The Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extra Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters is in force between the United States and Germany. Requests for service of process on persons or entities located in Germany, utilizing the USM-94 form or the Hague Conference Service Request Form, should be sent to the appropriate German Central Authority for that Convention for service by German authorities. The persons and entities within the United States competent to forward service requests pursuant to Article 3 include any court official, any attorney, or any other person or entity authorized by the rules of the relevant court. Requesters should cite Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or similar state statute. Germany designated multiple regional (Lander) authorities.
Germany made a reservation stating that the documents to be served must be accompanied by German translations. The documents to be served and their translations should be in duplicate. The “Request and Summary” portion of the USM-94/Service Request Form need not be translated into German.
Germany made a declaration objecting to service under Article 10(a) (postal channels), Article 10(b) (judicial officers) and Article 10(c) (judicial officers, officials or other competent persons of the State of destination). Any other methods of service, including attempts at service by mail, are considered illegal in Germany and an affront to its judicial sovereignty.
The Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters is in force between the United States and Germany. Germany made specific reservations and declarations regarding the applicability of certain articles of the Convention which should be reviewed carefully.
Compulsion of Evidence Civil and Commercial
Requests to compulsion of evidence in civil and commercial matters should be prepared using the Hague Model Letter of Request and submitted by the court in the United States to the appropriate regional (Lander) German Authority. Contact information is available in the authorities section of the Hague Conference web page for the Evidence Convention.
The Federal Republic of Germany made a reservation provided for in the first sentence of paragraph 1 of Article 33 of the Convention excluding the application of the provisions of paragraph 2 of Article 4 of the Convention. Letters of Request to be executed under Chapter I of the Convention must, in accordance with paragraphs 1 and 5 of Article 4 of the Convention, be in the German language or be accompanied by a translation into that language.
Voluntary Depositions Civil and Com mercial
Depositions may also be taken of willing witnesses before U.S. Consular Officers at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt only, not at the U.S. embassy or other U.S. consulates in Germany, and only with the prior permission of the Central Authority, provided no compulsion is used. The request to give information may not be called a “summons” and the interview may not be called an “interrogation.”
Permission from the German Central Authority
When a U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt receives a request for the taking of a deposition of a willing witness, this is transmitted to the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. The U.S. Embassy makes a formal request by note verbale to the German Ministry of Justice for permission to take the deposition. Depending on what German land the witness(es) live in, the Ministry of Justice then forwards the request to the Land Ministry. The witness(es)are then contacted by that office and briefed on their role(s). Witnesses have a right to be accompanied by an attorney. Requestors should allow 30 days for this process. Specific guidance about the taking of depositions in Germany is available on the U.S. Consulate General webpage.
Germany Process Service
Additional Clearance for U.S. Officials
U.S. and state officials participating in depositions in Germany must also obtain host country clearance which requires that the U.S. Department of State send notification to the U.S. Consulate General.
See 22 CFR 22.1 regarding current consular fees.
The United States signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters with Germany October 14, 2003, Treaty Doc. 108-27, 108th Cong. 2d Sess.; Exec. Rept. 109-14, 109th Cong. 2d Sess. The United States and the Federal Republic of Germany signed a Supplementary Treaty to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal Matters on April 18, 2006, Treaty Doc. 109-13, 109th Cong. 2d Sess. Both treaties entered into force on October 18, 2009. Local, state, and federal prosecutors in the United States interested in obtaining evidence in Germany in criminal matters may also wish to consult the Office of International Affairs, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20520 at (202) 514-0015.
The U.S. Department of State expects criminal defendants, or their defense counsel, who wish to request judicial assistance in obtaining evidence or in effecting service of documents abroad in connection with criminal matters to make such requests pursuant to letters rogatory in accordance with Article 5(j) of the VCCR. Defense requests for compulsion of evidence in criminal matters may be prepared in the form of a letter rogatory transmitted via diplomatic channels from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Overseas Citizens Services, Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, European and Eurasian Affairs Division, 1-888-407-4747. See 22 CFR 22.1 regarding current consular fees.
Authentication of Documents
Germany is a party to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalization of Foreign Public Documents.
Lists of Attorneys in Germany
U.S. Embassies and Consulates in Germany
Please note, all telephone numbers are listed for dialing from the United States. When calling from within Germany, the country code is not necessary and a zero is added before the city code. For example: (40)(69)7535-0 becomes (069)7535-0.
U.S. Consular Sections are located at:
U.S. Embassy Berlin
Clayallee 170, 14195 Berlin
Tel. (49)(30)8305-0(emergency services only)
Tel. (49)(30)832-9233(routine calls and information requests, 2-4p.m. Monday-Friday)
American Citizen Services Email: ACSBerlin@state.gov
U.S. Consulate General Frankfurt
Giessener Str. 30, 60435 Frankfurt am Main
Tel. (49(69)(7535-0(emergency services only)
Tel.(49)(69)7535-2102(routine calls and information requests, 2-4p.m. Monday-Friday
American Citizen Services Email: GermanyACS@state.gov
Passport Inquiries Email: FrankfurtPassorts@state.gov
U.S. Consulate General Munich
Koenigstrasse 5, 80539 Munich
U.S. Consulate Leipzig (emergency services only)
Wilhelm-Seyfferth-Strasse 4, 04107 Leipzig
There is also a U.S. consular agency in Bremen at: Bremen World Trade Center, Birkenstrasse 15,
Tel. (49)(421)301-5860; Fax: (49)(421)301-5861.
Consular services are no longer available in Hamburg or at Consulate General Dusseldorf.
Depositions are only taken at the U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt. No depositions are taken at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin or any other U.S. Consulate in Germany.
Baumgartner, Is Transnational Litigation Different? Case Study: The United States and Germany, 25 U. Pa. J. Int’l Econ. L. 1297 (2004)
Bolt & Wheatley, Private Rules for International Discovery in U.S. District Court: The U.S.-German Example, 11 UCLA J. Int’l L. & For. Aff. 1 (2006).
Martens, German Civil Procedure and the Implementation of the Hague Evidence Convention, 1 International Litigation Quarterly 115 (1985)
Shemanski, Obtaining Evidence in the Federal Republic of Germany: The Impact of the Hague Evidence Convention on German-American Judicial Co-operation, 17 International Lawyer 465 (1983).
Germany Process Service