How to Register a Danish Wedding in Germany

In Denmark, after a wedding has been conducted, both the bride and groom receive identical marriage certificates. These certificates have the names of both persons, their dates of births, citizenships, places of birth, place of marriage and city or municipality of marriage written on them. Although – and this is according to my local Standesamt – these certificates are enough in that state to be recognized in Germany, it is a good idea to get an Apostille stamp on them as well. Better be safe than sorry.

The Apostille stamp can only be gotten from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The offices of the ministry are located in the capital Copenhagen. To get an Apostille stamp, you have to go to the ministry, pay a fee and get one or both the marriage certificates legalized. For the German authorities, one document should be enough but you can have both legalized as well if you wish. An Apostille is like the Danish Federal Government, guaranteeing that you have indeed been married in their country. According to the Hague Convention on Apostille, it should be recognized in all signatory countries. Here is a list of countries which recognize this convention. The procedure for getting the Apostille is stated here. For this reason, I recommend marrying in Copenhagen because you can get the Apostille stamp on the same day as well! It takes 5 minutes, usually. On a side note, the city is beautiful and has lots of attractions.

Once you have your marriage certificate from Denmark with the Apostille stamp on its back (that’s where they stamp it), take it to the Standesamt when you’re back in Germany. The Standesamt will change its records and list you in the married section. Your spouse can then decide whether they want to change their name or not (only if they’re German, though). Once you’re done with that, you can go to the Rathaus and register yourself as married there too.

(Note: The next section is for those of you who are marrying a German citizen. Please ask your local Ausländeramt what the rules are if you have married a citizen of another EU country. I’d appreciate if you could tell us all those rules here as well in your comments.)

But the bigger hurdle, as always, is the Ausländeramt. Now, the Ausländeramt may huff and puff, but remember: your marriage is recognized in Germany now. There is no need to be afraid of them. This isn’t the time to hanky panky. The non-EU spouse can now ask for a change in residency status on the basis of them being the spouse of a German citizen. From here onwards, read very carefully. The Ausländerbehörde can now offer you 2 options. Depending on your status, that is.

  1. Get a 3 year residence permit and do a German B1 language exam on your own.
  2. Get a 3 year residence permit and commit to doing an Integration Course which includes a B1 language exam as well as a course and exam on life in Germany.

You will only be offered option 1 if you have completed at least a Bachelor degree from a university anywhere in the world. It is assumed that you will find a job and integrate in German society on your own. Otherwise, it’ll be option 2.

Option 2 requires you to first present an A1 language course exam results to launch the residence permit proceedings. This is because the Integration Course starts from the A2 level. If your language skills are good, you can ask the language school to waive your language test and then you can just sit in the classes for the life in Germany exam. Clear this with both your language school and the Ausländeramt. If you get 17 out of 33 questions correct on the life in Germany exam taken at the end of the Integration Course, you won’t need to do a Citizenship Exam (Einbürgerungstest) should you decide to become a German citizen in the future.

I hope this was useful 🙂

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Denmark it is, I suppose…

Last week I got a call from the Standesamt telling me that to come to them. They told me that the OLG had certain objections to one of the documents I sent. This document was the Certificate of Impediment. They said that this certificate should have been titled “Certificate of No Impediment and Capacity to Marry” which mine wasn’t, even though they admitted in their own letter that the gist of my title was the same as well. Their second objection was that this same document should have had my fiance’s name mentioned specifically. Ergo, that there is no objection for me to marry her. I told the lady at the Standesamt that I would speak to my father and ask whether these changes are possible or not. My father told me that hell would freeze over before the Union Council guys would make a new document for me. Note that they did it once and then again for the District Coordination Officer to sign it. Third time won’t be a charm because they might suspect that something suspicious is going on.

We told all this to the lady at the Standesamt and asked what other possibilities we might have. She answered us in one word: Denmark. She said that the OLG is really strict and will keep on putting hindrances in our path. It’s better if we just get married in Denmark and get that marriage recognized in Germany. This is now what we have planned to do. The wedding requirements in Denmark are fairly simple. Here’s the link to the Copenhagen commune’s website. If you want a marriage where other people take care of your hassle, check out these guys.

I started out this blog as a sort of a guide for people who want to get married to a German in Germany but now it’s become about marrying in Denmark and getting the Germans to recognize that marriage here. I will keep you all updated on what happens next. My quest continues.

Documents Submitted: The Long Wait Begins

Sorry about not posting anything on this blog for some time now. But I have an update on my situation.

Last month I went to the Standesamt to hand in my documents after having them translated by a certified translator. I was told I had to pay €70 which is the fee for the Oberlandesgericht. Additionally, I was handed a paper prepared by the German Embassy and Consulate in Pakistan. This document is available here. The documents for other countries are available here. Now, on the document for Pakistan, it says clearly and in bold letters that if the Certificate of No Impediment is not signed by the District Coordination Officer, District Commissioner or Deputy District Commissioner (for your local district in Pakistan), it will not be valid. Therefore, I had to send my document back and have it signed by the relevant guy and then have it sent back again. All this took me roughly a month.

