the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the person signing traded and, if necessary, the authenticity of the stamped seal should be confirmed (see the definition in Article 2 of the Hague Convention on the Exemption of Foreign Documents from Legalization of October 5, 1961, Federal Law Gazette 1965 II pp. 875, 876 , Apostilleand in the opposite case - for the use of a foreign document in Germany - those in Section 13 (2 ) of the Consular Act ). Legalization aims to ensure that a foreign public document is treated as equivalent to a domestic public document with regard to its probative value.

The legalization is carried out by means of a note to be placed on the document. The note should contain the name and the official or service title of the signatory of the document ( Section 13 (2) of the Consular Act). On request, provided there is no doubt about the legal situation, the note can also confirm that the issuer was responsible for accepting the certificate and that the certificate was recorded in the form appropriate to the laws of the place of issue (legalization in the broader sense; . for the legalization of foreign documents: Section 13 (4) of the Consular Act).

The agencies responsible for legalization are not always able to do this themselves. Rather, they often first require the authenticity of the document to be authenticated by an authority in the state from which the document originates. If German documents are to be used abroad, the Foreign Office , as the authority with which they regularly deal diplomatically or consularly, is the first point of contact for the foreign representation . However, the Federal Foreign Office has transferred responsibility for authentications for the purpose of legalization to the Federal Office of Administration . As far as documents from the authorities or courts of a federal state are concerned, the Federal Administration Office turns to the competent state authority for intermediate certification , because the Federal Administration Office does not always know the responsibilities and competencies of the individual state administrations. In most federal states, this intermediate certification is carried out by the president of the regional court in whose district the document was issued (see, for example, Section 19 of the Justice Act of the Free State of Saxony ). This intermediate certification is usually sufficient for the diplomatic mission abroad. If not, the Federal Office of Administration will carry out a final certification before forwarding it to the diplomatic mission abroad.

This formalized procedure has been replaced by the much simpler apostille procedure on the basis of contractual agreements (cf. Section 13, Paragraph 5 of the Consular Act) between many countries .


  • Wolfgang Vatter: Contracts and documents in legal dealings with foreign countries. Manz-Verlag, ISBN 3-214-10725-9

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Single receipts

  1. Duden [1]