Civil Status Act (Germany)

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Basic data
Title: Civil Status Act
Abbreviation: PStG, PersStdG
Type: Federal law
Scope: Federal Republic of Germany
Legal matter: Administrative law , civil status law
References : 211-9
Original version from: November 3, 1937
( RGBl. I p. 1146)
Entry into force on: July 1, 1938
New announcement from: August 8, 1957
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 1125 )
Last revision from: February 19, 2007
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 122 )
Entry into force of the
new version on:
January 1, 2009
Last change by: Art. 88 Regulation of June 19, 2020
( Federal Law Gazette I p. 1328, 1338 )
Effective date of the
last change:
June 27, 2020
(Art. 361 of June 19, 2020)
Please note the note on the applicable legal version.

The Personal Status Act (PStG) forms the legal basis for civil status in Germany. It is specified in the Personal Status Ordinance (PstV) and the General Administrative Regulation for the Personal Status Act (PStG-VwV). The civil status law (of November 3, 1937) that was in effect before January 1, 2009 was a pre-constitutional federal law . It superseded the Imperial Law on the Notarization of Civil Status and Marriage of February 6, 1875.

Regulation content

The Civil Status Act essentially regulates the formal requirements for establishing and changing personal status . This includes registering births, marriages, establishing civil partnerships, deaths, and other changes in a person's civil status. The registry office or the respective registrar is responsible . Any change in the civil status (including birth or death) must be reported to the registry office. For this purpose, according to §§ 3ff. PStG civil status register , formerly: marriage, family, birth and death books ( civil status books ), kept.

There are legal remedies for immediate appeal to the district court at the seat of the regional court in whose district the registry office is located about the issues under the Personal Status Act ( Section 50 PStG). The procedure was determined until September 1, 2009 according to the Act on Matters of Voluntary Jurisdiction (FGG) and since then according to the Act on Procedure in Family Matters and Matters of Voluntary Jurisdiction (FamFG).

The Civil Status Act transfers the duties of the registrar according to § 1 Abs. 2 PStG to the competent authorities under state law. In Baden-Württemberg, for example , these are the municipalities that perform these tasks in the assigned sphere of activity. All extracts from the civil status books have evidential value ( Section 54 Paragraph 1 Sentence 1 PStG). This does not apply to notes.

For the Personal Status Act itself, the Personal Status Ordinance has been issued on the basis of Section 73 PStG, as well as a general administrative regulation for the Personal Status Act (PStG-VwV).

The civil status registers have been kept in Germany since January 1st, 1876 (in the former Prussia from October 1st, 1874) and are the first official secular sources on genealogy , following the civil status registers kept mainly in the areas on the left bank of the Rhine from 1798 onwards . As a rule, however, information is only given if the entries relate to the person seeking information, his or her spouse, ancestors and descendants. Details are regulated in Section 61 PStG.


Anyone who is obliged to notify someone who fails to report a birth or death is committing an administrative offense that can be punished with a fine . Furthermore, a fine can be set.

Falsification of the civil status and double marriage are punishable under §§ 169 , 172 StGB.


Imperial Law on the Notarization of Personal Status and Marriage 1875

Since the 15th century the church had documented the civil status of the population in baptism, marriage and death registers ( church books ). In the German Empire , under the influence of the Civil Code, uniform regulations arose for the first time with the law on the certification of civil status and marriage of February 6, 1875. On January 1, 1876, the state certification of births, marriages and deaths became mandatory.

Civil Status Act 1920

The law on civil status of June 11, 1920 also allowed women to be appointed as registrars. It also prohibited entry of religion in the registers. For this purpose, the registrars had to carry out statistical surveys on membership of religious communities. For this and for other data explained in the implementation regulations, two copies of special forms had to be filled out, one of which was sent to the State Statistical Office, the other to be kept by the registry office for 5 years.

Civil Status Act 1937

At first there was no connection between the entries of the individual or a summary under family aspects. The second German Civil Status Act of November 3, 1937 continued notarization in birth and death books. The previous marriage register, however, was called the family book and not only notarized the marriage, but also contained entries on the parents of the spouses and their common children as well as their “racial classification”. Described in the official justification as the "most important innovation of the draft", the function of the family book was to facilitate family research . The family book should in particular "make the relationships between members of a family, the relationships between ancestors and descendants visible."

Civil Status Act 1956 (German Democratic Republic)

In the GDR , the PStG 1937 continued to apply until March 1, 1957, the day the civil status law of November 16, 1956 came into force .

The civil status law of 1937 , which was previously common in its basic features and which continues to apply in the Federal Republic of Germany , underwent a significant change through the law amending the civil status law of October 13, 1966, through which document offices were set up in the competent specialist bodies of the councils of the districts . At the end of one year, the registry offices had to give them the civil status books and the documents for the individual entries. The document offices were then responsible in particular for maintaining the civil status books and issuing civil status documents.

