How does sworn translation work? Everything you need to know

    Danilo Coviello

    In some circumstances, a certified translation might not be sufficient and a sworn translation may be required. Although sworn translations are not deemed necessary in the United Kingdom, you may need one if dealing with government agencies or legal authorities in another country such as Italy, France and Spain. 

    The sworn translation process is more involved than producing a certified translation as it requires a sworn translator to take an oath in front of a public official. We’ll take a look at what a sworn translation is, the process, documents that may require this type of translation, who can do this work and how much it costs.

    What is sworn legal translation?

    A sworn translation is a translation carried out by an officially accredited translator who takes an oath before a court that it is a true and accurate representation of the source document. 

    In countries where official bodies demand a sworn translation, the translated document is considered the legal equivalent of the original. This doesn’t apply to certified translations and is why civil law countries, France, Spain, and Germany for example, only accept a sworn translation. A certified translation accepted by official authorities, such as the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, is sufficient for use in the UK. 

    To be considered a sworn translation the document must:

    • Be translated by a qualified translator
    • Include a sworn statement carrying the translator signature and stamp
    • Be sworn in front of a public official or court 
    • Include the source document, translation and sworn statement, fixed together

    The sworn statement, which bears the translator stamp and signature, means that the translator accepts civil and criminal liability for the accurate translation of the document.

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    To remain valid as a sworn translation, the three documents must be permanently fixed together. If any part of the documentation is removed or lost then the translation loses it’s sworn status and is no longer held to be legally valid.

    Also read: What is the meaning of a sworn translation?

    What is the sworn translation process

    What is sworn translation

    The sworn translation process begins by establishing if the requesting authorities need a sworn translation. Sworn translations usually are requested by civil law (legal system) countries for official purposes. 

    You will need to find a professional translator with the necessary accreditation to carry out official translations. Espresso Translations has many translators around the world with the necessary qualifications and knowledge to carry out this type of translation project. 

    The translator will complete the translation required. Once they have proofread the translated document, the sworn translator will make an appointment with a court or public official to carry out the oath-taking. 

    This part of the sworn translation process varies depending on the specific requirements of different countries. However, in all countries, the translator must attach an affidavit or sworn statement to the translated document. The sworn statement must include the translator’s full name along with the designation ‘sworn translator’. This certification attests to the faithfulness of the translation to the source text and the measures taken by the translator to ensure accuracy. 

    On the day of the oath-taking, the translator must take the following documents with them to the court or notary office:

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    • Identity document to prove who they are
    • The source document
    • The translation
    • The affidavit or sworn statement

    The translator must sign and stamp the translated document. In some countries, authorities often require each page of the translation to be signed and stamped but not all jurisdiction rules require this. Included in the translator’s stamp is their unique certification and identification number. 

    The signed, stamped translation, original document and sworn statement are then all fixed together to form one legal document. Now, the translator swears in front of a public official that the translation is an accurate and true representation of the original text. The significance of this oath is in the legal weight that it confers on the translation.  

    As a result of the oath taken by the sworn translator, if the document is found to be inaccurate the translator can be held to have committed perjury. 

    The court official or notary public also signs and applies their seal to the translated document. It is now a sworn translation. 

    What documents typically need a sworn translation?

    Official documents which need to be translated for civil law countries will require sworn translations. Some of the most commonly requested sworn translations are documents used for identity such as:

    • Passports
    • Birth certificates
    • Death certificates
    • Divorce documents
    • Marriage certificates
    • Driver’s licence
    • Bank statements

    These may be required by visa and immigration services or legal entities in countries which only recognise sworn translations as having legal validity. 

    Other types of sworn translated documents include business contracts, academic diplomas and transcripts, legal rulings and employment documentation. Documents that require a quality translation but which don’t need to be sworn include medical records, personal documents and scientific papers. 

    If you need sworn translations, they must be carried out by an official translator with the correct, official certification. Espresso Translations is a highly repected translation agency with members who provide high levels of service for various types of content in different areas of the world. 

    How much does sworn translation cost?

    Factors influencing sworn translation

    The cost of a sworn translation from Espresso Translations starts at £55 plus VAT. Of course, there are certain factors which will influence the final price that you pay for your translated text such as:

    • Length of the document. Long documents such as academic transcripts will take more time to translate than something short such as a birth certificate. 
    • Language pair. If the language pair is common then the document can be translated quite quickly as many translators have expertise in pairs such as the English language and French, for example. Rare language pairs will take longer as it may be more difficult to find a translator who works in those languages. 
    • Terminology. A technical translation or scientific translation which contains specific and complex terms will need careful attention to detail and this can take longer to process. 
    • Graphics. Certain documents may have a graphic element which will require the skills of a graphic expert. 
    • Oath swearing. There will be a fee for the oath swearing which is payable to the court or public body by the translator. 
    • Expediency. If you need the translation done urgently then there may be an extra fee.
    • Postage cost. When you need a physical copy as well as, or instead of, a digital translation there is a £5 shipping fee. 

    This list is not exhaustive and each translation will have unique and specific requirements. That’s why it is always best to request a quotation. Espresso Translations can provide you with a detailed and precise quote for your translation project within 24 hours so you know exactly what you are paying for and we guarantee that there are no hidden costs.

    In case you require an apostille or legalisation, the cost will be higher. An apostille is recognised by all countries who are members of the Hague Convention of 1961. 

    If you need a sworn translator, contact us and send a digital copy of the document to be translated along with any specific requests and a required turnaround time. Once you accept our quote, your translations generally can be done within 48 hours. Extra time should be allowed for rare language combinations and particularly long or complex documents.

    Also read: How much does sworn translation cost?

    Cost of translation in uk

    What is an officially sworn translator?

    An officially sworn translator is someone who has official approval, qualifications and accreditation in the jurisdiction in which they work to translate official documents and swear to their authenticity in front of a court or public body. 

    Only a qualified and recognised sworn translator can translate documents and swear an oath to attest to a translation’s veracity and faithfulness to the source document. Even if you or someone you know has a Master’s degree in linguistics it’s not possible to produce a sworn translation without the required qualifications.

    How do you become a sworn translator?

    In some countries, such as France, sworn translators are included on an official register while in other jurisdictions there is no such requirement. However, even in these countries, a sworn translator must still have the necessary qualifications for the profession and to be able to provide these translation services.


    When dealing with translating an important document for official purposes in a context where a sworn translation is required, you need a translation company with experience in this field. Espresso Translations understands the importance of accuracy and professionalism when translating important documents especially when it is being used as a legal instrument. 

    Our many services provide people with the reassurance that whatever the source or target language, we work to the highest standards and in a timely manner. For more information, consult our website and LinkedIn profile. 


    Do you need a certified or sworn translation?

    The difference between a sworn translation and a certified translation is the following:
    A sworn translation is a type of certified translation in that it must be accompanied by certification in the form of a sworn statement or affidavit. It is the taking of an oath that distinguishes a sworn translation from a certified translation.

    A certified translation is accompanied by a declaration or statement of truth which affirms that it is a true and accurate translation of the source document. However, the fact is that this holds no legal weight and the translator cannot be held legally accountable for any errors in a certified translation.

    What is the difference between a sworn translation and a normal translation?

    A sworn translation is the legal equivalent of the original document and the translator is legally liable for any errors or omissions. If a sworn translation is found to be different from the original document the sworn translator may face a charge of perjury in light of them having sworn an oath attesting to the translation’s accuracy and faithfulness to the source text.

    A regular translation does not have any legal weight and there is no civil or criminal liability on the translator in the event of a discrepancy between the original document and the translation.