What Does
Research Cost?
The Dreaded
Postage Stamps

(long read!)
Sending Money
to Germany
Exchange Rate,
the Euro
German Postal
Regulations &
the IRC
German Language
Archive Letters
Difficulties in German
Archive Addresses Hiring a Researcher


Yes, the zip code goes in front of the City or Town on your letters to Germany. Just add the word "Germany" right below the German zip+town, and "USA" (or other appropriate country) to your return address. Did you include German postage stamps for return postage? (They can't use our postage stamps). Since research rates in Europe are on the increase it would be a good idea to ask the archive for an estimate in advance, including postage. To do that you have to tell them what you are looking for in advance! In some cases you can E-Mail the archive for an estimate. You can count on at least $40 (Euro 29,00) plus $4.00 (Euro 2,90) postage to send as an advance deposit (although some persons report that they got a response with no deposit - just included €2,90 or German postage stamps - but not the dreaded IRC and NEVER a personal check). In Germany the comma, not the period, indicates the decimal place. Therefore, $1,000.00 would be expressed as $1.000,00 in German. Be sure to check currency exchange rates before you send money to Gemany! They'll let you know how much more they need. Quite often they will ask you to transfer funds from your bank account to theirs. You can do that, but check with your bank first about costs. Remember that they want the transfer to be in the Euro, as well. One option available is PAYPAL, if you and the recipient both have that program. You won't know until you ask!

PLEASE! Do not ask our German church and civil clerks and researchers to "do the research" and if they find anything you will pay them. They have had too many sad experiences with that. They now follow German law in setting research fees, which are payable even if they don't find anything.

Research fees for professional researchers are going to be at least $40 (Euro 29) hourly plus expenses. Expenses could include travel at about 70 cents per mile, lodging if necessary, meals away from home, and obviously will include archive research fees and copying fees. Research fees for volunteer researchers who do not specify a minimum rate, or say something like, "Whatever you think is fair," should receive at least $20 (Euro 14,50) hourly plus expenses. Archive fees are set by law and usually run about $30-40 (Euro 22-29) per half-hour. For tour guides and researchers see ./hsstory.htm

One international  reply coupon  (IRC) costs $1.75 in a  U.S. Post Office, and only ONE international reply coupon can be used per letter by your German contact, and ONLY for international postage. So don't even think about sending several as"extra postage" or as a "fee for services." FORGET the IRC altogether and send an extra amount to cover postage and envelope, usually around $4.00 (2,90 Euro). A 4x9 envelope containing a letter, sent from a German archive to you in the USA, costs about €3.00 up to 20 grams, which is about 2 pieces of paper and the envelope. Over 20 grams and up to 50, the cost is €4,0. Use our currency converter, below, to watch the fluctuating value of the Euro against the U.S. dollar and other currencies. Another very good option is to contact anyone living in Germany (except  the Post Office) for German postage stamps.

for the official German postal regulations, a MUST READ, then come right back here!

CLICK HERE for the official German Postal Service for the cost of mailing standard and oversized envelopes, packages, etc.

CLICK HERE for the official German Privacy Law regarding genealogical inquiries to civil/municipal archives.

Acquire German Postage Stamps by contacting Don Watson, dwats <at> cox . net. Specify the exact number of stamps required (standard air mail, single letter from Germany to the USA, requires a purchase of three, 1-euro stamps.) My German contacts will not go to the post office for less than 5 stamps. They will charge you for their time plus gasoline plus any additional fee. A 1-euro stamp, therefore, may cost you 5-euro. Multiply that by 5 = 25 Euro for 5 stamps. If the information they send to you requires an envelope larger than a standard air mail envelope, the cost will be higher, obviously. German postage stamps are not for sale in the USA and will not be sent to you by the German post office. At one time we could simply tuck several crisp, new $1 bills in with our inquiry, but now that is frowned upon.

The INTERNATIONAL REPLY COUPON,  obtained at a U.S. Post Office, has become a worthless piece of paper for your research in Germany. The Hessen-Kassel church archives will not accept them. See REAL MONEY, below.

CLICK HERE for additional, important insights into German genealogical research.

