FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
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FAQs regarding passport applications
Please use the online booking system. If you get an error message, close your browser session and start a new one to try again.
Please book one appointment per applicant.
If you want to apply for an ID card, please book a separate appointment.
No. You have to apply at the German mission in which consular district you have your place of residence. The list of consular districts can be found here
In order to apply for a passport, you need either the original documents or copies certified by a German authority. Certifications by South African authorities (commissioner of oaths, SAPS etc) will not be accepted.
If you no longer possess a document in the original, you can apply for a new one, see here
There is no central civil registry or passport registry in Germany. German citizens living abroad are generally responsible for maintaining their own personal archives. German Missions abroad do not keep permanent archives for German citizens.
When applying for a passport, you have to present all necessary proof of identity, citizenship, your legal name, etc.
There is no minimum waiting period.
Please lodge your application at least a few months before your old passport expires.
Please understand that we do not have the capacity to double check your application prior to your appointment, neither can we give binding information regarding individual applications in advance. Your documentation will be checked during your appointment.
Have you lived in Germany or outside of South Africa in the past? Then you need to prove that your place of residence is not with your local German Mission in South Africa.
If you resided in Germany, read here
Did you reside somewhere else? If your last country of residence had an obligation of registration, you have to submit the proof of deregistration. If your last country of residence had no registration system, you need to prove that you now live in the consular district of your local German Mission in South Africa (e.g. rental agreement, employment contract, municipal accounts, etc.).
No, you can authorise a third party to collect on your behalf with the following documentation:
- written and signed authorisation stating the full name of the person collecting on your behalf
- passport or ID of the third party
- your application receipt
- your previous passport
- all documentation that you were told to submit upon collection in the original
The necessity to prove non-acquisition of the South African citizenship cannot be waived. An affidavit will not suffice.
Applicants that have already resided in South Africa for a long period of time must present up-to-date proof that they have not applied for and acquired South African citizenship and thus have not lost German citizenship.
You have to present up-to-date proof that you have not acquired South African citizenship. You can do this with
- a newly issued South African ID or
- a newly issued letter “determination of citizenship” from the Department of Home Affairs
No. Having a German ID card only is useful if you often travel and stay in Germany.
No. German Missions do not have the authority to issue South African visas or residency permits. Please contact the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa.
German Missions do not maintain archives for you. Under no circumstances do we keep original documentation. German citizens are generally responsible for keeping their own personal archives. If you are missing an original document or certificate, you can apply for it with the relevant issuing authority, see here
Passports for Minors
Children under the age of 18.
All legal guardians must be present in person. If one parent cannot come to the Embassy/Consulate, the following documentation must be presented:
- consent form of the absent parent, certified by a German authority (South African certifications are not accepted; German certifications can be done by German notaries, embassies, consulates, municipal administrations) OR
- proof of sole guardianship, i.e. court order OR
- death certificate of the other parent
No, one parent can collect a child's passport.
The regulations for biometric photos only apply to children of 6 years and older. Please read here about the regulations pertaining to babies.
A passport's primary function is to identify the child. If, for example, your 5 year old child has a baby picture in his passport and can no longer be identified, this may result in problems at the border.
Miscellaneous Questions about Passport
No. You can only apply for a new passport. Even if you have had a German passport before, you need to submit in the original all the documentation listed for passport application.
In principle, German citizens may hold only one German passport.
Only if a valid reason for the necessity of a second passport can be proven, an exception may be made. One example could be if your job involves regular trips to countries for which Germans require a visa, and you therefore often have to hand in your passport to other embassies for visa applications. If this applies to you, you must present a detailed letter from your employer and your previous visas and entry and exit stamps in addition to the usual documents required to apply for a passport.
If you are travelling between Germany and South Africa, you must carry both valid passports with you. You would have to show your German passport to German border officials and your South African passport to South African border officials. The airline might insist on seeing both passports.
If you are travelling between South Africa and other countries, you need to find out the entry requirements from the country of destination.
Comprehensive and up-to-date information is available on the website of the German Embassy in London
If you got married in South Africa, your name has not automatically changed in Germany. Not even if you already have a South African passport in the new name. You must give a name declaration for the German legal sphere, see here
You are not required to deliver the passport to the German Mission. But please send us a copy of the death certificate.
If your father received a pension from Germany, you are obliged to promptly inform the pension authority in Germany of his passing.
We are legally not allowed to recommend an individual photographer. Please refer your chosen photographer to the requirements for biometric photos for German passports, see here
Citizenship and Naturalization
One cannot obtain German citizenship by marriage.
If you are married to a German citizen, you can apply for naturalisation after having lived with your spouse in Germany for at least 3 years.
You cannot apply for German citizenship based on the fact that you had a German ancestor.
