The smooth circulation of public documents (such as diplomas, proof of nationality, property deeds) and the recognition of civil status documents recording “life events” (such as birth, adoption, marriage or death) or a person’s change of surname are essential for citizens who move to another EU country.
Member states' registries and administrative systems vary considerably, causing cumbersome and costly formalities (translation, additional proof of authenticity of documents). These problems make it difficult for citizens to fully enjoy their rights within the EU.
In the policy paper adopted today, the Commission asks how the free circulation of public documents could be improved as well as proposing possible options to ease the cross-border recognition of civil status documents.
One option outlined could be the automatic recognition of civil status documents. Such recognition would not involve the harmonisation of existing rules and would leave member states’ legal systems unchanged.