Sworn translation: Who can do it? Everything you need to know

    Danilo Coviello

    Updated Date:

    What is a certified sworn translation?

    Sworn translations are not a requirement in the UK and this specialization is more often needed when you are dealing with foreign authorities such as when applying for a visa. 

    Countries that recognise sworn translations hold them to bear the same legal value as the original document. This is why they are accepted by embassies, legal authorities and foreign public bodies for official translations.  

    A sworn translation is undertaken by a sworn translator with the required credentials who swears an oath in front of a court official. The translator attests that the translation is a true representation of the source document. This oath-taking confers legal validity on the sworn translation and its content, which then has the equivalent legal weight of the original document. As such, the translated document is now a legal translation and can be used for official purposes. 

    Countries that operate a civil law legal framework including France, Italy, Germany and Spain, recognise sworn translations and hold official registers of all sworn translators in their countries. If you are applying to one of these countries for a visa or citizenship, you may need the expertise of one of these sworn translators. The UK does not have a register of sworn translators but UK translators do provide certification when translating official documents. 

    It is essential to engage a professional and reputable translator or translation company that can provide sworn or certified translation services, particularly for important documents. A translation services provider with an excellent track record such as Espresso Translations will ensure your sworn translation is accurate, true and faithful to the original document. We have translated critical documents for thousands of satisfied clients over many years. 

    Our highly regarded team of experts provide outstanding certified or sworn translation services in over 150 languages. Whatever type of translation you need, our professional translators are ready to provide first-class services with a guarantee of quality and accuracy. 

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    Also Read: What is a sworn translation?

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    Who can perform a sworn translation?

    Only a sworn translator can provide a sworn translation. Even a bilingual linguist who is a professional translator cannot do this task, only those who are registered with an official body as sworn translators can carry out sworn translations. These translation professionals are recognised by the authorities in the country in which they work and are included on that country’s official sworn translator register. 

    Specific requirements may vary from country to country, but the need for a recognised sworn translator remains the same in each jurisdiction. These translators provide sworn translations and assume responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of that translation as well as its faithfulness to the original document through the oath that they take. 

    The translation of a document must follow the same degree of formality as the source document as well as match the precision of any technical language used. This consistency is an important part of a successful and well-executed translation and ensures that the document is accepted in the target country. 

    In countries that recognise sworn translations, a sworn translator’s signature and seal verify that the translated document is a true, accurate representation of the source document. The oath is then taken in front of a judicial officer who also signs and seals the translation. As the UK does not require sworn translations, a signed affidavit is used instead. 

    Official requirements for different countries can be confusing when it comes to sworn translations. Espresso Translations can guide you through the process and explain in detail what you need for your documents and who can carry out your translation. Some countries such as France insist that translations are only done by sworn translators from their own register. 

    It’s also important to understand the oath-swearing process and which officials it must be sworn in front of to be considered valid. This is why using a reputable interpretation and translation agency is vital, so that your translation is legitimate and will be accepted by the requesting body, organisation or governmental department. If you try to manage the process alone, you may be unaware of all the necessary steps needed for an authentic and reliable sworn translation. 

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    Espresso Translations is a leading translation agency with a long-established reputation for quality, reliability and prompt delivery and who provide certified, sworn and notarized translations.

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    When do you need a sworn translation service?

    Sworn translation services are required for ID documents such as birth certificates and passports as well as legal documents, contracts and court proceedings. In countries that require them, you will be asked for sworn translations of any important documents for official purposes, including for immigration, employment, academic and legal reasons.

    The translation must bear the stamp and signature of the sworn translator as well as their name and the date of the translation. They then swear an oath in front of a legal official who renders the translation sworn and legally equivalent to the source document. Some countries may require a translated UK document to be apostilled.

    Many general-use documents including medical records, scientific papers and advertising material don’t require sworn translations. A certified translation usually suffices for this type of document translation, although the requirements for translations can vary between countries.

    Also Read: What is the difference between certified and sworn translations?

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    What are the legal requirements for sworn translation?

    The legal requirements for sworn translations will vary slightly in different countries that recognise them. However, the basic process remains the same with the translator swearing an oath and attaching the signed oath certificate or sworn statement to the translated document. 

    Once the document has been translated, the sworn translator takes the original document and the certificate to a court or other legal entity. They also need to present a valid form of ID. 

    The translator will then swear an oath before the official that the translated document is a true and accurate representation of the source document. All of the paperwork including the original document, the translation and the oath certificate are then fastened together so that they form one single document. The sworn translator then adds their signature and stamp to each of the pages of the translation. It is now considered ‘sworn’.

    A fee is payable by the sworn translator for the oath-taking service but the amount will differ in various jurisdictions. 

    If any part of the assembled document is removed, the translation loses its sworn status. So if a page of the original document, the translation or the oath becomes detached or is taken out, the remaining paperwork is no longer considered a sworn translation. 

    To ensure your document is recognised as a sworn translation, you must engage the services of a reputable translation agency who will take care of each stage of the process for you.

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    Where can I translate official documents?

    To obtain a sworn translation, you must use an officially recognised sworn translator or sworn translation agency. They will translate your document, proofread it and then make an appointment at a court in their area where they can swear the oath. 

