110/80/30 -, these numbers are not the latest women’s ideal measurement (thankfully!). And not my blood pressure either. I took these numbers from my German law book. They are listed in the Law on the Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths (Personenstandsgesetz, PStG). This law is about the German Civil Status Certificates which in German are called Personenstandsurkunden and are kept by the German Standesämter (Civil Registry Offices). It is all about birth, marriage and death certificates. Everything there is to know about civil registration is included in this law. And even things you don’t want to know are listed. Ugly things like how long birth, marriage and death certificates are under privacy law.

Under privacy law means not accessible to the public. For us genealogists this means that

– birth certificates cannot be publicly accessed for 110 years and
– marriage certificates for 80 years and
– death certificates for 30 years.

It means no public research is possible during this time. But does it mean that you can’t get any of your ancestors’ and relatives’ certificates?

The answer is easy. It is yes and no. Or to be more precise – it depends.

You either get it or you don’t

Let’s take a deeper look into section 62 subsections 1 and 3 PStG. That is the section that tells us who will get a certificate that is under privacy law.

1) The certificate is about you, meaning your birth or marriage certificate. You might not be interested in your death certificate, which leads us to….
2) The spouse or registered partner can get your birth, marriage (which is kind of his or hers as well) and your death certificate (in case you go before him or her).
3) The great-grandparents, grandparents and parents (ancestors) can get their children’s and grandchildren’s etc. certificates.
4) The direct descendants can get their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents certificates.
5) Siblings can get their siblings’ birth and death certificates if they can prove their rightful interest in this record.
6) Other people who can prove their legal interest can get certificates, which means they need to have a court order. This is usually the case with administration of an estate.

Be prepared that you need to prove your relationship through your birth or marriage record!

This means that you will not get your siblings marriage certificate, your cousin’s certificates, your aunt’s and uncle’s certificates etc. as long as they are under privacy law.

But don’t forget!

There is one regulation that most people don’t know about. It will give you a chance to get even more certificates of your relatives even though the records are under privacy law.

Birth certificates:
1) The person you are looking for has died more than 30 years ago.
2) The parents of the person you are looking for have died more than 30 years ago and you have proof (=a record) of both.
3) You have a rightful interest in getting the certificate.

Marriages certificates:
1) The person you are looking has died more than 30 years ago.
2) The spouse of the person you are looking for has died 30 years ago and you have proof (=a record) of both.
3) You have a rightful interest in getting the certificate.

So much for what the law says.

Let’s look at some examples. You want to do research on your grandmother and her parents and her many siblings, all born in Germany between 1904 and 1916. Based on December 2015 this is what you get and what you won’t get.

110_80_30

 

Now what about the time after 110 years, 80 years and 30 years? The certificates go public. You can send a request to the Standesamt and simply order it.

What happens to the certificates after they go public? Sometimes the records remain at the local Standesamt. Sometimes the certificates are transferred to the local city archive, county archive and respective state archive like it is done in Berlin. And sometimes you will get very lucky and ancestry or familysearch will digitize them and they will be available online.

Getting birth, marriage and death records does require a little patience. And most of all, knowing what 110/80/30 is all about.