Foreign legal gazettes are one of the central sources for locating foreign law- a term that generally refers to the domestic law of any country outside of the United States.

An official gazzette is a legal "newspaper" of a country that publishes the text of new legilsation, regulations, treaties, decisions of governmental bodies, and in some cases, court decisions. In countries with civil law systems, a law published in an official gazette will be the primary and authorative source of that law unless and until it is publised in a code. 

Foreign legal gazettes are now increasingly available online. Some are free and publicly available; others require a subscription to access. Sites that offer free online access often have search interfaces that are difficult or clunky to use. Usually, a researcher's best bet is to know the approximate date when the law was passed, and then browse chronillogically to read the text. 

If you are looking for a country's legal gazette, and want to know if it's available online and free to access, the simplest and fastest way to do so might be to visit the Law Library of Congress Nations of the World page.  Simply select your country of interest, then click on "Legislative" to determine the title of the gazette and whether there is an online version.

Another option is the Center for Research Libraries'  Official Gazettes and Civil Society Documentation collection, which makes available official gazettes and other governmental publications from select African and Persian Gulf nations.

If you are researching in the United States, and need to access a Foreign Gazette that is not freely available online, odds are you may have to visit the Law Library of Congress. The Law Library houses a collection of foreign gazettes dating back to the mid-19th century from more than 170 countries. 

If your research needs do indeed require you to go the Library of Congress, you can use their recently launched Foreign Legal Gazettes database, to discover which official gazettes are available at the library, and in what format (e.g. print, microform, or digitized on-site access).

For more questions on accessing foreign legal gazettes online, feel free to contact Sunil Rao, Foreign and International Law Librarian at the UW Law Library.

Submitted by Sunil Rao, on March 25, 2021

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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