But last week I handed in all documents finally, paid my €70 and sent them on their merry way. Oh, and they checked my passport and residence permits and made copies. So, the procedure is apparently as follows now:

  1. The documents are sent by the Standesamt to the Oberlandesgericht (OLG).
  2. If the OLG needs anything additional (I hope to God they don’t), then they ask the Standesamt who asks us.
  3. The OLG gives a decision: it can be yes, no or that the documents need to be checked.
  4. The documents are sent back to the Standesamt which contacts the German Embassy or Consulate in Pakistan and asks for a cost estimation for having the documents checked. For Pakistan, it’s usually around €260.
  5. The German mission replies and sends a bill. The Standesamt calls us, we pay and the documents are sent to the German Foreign Office in Berlin who forward it to the relevant German mission.
  6. The proofing process can take up to 6 months for Pakistan. The requirements and info is all in the PDF file whose link is above.
  7. The documents then come back to the Standesamt with an official report that they’re (hopefully) fine. At this point, the German mission will also tell how much money was spent. It could be that more was spent, in which case you pay a bit more. It can also be that they spent less money than anticipated and they return the extra money to you (not very likely though).
  8. The Standesamt at this point grants us a Permission to Marry which is valid for 6 months and allows us to marry in any Standesamt in the Federal Republic of Germany.
  9. We marry and live happily ever after.

Through the experiences of other Pakistanis, I have come to know that usually (but not always) it takes 5 months to get the Permission to Marry. So it seems like a long wait. All I can say is, I’m gonna keep them fingers crossed. I will keep my loyal readers posted. Until then, have fun.

An Update for Translation of Documents

Today I was conversing with someone on the topic of having marriage documents translated into German and whether they will be accepted at face value or sent back for translation. During this conversation, I came to know something I had never heard before. Apparently, it is possible to have documents translated and directly verified by the German diplomatic mission (embassy or consulate) in your country of origin. For a fee, the Germans will translate and verify your documents. While submitting the documents to your local Standesamt, you can let them know that you had this done and paid for it.

I have no idea if this is just a rumor or fact. If anyone does, please comment and let me and others know. However, this could be a way to circumvent the process of verification which would normally go through layers of bureaucracy in Germany and your country and would result in lengthy verification times. If true, this could be a good solution for those wishing to marry urgently.

Visit to the Standesamt – III

I forgot to mention earlier that before having the documents submitted for translation, I took them with my fiance to the Standesamt. The lady at the Standesamt went through them and I explained what each document was to her. She told us that everything seemed to be in order and that these documents should be translated. As I have stated in earlier posts, my local Standesamt is a bit clueless about things and are really going to send the documents to the Oberlandesgericht (OLG) in Düsseldorf under whom they operate. The OLG Düsseldorf will have the final say for the whole case.

Attestation from the Foreign Ministry

The Foreign Ministry of Pakistan has its head office in Islamabad and maintains so called “camp offices” in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta. Any document issued by any official authority in Pakistan can be attested by any Foreign Ministry office in the country.

To add a further layer of validation to my documents, I had them attested by the Foreign Ministry as well. They attested everything except the declaration by my father because it had not been issued by a government authority. However, according to the person translating my documents, this attestation was completely unnecessary. He is familiar with how things are in the subcontinent and told me that it was a waste of time and money to get things attested because they cannot be translated and are just left in the copies.

So it’s up to you and how you feel. I erred on the side of caution and am trying to do everything I can to allay the fears of the people in the Oberlandesgericht who will decide my case. I want them to be convinced that the documents are in order and the Apostille can be issued without verification from Pakistan. This could turn a 2 month wait into a 5-6 month ordeal.

The documents in detail

In this post, I will explain details about the documents I had made from Pakistan. I will go through them one by one. Remember, that for people from other countries, this is the website to find out all the required documentation for your country of origin: http://www.olg-koeln.nrw.de/aufgaben/justizverwaltung/organisation_verwaltung/dez_7/laender/index.php. Note that this website is only for NRW.

1. Birth Certificate

You can get your updated birth certificate from the NADRA in Pakistan. You get it fairly quickly from any NADRA branch anywhere in the country. For people from other countries, either use the original birth certificate or ask your local government office for a newer computerized version. Both versions should be equally valid in Germany. I would personally recommend the newer computerized version because it could deter the authorities from sending the documents to your country for validation and save you a lot of time.

2. Certificate of No Impediment

This certificate (for Pakistanis) has to come from the Union Council. It cannot be from anywhere else. The Secretary or Chairman of the Union Council has to say that you are unmarried in their records. But please – and I cannot stress this enough – make sure they enter in their records that you are indeed single. These people have to be pushed to do their jobs. If the record is not entered, and the German government sends your documents for scrutiny, no records will exist and you might run into trouble.

3. Declaration

Even though a declaration from my father was not necessary and was not stated in the documents I needed to provide, I did it anyway just to be on the safe side. The text was fairly simple and stated that my father declares that I’m single. He had it printed on a Rs. 100 stamp paper and had it attested by a magistrate as well. Additionally, the imam of my local mosque (who has the Nikah register) also checked, verified and wrote by his hand that I am single and that his records reflect it as well. He signed and stamped it.

4. Family Registration Certificate (FRC)

The FRC is not completely necessary but I am going to submit it anyway. The reason is, I want another record from NADRA reflecting my status as a single person. Additionally, this document also shows that my father is indeed my father and authenticates his declaration. It’s just a plan B thing. You don’t have to have it made, but I say do it just to be safe.