Ordering records from German Archives

+6 votes
I have found that some of the records I need are held by the archive in Mecklenberg-Schwerin.  I sent a request, and received an email back requesting payment, but I have no idea how to pay them.   I sent an email back asking about that, and haven't heard back.    Does anyone have experience with this and can tell me how it works when you order from the U.S?

asked ago in Genealogy Help by Wendy Fromme G2G6 Mach 2 (21.1k points)
When i buy records my experience .they will accept Debit Card.I have my

Debit Card replaced by another card so it cannot be re used.Every six

months.Many places will reuse a card,so be carefull,
Either I use my credit card directly or I use PayPal. You can always mail a check too, assuming you agree about who's going to pay the conversion fee. If you wanted to get fancy, you could get a cashier's check in Euros at a US bank, but I find most people do PayPal these days. For a transaction this small, a wire transfer is insane.

I would not recommend using a debit card like that though, and I'm kind of surprised that anyone would even do it. Credit cards are much safer for international transactions.
This may be "obvious" but payment to German banks are usually taken only in Deutschmarks. I had a German friend and his mother who helped me pay in Germany and then I paid my friend and he, his mother.

Very circuitous but clean if you have people you trust.
It's all Euros in Germany now. Sometimes people take dollar denominated checks, but you have to ask first, and it's pretty unlikely the Podunkenstein Archiven-Zentrum will know what to do with them. I run an export business so I've done stuff most people have never heard of, but 9 times out of 10 PayPal is your best bet for small amounts these days, and a lot of archives will tell you to use that if you can.
USA Banks do not participate in IBAN, so it would only be wire, which is cost prohibitive. Credit Card (if they accept it) or PayPal would be my choice.

Just some concrete examples of the ways I've paid stuff

Cobh Project (Church of Ireland archives) (Ireland)  - PayPal

UK National Archives - CC

Oxfordshire FHS - CC (they also take UKP bank drafts on UK banks)

Jamaica National Archives (Postal order or Bank draft, JAM, USD, UKP, or CAD)

West Sussex Record Office - CC

Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies- CC

Berkshire Record Office - "cheque payable to Reading Borough Council or by card over the phone"

With Jamaica, I just got a USD cashier's check, stuck it in the mail, and a couple weeks later I got a beautiful will copy.

2 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer

If you're going to send money across the Atlantic, I would recommend using TransferWise:


Having had to send money between Canada and the EU several times, Transferwise was the best method that I've found. It also works in the United States and several other countries. The benefits:

  • It's low cost
    • Uses the mid-market exchange rate
    • You only pay a small fee: 0.5% of the amount that's converted + $ 0.75 CAD.
  • Speed is moderate
    • your payment will surely arrive in < 7 days; usually 2-3.
  • It's online - no going in to your bank to make a transfer.

You will need their banking information, typically in the form of an IBAN:

After they have converted the money, it will arrive directly in the recipient's account. It's really quite easy. Just ask the kind folks at the archive for their IBAN so you can transfer the necessary funds.

Good luck!

P.S. Nowhere in Europe will take a personal cheque/check. 

answered ago by JN Murphy G2G6 Mach 5 (53.1k points)
selected ago by Ray Jones
Thank you.  This is excellent information. I am looking into ordering records for German Ancestors as well.
+4 votes

I recently requested a marriage certificate from the Nuremberg city records office. They requested payment by wire transfer. They will need to give you an I-Bank number for the transfer. These transfers are handled through your bank, who will charge a fee, perhaps $30-35.

My bank graciously waved the fee, and I received the certificate in about a week.

If the organization you are dealing with takes cards, I would recommend a credit card instead of a debit card as your protections are better.


The number is called an IBAN number:

DEFINITION of International Bank Account Number - IBAN 

An international bank account number (IBAN) is a standard numbering system, developed to identify bank accounts from around the world. Banks in Europe originally developed the system to simplify transactions involving bank accounts from other countries.

answered ago by George Fulton G2G6 Pilot (153k points)
edited ago by George Fulton

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