It is possible that you are a German citizen by birth if one of your parents was a German citizen at the time, for example because German citizenship was handed down each generation, starting with the ancestor who emigrated from Germany. You cannot be a German citizen if citizenship was not legally handed down to each generation, without having skipped one. Read here
If you have a German passport, you are presumably a German citizen already. You cannot apply for German citizenship, if you are already a citizen.
Did you instead mean that you wish to apply for a certificate of citizenship to obtain a document confirming your German citizenship? Read here
Most probably, your siblings did not become German citizens but were born German. Please read here to understand the difference between applying for German citizenship and having received German citizenship automatically by law.
Maybe your siblings applied for a determination of citizenship certificate to simply confirm that they are German. If you wish to apply for a certificate of citizenship, read here
Please understand the difference between applying for German citizenship and applying for a certificate of German citizenship, read here
It is almost impossible to apply for German citizenship while living abroad. Did you instead mean that you are a German citizen automatically by law and wish to apply for a certificate of citizenship as confirmation? Read here
You cannot apply for “EU citizenship”. You might have the citizenship of one of the EU member states, e.g. German citizenship. Read here
You can have both citizenships if you obtained both automatically by law, e.g. your parents have two different citizenships, or if your parents are German but you obtained South African citizenship through birth in the country.
ATTENTION: You may NOT apply for another citizenship. If you apply for and acquire South African citizenship without being in possession of a German certificate of retention, you loose your German citizenship. Read here
There will be no duplicates of certificates of citizenship issued.
You can only apply for determination of citizenship, again. It is likely that you do not have to present all the supporting documents of your ancestors again, but you will have to submit proof of changes in your situation since the issuance of the previous certificate of citizenship. In other aspects, the procedure will be the same.
No. We cannot double check or pre-approve your application by email. Applications can only be processed with the original documentation during and after your appointment.
The payment can only be made via EFT to the Bundeskasse Trier. Proof of payment must be presented upon collection of the certificate of citizenship.
Proof of payment:
- EFT document with original confirmation stamp from your bank
- bank statements
- online banking printouts
- written confirmation of payment issued by your bank
All of the above have to show your personal information and the reference number. It is not necessary to email the proof of payment in advance, it must instead be presented upon collection.
Children are automatically German by birth if one parent held German citizenship at the time. If your “Einbürgerungsurkunde” was issued before the birth of your child, your child is a German citizen already. You cannot and do not have to apply for naturalization for him/her.
If you still wish to have a document confirming their citizenship, you can apply for a certificate of citizenship, read here
If the validity of your letter of retention expires before you have obtained the foreign citizenship, you must apply for an extension. You can do so directly via email at the “Bundesverwaltungsamt” (Federal Office of Administration). More details can be found in the accompanying letter you received together with the letter of retention.
No. You should keep the letter of retention and your foreign certificate of naturalization secured at a safe place. These two documents in combination are your proof that you are still a German citizen, even though you acquired a foreign nationality. Both must be presented when applying for your next passport.
Family Matters: Births - Marriages - Names
Changing your name in your South African passport or ID does not have any effect on your name in the German legal sphere.
If you got married after 1991, a German name declaration is always necessary if you wish to take your spouse's name. If you got married prior to 1991, it might also be necessary depending on your specific case.
If your child was born after 01.09.1986, the name in South African documents does not have any bearing on his/her name in Germany.
If you as the parents had a common married name at the time of his/her birth, then your child automatically carries this surname. If you did not have a common married name, a German name declaration is necessary.
The German Mission cannot know whether you gave a name declaration or not. While you can do your declaration at the German Mission abroad, it is forwarded to the competent registry office in Germany. Due to data protection laws, the Embassy/Consulate is not permitted to keep any information on your case.
You can inquire at the registry office, see here
A new certificate can be applied for at the registry office in Germany, see here
For a declaration for a married name, both spouses have to appear in person.
For a child's name declaration, both parents and children of 14 years and older must appear in person.
No. All documents must be presented either in the original, or as copies certified by a German authority.
Simple copies or certifications by a South African authority (commissioner of oaths, SAPS, etc) are not accepted.
No. You must apply for an unabridged marriage certificate at the Department of Home Affairs after the marriage has been registered there.
Quick check: Does your marriage certificate list the spouses' marital status before marriage and does it bear the stamp from the Department of Home Affairs? If not, then it is not an unabridged marriage certificate.
You need separate appointments but you can do both on the same day:
Which is your German Mission?
- Embassy in Pretoria: Upon emailing us for an appointment and mentioning your intention to apply for a passport, you will be given the necessary two appointments.
- Consulate General in Cape Town: You can book separate online appointments for name declaration and for passport.
We forward your name declaration to the competent registry office in Germany. Once the name has been confirmed, we will inform you by email and continue processing your passport application.
No. The registry office's fee has to be paid to them directly via EFT.
