1. Accessing documents
- 1.1. After a search, how can I view the text of a document in the results screen?
- 1.2. Why can’t I view the complete text (including images, tables, graphics) of certain documents?
- 1.3. I can't find the document I'm looking for. What can I do?
- 1.4. Where can I find or order EU publications other than the Official Journal?
- 1.5. Where can I obtain printed copies of the Official Journal of the European Union?
- 1.6. How can I access the consolidated legislation?
- 1.7. I can't find SEC documents anymore.
- 1.8. I am looking for the documents of public interest previously available on EUR-Lex. Where can I find them?
- 1.9. I am looking for a recent document, but I cannot find it on EUR-Lex. How often is the database updated?
- 1.10. What is a permanent link and how do I use it?
- 1.11. Where can I find invitations to tender (European public procurement)?
- 1.12. What are Celex numbers composed of?
- 1.13. What are COM, JOIN, SEC and SWD documents?
2. Website content
- 3.1. Are documents available in all the official languages of the European Union?
- 3.2. I am looking for the legislative texts in the languages of the new Member States. Where can I find them?
- 3.3. Why are certain Bulgarian (Romanian) characters not correctly displayed on the contents page of the Official Journal or in HTML files?
- 3.4. Which EU documents can I find in Irish?
4. Website management
- 4.1. Where can I address my queries?
- 4.2. Who manages the database?
- 4.3. Is registration required to access the site?
7. Licence holders
- 8.1. What is consolidation? What legal acts does it include?
- 8.2. Which legal acts do you consolidate?
- 8.3. When usually is the consolidated version of a legal act available?
- 8.4. What's the meaning of the abbreviations (B, M, A, C) in consolidated versions?
- 8.5. What is the meaning of the header of a consolidated act?
1. Accessing documents
There are two possibilities while the various document formats (PDF, html, TIFF, MS WORD, etc.) are still being uploaded to EUR-Lex:
- click on the second option entitled ‘Bibliographic notice + text (bilingual display)’ to go straight to the text.
- select the ‘Bibliographic notice’ option, then on the following screen check ‘Text’ and click on ‘Go’ to display the text. The text will appear at the bottom of the screen, so it is important to scroll down.
Both options lead you to a screen offering the choice of displaying the document simultaneously in two languages. This feature corresponds to the double visualisation html which you may have known in CELEX.
Because certain EUR Lex documents are available in html format only, which for technical reasons does not allow images, tables or graphics.
EUR Lex contains documents in doc, html, PDF and TIFF formats. PDFs, docs and TIFFs can contain images, tables and graphics.
EUR Lex contains a PDF version (complete texts with all graphics) of every OJ and COM document published since 1998. Documents published before 1998 are gradually being scanned and uploaded in PDF format.
Are you looking for a legal document? Ask yourself when it was published in the OJ.
If the document was published in the OJ before 1998, it may not appear in EUR Lex yet, but will eventually because all OJ and COM documents from before 1998 are being fed gradually into the database.
Are you looking for a document other than a legal document? Try searching in the document registers of the Parliament, Council and Commission.
1.4. Where can I find or order EU publications other than the Official Journal?
EU bookshop is an online bookshop giving access to publications from the EU institutions, agencies and other bodies. In addition to the online bookshop, this service will offer an online catalogue and archive of all EU publications. EU bookshop will allow users to search for EU publications, download PDF versions and order paper copies, if available.
You can take out an annual subscription (700–800 issues) or order individual copies. Certain specialised annexes are available to subscribers on request at no extra charge.
For subscriptions, please contact our sales network:
For individual copies please send your order to this e-mail address.
Via the simple search page
- To search by document number, click 'Consolidated text'.
- To search by CELEX number, choose ‘search by CELEX number’, type 0 (zero) + year (4 digits) + R (for regulation), L (for directive) or D (for decision), followed by the number of the act (4 digits). You can also access this search directly in the left menu.
For example, to obtain the consolidated version of Regulation No 1 of the Council of 1958, enter 01958R0001.
Via our directories
- Directory of European Union consolidated legislation: click on ‘Consolidated legislation’ in the left menu and select the area that you are interested in. If the original act has been consolidated, a link to the last consolidated version is displayed.
