Litigation & arbitration /

Changes in the recognition of foreign official documents. Is it still necessary to obtain an apostille?

On February 16, 2019, Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 entered into force to promote the free movement of citizens by simplifying the requirements for submitting certain official documents in the EU. According to the name, the new regulation aims to facilitate the use of official documents drawn up abroad in the European Union, primarily by limiting the need to obtain authentication of documents (so-called apostille seals) and their translations, and the possibility of using their certified copies.

Documents exempt from having to obtain an apostille
Regulation 2016/1191 applies to official documents issued by the authorities of an EU country in accordance with its national law, such as administrative documents, notarial deeds, and judgments. It applies not only to the original documents but also to their copies prepared for compliance with the original by the authorized body of the country from which the document originated.

Fields covered by the exemption from obtaining an apostille

The documents indicated above are exempt from the necessity of any legalization (including an apostille) if they relate to:

  1. birth,
  2. staying alive,
  3. death,
  4. name and last name,
  5. marriage (including the ability to marry and marital status),
  6. divorce, separation or annulment of marriage,
  7. registered partnership, including the ability to enter a registered partnership and the status associated with a registered partnership,
  8. dissolution of a partnership, legal separation or annulment of a registered partnership,
  9. the origin of the child,
  10. adoption,
  11. the place of residence or place of stay,
  12. nationality,
  13. lack of entry in the criminal record,
  14. documents required for participation in local elections and the European Parliament.

ATTENTION! The exemption of the legalization of the document means that there is no need to confirm its authenticity, whereas it does not affect the recognition of legal effects related to its issuance, e.g. in the case of registration of partnerships concluded abroad.

Documents authenticated on the existing rules
The existing rules authenticate official documents originating from countries outside the EU, as well as their copies for compliance with the original prepared by EU countries. Legislative documents from Member States should also be legalized, but not falling within the abovementioned areas. For example, the obligation to obtain an apostille on documents regarding the legal status and representation of a company or other entrepreneur will not disappear. In the future, however, the Regulation reserves the right to extend its application to this and other areas as well.

Documents may continue to be affixed to the apostille at the request of the person concerned.

Using certified copies of documents
If it is sufficient in a Member State to use a certified true copy of an authentic document, it may not refuse to accept such a copy made in another Member State and request its original. Nor can it be requested to submit both the original and the certified true copy of the same document.

Facilitation of document translation
The ordinance requires that translations of official documents be accepted by a person authorized in one of the Member States by the other Member States. It also frees you from translating documents drawn up in one of the official languages ​​of the country in which it is submitted (or where it is expressly accepted). Some official documents, e.g. concerning births, deaths, staying alive and marriages will not require a translation if a multilingual standard form is attached to them. The condition of using a form instead of a translation of a document will, however, be conditioned on whether the authority to whom the public document is submitted recognizes that the information contained in the multilingual standard form is sufficient to give the case a case based on the official document.

The above changes may contribute to speeding up and reducing the costs of proceedings. It is expected that the facilities resulting from the Regulation will be extended to further areas of cases, including representation of companies and confirmation of qualifications. The benefits of the new regulation will be felt first of all by those who conduct inheritance proceedings or family matters abroad. Until now, they had to bear the costs of translating and affixing civil status documents to the authorities.

Author team leader DKP Legal anna szymielewicz
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