If you reside in South Africa and adopted a child, you will find information on how the adoption is recognized in Germany.
If your child was adopted in a so-called cross-country adoption according to the Hague Convention, you will have received the relevant information during the adoption procedure.

Recognition of Adoption

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If you reside in South Africa and adopted a child, you may apply to the German family court for recognition of the adoption. The purpose of this recognition procedure is to receive confirmation that the adoption is in effect equal to an adoption according to German law.

Applying for formal recognition of an adoption is not mandatory in order to be valid in the German legal sphere. However, the German court's decision would serve as irrefutable proof of the child's status in Germany and is therefore in the interest of the child.

Some particular legal aspects such as questions of citizenship and name may be settled prior to formal recognition of the adoption if the documentation is complete.

Passport after Adoption

If a German Order of Recognition can be presented, there will be no need for the passport section to assess the validity of the adoption and a passport can be issued after the usual processing time.

If the adoption has not yet been recognized by a German court, the German Mission will have to make an assessment to recognize the adoption which will take time. The passport section is to be presented with the complete set of documents that would have to be submitted to the German court when applying for formal recognition.

How to Apply for Recognition of Adoption

The application for recognition of the adoption must be submitted to the German court, directly. If you do not reside in Germany, the Local Court in Schöneberg in Berlin is the competent addressee

If you stay in South Africa as a temporary resident, the local court at your (last) place of residence in Germany is competent to handle your application.

The application is to be made in writing, for which you can use this

template. Certified copies of the following documents should be submitted with your application (only copies certified by German authorities will be accepted). Please note that South African certificates and court orders must have an Apostille and German translation:

  • South African adoption order

  • unabridged birth certificate after adoption

  • documents pertaining to the child's origins and situation before the adoption (not necessary in case of adoption by step parent)

  • original birth certificate of the child with details of the biological parents, or proof that the child had been abandoned

  • documents proving consent of the biological parents

  • social worker's report on the child

  • social worker's or court's report on the suitability of the adoptive parents

  • information on the adoption agency used (not necessary in case of adoption by step parent)

  • signed written account by the adoptive parents, describing the circumstances and steps of the adoption procedure (not necessary in case of adoption by step parent)

  • full list of payments made during the adoption procedure with list of recipients of payments

  • proof of marital status of the adoptive parents (i.e. marriage certificate)

  • written authorisation of a person in Germany to receive official court correspondence in your name: As you do not reside in Germany, we recommend declaring another person with a German address eligible to receive letters and decisions from the court in order to avoid unnecessary delay connected with postal services to South Africa.

  • copies of passports of all persons involved


Key documents like the adoption order, birth certificate and the consent of the biological parents must be furnished with a sworn translation into German. Documents in Afrikaans will always need to be translated. Translations of English language documents may also be asked for by the court later on.

You will find additional information on the website of the Federal Office of Justice and the City of Berlin

Name after Adoption

If you changed your child's first name after the adoption, the change of name will not be recognized in the German legal sphere, even if the new first name was already entered into the new South African birth certificate. After formal recognition of adoption, you may apply for a formal name change. For further information, please contact the competent German Mission near your place of residence.

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