Background

More people than ever study, work, live or raise a family in another EU country. Yet, Europeans who are on the move are often confronted with bureaucratic hurdles.

The smooth circulation of public documents is essential to facilitate the lives of citizens who move to another EU country or need to present a public document in another EU country.

Rules to simplify circulation of public documents

In July 2016, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a regulation simplifying the circulation of public documents between EU Member States. The Regulation aims at slashing red tape and reducing cost and time for people when they present in an EU country a document issued in another EU country.

The Regulation covers public documents and facilitates their circulation such as

  • administrative documents, such as certificates
  • notarial acts
  • judgments
  • consular documents

The areas covered are 

  • birth 
  • a person being alive
  • death
  • name
  • marriage, including capacity to marry and marital status
  • divorce
  • legal separation or marriage annulment
  • registered partnership, including capacity to enter into a registered partnership and registered partnership status
  • dissolution of a registered partnership, legal separation or annulment of a registered partnership
  • parenthood
  • adoption
  • domicile and/or residence
  • nationality
  • absence of a criminal record and the right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections and elections to the European Parliament.

With the new rules, the receiving authorities will no longer be able to require that the document bear an apostille stamp to prove its authenticity.

The exemption from the apostille stamp applies to both original public documents and their certified copies. This will save citizens time and money.

Furthermore, the receiving authorities have to accept certified copies and certified translations made in another Member State. Multilingual standard forms help saving cost on translations.

The new rules apply as of 16 February 2019.

Recognition depends on national law

The Regulation deals with the authenticity of public documents but not with the recognition of the contents and effects of such documents. Each EU country will thus continue to apply its own law regarding the content and effects of public documents from another EU country.

For example, a marriage certificate will be considered authentic in another EU country, but whether or not the receiving EU country recognises the marriage depends on the national law of that country.