How to send REAL money to Germany

If you go to your bank for a draft or money order in your currency, you'll pay a heavy fee. And guess what? Your German contact will pay an even heavier fee just to cash it, often more than the face value of the draft or money order! Talk about an unhappy German contact! Germany  will not accept  a U.S. Postal Service money order; you already know how they feel about the dreaded IRC; and you don't want to saddle them with exchange rates and fees after they used their time and gasoline to drive to the bank! You may want to use.....

XOOM Money Transfer: https://www.xoom.com/sendmoneynow/xoom-locations?receiveCountryCode=DE


MONEY GRAM: https://www.moneygram.com/wps/portal/moneygramonline/home/sendmoney

International money exchanges went through drastic changes in June, 2010. It is not as easy or as inexpensive as it once was.

PLEASE NOTE that the payee line is important. If you make it out to one church and the archives are kept in another, then there could be a problem in processing the check. So Church Archives or Kirchenarchiv is better than naming a specific church in a specific town. The same applies to civil archives. If you make the payee line City of Darmstadt (Stadt Darmstadt), and the archives are actually somewhere else, then there could be a problem with endorsements and cashing of the instrument. So Archives or Archiv, without naming a specific town, is a more practical solution! Do you have a letter from Germany? BE SURE to include, after entering into correspondence, any reference or file number so that the Germans can go directly to your file. Make your German contacts happy!

Another option is https://www.paypal.com. But the person or archive on the other end must have a Paypal account! If you set up an account make absolutely certain that the website is https://www.paypal.com. See that "s" after "http"? That's the secure site. There are counterfeits out there, ready to take your money and run!

The protocol for letter writing also includes writing in THEIR language, not yours. Letters already written in German are found by clicking here.

If you cannnot translate an E-Mail or letter you receive from Germany, or if you want to send an E-Mail or letter to Germany in THEIR language, contact me at......


Just how does the U.S. Dollar compare to foreign currency, anyway?

Click here   for a currency converter
In Germany the comma is expressed by a decimal point
up until the last place.
144,029.51 in the USA thus becomes 144.029,51 in German

How much was your money worth in .............                        

Click here  for weight conversion

Click here  for World Time Clock

German Postal Rates
For the actual German
Post Office website, CLICK HERE <often VERY slow to load>).

Standard Letter
Airmail, up to 20 grams = 3.00 Euro
Airmail, 21 to 50 grams = 4.00 Euro

Oversized Envelope
Airmail up to 50 grams = 5.00 Euro
More than 50 to 100g  = 6.00  "
More than 100 to 250g = 8.00
More than 250 to 500g = 12.00
More than 500 to 750g = 16.00
More than 750 to 1000g = 20.00
More than 1000 to 1500g = 28.00
More than 1500 to 2000 g = 36.00

DIFFICULTIES IN GERMAN RESEARCH (Advantages of hiring a researcher)

Each village has family and town registers which contain all the names of the citizens. They also have resident registers, which persons moving in and out of villages were required to fill out. Until recently, the police department handled the latter. Now it is known as the Einwohnermeldeamt and is handled by civilian employees of town government. The police also recorded the names of those leaving Germany, and those arriving from other countries. This was in addition to passports. In 1960, again in 1971, a little in 1989, and again in 1991, smaller communities in Germany were annexed by larger ones. In some cases, several communities were combined into one town, even though they might have been miles apart. The name of the new "cluster city" was usually based upon the name of the largest community, which became the administrative location, and an administrative city was sometimes arbitrarily assigned. Local officials chose the name of a nearby mountain, river, or lake, as the new name for the "cluster." A central post office for all the communities was established in the administrative city. When villages merged like this, town and family registers, and resident registers and police records, were often moved into a central location.

THEREFORE ... it is difficult to find genealogical records in Germany without the full name, exact date of birth, and exact village of birth, for your ancestor. Before 1871, as a rule of thumb, you find them in the church archives. After the creation of the German Empire in 1871, the decree went out that these records would be retained in civil archives. By 1876, that had been accomplished. However, many churches insisted on maintaining duplicates, after 1871. For towns with only one zip code, addressing your letter is simple. Here is the example:

For the church archives:                 For the municipal archives:
Pfarramt                                           Standesamt
00000 Townname                             00000 Townname
Germany                                          Germany

If the village you are searching for has been annexed or merged with another village or town, then your address must look like this:

Pfarramt Oldtownname
00000 Newtownname (or Townname where the post office is)

It is the same for the Standesamt (civil office).

