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EU relaxes the apostille requirement on certain documents

In June 2016, the co-legislators adopted a regulation aimed at promoting the free movement of citizens by simplifying the requirements for presenting certain public documents in the European Union. It entered into force on 15 August 2016 and will apply from 16 February 2019.

The new rules are designed to simplify the requirements for cross-border use and acceptance of certain public documents in the European Union. The aim is thus to promote the free movement of citizens and a well-functioning single market for EU businesses.

It abolishes the apostille requirement and simplifies formalities with regard to certified copies and translations.

The areas covered by the regulation are as follows:

  • birth;

  • death;

  • name;

  • marriage, including capacity to marry and marital status;

  • divorce, legal separation or marriage annulment;

  • registered partnership, including capacity to enter into a registered partnership and registered partnership status;

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

  • parenthood, including adoption;

  • domicile and/or residence;

  • nationality;

  • absence of a criminal record.

In the areas covered by the regulation, when a citizen presents to the authorities of an EU country a public document issued by the authorities of another EU country, the receiving authorities cannot require that the document bear an apostille stamp (the apostille stamp is designed to prove the authenticity of a public document issued in a foreign country).

One practical use of this in Estonia is the case of requiring a document to prove the absence of a criminal record in the application of the "crypto licenses". In case of EU citizens the apostille is no longer necessary.

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