It is very difficult to predict what documents you will need in Germany. It will depend on your type of visa, your family situation, the company you work for, the schools or universities you want to attend etc.
We will try to list all those we think you might need.
Remember, it is always better to be over-prepared.
As a rule of thumb, for any document you might use in an official capacity, you should get the unabridged certificate and have it apostilled before you leave South Africa.
You can read more about legalising documents here
Tip: Make electronic copies of important documents and keep them in a secure cloud. You can use encryption software for added security
Note: This is not to be seen as legal or emigration advice but as a list of suggestions. You are responsible for your own clarifications. No liability accepted.
- Your South African Identity document/card and certified copies that you can keep in a safe place
- Apostilled unabridged birth certificate
- Passport – make sure it is valid for at least 2 -3 years after you arrive in Germany. When applying for a new passport in Germany you can wait up to 6 months and sometimes longer to receive your new passport.
- Apostilled unabridged marriage certificate
- Marriage contract
- Apostilled Divorce decree
- Apostilled unabridged birth certificates
- School records
- Vaccination records. Vaccination against measles is compulsory in Germany
- If you intend on getting a German passport, get all the information you can about your parents, for example, date and place of birth.
- All your educational certificates and degrees. Have it apostilled if you need it for your work contract or further education.
- If you plan on studying in Germany, you will most likely need to apply for “Anerkennung”, so bring along your academic transcripts, matric certificate and other qualification certificates
- You might be asked for translated employee certificates/references to prove the length of service at a company. In Germany, it is customary to receive an “Arbeitszeugnis” from your employer. This is a formal job reference/testimonial that you attach to all your job applications. If possible get such a letter from all your previous employers.
If you stay in Germany for longer than 6 months you will need to convert your driver’s licence to a German one.
You will need your South African licence card to convert it. Make sure your licence card is valid for at least another year.
Some cities are now requiring proof of “Confirmation of South African Driving licence” when you apply for a German driver’s licence. An example of this is in Böbblingen. Rather be as prepared as you can be, and bring this document with you. This Confirmation can be requested from the RTMC, see more info from DIRCO. You can also use companies to assist you, see our marketplace for more information.
You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your request must include your contact numbers (including email address), a copy of your ID or a copy of your driving licence. Find more information on our Driving and Drive’s licence page
- Consider setting up a new will in Germany if you intend on staying here for a long period.
If you still have assets in South Africa, think about notifying the executor of your estate that you are not in the country. Make sure your South African will is in a safe place and people will know where to find it
Apostille certificates are a result of the Hague Convention, a treaty between over 100 countries that allows documents issued in one country to be accepted in another.
An Apostille is a certificate that is attached to the original document to verify it is legitimate and authentic so that it will be accepted in other countries. Companies that can assist are listed here.
When having documents translated make sure it is done by a Germany accredited translator.
We have translators listed on our site, you can find their information on this page