Certified or confirmed translations

Certified translations are translations that have been made by a sworn or certified translator and provided with an official confirmation (stamp or seal).


This type of translation is often required for documents such as financial statements, certificates or civil status documents that are used in official or legal matters, e.g. by authorities, courts or educational institutions.


Other terms are often used synonymously: A document translator, also an authorised translator or generally sworn and publicly appointed translator, is a linguist who translates foreign-language documents that are introduced into court proceedings for evidentiary purposes or used with other authorities.


Certification is the confirmation by the translator's stamp or seal and signature that the translation corresponds to the source text. The official term for certification in German is "Vollständigkeits- und Richtigkeitsvermerk".


Legalisation and apostille

There are two different procedures to confirm the authenticity of documents: Legalisation and Apostille.

With an apostille, documents only have to be authenticated by one competent authority in the country of issue. With legalisation, on the other hand, the document must be certified by several authorities. First of all, the document must be certified by the competent authority in the country of issue. Then the legalisation must be carried out by the consular representation of the country of destination.

The legalisation procedure has largely been replaced by the Hague Convention (Apostille). For all member states of the Hague Convention, the apostille is sufficient, which means simplification and acceleration. All other states that are not members of the Hague Convention must continue to have the documents authenticated by the legalisation procedure.



In legalisation, a diplomatic or consular representation of a state confirms the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the signatory has acted and, if applicable, the authenticity of a seal using a foreign public document.

Legalisation is effected by means of an endorsement on the document. The endorsement contains the name and the official or official title of the person signing the document.



The apostille, also known as the Hague Apostille, is a form of authentication used by the contracting states of the multilateral Hague Convention No. 12 to exempt foreign public documents from legalisation. The apostille certifies the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the signatory has acted and, where appropriate, the authenticity of the seal or stamp affixed to the document.

The apostille is affixed to public documents. It is granted by means of a stamp (Stampiglie) measuring 9×9 cm. The apostille can be written in the official language of the issuing authority. The title of the Apostille is always "Apostille (Convention de La Haye du 5 octobre 1961)". The stamp contains a total of ten consecutively numbered pieces of information.


Similarities and differences between legalisation and apostille

Legalisation and apostille are overauthentications of public documents, signatures or stamps which confirm their authenticity. This overauthentication gives a document the same probative force as a deed or public document of the state in which it is to be used.

The main difference between these two procedures lies in the (time) effort involved. Legalisation requires pre-certification by the issuing authority and authentication by the consular representation.

A prerequisite for the use of the apostille as a super-legalisation is that both states (issuer and recipient of the deed or document) are members of the Hague Convention. A list of the states which, in addition to Germany, are members of the Hague Apostille Convention can be found on the website of the Federal Foreign Office.


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