- Directory of European Union legislation in force: click on ‘Legislation in force’ in the left menu and select the area that you are interested in. If the original act has been consolidated, a link to the consolidated version is displayed. If it has been the object of several amendments, the various consolidated versions are available.
SEC documents are published with a new identifier SWD from January 2012 on (their CELEX code remains 5 SC). You can find them via search by document number or by clicking 'Preparatory acts' in the left menu and then SEC and SWD documents. In the future, the SEC identifier will only be used for internal documents of the European Commission, which are not published on EUR-Lex.
SWD documents are published in one language, apart from the summaries of impact assessments, which are published in all the official languages of the EU.
1.8. I am looking for the documents of public interest previously available on EUR-Lex. Where can I find them?
Documents of public interest are documents in which the European Commission expresses its point of view on a question of general interest for the European Community. These documents are published as COM documents. There are two ways of accessing them from the home page:
- select the 'Preparatory acts' collection, then click on 'COM documents';
- select 'Simple search', then 'Preparatory acts' category and limit your search to 'Commission communications'.
We plan to offer a specific 'Documents of public interest' collection in the future.
1.9. I am looking for a recent document, but I cannot find it on EUR-Lex. How often is the database updated?
EUR-Lex is updated daily.
The Official Journal is uploaded in PDF early the same morning as its publication on paper.
Contents are then processed for their individual inclusion in the database which involves detailed legal and bibliographic analysis. Even though individual documents can be loaded the very same day of publication accompanied with a limited number of analytical data (title and publication reference), the complete set of analytical data is loaded within three working days. This explains why there is a short time lapse between the appearance of the Official Journal itself and the subsequent availability of the individual acts for searching.
The frequency of updates of other documents varies due to their being provided by different sources.
1.10. What is a permanent link and how do I use it?
The permanent link allows users to bookmark the address of a bibliographic notice of a document for future quick access. The address you see in the address bar of your browser is dynamic and should not be bookmarked.
There are two simple ways to create a permanent link:
- 1. You can position the mouse cursor on ‘Permanent link’, then right-click and select 'Add to favourites' or a corresponding action; or
- 2. You can click on ‘Permanent link’ and bookmark the following page.
The bookmark name appears by default, but you can change it according to your needs.
Invitations to tender can be found in the S series of the Official Journal of the European Union. It is accessible on the TED website (Tenders Electronic Daily).
The Celex number is the unique identifier of each document in EUR-Lex, regardless of language.
It is composed as follows: SyyyyT(T)nnn(n)
|S||-- 1 character for the sector (see list below)|
|yyyy||--------- 4 digits for the year (usually the year of adoption)|
|T(T)||------------------- 1 or 2 characters for the document type (see list below)|
|nnn(n)||----------------------- 4 digits (usually) for the document number.|
For example, document 32008R1338 is:
- a sector 3 document (secondary legislation): 32008R1338
- from 2008: 32008R1338
- a regulation: 32008R1338
- published in the OJ under number 1338: 32008R1338
|1||Treaties||5||Preparatory acts||9||Parliamentary questions|
|2||International agreements||6||Case law||0||Consolidated versions of sector 3 documents|
|3||Secondary legislation||7||National implementing measures||E||EFTA documents|
|4||Complementary legislation||8||National case law||C||Other documents published in the OJ C|
Main types of document in each sector
|Sector 3||Sector 5||Sector 6|
|L = directives||PC = legislative proposals by the Commission
|C = conclusions of the advocate-general|
|R = regulations||DC = other COM documents||J = judgment by Court of Justice|
|D = decisions||SC = SEC documents||O = order of the Court of Justice|
Please feel free to also consult a more explicit document [PDF - 654KB] regarding CELEX numbers, including many examples. This document has been compiled in July 2011, and it is available in English only.
For treaties, the last 3 digits are the number of the article - e.g. 11957E086 is article 86 of the EEC treaty (1957). Consolidated versions of treaties are indicated by the year of consolidation.
