Getting Married to a German
Getting married to a German is no easy act, and you may feel like you are a hiker who is lost in the Black forest. Those who made it out of the Black forest haze are usually balding earlier than their peers and those who have it ahead of them. I wish you endurance.
Marrying a German is no longer considered treason in a laws and regulations sense but you may be treated as such. The City Clerk may give you a schräg (skewed) glance. You may have difficulties finding an officiant and your family may not be totally d’accord with your decision. And on top of that: the consulates and Standesamt will want to know everything about you. Right down to your Unterhose (underpants).
But hell with all that nay-saying, where there’s love – there’s a way.
5 Tips to marrying an American in Germany
Prelude: The following information is based on personal experience and may not reflect how a certain district reacts nor other case-specific decision making.
1. Planning ahead
If you are thinking about making the leap to Germany due to love, one must assume that “things are getting real” and you are planning ahead. A few subjects to think about and plan:
- Are you selling your property/ valuables/ belongings.
- Have you quit your job in an orderly fashion.
- To which extent have you informed family and friends.
Tip: Keep an address in the USA (friends, relatives’ or parents address) just in case crap hits the fan within the first few months.
- Where are you staying in Germany.
- Do you have a new job in line in Deutschland.
- You are allowed to stay here for 3 months max. without an Aufenthaltsgenehmigung.
- You are not allowed to work until you get an Arbeitsgenehmigung.
- You need to get married pretty darn quick.
Info: Assuming you have all required documents: After getting married in Germany, you will need approx.. 6-8 weeks to get your residence and work permit from the foreigners’ office.
2. Documents you will need for the Standesamt marriage
You will need to obtain the following documents before you leave the U.S.:
-Long form birth certificate (3x) – Where: Register of Deeds – Cost: ca. 75 USD. After receiving the long form birth certificate: send 2 in to get an Apostille put onto it. Where: Secretary of State – Cost: ca. 15 USD per Apostille – Processing time: 5-7 business days
-Certificate of baptism (1x) – Where: Your congregation – Cost: ca. your contribution – Processing time: 5-7 business days (This is in case you are planning on have a church ceremony as well)
-Affidavit about your civil status (2x) Templates can be found in Internet – Where: Take Affidavit to local notary of public (lawyer) – Cost: Ask lawyer. After your Notary public visit: send both undersigned Affidavits in to get an Apostille put onto it. Where: Secretary of State – Cost: ca. 15 USD per Apostille – Processing time: 5-7 business days
Tip: Send all mail correspondence via registered mail including tracking number. This costs a few bucks more but secures your documents and gives you peace of mind.
In addition: I recommend translating all English documents into the German language by a certified translator. I would do this in Germany directly after arrival. Costs approx. 20-30 EUR per certified document. Processing time: 3-5 business days. Certified translators can be found on the US Consulate Generals’ website.
Dear fellow American, please look on the bright side of things: you are basically halfway there with regards to paperwork. And now that your documents are in, please make sure your future spouse has them as well. And although Germany doesn’t want to admit it, they are looking forward to you, your spouse and you creating little German-Americanlings to help out their growing economy.
3. After arrival
Firstly: go to the Einwohnermeldeamt(registry office) and tell them you arrived safely and now live in the Dorf (village). Take documents with you, get a copy of their records, for your records.
No time to acclimate to the new surroundings, get up and make an appointment at the Standesamt. You need an appointment to get civilly married. This may sound skurril but you can only be civilly married by making an appointment at the Standesamt, no romantic officiants in the greens nor church ceremonies. Tip: take all of your documents with you (your spouses’ as well), go together, make an appointment within the next 3 months to get married and: make an oath: the Eidesstaatliche Versicherung. You are indeed who you are, and want to marry this person.
Other formalities you can clarify:
Open bank account
Obtain your driver’s license
Brush up on your German skills – sign up for a course
Find out where the foreigners’ registration office is – Ausländerbehörde
Get all documents translated into German
Find a job for after receiving your work permit – Arbeitserlaubnis
Become a Grade A Hausfrau or Hausmann (you are not allowed to work, remember, but I am sure your spouse is looking forward to a warm meal that you prepare for him/ her every day.
4. Marrying an American in Germany thing
With the invitations out, the schnazzy dress on and surrounded by some family and friends,: please gather in front of the Standesamt. Get ready to waltz in when you have your appointment and say your I dos’. In German they say “Ja, ich will” which means “Yes, I want”. Yes, baby I want you bad, after doing all that damn paperwork. Speaking of paperwork: again: get a copy of your marriage records, for your records.
As in the States, you will need two Trauzeugen, who have witnessed your marriage: for which they will sign for.
Preparing for the celebration thereafter is quite similar to the procedure in the US: the more money, the more extravagant, the higher the loan and the more time to have to pay it back. Nope, not good. The average spending for a US wedding is approximately 27,000 dollars. On the contrary, an average German wedding costs 12,000 EUR (approx.. 14,000 dollars)
No, but I must admit that if you decide to have a celebration, that the German family and relatives are always there to support the bride and groom. Their mentality is: “as guests we are here to support their mutual decision to get married”, which is often expressed by family and friends organizing games throughout the celebration.
And, congratulations -Mr. and Mrs.- , -Mr. and Mr.- or -Mrs. And Mrs.- because Germany has allowed registered life partnerships since 2001.
5. Go to the Foreigners’ registration office
Call and make an appointment. Go together. You will need the documents from Step 2, including your German marriage certificate. Smile. Be polite. And read this article about Before knocking on a German door.
You will receive a temporary residency and work permit if you ask for it. Your card will come via registered mail within 6-8 weeks. You may have to take German language courses including an integration course. Get to work, get on with life and make German friends. Here is how to not make German friends. And don’t mow your lawn on Sunday.
Yup, you made it. As for my wife and I: we found our way out of the Black forest as well. Need consultation or case-specific infos? Feel free to contact us
Affidavit: A written sworn statement of fact made by an affiant in front of a notary public
Apostille: An international certification and notarization of a document for international law
Arbeitsgenehmigung: work permit
Aufenthaltsgenehmigung: residency permit
Ausländerbehörde: Foreigners’ registration office
Einwohnermeldeamt: registry office
Kirchliche Trauung :church marriage/ ceremony
Standesamt: County Clerks office
Trauzeugen: witnesses to a marriage