Just plug in the zip code and town name. Zip codes are found at "Postal Zip Codes". I prefer the site that shows old town names and new town names - but it may not have ALL German communities, towns, and cities. Remember that the faith or confession of your ancestor is VITAL to your research! Your letter must go to the proper archive, Evangelisch (Evgl; non-Catholic); Katholisch; Kath; Catholic), or to the civil archives. Another VITAL ingredient of your search is the postal zip code. Many, many, many towns in Germany have the same name. Once you nail down the one you are interested in, identify it with its zip code.

One method which has been successful in many cases is to look in a modern German telephone directory for persons with the last name of your ancestor still living in the village, or the area of the village, you are interested in. You then write them a letter in the German language, enclosing a self-addressed envelope, with German postage affixed for an airmail response. Don't send them an IRC!! You can access the German telephone directory at this LINK. Choose Telefonbuch or Telephone Book.

Letters already written in the German language are found at

Research in Germany: A Second Opinion : Click Here


Yes, you can hire a German researcher. Not everyone can afford it, although it may cost less than a trip to Germany. Check with the guy who takes photos of your ancestor's village (see the Fee for Services Links in Link Tables, Table #3). You can also check our RESEARCHERS link in the Table of Links .

About a researcher in Hessen who goes ONLY to certain towns:

Clem Schreiber only does research in the following places near where he lives: Ahlersbach, Altengronau, Bellings, Breitenbach, Breunings, Drasenberg, Elm, Gundheim, Gomfritz, Heubach, Hinkeldorf, Hintersteinau, Hohenzell, Hutten, Jossa, Klosterhoefe, Kressenbach, Marjoss, Mottgers, Neuengronau, Niederzell, Oberkalbach, Oberzell, Ramholz, Reinhards, Roehrings, Sannerz, Schluechtern, Schwarzenfels, Seidenroth, Steinau, Sterbfritz, Uttrichshausen, Vollmerz, Wallroth, Weichersbach, Zuentersbach.

He WILL NOT travel to other cities. He does not have E-Mail. Contact him about the costs of research with a letter wherein you identify everyone you are searching for and all the personal information you have about them. Don't send long, rambling narratives. Just the facts, like full name, date and place of birth, spouse, children, date emigrated, port, whatever! Make sure you state clearly that all you want at this point is an estimate of the cost. Include a self-addressed envelope and at least $4 cash for return postage so that he can send you an estimate. He CANNOT use USA postage stamps or stamps from any other country on your self-addressed envelope, so don't put them on there. He can only use German postage stamps for his reply and needs the $4 U.S. cash from you to buy German stamps (unless you purchase them in advance, from Peggy, above).

His mailing address:

Clemens Schreiber
19 Bergst
36381 Schluechtern

DO YOU KNOW   that nearly every city and county and state in Germany has its own webpage, many with an English language option?  You can find them using a Search Engine!  Always put a plus sign  +  in front of each word that MUST be in your response!  Example: +City +Berlin +Germany.  Use the GOOGLE search engine http://google.com/ for best results!  AND  -obviously-  any reputable travel agency can make all the travel arrangements!  Go for it!  If you'd like to see some quick examples of what is "out there," just CLICK HERE.  Another option is to type http://www.townname.de in your browser. If nothing comes up, or you get a German advertisement in response, try http://www.stadt-townname.de (either way, just plug in the town name where indicated!) There is also Site #2 in our Town Locator at the website.

We have had good reports on this researcher, but have no first-hand knowledge of his work and list him here only for your information. You can contact him about his territory and fees and ask others about the quality and results of his work.

Markus Weidenbach
Lessingstrasse 15
566299 Ochtendung


phone: (011 49) 2625-95.66.40

fax: (011 49) 2625-956641

e-mail: genealogie.mw@gmx.de

Favorite research area: former Prussian Rhine Province,
Palatinate, Hessen-Nassau