New European Ruling Simplifies Exchange of Public Documents


Posted and filed under General Articles of Interest, Paperwork (NIE, Residencia, Padron).

New European Ruling Simplifies Exchange of Public Documents

A new EU regulation 2016/1191 by the European Parliament is going to greatly simplify the exchange of public documents between member states in the future. It comes into force as at the 16th February 2019, with the aim of easing the free circulation of citizens in Europe by simplifying the requirements of presenting certain documents within the EU.

For example, currently, if an Irish death certificate is needed to be presented in Spain, it requires translation and a Hague Apostille; an internationally recognised seal that allows a document to be used in another country which is part of the Hague Agreement.  This all takes time and incurs costs.

In the future, the Spanish administration will not be able to demand an apostille on a public document from another European country.

The new ruling comes into force 16/2/19 and is applicable in each Member state, simplifying the circulation of public documents, by putting an end to certain bureaucratic procedures, as explained above.

– It will no longer be compulsory for an Apostille stamp. Public documents (for example, birth certificates, marriage certificates etc.) and certificated copies issued by authorities of an European country
should be accepted as authentic by the authorities of another country without the need for an apostille.

– It will no longer necessary for citizens to do an original and a certified copy at the same time.

– Also where a European country permits the presentation of a certified copy of a public document, the authorities will accept a certified copy made in another Member State.  The regulation does not cover copies of certified documents.

– The ruling overcomes the obligation that is imposed on citizens to arrange a translation of public documents. In order to overcome language barriers and ease the exchange of public documents, multilingual standard forms will be established in each of the official languages of the institutions of the Union for public documents concerning birth, a person being alive, death, marriage (including capacity to marry and marital status), registered partnership, domicile and/or residence and absence of a criminal record.

Therefore if  the public document is not drafted in one of the official languages of the European country that is requesting the document, then citizens can request of the authorities a public multi language document, then when they present the public document with the multi language form, the receiving authority should only ask for a public translation in exceptional circumstances.

Safeguards against fraudulent public documents

If the receiving authority has reasonable doubts about the authenticity of a public document submitted to it, it may check its authenticity with the issuing authority in the other EU country, through the Internal Market Information System (IMI).  This is a network that links public bodies in the European Economic Area. It was developed by the European Commission together with the countries of the European Union to speed up cross-border administrative cooperation.

What public documents are included in this ruling?

Many of the usual important public documents are included and we can comment, however
it is important to note that the regulation addresses the authenticity of public documents,
but not the recognition of their legal effects in another EU country.

The recognition of the jurisdictive effects of a public document continue being regulated by the national legislation of the European country in which the citizen presents the document. So they decide if it is acceptable or not.


It will take a while for this new regulation to come into practice as it involves public institutions in different countries of the EU adopting new forms, however in the future, if provided with the correct paperwork the the Spanish authorities will not be able to demand an apostille on a public document issued in another State of the European Union, for matters such as birth, death, change of name, marriage, divorce, adoption and many others.

However, the EU Regulation 2016/1191 has come into force prior to Brexit, and we have yet to see what will be agreed in whatever Bill (if there is one) is accepted. However it might not be able to work unles there is an equal arrangement both ways, so UK citizens may not be able to use this regulation and may have to continue obtaining translations and apostilles etc. and suffering the necessary delays as well as those doing the opposite in the UK.

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