Celex numbers for international agreements give the publication date - e.g. document 21986A0331(01) was published in OJ L 86 on 31/03/1986. If several documents are published on the same day, only the number in brackets changes, e.g. 21986A0331(02).
For case law documents, the Celex number is based on the case number issued by the Court of Justice. The year is the year the case was opened.
Corrigenda have the same Celex number as the document they are amending, with R(xx) added at the end (xx being the number of the corrigendum). For example 32009L0164R(01) is the first corrigendum to directive 32009L0164. A corrigendum may concern one or more language versions, or even all of them.
Consolidated documents (sector 3 type) have the same Celex number as the basic act, except they are sector "0" instead of "3". They are followed by the date when the last amendment entered into force (see FAQ 8.1)
Documents with the identifier COM, JOIN, SWD or SEC are preparatory acts (sector 5).
JOIN and SWD are new document identifiers introduced in January 2012 by the Secretariat General of the Commission.
The changes do not concern documents adopted before 2012.
|Sector||Author||Descriptor||Type of document|
|5||EC||PC||COM: Proposals and other acts adopted in the framework of a legislative procedure|
|EC||DC||COM: Other COM documents: communications, recommendations, reports, white papers, green papers|
|EC and HR||JC||JOIN: Joint proposals, communications, reports, white papers and green papers adopted by the Commission and the High Representative|
|EC or EC and HR||SC||SWD: Staff and joint staff working documents (impact assessments, summaries of impact assessments, staff working papers). Staff working documents had the identifier SEC prior to 2012. SEC will not be used anymore in the future.|
EC: European Commission, HR: High Representative
To learn more about document types and their identifiers, see our table "Types of documents in EUR-Lex".
2. Website content
2.1. What documents can be found in EUR-Lex?
The database covers many types of texts produced mostly by the institutions of the European Union, but also by member countries, EFTA, etc.
The content is divided into sectors; 1 – Treaties, 2 – International agreements, 3 – Legislation, 4 – Complementary legislation, 5 – Preparatory acts, 6 – Case-law, 7 – National implementing measures, 8 – References to national case-law concerning EU law, 9 – Parliamentary questions, 0 – Consolidated legislation, C - Other documents published in the Official Journal C series, E – EFTA documents.
For a detailed overview go to: Types of documents in EUR-Lex
2.2. How many documents are there in EUR-Lex?
The database covers documents from the very beginning of the European cooperation, from the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and the European Economic Community and Euratom in 1957 onwards. It includes some 467000 references in several languages, 2815000 texts in total. An average of 12000 documents are added each year.
The linguistic coverage is greater for the four official languages of the founding Member States, that is Dutch, French, German and Italian. For the other languages you will find translations of the legislation in force at the time of the accession of the country in question and the texts adopted after this date. Some of the texts, particularly the oldest, are therefore not available in the languages that were added during the later accessions: English and Danish; Greek; Spanish and Portuguese; Finnish and Swedish; Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Slovak and Slovene; and more recently Bulgarian and Romanian. See also 3.2.
From the 1 January 2007 Irish (GA) is one of the 23 official languages of the European Union. For practical reasons and on a transitional basis, the institutions of the European Union are not bound by the obligation to draft, translate and publish all acts, including judgments of the Court of Justice, in the Irish language. However, this does not apply to Regulations adopted jointly by the European Parliament and the Council. The operation of this provision will be reviewed on a regular basis, to determine whether it is still needed.
The Constitution and certain Treaties have also been published in Irish. These texts are available on the website in the 'Treaties' collection.
See also 3.2.
3.2. I am looking for the legislative texts in the languages of the new Member States. Where can I find them?
Bulgaria and Romania (enlargement 2007)
The websitesite offers access to:
- the daily editions of the Official Journal of the European Union in Bulgarian and Romanian since 1 January 2007;
- the volumes of the Special Edition of the Official Journal already published which contain the secondary law in force on 1 January 2007 in the two new official languages;
- and the provisional versions of the texts not yet published in the Official Journal Special Edition.
