International hallmark of official documents


24 / Sep

Many government agencies place strict requirements on documentation obtained from another Member State, such as a death certificate or a marriage certificate. It must contain all signatures and stamps and be translated into the official language of the Member State where the document will be used, stamped with an Apostille. This hallmark is the ultimate proof to foreign governments that a document is genuine.

However, the apostille costs time and money, so it is an obstacle to the European free market of people and goods. Little by little, the European authorities are trying to make the application of this hallmark more flexible.

In 2016, European Regulation 2016/1191, of 6 July 2016, entered into force, under which certain public documents do not need to be legalized, and therefore do not require an apostille. This is an amendment to the 1961 Hague Convention, under which the legalization procedure within the European Union was replaced by a stamp and / or apostille.

The idea behind these exceptions is to ease the internal market of the European Union. When no additional formalities are required to submit documentation abroad to the public or private authorities, it becomes easier for European residents to perform acts in another Member State, such as registering the marriage in the Member State to which you are going moving, or accepting the estate of a great aunt in Italy.

The exception only applies to a certain number of public documents. These documents may have been issued by government agencies, notaries or the courts. It concerns the following documents:

-Birth, proof life or death
-Marriage, divorce, registered partnership and dissolution thereof
-Parentage, adoption

Absence of criminal record (only when issued by the Member State of origin for the Member State of residence)

For many of these documents, the European legislator has produced standard forms, in all European languages, so that a certified translation is no longer necessary.

In addition, there are individual European regulations that regulate more or less the same recognition of other documents or certificates, including, for example, Enforceable Judgments or the European Declaration of Inheritance.

In all other cases, an apostille and sworn translation remains necessary, as long as the legislation of the Member State of destination so requires. An apostille will therefore have to be placed on a power of attorney signed abroad for use in Spain and if it is not drawn up in two languages, a sworn translation will have to be added.

No apostilles need to be requested for sworn or certified translations of the excepted documents, as long as the translator is registered as a sworn translator in the country where he / she works. All Member States will have to accept these translations, under the Regulation.


Selena Escandell Beutick