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Certifications and Notarisations

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Do you need to sign a document in front of a consular officer? Or are you in need of certified copies? Learn about the two very different forms: certification of signature versus notarisation. And find information on certified copies.

Certification/Verification of Signature

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When certifying a signature, the consular officer confirms the identity of the signatory of a document. The signature must be executed or acknowledged in person at the Embassy/Consulate. The consular officer will not instruct on or be responsible for the content of the document signed.

Examples

  • Declaration of consent: A declaration with which a contract that was notarized in Germany is subsequently consented to and thus becomes effective.
  • Applications for registration in the Commercial Register
  • Application for a certificate of good conduct/police clearance certificate
  • Declaration of renouncement of inheritance

No certification possible: Signatures that are needed for bank matters in Germany cannot be certified by German Missions abroad, see information on opening of bank accounts

Powers of attorney: 

Powers of attorney may not always be furnished with a simple certification of signature. In particular, powers of attorney in connection with the purchase or sale of real estate often bind the signatory to such a degree that they pre-empt the legal transaction which is to take place at a notary public. Such powers of attorney may not be certified, as a notarisation is required.

If you wish to have your signature certified on a power of attorney, please send us the draft of the document prior to visiting us. We will assess whether we can render the service requested:

  • Embassy in Pretoria: info@pretoria.diplo.de
  • Consulate General in Cape Town: info@kapstadt.diplo.de

“What must I bring to have my signature cerified?”

  • the document that is to be signed

  • in case of declaration of consent: a copy of the contract that was notarised in Germany

  • in case of powers of attorney: draft of the contract to be notarised in Germany as proof of the value of the transaction

  • valid proof of identity (passport, South African ID)

  • if you do not act in your own name, but are representing a company or minor: proof of representation (original or copy certified by a German authority)

  • Fee

Notarisation

A notarisation is the “stronger” form of transaction. While the consular officer will also verify the identity of the applicant, he/she will also act as a German notary, advising the signatory on the legal consequences of the transaction and will be responsible for the content.

A notarization will be thoroughly prepared by the Embassy/Consulate on the basis of the information you provide. In some cases, a notarisation is prepared based on a draft prepared by an attorney or notary public.

The German Missions in South African may, for example, notarise the following transactions:

Prior to notarisation, it is always necessary to contact the Embassy/Consulate and to outline the matter in detail. The consular officer will inform you of the documents necessary for notarisation, in addition to which you must bring valid identification (passport or South African ID) and the fee

Honorary Consuls may not carry out notarisations.

Certified Copies

When certifying a copy, the consular officer will confirm that the copy is a true and correct version of the original.

To have a copy certified, you must bring:

  • Original of the document (alternatively: a copy certified by another German authority; certifications by other than German authorities will not be accepted)
  • simple (uncertified) copy of the document; the simple copy will then be certified by us
  • fee

If you do not bring simple copies of the document but request the Embassy/Consulate to make copies for you, additional fees will be charged.

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