Foreign and Comparative Law Research Guide

Foreign law is the national (also referred to as domestic or internal) law of any country other than the United States and research methods will vary depending on the country you are researching. This guide provides starting points.

Foreign Constitutions

For most foreign jurisdictions, constitutional texts are relatively easy to locate and are often available in English translation.  Listed below are the best electronic resources and print resources for researching current and/or historical constitutions from jurisdictions around the world. 

Bear in mind that a handful of jurisdictions, most notably the United Kingdom, do not have written constitutions.  It's also worth noting that some foreign jurisdictions amend their constitutions much more frequently than the United States does, in part because the constitutional amendment process is less onerous. 

Electronic Resources

  • World Constitutions Illustrated
    This HeinOnline database includes the current constitution of nearly every country in the world in its original language(s), along with English translations for most non-English-speaking jurisdictions. The database also includes many historical constitutions, national constitutional histories, and direct links to scholarly commentary about constitutional law in specific jurisdictions that is available on HeinOnline.  For more information, download the Quick Reference Guide.
  • Constitute
    Developed by the Comparative Constitutions Project at the University of Texas and the University of Chicago, this free resource provides access to the full text of almost every national constitution currently in force.  For non-English speaking jurisdictions, the texts are provided in English translation.  All constitutional provisions are tagged by subject, making it easy to compare.  For more information, watch the following video tutorials:  Searching, Filtering, Comparing, Pinning.
    The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) maintains this free database of constitutional texts and selected national laws.  The link above redirects to the collection of constitutional texts.  Use the filters on the right to narrow by country and by topic (freedom of religion, for example).  Constitutional texts (usually the current, most recently amended versions) are displayed in their original language or in English translation (sometimes both).  Jurisdictional coverage:  Europe, the former Soviet republics in the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia, plus the U.S. and Canada.   
  • Political Database of the Americas:  Constitutions & Comparative Constitutional Study
    This free resource, developed by the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University in collaboration with the Organization of American States, provides access to current and historical constitutional texts from 35 jurisdictions in the Western Hemisphere, including some in English translation.  Note:  Content on this platform is in the process of being migrated to the new SIGLA database (see below for description).
  • States and Institutions of Governance in Latin America (SIGLA) (Beta version in development)
    When fully operational, this free database hosted by Georgetown University will enable users to access current and historical constitutional texts and amendments, selected legal codes, election data, and information about the executive and legislative branches of government for 20 jurisdictions in Latin America.  Use the menus on the Browse by Country page to select the desired jurisdiction and constitutional content.  Or use the Compare tool to compare constitutions from multiple jurisdictions.   Note:  Jurisdictional coverage is currently limited to Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.  Additional jurisdictions will be added over time.
  • International Constitutional Law Project (ICLP)
    This free resource, maintained by Prof. Axel Tschentscher of the Department of Public Law at the University of Bern, provides online access to constitutional texts from selected jurisdictions.  Constitutions written in languages other than English are provided in English translation.  An indexing system (still in development) will allow users to compare constitutional provisions by subject matter.  Consult the project information page for details.

Print & Microform Resources

  • Constitutions of the Countries of the World, Call No. K3157.A2 B54
    Constitutions of Dependencies and Territories, Call No. K3157.A2 B441 1998
    These loose-leaf print collections are updated regularly and include both current and prior constitutions, along with helpful commentary and bibliographies. Handy if you want to compare multiple versions of constitutions from multiple jurisdictions.
  • Constitutions of the World : 1850 to the Present, Call No. K3165 .C66 2002 Micro
    This microform collection is especially useful for historical research, as it includes a very comprehensive collection of prior constitutions that are no longer in force.