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Article 2012.04.01 Forms of adress

Since 1975, the Protocol Office at the Federal Ministry of the Interior has published a guide to proper forms of address, based on protocol practice. The Protocol Office receives queries almost daily from a wide range of areas, indicating widespread uncertainty when it comes to proper forms of address and formal correspondence. The guide is therefore intended to provide orientation when dealing with public figures.

Personal relationships between the writer and recipient of a letter often determine the form of address and closing, and are not covered by the guide. Nor does the guide offer postal service rules for correctly addressing letters.

When it comes to the question of whether to use more traditional or more progressive forms of address, the Federal Ministry of the Interior has chosen to avoid extremes: Only those forms are suggested which have become generally accepted, while those which are now rarely used in the relevant circles have been left out. In some cases, the guide offers several options so that users may choose the right wording for a specific situation. Because it is intended for protocol, rather than legal, purposes, it draws more on convention for its sources than on written regulations. 

Note: The guide to proper forms of address is available only as a download in PDF format (in German).



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