How does sworn translation work? Here’s everything you need to know.

    Danilo Coviello

    Updated Date:

    When immigrating or traveling to another country, you may find yourself needing to translate and validate legal documents from your home country. Depending on the country in question, you may find yourself needing a type of translation called a sworn translation. This kind of translation ensures that your documents are still legally valid after undergoing translation.

    Depending on how long you may be staying in the country in question and the regulations of the receiving country, you’ll usually need to submit translated documents to governmental bodies. In order to certify these documents’ legal status and accuracy, a  translation expert needs to provide an accurate, notarised translation to the local authorities. This process does not certify the validity as the original document, only the accuracy of the new translation.

    There are numerous things to consider when looking into translation services. To adhere to requirements, sworn translators must work with expertise, knowledge of the legal systems of the target country, strong ethical codes, and accuracy. Translation can be difficult, so it’s best to work with a professional translator to get a high-quality and accurate translation of your legal documents that local authorities accept.

    A quality sworn translator will provide not only accurate translation services, but clear, recognisable language that won’t result in any misunderstandings. Their legal translations also need to be accurate to the original: a good sworn translator won’t make changes or omissions to the text’s original intent. If parts of text are illegible, they must be specified as “Omissis.” Stamps, logos, or other elements that can’t be read are marked as “Illegible.” 

    After translating, the documents must be seen by the right public official. The translation will be brought to the correct government agency, and dealt with at the court before a Judicial Officer, or at the Justice of the Peace or Notary.

    Sworn translators are therefore highly trained professionals who must deliver a high-quality and accurate translation of a legal document for their work to be valid for legal authorities.

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    This article will discuss everything you need to know about a legally valid sworn translation.

    What is a sworn translation? 

    Sworn translation retains the legal value of certain documentation after translation into a specific language, making sure important documents are legally valid in another country.

    The procedure for these translations confirms that an accurate, quality translation has been provided. Certification will often require that a qualified professional take oaths in front of a court, swearing “to have accurately and faithfully carried out the operations, and to have no purpose other than to reveal the truth”. False oaths in court are considered perjury, a serious offense under court law.

    At the end of the certification process, the sworn translator will deliver:

    • The documents in the original language
    • The initial translation of the documents into the language of the target country
    • The sworn statement, in which the translator assumes civil and criminal liability for the accuracy of translations, with a translator signature, under penalty of perjury

    The three documents are stapled together and lose their legal validity if separated.

    What type of translator you hire may depend on your target country. For example, in Italy, a sworn translation must always have the Italian translation as a reference. For example, if a translation company wants a certification statement for an English translation of an original document written in French, the French document must first be translated into Italian and then into English: this will usually require two separate oaths in court.

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    Italian authorities require that any submitted official document originally in another language must be accompanied by a sworn translation of the document, which will include a statement proving the document certified. An Italian document to be sent a foreign authority, like the United States, must also be translated, sworn, and legalized.

    Because of the regulations associated with delivering translated documents to governmental entities, it’s important to use a translator or reputable  translation service with a guarantee of quality for your legal and sensitive documentation.

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

    What are the steps in the sworn translation process?

    What is sworn translation

    Once completed, the translation is ready to be certified. The rules of sworn translations need several steps to be completed in order by the sworn translator to translate your documents. They must first make an appointment with the judicial officer through a court official. The day the of the appointment, the sworn translator must appear in court with the following documents:

    • Their Identification
    • A copy of the original document that was translated
    • A copy of the translation of the original document, complete with the translator stamp and signature on each page

    The translator usually must sign each page of the translation, although some courts only require certain pages of the translation to be signed. The stamp or seal of a sworn translator may also need to make an appearance. Whether needing all pages signed or only some, translations often require postage stamps. In Italy, for example, they’re needed every 4 pages, though there may occasionally be exemptions.

    Next, the official translator will take an oath swearing that the translated text accurately respects the form and content of the original text. They’ll then create an affidavit before the judicial officer, who will sign and stamp the documents if the translation’s accepted. At this point, the translated document can be considered a sworn translation and becomes a legal, valid document in all respects.

    It is important to mention that oaths have legal value regardless of which Italian court ithey’re performed in. There are usually nor requirements regarding what city the translation is certified in. However, if an oath is needed at the court of a specific city, the translation agency can arrange it along with other services provided.

    What documents need sworn translation?

    Generally, a sworn translation of a document is required for legal documents such as civil registry documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce certificates, etc.), criminal records, and anything else that would require a notary. It’s relevant in any cases where the government may require certification and accuracy of documents translated.

    In some cases, it is also necessary for driver’s licenses, academic records and degrees like diplomas, financial documents, and documents related to the international trade sector.

