New rules to simplify the requirements for the submission of certain official documents in the European Union come into force on 16 February 2019. The changes were introduced by Regulation 2016/1191 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2016. The aim of the changes is to promote the free movement of people within the Union by reducing the administrative burden and formality and reducing the related costs of the citizens.
Under the new rules, official documents issued in one EU country will be considered as authentic in another EU country without the need for such documents to be authenticated by an apostille seal. Formal documents covered by the regulation govern the civil status as: birth, death, marriage, registered partnership, divorce, origin, adoption, but also documents attesting to the place of residence, domicile, lack of court history and electoral rights.
The new rules will only apply to the official documents explicitly mentioned in the Regulation. Endorsements and apostille are still required for other documents, including those relating to the legal status of legal entities. However, the European Commission plans to extend the range of documents to be recognized under the simplified procedure, with the documents relating to legal persons coming soon.