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Access to public deeds and charters

The State Archive manages and archives a range of official documents, such as for example original deeds and adoption files. Find out here how you can gain access to documents of this type.

Deeds such as contracts of sale, marital agreements, contracts of inheritance

Notaries in the Canton of Bern are required, on ceasing to practise, to hand over their notarised documents, such as contracts of sale, marital agreements and contracts of inheritance, to the State Archive or to their successor firm. The notary supervision has responsibility for all the documents submitted, and assesses applications to consult these documents. Such deeds contain sensitive information and are subject to the Notaries Act as well as data protection and privacy legislation. Authorisation is thus required to access such deeds.

If you would like to consult or enquire about public deeds, please contact the notarial supervisory authority.

  • Notary supervision

  • See also: Public deeds archive


Biological parents who gave up a child for adoption and later wish to contact or seek information about the child can obtain the child's personal details – provided he or she is aged 18 or over, has legal capacity and agrees to being contacted. If the child is under 18, the adoptive parents must also give their consent.

An adopted adult child has an absolute right to know his or her parentage without the birth parents having to give their prior consent to the disclosure of information. Adoptive adult children can also receive information about their biological brothers and sisters and half-brothers and sisters if the latter are over the age of 18 and have agreed to disclosure.

If you have an enquiry about adoptions, contact the cantonal agency in the canton where you live.

The cantonal agencies are listed on the following website:

School reports and educational diplomas

Normally the Bern State Archive does not archive school reports or educational diplomas from schools and universities in the canton. Please consult our online inventory for the few exceptions to this. If you do not find what you are looking for, contact the educational institution concerned directly. Schools are required to keep a copy of all such documents.

Please note that the State Archive is not able to provide copies of reports and diplomas. 

Documents from institutional homes

The State Archive has holdings on various canton-run homes or canton-supported homes, institutions, training institutions and boarding schools. There is a wide assortment of documents in the State Archive and in many cases the documentation is incomplete. Many documents from children’s homes were destroyed in accordance with the regulations applicable at the time.
In order to gain access to documents relating to you in person, you must present your identity card or passport (or send a copy). If you wish to consult documents relating to someone else, you need to obtain a letter of authorisation from them.

For more information regarding persons who spent time in a cantonal care institution go to:

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