So in a few weeks I will be submitting applications for Master's Programs in Germany. I am a resident of the United States living in Ohio and am required to submit certified copies of my Bachelor's Diploma and Transcript. The German website that handles several online applications list these as available sources:

  1. issuing institutions, e.g. schools, universities and language schools
  2. the Ministry of Education in your home country (I guess the Department of Education in the US)
  3. German embassies and consulates (nearest one is several states away)
  4. the department of cultural affairs of the embassy of the country in which the certificate was issued
  5. public authorities and notaries which are authorized to supply official certifications in your country of origin.

The last point leads me to believe that it could be any notary, but then one application in particular says: "authorities and notaries authorized to provide official notarization in the respective country In no case will we accept notarizations from private individuals, lawyers, a priest's office, banks, health insurance companies or the AStA (student union executive committee)!"

To sum up, basically I am wondering where I could get certified copies of my documents and which notaries count as "official notaries". For instance there is an Ohio Notary Public office nearby, which is a state department, would that count?

If anyone has gone through this process before and could shed light that would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: After some additional research it would seem notary publics in most US states can not certify copies of documents, including in Ohio. Accepted top answer as option 1 is really the only viable option in my and most US states.

2 Answers 2


Option (1) is probably easiest.

It's normal in the US to send official transcripts directly from one educational institution to another. The way you do this is typically to go to your school's website and search "official transcript". You may need to pay a fee or may only need a fee to send more than some number.

Since schools are used to sending these to other US schools I'm sure they are also prepared to send them to Germany. They'll come directly from the university with some sort of seal.

When I was applying for grad school this step at least was still entirely by physical mail; there may be digital options now too.

  • 1
    And if notarization, apostille, or some other extra certification is really needed, there's a good chance the school can arrange this for you (for an extra fee), without the document ever having to pass through your hands. Every large organization has many employees who are notaries. If they don't already offer this on their website, contact them and ask. Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 3:21
  • @NateEldredge Or even as just part of it, I've never seen an additional "notarization" fee but I guess I haven't looked that hard Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 3:37
  • @Nate I think it's standard that "official transcript" comes with some sort of notarization/seal/"proof" of legitimacy, but yes I would expect even if this is not "standard" when you request an official transcript it should at least be an option.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 14:13
  • @BryanKrause: They usually have the university's own seal, but in some cases one might also need authentication by some government-authorized official such as a notary public (who as mentioned might also be a university employee). It's hard to tell from the question whether the German institution requires the latter or not. Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 14:32

There are far more notary publics in the United States than in any other country I know of. Your bank will have one, and your department may -- ask the front office. They all can certify copies for you.

  • I don't see that the question was edited after being posted, and in it the OP states that notary's from e.g. banks, are not allowed.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 13:31
  • Yeah I'm not sure what exactly a notary public would be doing here. They could notarize that your signature is yours, they could notarize that you've made a sworn statement that the document is legitimate, but they don't have the authority to themselves declare the contents of a transcript as official. The only way they would do so would be to take your word for it which kind of bypasses the point, unless I'm missing something.
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 14:11
  • @CGCampbell, I'll note that I can find a notary at my local bank. But their duties as a notary are not a function of the bank. It isn't the bank that notarizes, but the individual. The name of the bank and the fact that the person is also employed by a bank never appears. I can't judge the value of such a notarization, however, as is noted by Bryan Krause.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 15:09
  • Like @Buffy says, the function that notary publics perform is a state function, regardless of the fact who employs them. They are not acting as individuals, but as registered and certified public officials. That falls under point 5 in the original question, and the highlighted note does not apply. I have used notary publics many times for documents the German consulate required me to provide and it was never a problem. Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 2:37
  • @BryanKrause They certify that the copy is a truthful copy of the original. That's what a notarized copy is, after all. You have to show the original for that, of course. In fact, I'd venture the guess that that's 80% of what notary publics do -- many original documents can not be re-issued in duplicate whenever you need one, so notarized copies is exactly what are required. Commented Mar 27, 2021 at 2:40

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