What is a “polizeiliches Führungszeugnis”?

And when do you need it?

The German “polizeiliches Führungszeugnis” is the equivalent of the British “enhanced criminal record certificate” as defined in sec. 115 Police Act 1997, sometimes also referred to as “certificate of conduct”, “good-conduct certificate” or “police clearance certificate”.

The Führungszeugnis is an official document issued on special green paper by the German Bundesamt für Justiz (Federal Office of Justice) in Bonn and looks like this:

The document lists criminal offences above a certain threshold, usually if someone has been sentenced to payment of a criminal fine of 90 daily rates (Tagessätze) or more. There are exceptions with regard to juvenile delinquents. Sex crimes, cases of child abuse or neglect are especially relevant, because anyone who wants to work with children, be it in a kindergarden or a sports club, must present an enhanced police clearance certificate before he or she is allowed to do so. The criminal offences are recorded in the German Bundeszentralregister and the Führungszeugnis is an extract from said central register.

What do your need a Führungszeugnis for?

The German criminal record certificate is required in various circumstances, either because you apply for a job in Germany and the (potential) German employer asks you to provide such a Führungszeugnis. Or you plan to open a restaurant in Germany and wish to obtain a liquor license. In practice, there are three different types of Führungszeugnis: a simple police clearance certificate (einfaches Führungszeugnis), an enhanced certificate (erweitertes Führungszeugnis, as in the example above) and a behördliches Führungszeugnis for official use. The difference is in the content and the degree of detail that such certificates show.

More information on what a German polizeiliches Führungszeugnis is and how to apply for one is available on the website of the Federal Office of Justice here.

The law firm Graf & Partners was established in 2003 and has many years of experience with British-German and US-German legal matters.The Anglo-German litigation lawyer team of GP Chambers is well equipped to advise and represent clients from the UK and other English speaking countries. If you wish us to advise or represent you in a German or cross border case, or if you need an expert report on German law, please call +49 941 463 7070 in order to contact German lawyer Bernhard Schmeilzl, LL.M. (Leicester), managing partner and head of the litigation department. Bernhard is also frequently asked by British and US Courts and Tribunals or by legal counsels to provide expert reports and legal opinions on German law.