If you didn’t already know, I am getting married! Since I am marrying a German in Germany, however, this process is much more bureaucratic than romantic (at least for now).

Documents required to get married in Germany

The German fiance and I scheduled our first appointment at the local Standesamt (registry office) for Monday, February 15th at 10:00 a.m. This made for a very exciting Valentine’s Day, as we were anticipating what would happen on the following day.

What documents do we need to get married in Germany? Will I need to go to the American embassy? How much money will it all cost? Can we set a date already?

Luckily, we got answers to all of those questions and more.

Before going to the Standesamt, I did a lot of research. I read about the experiences of other American expats that married Germans such as Sarah at My German Life and Marisa at Adventures of La Mari. However, just like all of the bureaucratic processes I have overcome so far, my experience is turning out to be completely different.

When we got to the Standesamt at 10:00 a.m. on that Monday morning, Mr. Standesamt-Man already had our profiles printed out in front of him (it kind of freaks me out what a thick file the German government has on me). He had also already created and printed out a list of the documents required for us to get married:

Documents required to get married in Germany

In total, here are the documents I need:
✓ Birth certificate with name of parents
       ✓ with Apostille*
✓ Passport
✓ Residence permit
 Proof of income*
 Affidavit of family status at the local registry office
 Affidavit of family status at the American consulate*

*Items marked with a star are only required in extraordinary circumstances.

Now let’s go through and look at exactly what each of these documents are, and how I will get them.

 Birth certificate with name of parents (and apostille*)

Mr. Standesamt-Man was very careful to stress the importance that my parents’ names must be on the birth certificate. The birth certificate also has to be issued within 6 months of when I turn it in. Since I am from Illinois, I looked at the Illinois Secretary of State website to see how I can order a birth certificate. The options are either in person, by mail, or online. Although I could do it online, there is a $13 handling fee. So, I convinced my mother to order it by mail.
In about 10% of cases, an Apostille (international certification) is also required. Mr. Standesamt-Man said that we can turn in the birth certificate without it, but it is possible that it would be rejected if the high court is unsure of the birth certificate’s authenticity. Since the Apostille only costs $2 and can be ordered by mail, this is something else my mother has graciously agreed to get for me.

✓ Passport
Luckily, our Standesamt is very generous (I’ve read horror stories from other expats), and Mr. Standesamt-Man made copies of our passports right then and there. So, that’s already taken care of (hence why he checked it off of our list).

✓ Residence Permit
Mr. Standesamt-Man took care of this for us too. I actually expected him to make us walk downstairs, pull a number, and wait in the waiting area until we could request a copy of this document ourselves (I wouldn’t put this past German governmental offices). However, I was pleasantly proved wrong!

✓ Proof of Income*
Since the documents need to be checked by the high court, couples are charged a fee of 300€ to 500€ for the entire process (yikes!). However, this amount is income-based, so many couples do not actually have to pay the full amount. Providing proof of income is optional, but it can only help. If you don’t turn it in at all, you automatically pay the full amount.

✓ Affidavit of family status at the local registry office
Mr. Standesamt-Man will take care of this for us when we turn in the rest of the documents. Basically, I just have to say “I solemnly swear I have never been married,” and sign my name on the dotted line.
✓ Affidavit of family status at the American consulate*
This is another thing that is not required in most cases. Since it also costs $50 and a trip to one of the consulates (Berlin, Frankfurt, or Bremen), Mr. Standesamt-Man said not to worry about it. So, we will put this on the back burner for now, and hope our paperwork doesn’t get rejected without it.
Getting married in Germany
And that’s it! After doing so much research over the past few months, reading “No! Don’t do it! Get married in the U.S. or Denmark!”, I am honestly quite surprised at how little seems to be required. So far, I think it looks quite manageable, and I will keep you updated on my progress along the way.