What is a legalization?

Legalization is a procedure through which a German document that is to be presented to foreign authorities is certified as to its authenticity by a diplomatic representative (embassy, consulate) of the country in question.

What is a legitimation?

Legitimation refers to the removal of a prohibition that was placed on an act.

What is the 1961 Hague Convention?

At the 1961 Hague Conference the "Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization for Foreign Public Documents" was entered into. It requires that such documents be provided with an apostille.

What is an apostille?

An apostille is a standardised certification of a document in accordance with the 1961 Hague Convention. It enables the document to be recognised by authorities in the receiving state without legalization, assuming that the receiving state is also a party to the Convention.

Why is it often necessary to obtain prior certification by a county court (Landgericht)?

In order for the foreign representative (embassy, consulate) to be able to attest to the authenticity of the document, the party providing prior certification must be able to review the signature for authenticity. Because of the great number of notaries in practice in the respective consular districts, the consular sections require that the genuineness of the notary's signature be confirmed by the competent county court. Signature samples of the residing judges of the county courts are generally on hand at the consulates.

Why is it often necessary to obtain prior certification by the Federal Office of Administration (BVA)?

The BVA is authorised to certify all German public documents. For legalization some countries also require prior certification from the BVA.

Why is it often necessary to obtain prior certification from the Ghorfa?

The Ghorfa is a German-Arabian Chamber of Commerce that supports economic relations in numerous ways. Documents that require legalization from an Arabian consulate must generally obtain prior certification from the Ghorfa. This certification can only be undertaken if the documents have received prior certification from German authorities (county court, BVA, IHK) in accordance with the provisions of the embassy in question.