EU citizens moving to another member state will no longer have to go through the cumbersome and costly process of having public documents translated and certified, once new rules passed by the European Parliament on Thursday come into effect.
Around 13 million EU citizens live in member states other than their own, according to the European Commission. A common complaint relates to the costs and the bureaucratic hurdles involved in processing paperwork across borders.
From 2019, when the rules will apply fully, documents such as birth or marriage certificates issued by one member state must be accepted as authentic by another. Multilingual forms will be available in place of certified translations.
The vote marks a "first step towards reducing ... bureaucratic hurdles" for EU citizens living in another member state, said EU lawmaker Mady Delvaux, who shepherded the reform through parliament.
However, the new rules do not cover documents such as university diplomas or disability certificates. These could be included in two years' time, after a review of the system.
"This text is the first step in a long process," Delvaux added.
EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova welcomed Thursday's vote, and said the new rules will "help people move easily across the European Union."
To protect against fraud, under the new system authorities will be able to check the authenticity of public documents with the country that issued them.
The new rules will also cover death certificates, registered partnerships, proof of domicile and documents confirming the absence of a criminal record.