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Foreign ties

1. Indications of foreign ties

As personal and business relationships become more international, notaries have seen an increase in the number of recordations involving a foreign element. For example, a married couple in which one or both spouses are foreign nationals may wish to buy land in Germany. Or they may want to draw up a postnuptial agreement or contract of inheritance. Likewise, if German nationals wish to sell a holiday cottage located outside the country or bequeath it to one of their heirs, they may find that German law no longer applies. Talk to your notary to learn more about the legal implications of foreign ties and relevant private international laws. Ideally, you will actively notify us of any foreign elements in your transactions.

2. German deeds abroad and foreign deeds in Germany

Since only individual states can authorise certain individuals to draw up deeds, public deeds are generally only effective in the country in which they were executed. Other countries may not recognise them. As our world becomes increasingly global, though, there is a growing need for public deeds to be recognised worldwide.

For this reason, legislators have created a procedure for authenticating foreign public deeds: legalisation. Essentially, the authenticity of the deed is confirmed by the consulate of the country in which the notarial deed is required. For example, if you wish to use a Canadian power of attorney in Germany, you must have it legalised by the German consulate in Canada, who will confirm the authenticity of the notary’s signature and authority.

To simplify matters, many states have signed the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation of Foreign Public Documents. If you want to use a public deed in a signatory state, you can easily authenticate it by obtaining an “apostille”.

Germany and several neighbouring countries have additionally signed bilateral treaties in which they waive the requirement for legalisation and apostilles. The other country’s deeds are automatically assumed to be genuine.

As you can see, every foreign country is different, and international legal transactions can be complicated. Leave the details to your notary. We have a special International Affairs department staffed with experienced professionals who can help you with any questions you may have about the international recognition of public deeds.