Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

German Legal Research Guide

This in-depth guide will help researchers navigate the German legal materials.

Quick Reference: Abbreviations and English Equivalents

The German language is (in)famous for long and complicated words, and German legal terminology is certainly no exception. To make matters worse, German legal terms are often written shorthand as abbreviations. For example, VwVfG is the Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz (law of administrative proceedings).

The following chart highlights some of the most common German legal terms, their abbreviations and common English equivalents. This is a representative list of the terms researchers most frequently see cited in the literature.

If the source listed below is available in the library, then the call number is given and a link to the record in the library catalog is provided. In cases where the library has several editions of a source, the link provided is to the record for the most recent edition.

See the Abbreviations and Legal Dictionaries sections below for additional information.

Abbreviation German English
BG Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch 
INTL KK985.51896.A6 P35 2006
Civil Code
BGBl Bundesgesetzblatt 
INTL Media KK10 1949 Micro
Federal Law Gazette
BGH Bundesgerichtshof Federal High Court
BGHSt Entscheidungen des Bundesgerichtshofes in Strafsachen INTL KK7980.3 .B86 Decisions of the Federal High Court in Criminal Cases
BGHZ Entscheidungen des Bundesgerichtshofes in Zivilsachen INTL KK44 .B86 Decisions of the Federal High Court in Civil Cases
BVerfGE Entscheidungen des Bundesverfassungsgerichts 
INTL KK5466.5 .B86
Federal Constitutional Court Decisions
BVerwGE Entscheidungen des Bundesverwaltungsgerichts Federal Administrative Court Decisions
GG Grundgesetz INTL KK4444.3 .J37 2004 Basic Law (English translation) INTL KK4444.3.A613 2002
GmbH Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung Private Limited Company
HGB Handelsgesetzbuch 
INTL KK2045.51897.A6 H66 2006
Commercial Code
NJ Neue Justiz New Justice (legal journal)
NJW Neue juristische Wochenschrift INTL KK6 .N48 New Legal Weekly Journal
StGB Strafgesetzbuch 
INTL KK7975.51871.A6 D73 2001
Criminal Law Code (English translation)
INTL KK7975.51871 .A52 2002