The document offices were also included in the last civil status law of the GDR of December 4, 1981, which came into force on January 1, 1982. The division of tasks, according to which the registry offices were responsible for receiving notifications of births and deaths, for marriages and notarizing the civil status, and the document offices for the continuation of the civil status books, was retained. Both institutions were responsible for issuing civil status documents.

With the accession of the GDR to the area of ​​application of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany on October 3, 1990, the Federal German Civil Status Act also came into force for the acceding area. However, due to a transitional provision in the Unification Treaty, the previous document offices for the civil status registers created until 1990 were initially retained. Their dissolution and thus the connection of the new federal states to the organizational form of the old states finally took place through the law for the dissolution of the document offices in the states of Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia of November 23, 1994. This made the states authorized to dissolve the deed of the districts by January 1st, 2000 and to regulate the procedure of dissolution. With the dissolution, the tasks of the document offices were transferred to the registry offices. The civil status books and registry office documents kept at the document offices had to be handed over to the registry offices.

Civil Status Act 1957 (Federal Republic of Germany)

After the Second World War , the problem arose of integrating the displaced persons into the civil status documentation. An amendment to the Personal Status Act of May 18, 1957 brought about the so-called “System of the Wandering Family Book” in the federal territory. At the place of marriage, the marriage was entered in the marriage book and a family book was issued, which accompanied the couple when they moved their place of residence.

Personal Status Act 2009

On January 1, 2009, the law on the reform of civil status law came into force and brought about significant changes. Electronic civil status registers were introduced instead of the previous civil status registers . Electronic registry management has been permitted since January 1, 2009; after December 31, 2013, it is mandatory. With the law, the little-known family book, which is often confused with the family registry, became obsolete ; some of its functions will be performed in the future by the marriage, civil partnership and birth register. The seldom used descent certificates and birth certificates were abolished, the birth certificate was retained. In addition, the use of civil status registers, especially for research purposes, has been reorganized. It is historically significant that in civil status law, the punishable prohibition of religious marriage in advance and the temporal priority of civil marriage over church marriage have been deleted.

Civil Status Act 2013

Until 2013, only “ male ” or “ female ” could be entered in the birth register in Germany. In February 2012 , the German Ethics Council assessed this obligation to determine gender as an unjustifiable interference with personal rights and the right to equal treatment of intersex people in accordance with Article 3, Paragraph 3 of the Basic Law .

With effect from November 1, 2013, the legislature added:

"If the child can neither be assigned to the female nor the male gender, the civil status case must be entered in the birth register without such information."

- PStG § 22 Abs. 3

However, the Ethics Council recommended that the Federal Government include “other” as an additional gender option. The psychologist Michael Wunder , member of the council, commented on the change in the law: “No entry looks like no gender. Of course, intersex people have one gender - another, which can be very different. ”Interest groups such as feared that parents would now prefer surgical interventions instead of assigning their child no gender.

According to the highest court rulings, a subsequent deletion of the gender entry is also possible in the case of intersexuality.

The request of an intersex person from 2014 to change their gender entry from “female” to “inter / diverse” was rejected in all instances. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) called upon in the case dismissed the appeal as unfounded, the statements of the OLG withstood legal scrutiny. The Higher Regional Court rightly “rejected a change in the entry in the birth register to“ inter ”or“ diverse ”because such a change is not possible under current law”, which “is evident from the unambiguous wording of Sections 21 [and ] 22 PStG "result. Also, as can be seen from the legislative materials, it does not correspond to the will of the legislature to create another gender. There is "also no (constitutional) interpretation that the element of gender in Section 21 (1) No. 3 PStG includes not only the female or male but also a third gender such as 'inter' or 'diverse'" .

A constitutional complaint against the decision of the BGH had been pending before the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) since the beginning of September 2016 . On October 10, 2017, the court ruled that an obligation to indicate gender is incompatible with Article 3 Paragraph 3 Clause 1 of the Basic Law if it involves persons whose gender development has variants compared to a female or male gender development and who are themselves permanently neither male nor female, does not allow a positive gender entry that is not “female” or “male”.

Civil Status Act 2017

With the law introducing the right to marry for persons of the same sex ( marriage for all ), Section 17a PStG was newly inserted with effect from October 1, 2017. According to this, when converting their civil partnership into a marriage ( § 20a LPartG ), the civil partners must prove the existence of the civil partnership by submitting the civil partnership certificate. According to Section 11 (2) of the PStG, “a religious or traditional act aimed at establishing a permanent bond comparable to a marriage between two people, one of whom has not yet reached the age of 18” is now prohibited.

Civil Status Act 2018

Since November 1, 2018, the order of several first names can be redefined outside of an official name change procedure by declaring the name bearer to the registry office (first name sorting, § 45a PStG).

