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On 16th February 2019, EU Regulation 2016/1191 (the “Regulation”) entered into force. Said Regulation is aimed at reducing bureaucracy  between the countries of the European Union. Specifically, the Regulation eliminates the need for obtaining the Hague Apostille and translating some public documents with the purpose of them taking effect in other countries of the European Union.

Before this Regulation entered into force, those citizens wanting to file a public document originating in their own country in other countries of the European Union, it was necessary to obtain a seal of authenticity known as the “Hague Apostille”, together with the translation of the document into the official language of the country where it was to take effect.

The new Regulation, however, simplifies the following procedures:

(1) The requirement for obtaining the apostille on public documents through the Hague Apostille is eliminated.

(2) The obligation to provide the original and a certified copy at the time of filing the documents is eliminated, and member countries should accept the certified copies only.

(3) The obligation of the citizen to provide a translation of certain public documents is eliminated. Instead the country issuing the document must provide a multilingual form in all of the languages of the European Union, thus the receiving authority may only require a translation under special circumstances.

(4) Should a sworn translation of the public document be required, the countries must accept a certified / sworn translation carried out in any country of the European Union.

In spite of the above, the authorities of the countries in question may verify the authenticity of the public documents with the authorities of the issuing country if the document filed generates any doubts regarding authenticity.

Nevertheless, the Regulation imposes the following limitations:

(a) A public document shall exclusively be understood as:

  1. Documents issued by a judicial body.
  2. Administrative documents.
  3. Notarial documents.
  4. Official certificates placed on private documents.
  5. Diplomatic and consular documents.

(b) The scope of application shall be restricted to:

  1. Areas wherein it is obligatory to issue a multilingual form: births, the fact that a person is alive, deaths, marriages, registered common-law relationships, address or residence, the absence of a police record.
  2. Other fields in which there is no obligation to issue a multilingual form: name, divorce, judicial separation or annulment of marriage, cancellation of the registration of a common-law relationship, judicial separation or annulment of a common-law relationship, parentage, adoption, nationality and the active and passive right to vote in local municipal elections as well as the elections of the European Parliament.

Although it is true that the obligations imposed by the Regulation are not applicable to all types of documents, neither are they applicable in all fields, their entry into force means a great leap for the simplification of the bureaucracy and the strict authenticity controls within the European Union, which means a great alleviation for law firms and other consultants who deal with official public documents especially for European documents.

For more information, please contact:

Pedro Blanco

Barcelona, 15th March 2019

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