(Partial) abolition of the apostille legalization duty

Effective as of 16 February 2019, certain public documents no longer need to be furnished with apostille within EU.

On 16 February 2019, Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 of 6 July 2016 on promoting the free movement of citizens by simplifying the requirements for presenting certain public documents in the European Union and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012 (the “Apostille Regulation”, hereinafter referred to as the “Regulation”) has come into force.

According to this Regulation, public documents and certified copies are exempt from any kind of legalization and similar formalities. This simplification, however, does not apply to all public documents but merely to a subset, an exhaustive list of which is given in the Regulation. Specifically, it concerns birth and death certificates, a record of one’s name, marriage certificates, records of divorce or of entering into (or dissolving) a registered partnership, parenthood, adoption, nationality, a clean criminal record, or confirmation of the fact that a given person is among the living. The Regulation also covers official documents such as notarial records.

Conversely, public documents issued by third-country authorities are not covered by the Regulation, and neither are the certified copies of such third-country documents furnished by the authorities in one or another EU member state.

Newly, the public authorities may no longer demand that the citizen of another member state present a translation of the public documents which prove one or another of the above-mentioned facts, as long as the public documents are accompanied by a multi-lingual standard form (whose template is given in the Annex to the Regulation). However, the Regulation gives the foreign public authority some leeway by saying that it is ultimately a matter of that authority’s judgment whether the information in the multi-lingual form (that was submitted along with the relevant public document) is sufficient for the further processing of the public document.

In practice, this means that a German citizen who has been appointed as managing director in a Czech company merely needs to present his or her Führungszeugnis (certificate of good standing), along with the multilingual form, in order to attain entry in the Czech Commercial Register. The extract from the German “criminal register” thus need not be apostilled, nor be translated.

The Regulation in its current manifestation does not apply to extracts from companies registers, given that these extracts do not serve as documentary proof of any of the aforementioned facts. Commercial Register extracts therefore still need to be furnished with an apostille (and be translated) if they are to be presented in another EU member state.

However, the European Commission has been tasked to review by 16 February 2021 at the latest whether it may be appropriate and expedient to broaden the purview of the Regulation so that it will also apply to public documents concerning the legal form and the rules of representation of companies – which is to say, to extracts from the Commercial Register.

Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2016 


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