The law amending entered in the register of births have opened 22 December 2018 the possibility of open omission of sex entry in place in individuals who the male gender can be assigned to neither the female nor the word " divers " to enter ( § 45b , § 22 para. 3 PStG).


  • Udo Schäfer: The amendment of the Personal Status Act . In: Bettina Joergens, Christian Reinicke (Hrsg.): Archives, family research and history. Approaches and tasks (=  publications by the State Archive of North Rhine-Westphalia ). No. 7 . Düsseldorf 2006, ISBN 3-927502-10-3 , pp. 122-135 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. cf. on the historical development: Draft of a law to reform the civil status law (Personal Status Law Reform Act - PStRG) BT-Drs. 16/1831 of June 15, 2006, p. 29
  2. Baden-Württemberg law for the implementation of the Personal Status Act (AGPStG) of December 3, 2008
  3. Law on the certification of civil status and the form of marriage of March 9, 1874 ( online ).
  4. ^, civil status register
  5. RGBl. P. 23
  6. RGBl. Pp. 1209, 1210
  7. MinBl. Fd Preuss. Innere Verw. 1920 pp. 366–370
  8. Wolfgang Bockhorst: Notes on keeping registers and collective files in the registry office LWL archive office for Westphalia, status: April 2009, p. 2
  9. Personal Status Act of November 3, 1937 RGBl. I p. 1146
  10. ^ Bornhofen: The law to reform the civil status law. In: StAZ 2007, p. 33 ff.
  11. Schütz: 100 years of registry offices in Germany , 1977, p. 60.
  12. ^ Journal of Laws I p. 1283
  13. Journal I p. 421
  14. Unification Agreement of August 31, 1990 (Federal Law Gazette I p. 877), Annex I, Chap. III Subject B Section III No. 2.
  15. Federal Law Gazette I p. 3474 , repealed on July 15, 2016 with Art. 6 of the Second Act on the Further Adjustment of Federal Law of July 8, 2016, Federal Law Gazette I p. 1594
  16. Civil status and civil status documents in Brandenburg since 1874 - An administrative history summary Website of the Brandenburg State Main Archives (no year)
  17. Susanne Baller: Intersexual People: A new law is not enough. In: . November 1, 2013, accessed July 3, 2020.
  18. a b Christiane Meister: Change of law for intersex people: boy, girl or neither. In: The time . November 1, 2013, accessed July 3, 2020.
  19. Federal Law Gazette 2013 I p. 1122
  20. a b Hanover Local Court (AG), decision of October 13, 2014, Az. 85 III 105/14, rejection of the application to change the birth register entry to "inter / divers" or "diverse". Confirmed in the second instance by the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Celle with ruling of January 21, 2015, Az. 17 W 28/14 ( full text OLG online (PDF) In: Website of the initiative third option - for a third gender entry , January 2015. Retrieved on September 4, 2017.)
  21. a b c Federal Court of Justice (BGH), decision of the XII. Civil Senate of June 22, 2016 - XII ZB 52/15. ( Full text on the BGH website. Accessed on September 3, 2017.)
  22. a b BGH on intersexuality: No third gender for intersex people. In: LTO - Legal Tribune Online, August 4, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  23. Trans * person achieves the deletion of the gender entry according to § 22 Abs. 3 PStG. In: Website of the initiative third option - For a third gender entry, August 2017. Retrieved on September 4, 2017. See the linked documentation (PDF) of the procedure for deleting the gender entry (Hanseatic City of Buxtehude - registry office, as the complainant; Stade district court, decision Az 51 III 13/16 of February 24, 2017; Higher Regional Court of Celle, decision Az 17 W 5/17 of May 11, 2017 in the second instance): In the complaint procedure of the registry office, both courts put in their decision reasons on the right of self-determination of the applicant trans * And equate their perceived gender identity with intersexuality, regardless of biological gender characteristics, in order to then come to the legal option of deleting the gender entry in the case of intersexuality.
  24. a b Who we are and what we want - a clarification. (Section What happened so far. ) In: Initiative third option website - For a third gender entry, November 23, 2016. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
  25. BGBl. 2017 I p. 3783
  26. ^ Resolution of the First Senate of October 10, 2017 - 1 BvR 2019/16 - Rn. (1-69) BvR 2019/16. Federal Constitutional Court . Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  27. ^ Draft of a second law to amend the provisions of civil status law (2nd Personal Status Law Amendment Act - 2nd PStRÄndG) BT-Drs. 18/11612 of March 22, 2017, pp. 20/21
  28. Second law amending personal status regulations (2nd Personal Status Law Amendment Act - 2nd PStRÄndG), Federal Law Gazette I p. 2522
  29. ↑ The order of first names can be redefined in the future. Website of the German Bundestag, accessed on December 2, 2018
  30. BGBl. I p. 2635