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European Succession Certificate: What is it and How to Obtain It?

7 Jul 2023 - Probate - Min Read 3 min
European Succession Certificate: What is it and How to Obtain It?

The European Succession Certificate, better known as the European Succession Certificate (ESC) or CSE, was established with EU Regulation No. 650 of 2012 and was implemented in Italy with Law No. 161 of 2014, “Provisions on the European Succession Certificate.”

The certificate became necessary to address the overlapping bureaucracies of all the states involved in a cross-border succession.

What is the European Succession Certificate?

The European Succession Certificate is a document that attests, for the requesting party, their status as an heir, legatee, executor, or administrator of an estate located in a European country other than their own.

It is recognized in all European Union countries and replaces a series of different procedures in each affected country.

 Some non-European countries may accept it on a voluntary basis or based on international treaties.

The certificate has unlimited validity unless revoked or suspended by the competent authorities.

How to Obtain the European Succession Certificate?

To obtain the European Succession Certificate, it is necessary to submit an application to the competent authority in the country where the deceased resided or where the main inherited asset is located.

Specifically, the certificate can be requested from the court of the relevant EU country regarding the succession or by contacting another authority, usually a notary.

In Italy, the European Succession Certificate is issued by notaries.

The documentation required to apply for the ESC may vary from country to country but normally includes:

  • The death certificate
  • The birth certificate of the heir
  • A copy of the will (if it exists)
  • A list of the assets in the estate

The European Succession Certificate can also be requested while the testator is still alive if they wish to designate an executor or a succession administrator.

Benefits of the European Succession Certificate

The European Succession Certificate offers numerous benefits in the context of cross-border successions. To list a few:

  • Simplifies the succession process: A single certificate recognized in all EU countries streamlines all other procedures and reduces processing times.
  • Cost savings: By avoiding legal costs in multiple jurisdictions, expenses are limited to essential ones.
  • Legal certainty: The certificate provides legal proof of one’s status as an heir (or another role related to the succession), reducing the chances of disputes and litigation.
  • Automatic recognition: The certificate is recognized in all EU countries, avoiding any further legal proceedings.
  • Faster transfers: The certificate facilitates and expedites requests for accessing bank accounts or collecting funds designated to the deceased. It streamlines asset administration, payment of bequests, and the initiation of actions to protect the inheritance.

Situations Where the European Succession Certificate is Necessary

The European Succession Certificate is necessary in various situations, including:

  • When an heir needs to prove their status in a country different from their residence or where the death occurred.
  • When it is necessary to administer, dispose of, or divide the assets of the estate in different EU countries.
  • When designating a cross-border executor or succession administrator.

Procedure for Using the European Succession Certificate

Once the European Succession Certificate is obtained, it can be used to prove one’s status as an heir/legatee/executor.

The certificate must be presented to the competent authorities and financial institutions in the countries concerned.


The European Succession Certificate is not mandatory but proves useful for simplifying procedures related to cross-border successions within the European Union.

If you need more information on the subject, the attorneys of the Succession Department will be happy to assist you.

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Calogero Boccadutri

Calogero Boccadutri is the Managing Partner of Boccadutri International Law Firm. He has trial experience in Forex, Personal Injury and Administrative litigation.

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