After being happily married for a couple of weeks, there were only two more things to do: find out if we can change our names and have the marriage registered in Brazil. The second would be important for when we move to Brazil, because the registration of our marriage would be the basis for a visa. And this was in fact easy. Changing our names was optional, because you can’t do this in Denmark when gettig married but we would’ve still liked to have a mutual last name. I know people are complain a lot about Brazilian bureaucracy, but again – facing German administration and bureaucracy was far worse than our experience with Brazilian authorities and that makes me wonder.

Legalizing the Danish marriage certificate

Legalizing the marriage certificate was necessary to have the marriage registered at the Brazilian embassy in Berlin (we did not want to travel to Copenhagen too much). And it was easy: we included a number of international postal return stamps, paid the fee electronically and sent everything to Copenhagen. Hahaha, it was of course not quite as easy! Try to buy some international postal return stamps in a German post office. The fun thing is: you can´t. The nice sales person explained, that these things are so rare, that they are not kept in the post offices, they have to be ordered and bought online. Even more ridiculous: the Brazilian embassy made clear, that all stamps have to be stamped by the issuing country, so after we had ordered them online, we returned to the post office, only to start the whole conversation about what these little things are again – because nobody seemed to know what to do. In the end (and after checking their online knowledge database), the stamps were stamped and we were told, that this should actually not be necessary anymore. (How Brazilian is that!) Anyhow. Two weeks later we got our marriage certificate back with a wonderful stamp stating, that this document is recognized by the Brazilian embassy in Copenhagen as a legal document.

Register the legalized marriage certificate at the Brazilian embassy

With our now legalized marriage certificate we showed up at the Brazilian embassy in Berlin a couple of days later, to have the marriage registered. With the service of a nearby notary office, which copied my passport, this was not a problem. Ten days later we received a wonderful small certificate stating, that our marriage is registered in Brazil. But we were told, that we would have to reconfirm this at a notary office in Brazil, once we arrived there. (This went pretty smooth as well). So everything was set from the Brazilian side. But what about the Germans?

Trying to register the marriage in Germany or: “Go away”

I had talked to the German Standesamt (registrar’s office) before and was told a quite confusing thing: since we were married in Denmark, the marriage is recognized in all countries of the European Union and therefore also in Germany. Since our marriage certificate is multilingual (German as well), we should have no problem sending this to organizations or administration, which could be asking to see our marriage certificate. However, there was no guarantee, that everyone would recognize this foreign document, because organizations and administration are only legally required to accept a marriage certificate from Germany. If we want to change our names, the marriage has to be registered in Germany. Period. No way out. Our marriage had to be officially recognized (nachbeurkundet) in Germany and a “Familienstammbuch” to be opend (a document containing birth certificates, death certificates and so one, but nobody could explain, what this is actually good for, since you do not need to have one).

In order to have our marriage officially registered in Germany, we would have to prove all the documents as if we would want to get married in Germany. I asked different people several times, but I got the same answer: “Yes the Danish marriage certificate is valid in Germany” and “No, the Danish marriage certificate is not valid to register your marriage in Germany, because, you know, the Danish are a little too relaxed about these things.” Does this make sense? Not to me. And it was a big disappointment, since we were facing the same problem again, which made us chose Denmark instead of Germany as the place to get married in the first place. All because the German authorities did not recognized the divorce certificate of my wife, which means we would have to spend several weeks with authorities in Brazil to get several documents, hire an attorney to open the court archives and make a transcript of the court judgment, then have all these papers legalized and translated into German. All of this would at a rough estimation cost us about 2 months of work and more than 5000 Euros. Sarcastically (even though I think the woman had good intentions) I was told, that we do not have to hurry, that the names can be changed anytime in the future, once the marriage is registered in Germany. A little bit sad my wife and me decided to let the name situation unchanged for the moment and I left Germany with the utterly strange and unsatisfying experience of being married, but not really – at least when it comes to German authorities.

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