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Regulation on recognition of public  documents between EU member states

European Union law

Although the Regulation on recognition of public documents between member states of the  European Union has been in force since 15 August 2016, it has only been applied since 16  February 2019

The application of the regulation, which is mandatory in all respects and directly applicable in all  member states, promotes the free circulation of certain public documents. 

Under the regulation, a number of bureaucratic procedures will be abolished 

• The requirement of the certification mark (the apostille) expires. Public documents (e.g. a  birth certificate, a notarised marriage certificate, a court decision) and certified copies  thereof issued by the authorities of one EU country must be accepted as authentic by the  authorities of another EU country, without the need for an apostille. 

The procedure with apostille involves placing an Apostille or endorsement on a public  document, or an extension thereof, as proof of the authenticity of the signature on public  documents issued in one of the countries party to the Hague Convention, of 5 October 1961,  abolishing the requirement of legalisation of foreign public acts valid in another country party to  this Convention. 

Documents issued in one of the contracting countries and bearing an Apostille should therefore  be accepted as authentic in another contracting country, without the need for any other  authentication mark. 

The obligation for citizens to present simultaneously an original public document  and a certified copy of it is abolished; where an EU country allows the presentation of  a certified copy of a public document instead of the original, its authorities must accept a  certified copy made in the EU country where the public document was issued; 

• under the regulation, the obligation for citizens to provide a translation of their public  document is abolished; if the public document is not drawn up in one of the official  languages of the EU country requesting the document, citizens can request from the  authorities a multilingual model form, available in all EU languages; this can be attached  to their public document in order to avoid translation work; when a citizen produces a  public document together

with a multilingual model form, the receiving authority may require a translation of the  public document only in exceptional circumstances; as not all multilingual model forms are  issued in all EU countries, citizens can check here which model forms are issued in their  EU country; 

• if the authorities of the receiving EU country require a certified translation of the public  document presented by the citizen, they must accept a certified translation made in an  EU country. 

safeguards against falsified public documents 

• If a receiving authority has legitimate doubts about the authenticity of a public document  presented to it, it will be able to check its authenticity with the issuing authority in the other  EU country via the existing IT platform, the Internal Market Information System – IMI). 

Which public documents does the regulation cover? 

It is important to note that the regulation covers the authenticity of public documents, but does not  guarantee that their legal effects will be recognised in another EU country. The recognition of the  legal effects of a public document remains dependent on the national law of the EU country  where the citizen submits the document. 

‘Public documents’ means documents issued by a public authority, such as: 

• documents issued by a judicial authority or a judicial officer; 

• administrative records; 

• notarial deeds; 

• official statements placed on private documents; 

• diplomatic and consular documents. 

This means that the Spanish government cannot require an apostille for a public  document issued in another European Union member state, provided that the purpose of  that document is related to the following: 

• birth; 

• are alive; 

• death; 

• name; 

• marriage (including ability to marry and marital status); 

• divorce, legal separation and annulment of marriage; 

• registered partnership (including the ability to enter into a registered partnership and  registered partnership status); 

• dissolution of a registered partnership, legal separation or annulment of a registered  partnership;

• pedigree; 

• adoption; 

• residence and/or domicile; 

• nationality; 

• absence of a criminal record; 

• the right to vote and stand in municipal and European Parliament elections. 

Note: The content of this article is purely informative. Each case should be studied individually,  taking into account the regulations in force at the time. Source: European e-Justice Portal 

Don’t take risks, always contact a lawyer. All practising lawyers in Spain must be registered with  a Bar Association. For your safety, you can check this at: servicios…/censo-de-letrados/ 

Nathalie Zanolie 

Lawyer (registered with the Tenerife Bar Association with registration number 3.033 – Ilustre  Colegio de Abogados de Santa Cruz de Tenerife ICATF).

Glossary of this month’s article Apostilla: Apostille 

Actas notariales: Notarial Deeds  

Divorcio: Divorce Nacimiento: Birth 

Filiación: Pedigree



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