EU simplifies recognition of public documents in other EU countries

Brussels, 2019-03-04

More and more people are moving to another EU country for professional or private reasons. A move abroad brings with it a multitude of bureaucratic hurdles. Since 16 February 2019, new EU-wide rules have been in force which put an end to the previous administrative procedure for the recognition of public documents.

A prerequisite for the application of the new regulation is that document has been issued in one EU country and is presented to the authorities in another EU country. Henceforth, several administrative procedures will be a thing of the past:

  • Authorities must recognise public documents even without the necessary authenticity mark (apostille). The costs and administration associated with this are eliminated.
  • Henceforth, a multilingual standard form will replace the certified copy and translation of a public document. The form will be available in all EU languages and will be attached to the document as a translation assistant, making translation unnecessary.
  • In addition, fraud attempts are prevented by the receiving authority being able to verify the authenticity of a public document via an IT platform with the issuing authority if there are justified doubts as to its authenticity.

With the entry into force of the new rules, EU citizens will only be able to prove the authenticity of their public documents, but not the recognition of their legal effect outside the issuing EU country. The recognition of the effect of a public document remains subject to the national law of the EU country in which the document is presented.

The regulations were already adopted in June 2016. The EU countries then had two and a half years to implement the new simplifications.

The regulation covers public documents about:

  • birth
  • a person being alive
  • death
  • name
  • marriage
  • divorce
  • registered partnership
  • dissolution of a registered partnership
  • parenthood
  • adoption
  • domicile and/or residence
  • nationality
  • absence of a criminal record
  • the right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections and European Parliament elections

Further information is available here.