The German Missions cannot attest to your marital status. Confirmation can only be gotten from your local registry office in Germany in form of a “Ehefähigkeitszeugnis” (letter of non-impediment), see here
The only document intended by German law to prove your marital status in order to get married abroad is a letter of non-impediment issued by the registry office. The German Missions cannot attest to your marital status or confirm “Meldebescheinigungen”.
Germany and South Africa are both signatories of the Hague Apostil Convention. The only form of verification is an Apostil. There is no additional verification done by the German Missions for German documents that are furnished with an Apostil. Neither can the German Missions verify a document that is not furnished with an Apostil.
Please submit your letter of non-impediment furnished with an Apostil to the Department of Home Affairs and, if necessary, refer to the Hague Convention.
Please contact your local registry office in Germany.
If you got married abroad and all marriage requirements were fulfilled, then your marriage is automatically valid in Germany, regardless of whether you registered it with the registry office.
Germans who got divorced by a foreign divorce court must always apply for formal recognition of this divorce in Germany.
If you got married abroad and the marriage requirements were met, then your marriage is automatically valid in Germany, regardless of whether you registered it with the registry office.
Were you yourself born outside of Germany after 31.12.1999?
Then you must register your child within one year of birth, Read here
Were you yourself born before 31.12.1999? A birth registration is voluntary and there is no deadline.
Yes, Read here
No. A German birth certificate is proof of your parentage, your name and date and place of birth.
Exception: If a name declaration is necessary, then both parents must appear in person.
Yes, if your child has never had a German passport before.
No, if your child already has a German passport. Exception: If a name declaration is necessary and if your child is 14 years or older, then he/she must accompany you.
No. A new driver's license can only be applied for at and issued by your local licensing authority in Germany.
A person who worked in Germany for a certain amount of time and who paid into the pension fund is eligible for a pension from Germany. Please contact your pension authority in Germany directly, see www.deutsche-rentenversicherung.de
You may not apply for your pension at the German Missions abroad.
No. You have to contact the pension authority in Germany, directly.
You have to immediately inform the pension authority in Germany.
Yes, you can. According to the Schengen agreement, visas are valid for: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Please note, however, that you must always apply at the embassy/consulate of the country which is your primary Destination.
Yes, you can. Please carefully check the validity of the visa, the permitted number of entries and the maximum duration of stay (both are mentioned on your visa sticker).
Transit visas are valid only for short stopovers (hours in length) while you are waiting for your onward flight in the airport's international transit area. Please apply for a regular tourist visa if you must/would like to stay overnight.
It depends on your nationality, on whether your next destination is outside the Schengen area and on the airport you will transit through. Read here for more information.
If you do not have a confirmed onward flight from Germany, you must always apply for a regular tourist visa.
Your passport must be valid for at least three months upon conclusion of your trip.
Ask your friends/relatives to complete and sign a formal letter of obligation (“Verpflichtungserklärung”) and submit this when you apply for your visa.
If your trip is fully sponsored by a third party in Germany (friend, relative or organisation), you must present a formal letter of obligation called “Verpflichtungserklärung” given by your host. The Verpflichtungserklärung can be given at the local Aliens Office (“Ausländerbehörde”) and must then be forwarded to you in order for you to apply for your visa.
Just ask your friend/relatives to send you an informal invitation. This must include their name, address and a copy of their passport. A copy of their residence permit is an additional requirement if your friends/relatives in Germany are not German nationals. If your friends/relatives will pay for your travel expenses, you will also need to submit a formal letter of obligation.
Please include your business registration and latest bank statements (covering three months time) to complete your application.
Imagine you are injured during your stay in Germany. Please check carefully whether your medical insurance would cover costs for medical treatment abroad. You will need to submit health insurance documents which reflect coverage during your stay in Europe when applying for the visa.
Please submit your application and all necessary documents listed for the required type of visa. If you attach a copy or certified copy of your marriage certificate (with apostille), your visa will be free of charge.
All first time minor applicants must appear in person.
Biometrics are taken from the age of 12. Minor applicants of 12 years and older with previous applications must therefore also appear in person if they have not given biometrics within the last 5 years.
Processing time takes 15 consecutive days from date of application.
You will find comprehensive information on Schengen-Visa legislation and documents (including those mandatory under Art. 47 of the Visa Code for information of the general public) on the website of the European Commission, Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs.
Schengen visa applicants may submit complaints about the conduct of the external service provider TLS, the staff of the German Mission or the visa application process via contact form. Please note that complaints may only be submitted in German or English. We are unable to follow up on complaints in other languages.
Please enter one of the following three options in the “Subject” field of the contact form:
- “Complaint about the conduct of the external service provider TLS”
- “Complaint about the conduct of staff of the German Mission”
- “Complaint about the visa application process”
Contact form: Schengen Visa Complaints - PRETORIA
Contact form: Schengen Visa Complaints - CAPE TOWN
No legal remedies against decisions to refuse, annul or revoke a visa – in particular no remonstrations – may be submitted via the complaints contact form.