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The International Commission on Civil Status (ICCS), an intergovernmental organisation consisting of 15 member states, intends to facilitate the cross-border exchange of information regarding civil status data between registrars. Since its foundation in 1948, the ICCS organization has developed 33 conventions, written 9 recommendations to its member states and compiled documentation on legislation and case-law of the member states.

In the context of the active conventions, specific document templates have been formulated in order to facilitate the harmonized document creation by the member states. These templates guide the document completion since they impose:

  1. a specific structure,
  2. specific validation/business logic that should accompany the document completion, and
  3. a specific way of rendering the document according the language of the sender/receiver.

Since the beginning of the template generation process, a lot of aspects targeting interoperability are taken into consideration. One of these aspects is multilingualism. In order to overcome the language barrier, which is a critical issue, ICCS has introduced a coded system where each literal that is rendered in the documents is accompanied by a code that can be translated to all languages of ICCS using a translation matrix, which is attached to every generated form.

Another aspect of interoperability relates to the legal consensus of the document’s context. Every convention contains the minimum set of mandatory fields that must be filled in order for this form to be valid.


One of the conventions drawn up by the ICCS, Convention 16, concerns the issue of multilingual extracts from Civil Status Records. Convention 16 was ratified by 10 countries: Belgium, Spain, France, Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey and Austria.

Moreover, Convention 16 enables the exchange of Civil Status Certificates extracts concerning the birth, death and marriage registration. To enable the electronic exchange of these extracts, XML schemas were developed.

Other Conventions also enable the electronic exchange of documents described with XML Schemas. These concern Convention 3 on the international exchange of information relating to civil status, Convention 20 on the issue of a certificate of legal capacity to marry and Convention 26 on the international exchange of information relating to civil status.

The XML schemas not only serve as a framework for encompassing civil status information that is exchanged between different offices. They also serve as a framework for mapping XML representations of national systems to and from the ICCS representation, thus transforming the data using XSL transformations.

e-Document engineering method

  • Methodology: The used methodology is straightforward:
    • From each convention, all fields (and their groups) have been extracted
    • The respective translation codes have been converted in enumerations
    • An XSD representation for each Convention has been created using mandatory restrictions,  datatype restrictions (e.g. max Firstname.length=120characters), etc.
    • A Web Form that is able to bind the aforementioned XSD has been generated per Convention
  • Library of data elements: No library of common data elements has been used. The conventions and documents, on which the XSD Schemas are based, predate the exchange of electronic documents and libraries of data elements.
  • e-Document engineering tools: The XML Spy tool was used for creating the XML Schemas.
  • Representation technique: All extracts of Civil Status Certificates are represented as XML schemas (containing specific placeholders for security purposes).

Detailed information

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Geographical coverage
United Kingdom,


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