EU 10 (enlargement 2004)
The website offers access to:
- the daily editions of the Official Journal of the European Union in Czech, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Slovak and Slovenian since 1 May 2004;
- the volumes of the Special Edition of the Official Journal already published which contain the secondary law in force on 1 May 2004 in the nine new official languages;
On an exceptional and transitional basis, the institutions of the European Union are not bound by the obligation to draft all acts in Maltese and to publish them in that language in the Official Journal of the European Union. Until 1 May 2007, only regulations adopted jointly by the European Parliament and the Council have to be published in the Official Journal in Maltese.
3.3. Why are certain Bulgarian (Romanian) characters not correctly displayed on the contents page of the Official Journal or in HTML files?
The problem is due to the absence of those characters in the fonts installed on your PC. Please, refer to the support pages of your operating system for an updated version of these fonts.
If, nevertheless, the problem persists please contact the EUR-Lex Helpdesk at the following address:
Since 1 January 2007, Irish (GA) is one of the 23 official languages of the European Union. For practical reasons and on a transitional basis, only key legislation adopted jointly by the European Parliament and the Council is available in Irish. This means that, in general, there is no complete edition of an Official Journal in Irish. Certain treaties however have been published in Irish. These texts are available on our website in the 'Treaties' collection.
The current practical arrangement is reviewed every five years. It will stay in force at least until the end of 2016.
For more information see:
See, also, 3.1 and 3.2.
4. Website management
The database is managed by the Publications Office of the European Union which acts in the name of all the institutions. The institutions participate regularly in the developments of the database through different committees and working parties. A working party of the Council, to which also delegates of the Member States take part, is regularly informed about the management and the developments of the database.
Registration to the website is not mandatory, but this free-of-charge feature allows you to set your preferred languages: your main language as well as other languages in which you wish to view documents not available in your main language. You can choose up to three languages. You can also set the preferred number of documents to be displayed per page. Use the free registration link to define or change your profile.
LexAlert is an automatic service for the notification of new documents uploaded to EUR-Lex.
You can receive notifications by RSS or e-mail advising you that a new document has been uploaded to EUR-Lex in a field of particular interest to you. You can choose from predefined alerts or create your own.
If you would like to subscribe to this service send an email to: email@example.com
For more information and a step by step description on how to use the service, please have a look at this presentation
- Introduction to LexAlert [EN] (pdf) [725KB].
Precise instructions for establishing links to the site are given in the help page How to create links to documents on EUR-Lex.
7. Licence holders
EU law from EUR-Lex is also available under licence from third parties. The licence holder may deliver the licensed information as a product or service.
Data are updated daily via a FTP server, in XML format. A user ID and a password are needed.
Advantages of a licence service:
- access in bulk to data, provided directly by the Publications Office,
- server (FTP) and format (XML) allowing the licence holder to handle the data,
- the customer is informed if new data is uploaded: updates are available on a regular basis,
- automatic authorisation to reproduce EUR-Lex data.
Companies that wish to know the terms and conditions of a EUR-Lex licence agreement can request a complete file, including terms and conditions, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Consolidation consists of the integration in a legal act of its successive amendments and corrigenda. Several legal texts initially and officially published in different issues of the Official Journal of the European Union are thus combined as a 'consolidated family' in one easy-to-read document in which you can find the current status of the EU law.
If any corrigendum is published after the last amending act was incorporated, we will consolidate it immediately, unless it provides only a minor change. In the last case it will be included into the next consolidation.
The Publications Office of the European Union consolidates EU regulations, directives and decisions. However, we do not consolidate legal acts which will be in force for only a short time. Minor corrigenda in a few languages are included in consolidation with the next modifier.
Consolidation is done as soon as a legislative act is modified. On average the consolidated version is available in EUR-Lex within 4 weeks after the publication of a modifier in the Official Journal of the European Union.
They indicate the type of an act:
- B = basic act
- M = modifier
- A = Accession Treaty
- C = corrigendum
The header looks as follows:
1991L0414 — EN — 01.02.2011 — 028.001 — 5
- First digits are the CELEX number of the consolidated act;
- The 2 letters represent the language code;
- The date is the day of entry into force of the last amendment introduced in the act;
- The following digits represent the sequence number of the consolidated version of a legal act;
- The last digit is the page number.