    At the appointment, the translator must take the oath in front of the court official. By doing so, the translator is assuming civil and criminal responsibility for the authenticity of the translated document as it relates to the source document. If the translator makes a false declaration, they are risking a charge of perjury and could go to prison or face a fine, therefore the oath is a serious undertaking.

    Each page of the collated document must have the seal and signature of the translator. The court official then registers the sworn translation. Some states that signed the Hague Convention of 1961 can add an apostille if that is required. An apostille verifies the authenticity of the content of the document or the authenticity of the signature of the translator. The type of Apostille you need will have to be verified with the requesting entity.  Apostille documents are processed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK.

    To ensure that you get the correct translation for your needs, our knowledgeable experts can look at your translation project and determine if you require a sworn or certified translation. They will then guide you through the most appropriate process for your situation. Rest assured that with years of experience and training, our translators can provide you with an accurate and legally valid translation.

    Also Read: Official translation services

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    How much does it cost to get a document translated by a sworn translator?

    A sworn translation costs from £55 (+ VAT). The fee covers the cost of the translation and the administration of the oath, which incurs its own fee from the court or official government department. In some instances, stamp duty may also be payable. 

    Additional costs such as for posting hard copies of the translation to the client or sending via a courier will apply if those services are requested. 

    Factors that can influence the final cost of hiring a sworn translation company include a rare language pair, very lengthy documents or exceptionally technical language. Court fees, extra costs for a rapid turnaround and specialised formatting can also increase the price that you pay. 

    Sworn translations involve a rigorous process that ensures not only that the translated document is faithful to the original and an accurate representation thereof, but also legally valid. So there is a lot involved in producing this kind of document and doing it well. This is reflected in the cost, but Espresso Translations’ prices are very competitive and we offer a high level of customer service.

    Also read: How much does a sworn translation cost?

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    How to do a sworn translation

    If you are required to provide a sworn translation for official purposes, contact Espresso Translations. We have highly qualified translators who are well-versed in every aspect of sworn translation for the countries that require them. 

    For translations of official documents requested by authorities in the UK, US, Canada and Australia who don’t require sworn translations, we can offer equally efficient services in certified, notarised and legalised translations. 

    All of our services are guaranteed to be precise, accurate and legally valid. Our translators are all native speakers of the language they are translating into and all have more than five years of experience. They are also familiar with the regulations and requirements of all aspects of translation.

    What are official Institutions recognising sworn translations in the UK?

    The UK does not require sworn translations, so there is no governing body for this profession nor an official register of sworn translators as in other countries. The UK has a legal framework that rests on common law, and like other countries such as the US, Canada and Australia, does not recognise sworn translations as being necessary. Instead, certified, legalised and notarised translations are more likely to be required in these countries. 

    In place of a sworn translation, a translated document can be apostilled. This means it is recognised as being a faithful representation of the original document and can be used in an official capacity. Identity documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates and passports can all be apostilled, translated and authorized for official use. 

    Certified translations are supported by a signed statement of truth from the translator and a notarised translation has been further verified by a notary public. 

    All of the above types of translations are recognised and accepted by UK officials, public and professional bodies as well as government departments. Sworn translations will typically only be required for foreign governments or public bodies in civil law countries. 

    Get in touch with Espresso Translations today to discuss your translation needs and discover how we can help you through our experienced and knowledgeable translation team.


    What is a sworn translator in the UK?

    The UK does not require sworn translations due to its common law legal framework and so there is no demand for this service in the UK. However, many European countries operate a codified, civil law system in which a sworn translation is the only legally valid kind of translation.

    Sworn translators go through a rigorous training program and must be authorized to work in that capacity. They are required to register on the official list of sworn translators in their respective countries.

    Is a sworn translation a certified translation?

    Both sworn and certified translations are accompanied by a statement that affirms that the translation is faithful to the source document and a true representation of it, so both can be said to be certified. However, while the statement of truth attached to a certified translation attests to these facts it does not hold legal weight.

    In contrast, the sworn statement or oath certificate that accompanies a sworn translation renders it the legal equivalent of the original. In either case, the translator is assuming responsibility for the accuracy and truthfulness of the translation but can only be held legally accountable for a sworn translation. 

    Do I need a sworn translator?

    Sworn translations are typically unnecessary for official procedures in the UK. If you need a sworn translation for proceedings in another country while in the UK, the initial step is to ascertain the requirements of the destination country, as these vary. Should you be uncertain about the type of translation required, feel free to reach out. We ensure the quality of the translation every time and provide the necessary official documentation to ensure recognition in any country where it’s presented.

    What qualifications do I need to be a sworn translator in the UK?

    As the UK does not require sworn translations, there is no route to becoming a sworn translator in this country. Even so, it takes more than proficiency in a foreign language to become a sworn translator in other countries. Depending on the country, the requirements may differ.  Becoming a sworn translator in France, for example, follows a four-stage process.

    First, you must qualify as a translator, which typically means a language degree at master’s level. Candidates must also meet certain conditions relating to age, criminal background checks and being free of bankruptcy. You then have to demonstrate at least five years of professional experience before applying to the Tribunal de Grande Instance closest to where you live. This is a long process, going through many levels of the courts. Finally, if your application is accepted, you must swear an oath in front of the Court of Appeals in your region. You are then an official sworn translator and your work will be recognised anywhere in France.