EU: New Document Regulations & Visa Waiver Agreements

August 9, 2016

New Document Regulation Introduced for Public Documents

A new EU regulation has been introduced which will eradicate the need to authenticate public documents when an individual is submitting them to another EU country.

Regulation (EU) 2016/91, published on 26th July 2016, aims to promote free movement of citizens within the EU. The regulation will come into force on 15th August 2016, after which there will be a two and a half year period in which all EU member countries must adopt all necessary measures to accommodate the new rules. The regulations will not be enforceable until this period has passed.

Currently, most public documents require an apostille stamp to prove their authenticity, and countries can request that documents be translated into their language.

Under the new regulations, the apostille stamp will no longer be required for documents that concern:

  • Birth
  • A person being alive
  • Death
  • Name
  • Marriage, divorce, legal separation or marriage annulment
  • Registered partnership, dissolution/legal separation/annulment of a registered partnership
  • Parenthood
  • Adoption
  • Domicile and/or residence
  • Nationality
  • Absence of a criminal record
  • The right to vote and stand as a candidate in municipal elections/elections to the European Parliament.

Where a document is submitted to an EU country, under the new regulations the receiving country cannot request a translation of the document if it is already in one of the official languages of that country, or if it is in a non-official language adopted by that country.

In addition, a multilingual standard form has been introduced under the regulation. The form is issued in all EU languages, and will serve as a translation aid for documents that concern:

  • Birth
  • A person being alive
  • Death
  • Marriage and registered partnership
  • Domicile and/or residence
  • Absence of a criminal record

Any public document submitted with the relevant form attached will exempt it from translation.

In an effort to fight fraudulent documents following the removal of the authorising stamp, an online system has been developed using the existing Internal Market Information System (IMI), which is currently used in other areas of administration between EU countries.

Should any national authority have any doubts regarding a document”s authenticity, they will be able to verify this directly with the issuing EU country by liaising via the IMI system. There will also be a database of national example documents, which national authorities can use to compare any documents that are received.


Visa Waiver Agreements between the EU and Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu

The EU has signed short-stay visa waiver agreements with Kiribati (on 23rd June 2016), the Marshall Islands (on 28th June 2016) and Tuvalu (on 2nd July 2016). These bilateral agreements relate to Schengen Area member states, and will apply on a provisional basis until approved by the European Parliament.

These agreements bring the total number of nationalities that can enter the Schengen Area without the need for a visa to 58. Please see here for more information on the countries that qualify for the visa waiver.

The Schengen visa waiver is for short stays of up to 90 days within any 180 day period. This applies if you are visiting for tourism, business, journalism, sports, artistic performances, and intra-corporate training, but not for the purposes of carrying out a paid activity.

The Schengen Area consists of 22 European countries, all of which signed an agreement to abolish passports and any kind of border control at their mutual borders. Of the 28 existing EU member states, four countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania) are not currently part of the Schengen agreement but are obliged to, and wish to, join. The remaining two countries, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, opted out of joining the Schengen Area and are not obligated to join.

There are four countries that did not sign the Schengen agreement (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) and are instead part of the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA). The EFTA is a free trade region that works alongside the EU, and participates in the EU”s single market.

The visa waiver agreements signed with Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu will only apply to Schengen Area member states, and not to countries that have opted out or EFTA countries. However, EFTA countries are expected to sign equivalent agreements in each case.

For clarity, please see below the table of European countries and their status within the Schengen Area:

Should you require further information on any of the points in this article, please email us at [email protected].