What is the meaning of sworn translation?

    Danilo Coviello

    Updated Date:

    What is translation by a sworn translator?

    A sworn translation consists of the source document, the translation in the target language and the accompanying sworn statement. All three parts must be fixed together to form one single document for it to be considered ‘sworn’. 

    Sworn translations are most often required in European countries that have a civil law system such as France, Italy and Spain. In these countries, a sworn translation is also known as an official or legal translation. They are not a requirement in the UK which has a common law legal structure. 

    Only a sworn translator can produce a sworn translation. These are officially-appointed translators who are recognised by courts, embassies and foreign offices. They are authorised to translate official documents and the translations are then considered the legal equivalent of the source document. 

    Espresso Translations has highly qualified sworn translators as part of our specialist team who can translate into more than 150 languages. Each translator has more than five years of experience and offers highly accurate translations with a rapid turnaround at a competitive price.

    What is the role of a sworn translator?

    The role of a sworn translator is to provide sworn translations which have the same legal weight as the original document. This is done in collaboration with a public official such as a notary public in whose presence the translator swears that the translated document is a true and accurate representation of the source document. 

    Many countries that require a sworn translation have a register or directory of officially recognised sworn translators and only they can provide this type of translation. The process for being registered as a sworn translator alters between different countries but their authority remains the same. 

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    When you require a sworn translation it is recommended that you use a professional translation company to ensure that the document is faithfully translated and legally recognised. Espresso Translations has knowledgeable and officially authorised sworn translators who can meet all your official requirements. 

    Also read: Who can do a sworn translation?

    What is the purpose of sworn translations?

    Sworn translations may be requested by the relevant authorities when the final document needs to have the same legal validity as the original. These can include:

    • legal rulings,
    • birth certificates,
    • passports,
    • company statutes and patents
    • other official documentation

    A certified translation is also done by a professional translator however it does not have the same legal weight as a sworn translation as it is not accompanied by a sworn statement. When translators provide certified translations they attach an affidavit which attests to the authenticity of the translation. 

    The sworn statement affirms that the translator has taken an oath before a public official swearing that the translation is a faithful representation of the source document. If the translation is found to be incorrect the sworn translator may face a charge of perjury.

    How long does sworn translation take?

    Each translation will have its own requirements and the turnaround time for a sworn translation can depend on a variety of factors including:

    • The length of the document – a longer text will take more time 
    • The content of the document – technical or complex language will require more time to ensure an accurate translation of the original
    • The language pair – if either the source or target language is a rare language it may take longer to find a sworn translator to translate the document
    • Court opening times – if a particular court or public official is needed for an oath swearing the opening times of the court or other public body may affect the timescale

    Espresso Translations offers an express service for most translations if your need is urgent. Our transparent pricing and detailed quotes also let you know exactly what you will be paying for your official translation and any expedited service.

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    When do I need a sworn translation service?

    Sworn translations are not required by authorities in the United Kingdom and certified translations are accepted by UK government departments and public bodies.

    However, if you are dealing with a civil law country such as France, Spain or Italy you will most likely need a sworn translation for your official documents. The types of documents most commonly requested for sworn translation are birth certificates, academic transcripts, marriage certificates, business contracts, death certificates, divorce papers and legal rulings. 

    The countries where sworn translations are required have appointed official sworn translators to carry out this kind of work. These translators swear an oath in court to translate all documents accurately and faithfully. By taking this oath they are assuming criminal and civil responsibility for the truthfulness of the translation in relation to the source document.

    As most sworn translations are for official documents it is essential to have a quality translation that has the same legal validity as the source document. This doesn’t guarantee the authenticity of the original document, only that the sworn translation is a faithful representation of that document.

    How much does a sworn translation typically cost?

    At Espresso Translations, sworn translations by our qualified translators start from £50 plus VAT. We operate a transparent per-word pricing policy and will provide a detailed quote to translate your documents. 

    The price you will pay for a sworn translation will typically include:

    • Cost of the translation at a per-word rate 
    • Cost of the affixed affidavit or sworn statement, typically a fixed rate
    • Administrative fees or court costs
    • Postage costs for hard copies, if required

    Depending on the country to which you submit your translation there will be administration and court fees for the oath swearing. These will vary from country to country so there is no set standard.  

    Different requirements in the type of document being translated will also affect how much you pay when requesting a sworn translation. Variables that can impact the price of your translation include the length of the text, any special elements such as seals or stamps, technical or unusual terminology and the requirement for delivery of hard copies. 

    Rare language pairs may also cost more than English to a common foreign language such as French or Spanish. However, our professional translators can work in more than 150 different languages and will swear to the accuracy of the translated text and its fidelity to the original document. 

    Contact us for a clear and comprehensive quote. This is free of charge and delivered within 24 hours so you know exactly how much you will be paying for your sworn translation. All we need is an electronic copy of your document along with any particular requests or requirements.

    Also read: How much does a sworn translation cost?

    How do I get a sworn translation of a document?

    If you are required to provide a sworn translation of a document you must engage the services of a qualified sworn translator. They will examine your documents, translate them and then make an appointment to take the oath in front of an official in a court or public body. This swearing of the oath is what makes the translated document legally valid. 

    The sworn translator must take valid ID with them to this appointment as well as their copy of the original document, the translation and their sworn statement. The translated document must have the translator’s signature and stamp. In some, but not all, jurisdictions, each page of the translation must have the translator stamp and signature. 

    Once the oath has been taken, the court official will also sign the sworn statement prepared by the translator to verify the authenticity of the sworn translation. It is only now that the translated document is recognised as a legal document. 

    The source text, translation and signed sworn statement are fixed together and are thereafter considered a single document. If any of the parts are removed, lost or changed the sworn statement is no longer considered ‘sworn’ and loses its legal validity. 

    When you have to submit a sworn translation you must hire a professional translation agency for it to be legally recognised. Even if you know a linguist who is fluent in both the source and target languages they cannot fulfill the proper certification process. These individuals will not be allowed to swear an oath in front of a court, as only an officially recognised sworn translator can do this.

    Also read: How does a sworn translation work?


    What is an officially sworn translator?

    The process of becoming an officially sworn translator is a long and complex one. Although the specific qualifications may differ between countries there are core requirements. A sworn translator must have a language degree preferably at Master’s level.

    They must then register with their country’s relevant authorities and gain at least five years of professional experience in their field. Finally, they can apply to become a sworn translator and can be added to the country’s official register or directory of sworn translators. 

    What is the difference between certified translation and sworn translation?

    It is important to understand the difference between a certified and sworn translation. A certified translation is acceptable to most public bodies and government departments in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia. This is because the translation is accompanied by a statement of truth, bearing the translator’s signature attesting to the authenticity of the translation and its faithfulness to the original document. With this certificate, accuracy of the translation is deemed to be sufficient for most official purposes in these common law countries.

    As we have seen, in civil law countries only a sworn translation bearing an oath certificate or sworn statement is considered sufficient for official document translation. Sworn translations are recognised as having the same legal validity as the source document which does not apply to a certified translation.

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

    In civil law countries, a sworn translation is recognised by the legal authorities and government departments. Therefore, any official document must be translated by a sworn translator. A regular translation will have no legal validity and cannot be used for official purposes as it has not been performed by a certified or sworn translator.

    Also read: What is the difference between a sworn and certified translation?