Legal translation and sworn translation: What’s the difference?

Throughout the years, we’ve seen that the similarity between the terms sworn translation and legal translation causes great commotion among those wanting to hire translation services. Even though at first, they may appear similar, legal and sworn translations have little to do with each other.

There is certainly an overlap between the two. Legal translators focus mainly on specialised texts relating to the field of law and the legal environment. On the contrary, sworn translators cover various areas and their work is usually signed and stamped which holds them legally accountable for any errors.


Legal translations are specialised translations

Legal translations relate to a certain field of knowledge, in this case the law and legal environment. Given this, experienced translators with specialist knowledge in the field are needed for these translations.

Knowing the terminology and peculiarities of the legal system of the original document isn’t enough. You must also be aware of the legal system of the target country. This is before even considering your knowledge of the language.

Laws, summons, contracts, agreements… As long as they are unsigned documents that don’t have any legal value, would be documents that require a legal translation.


Sworn translations are legally valid

Sworn translations, what are they? Are they related to the legal field? Not necessarily.

What makes a translation a sworn translation is its official status. It is issued by certified translators themselves. Sworn translations are valid for any procedure within the administration of a country or other official body.

Our daily work involves dealing with clients who require:

  • Sworn translations of academic certificates because their university had issued them in the language of their country.
  • Certified medical records translation services. We had a client who needed his medical records as he was moving abroad and his doctor needed to know his history.
  • Sworn translation of business registers for companies in the process of globalisation.
  • Sworn translation of marriage certificates is another area in which we receive many requests from clients. Perhaps your partner is of a different nationality, religion or culture. If so, then you may need a certified translation of your marriage certificates.

All of these are documents that require a verified translation. They are faithful to the original and relate to many different fields.


What is a sworn translator?

Sworn translators must pass a public examination and may only translate into the languages for which they have been examined. They don’t necessarily have to be specialists in the type of document they are translating to certify them.

However, it brings a lot of responsibility. By guaranteeing the authenticity and reliability of the original (by means of a stamp), they can face criminal accountability for errors in the translation. This directly influences the price of a certified translation.


Legal translation and sworn translation are not the same

The above points are the most important differences between legal and sworn translations. Obviously, we could go into more detail. But we don’t want to bore you. Hopefully we managed to explain the difference already.

At Ontranslation, we can offer you either of the two, together or individually. We always ensure what your goal is, so we will provide you with some advice. Our team will know whether you need a stamp certifying your translation or not.

When was the last time you had to resort to a sworn translation? Did it serve its purpose?

About the author

Oscar Nogueras

Es el CEO de Ontranslation y dedica algunos ratos libres a escribir en este blog para compartir sus conocimientos sobre internacionalización, cross-border ecommerce y Traducción SEO. No es para menos, ya que entre su formación cuenta con una licenciatura en filología inglesa, un máster en tradumática, un posgrado en elearning y un MBA. En definitiva, una declaración de intenciones donde la cultura y los idiomas se sirven mezclados, no agitados.

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