    Usually, government institutions require a notarized translation to be able to issue certain documents, such as a certificate of citizenship. These translations are the only documents that have retained their legal value after translation.

    Mostly, sworn translation is required for foreign language documents issued abroad to be presented in Italy, but sometimes translations of Italian documents requested by a foreign office are also necessary.

    Certification does not certify the validity or authenticity of the content of the original document, but only the accuracy of the translation to the original.

    How much does sworn translation cost?

    Factors influencing sworn translation

    There are several variables that can affect the costs in the translation industry. In addition to the previously mentioned stamps, (16 euros, or around 17 to 18 USD per 4 pages, plus one for the first page) there’s the cost of the sworn translation service itself. People who need sworn translations can request a quote from a translation service to estimate the price before hiring a sworn translator.

    Variables affecting the cost of translation services include:

    • The original language and the target language of the document; the rates are related to the prevalence of the languages involved.
    • The sworn translator’s or translation service’s individual rate.
    • The length of the text: depending on the document, this could be counted in words or pages. Handwriting, stamps, inscriptions, etc., are treated separately.
    • The complexity of the text: the cost of translation is higher for technical documents.
    • Express service: any urgency generally constitutes an extra cost.
    • Graphics: for some documents, graphic reconstruction is necessary and therefore requires the intervention of an expert.
    • Postal shipments of paper translations.

    Additionally, the cost of the swearing procedure is borne by the professional, (making an appointment at the court, physically going there, and taking the oath) which may affect pricing.

    Espresso Translations is happy to provide sworn translation, and responds to every customer requesting a sworn translation in less than 24 hours with a free and detailed quote. To receive it, simply send the scanned document to be translated, along with all the relevant information, using our dedicated form or email. After accepting the quote, it takes 2 to 3 days for a simple sworn translation in a common language, and about a week for a more complex translation in an uncommon language.

    Also read: How much does sworn translation cost?

    What are the qualifications to work as a sworn translator?

    From a theoretical standpoint, anyone fluently bilingual can become a translator, but it isn’t easy to become a sworn translator. While you may not need a degree in a foreign language, different countries often have specifically appointed sworn translators, or require that sworn translators be certified or registered in some way. For this reason, it is always advisable to turn to a professional sworn translator or translation service, to avoid unpleasant surprises.

    Espresso Translations relies on experienced professionals who meet all the necessary requirements and rules regarding sworn translators to guarantee the best possible service.

    Notably, sworn translation may not be performed by a person appointed and involved in the documents to be translated. In other words, one cannot swear for oneself.


    Sworn translation is a true challenge that requires careful attention and accuracy. Translating English to Italian for important documents including birth certificates and criminal records requires  translation rules are followed to maintain their legal value.

    If you need a sworn translation in a country like Italy where regulations can be complex, relying on a language service or translation agency is the best choice in terms of safety and quality, and gives you the best chance of having a translation accepted. In the end, contacting a professional is always best.

    Espresso Translations a great choice, with competitive prices and delivery times. Espresso’s translators will deliver a high-quality sworn translation of legal documents to make bringing documents between countries easily.


    What is the difference between certified and sworn translation?

    Often, sworn translation and certified translation coincide, but they are different things. Generally, in certified translation, the qualified translator or translation agency takes responsibility for the work carried out in a foreign language. Oaths, courts, notaries, public servants, etc. are not involved.

     In sworn translation, on the other hand, it is necessary to swear an oath in court, which must be performed in front of a Notary or a Chancellor. This is done to maintain the same legal value as the original document, allowing it to be presented it to the authorities or institutions of the destination country.

    Therefore, even though certified translation and sworn translation typically involve the same type of documents, and both bear the signature of the specialized translator, the former maintains the document’s legal value while the latter does not. If you need your documents to retain their legal value, it’s important to find sworn translators.

    Are there specific regulations for sworn translations in different countries? 

    Yes, different local and international laws may or may not require sworn translations, and those who do often regulate them differently. There is no set universal standards for sworn translation.

    In Common Law countries, like Australia, the UK, and the US, there are usually no consistent translation regulations.

    In the US, you can get a signed apostille, which means your documents will be recognized by all countries in the Hague convention of 1961. A signed apostille doesn’t include translation, English is the only language documents can be in for an apostille. Because of this, you will generally still need someone to translate the document into the language of the target country.

    In Civil Law countries like Italy, France, and Spain, there are established rules regarding sworn translations that are specific to each country. Generally, a sworn translation is necessary for important legal documents.

    We strongly recommend that you contact Espresso Translations to help you avoid both legal and administrative challenges and paying extra for sworn translators.