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International and European Laws

The use of international and European laws on private international law means needing to have a very precise knowledge of their field of application and the structuring rules that govern them. Although in the past these were primarily domestic, the private international law of European Union Member State now largely draws its sources from the European Union regulations and international conventions on private international law, especially those drafted during the Hague Conference.

There are currently about ten European Union regulations on private international law covering large swathes of private international law in Member States, especially in civil, commercial and family matters (see in particular Brussels IIa Regulation and Brussels II ter, the Maintenance regulation, the Rome III regulation, regulations in the Matrimonial property regimes and the property consequences of registered partnerships, the International succession regulation, etc.).

European regulations in private international law now form common private international law for Member States on a wide range of subjects. They replace the Member States’ national conflict of laws in the areas that arise in their material, time-related and territorial scope of applicability.

The growth in the number of international treaties and European regulations in private international law gives rise to conflicts in international conventions. Some European regulations organise their structure around other international agreements that focus on similar subjects, while others make no mention of them, which leads to uncertainties with regard to the applicable law in practice.

International standards, whether bilateral or multilateral, are also added to these European laws.

Due to the number of them, bilateral agreements signed by Member States with other Member States or third countries will not be presented here.

The main multilateral agreements and European Union regulations and directives applicable in private international law are listed here by subject.

In addition, international European standards on the protection of fundamental rights (European Convention on Human Rights, International Convention on the Rights of the Child, etc.) must not be forgotten. Due to their cross-disciplinary nature that is not specific to international law, they will not be mentioned in the following list, but it is vital to take them into account in private international law disputes.


Legal support, procedure and international exchange of information

Parental authority, guardianship and child abduction

Maintenance payments

Circulation of public documents and legislation


Civil status

  • International Convention of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees and Annexes
  • Vienna Convention of 24 April 1963 on Consular Relations
  • Paris Convention of 10 September 1964 on decisions rectifying civil status certificates
  • Athens Convention of 14 September 1966 relating to the establishment of death in certain cases
  • Paris Convention of 12 September 1974 introducing an international family record book
  • Vienna Convention of 8 September 1976 on the issue of multilingual extracts from civil-status records
  • Munich Convention of 5 September 1980 on the issue of a certificate of legal capacity to marry
  • Madrid Convention of 5 September 1990 on the recognition and updating of civil-status books
  • Paris Convention of 10 September 1998 on the issue of a life certificate
  • Lisbon Convention of 14 September 1999 on the issue of a certificate of nationality
  • Vienna Convention of 12 September 2000 on recognition of decisions recording a sex reassignment

Line of descent

  • Rome Convention of 14 September 1961 extending the competence of authorities empowered to receive declarations acknowledging natural children
  • Brussels Convention of 12 September 1962 on the establishment of maternal descent of natural children
  • Rome Convention of 10 September 1970 on legitimation by marriage
  • Munich Convention of 5 September 1980 on the voluntary acknowledgement of children born out of wedlock


  • Paris Convention of 10 September 1964 to facilitate the celebration of marriages abroad
  • Luxembourg Convention of 8 September 1967 on the recognition of decisions relating to the matrimonial bond

Surname and first name

  • Istanbul Convention of 4 September 1958 concerning changes of surnames and forenames
  • Berne Convention of 13 September 1973 on the recording of surnames and forenames in civil-status registers
  • Munich Convention of 5 September 1980 on the law applicable to surnames and forenames
  • Hague Convention of 8 September 1982 on the issue of a certificate of differing surnames
  • Antalya Convention of 16 September 2005 on the recognition of surnames

Refugees and stateless persons

Matrimonial property regime

Registered partnerships