I get a lot of frantic midnight emails. The appointment at the foreigner’s office (Ausländerbehörde) is looming, and all the supporting documents are written in English. Resumes, references, bank statements, contracts… how important is it to have your documents translated into German for your visa or permit appointment?
It is advantageous have at least some documents translated into German. Here’s why:
- The case workers sometimes do understand basic English, but they are accustomed to conducting business in German, and in some cases, they are required to by law. They’d rather see a translation than be accountable for making a mistake on your case.
- Even if you have a German speaker with you on the day who can clarify questions on the spot, the application might be sent away to the Senate Administration before they approve your permit. They make the final decision using what’s in front of them.
- You’re in Germany, and the person in front of you plays a large role in deciding whether you can stay. Make their job as easy as possible.
- I have certainly seen case workers accept resumes, references, job offers, bank statements, and proof of health insurance documents in English in the past, but I am noticing an increase of people being told to come back with translations.
- If you’re asked to come back with a translated document, you’ll probably just be told to come within the office’s opening hours to “drop it off”. This means grabbing a waiting number and potentially hours of sitting around. Again.
Bank statements are relatively easy to understand even in foreign languages, and probably don’t need to be translated. However, case workers can’t be expected to have a grasp on the worth of every currency in the world, and some seem to be loathe to Google the exchange rate. So for brownie points, convert the currency into Euros and write the result in pencil next to the total amount on your statement.
Extremely long purchase contracts usually have a summary with the financial conditions on the first 1-2 pages that will be of primary interest to the Ausländerbehörde. You probably don’t need to translate 26 pages of housekeeping terms and boundary definitions.
You probably won’t need certified translations, unless the document is a certificate (such as a marriage certificate with an apostille), or they have specifically asked you for certified translations.
How Can I Get These Translated Quickly?
Send me your documents as a PDF or Word file and I’ll get you a quote. We’re pretty good at getting things done fast, and in some cases, same day delivery is possible, as long as you can pay with Paypal on the spot. We do our best! But please try to give me a couple of days at least.
—– Kathleen Parker runs Red Tape Translation and loves helping English speakers get a grasp on German bureaucracy. She can organise an interpreter for your Agentur für Arbeit appointment, get you a certified translation for the Standesamt, or call Deutsche Telekom and sort our your phone bill.