Verification of foreign public documents for the purpose of immigration proceeding in the Czech Republic

Due to the necessity to attach a special verification clause to some foreign documents, immigration proceedings in the Czech Republic are lengthy for foreigners from numerous countries. The following article reveals how the certification of foreign public documents works and in which cases it is not necessary to have these documents verified.

Within the immigration proceeding, foreign nationals seeking residence permits in the Czech Republic have to provide certain documents to Czech authorities. The list of these documents usually includes foreign public documents, i.e. documents issued by public authorities (e.g. courts or other bodies) of another state. In most cases, they include the criminal record and birth or marriage certificate. However, before attaching these foreign documents issued by another state to the application for residence in the Czech Republic, it is necessary to check if the document is subject to the obligation to provide an additional higher-order certification from a superordinate authority of one or both states. The next steps can be divided into three categories:

1. No verification needed

In the past years, the Czech Republic has concluded bilateral agreements with some states in civil and family matters. Thanks to the agreements, the documents issued by the authorities of these states have evidentiary power of public documents in the Czech Republic and can be used within proceedings before Czech authorities without having to provide another verification. There are almost 40 contracting states; most of them are the former Eastern Bloc countries or countries of significant historical economic cooperation.

In addition, Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 of the European Parliament and of the Council came into effect in February 2019, based on which a limited range of public documents issued in the EU states has been determined to be exempted from any form of verification and similar formalities needed for further acceptance and use within the EU. It should be noted that the regulation relates only to documents on civil statuses in terms of the regulation, such as birth, the fact that the person is alive, death, marriage, registered partnership, domicile or residence or no criminal record. In the case of the criminal record, the regulation relates only to situations where the EU citizen applies for the record in a state they are a citizen of. Consideration should also be given to the fact that all documents issued in a foreign language have to be provided along with their certified Czech translation or a special multi-lingual form created for the purpose of this regulation.

2. Verification (apostille) needed

In 1954, a group of Western European countries concluded the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents known as the Hague Convention. Since 1961, 120 states have already acceded to this convention (including the Czech Republic) that introduced the term “apostille“, i.e. a special verification clause that serves to certify the authenticity of a signature and stamp on a document of the issuing state to be used abroad. In such a case, the document does not have to be verified by the recipient state in which it shall be used. A list of offices in all signatory countries can be found on the webpage of the Hague Conference on Private International Law. It is worth mentioning that the apostille concept is not aimed at verification of the content of the provided document. It solely confirms the authenticity of the official stamp and signature in the public document. The apostille itself thus does not guarantee acceptance by Czech authorities.

3. Super-legalization needed

Foreign public documents that have to be provided to the Czech authorities may be issued by an authority of a country not being the Hague convention’s signatory country and not having concluded a bilateral agreement on legal assistance with the Czech Republic. These are mainly African and Middle Eastern countries as well as the People’s Republic of China or Canada. In the case of public documents issued by these countries, it is essential to have the document verified by the respective higher authority of the issuing country (mostly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the foreign state) that verifies the authenticity of the signature and stamp of the issuing authority. Subsequently, the Czech side (this step is usually done by the respective embassy of the Czech Republic in the given foreign state) issues the highest verification – the so-called super-legalization. The document super-legalized this way is ready for use in the Czech Republic.

An incorrect or insufficient verification of foreign public documents may result in significant delays in the relocation process of foreign employees to the Czech Republic. If you are not sure if a document should be verified and how, contact us and we will gladly examine the situation for you and help with the verification itself or the communication with foreign authorities.

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