Documents Folder: Important Documents Ready at Hand

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A buried bomb left over from World War II is discovered during construction work on your street and suddenly the police is evacuating the whole block. Or perhaps there’s a fire in the apartment next door. Every minute counts! There’s no time to be looking for important things.

Important Documents: Often Hard to Get New Copies

Over the years, we have all collected quite a range of documents that are very important to have. If they get lost or destroyed, in flooding or a building fire for instance, it can be very difficult to obtain new copies of some of them. Sometimes they can’t be replaced at all. It’s therefore a good idea to have all important documents collected in a file that you can grab quickly and take with you if you have to leave in an emergency.

4 Tips for Storing Important Documents

  1. Store the documents folder in a secure, easily accessible place

  2. Make sure all people in your household know where the folder is located

  3. Keep backup copies of important documents either digitally and/or in a separate location, such as with a friend or in a safety-deposit box

  4. Review the folder regularly to check if any documents need to be added or renewed

What Documents Should Be in Your Emergency Folder?

A folder of important documents is a very personal selection. You should ask yourself the question “What documents are important for my life?”

The documents listed below should always be included in your folder of emergency documents. For some of these, a simple copy is enough – a copy can be helpful later if you need to request a new driver’s license or ID card. Others will need to be included as originals or as a certified (notarized) copy. A notarized copy can be obtained from public administrative offices or a public notary, among others.

And remember: the folder should contain the documents for all members of the household, e.g. a copy of everyone’s ID card.

As originals

  • Family records (birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates) and/or German family register book

As original or notarized copy

  • Documentation of assets: savings books, account contracts, stock papers, securities papers, insurance policies

  • Statements: social security, pension, and income statements as well as income tax assessments

  • Qualifications certificates: diplomas (school/university diplomas and certificates for additional qualifications)

  • Contracts: important contracts or contract amendments, such as apartment or other lease agreements

  • Other: testaments, advance directives, powers of attorney

As regular copy

  • ID card and passport

  • Driver’s license and vehicle papers

  • Vaccination book

  • Land titles/deeds

  • All change confirmations for services received

  • Payment records for insurance cover, especially social security

  • Registration confirmation and other statements from the employment office

  • Invoices you have issued that evidence outstanding receivables

  • Membership/fee payment ledgers for associations, clubs, or other organizations

Click here for a checklist on gathering important documents to download and print.

Documents Folder Checklist

pdf 0.06 MB

This is a checklist that lists which documents you should have on hand in an emergency in case you have to leave your place of residence quickly.