Best Practices

Certified and Sworn Translations: What is the difference?

The main difference lies in the legal nature of sworn translations, which requires a authorized translator and an official stamp
Thalita Lima
8 min
Table of Contents

Sworn Translation and Certified Translation… You probably already heard about these two types, but it’s uncertain about the differences between them. Is there just two names for the same service? What is the best for my document translation?

These are questions that arise when people are faced with the need to translate documents that involve legal requirements.

We can start establishing what these two types have in common: both are specialized translations that call for professionals qualified to produce a document officially accepted by specific institutions. 

But yes, there are differences between them. And the best option will depend on the requirements of the institution requesting the translated document.

Read the article until the end to better understand what constitutes a certified translation and a sworn translation.

Sworn Translation

A sworn translation encompasses the translation of documents with legal significance and importance. The main differentiator is that this type of translation requires a sworn translator.

Image by Miko Guziuk to unsplash.com
  • Who is the sworn translator?

The sworn translator is a professional who received a license or official certification from competent government authorities that enables them to perform sworn translations.In addition to proficiency in the language pair and permission to sign the document, sworn translators ensure that the translated text corresponds in meaning to legal terminologies, cultural nuances, and formatting requirements.Sworn translators must sign their name on the document, attach an official stamp, and a certificate of accuracy attesting to the fidelity of the translation to the original document.The official stamp is a distinguishing feature of this translation. It serves as a visual representation of the professional accreditation of the sworn translator and attests to the authenticity, accuracy, and reliability of the translation.The stamp adds an additional layer of security, making it more difficult to falsify the document.The law has its own language and it is a job of great responsibility.

  • When is sworn translation required?

Some types of documents necessarily need to undergo this translation, for example: contracts, court decisions, immigration documents, certificates, and intellectual property documentation.They are essential in legal proceedings, such as presenting evidence in court, submitting documents for immigration purposes, or finalizing international business agreements.In any other case where a document recognized and accepted by courts, government agencies, and other official institutions is required, sworn translation may be requested.Certified TranslationCertified translation is a broader term. It includes any translation that requires a statement of truthfulness. It doesn't necessarily have to be legal documents.

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When is a certified translation required?

Many types of documents may fall into this category: academic transcripts, degree diplomas, medical records for specific reports, financial statements.When a student applies for a course at a university different from their home country, for example, the process requires documents with specifically requested certified translations for educational institutions.Multinational companies hiring professionals from countries with different native languages, government agencies, and other entities may require certified translation in their submission processes.Certified translation requires a translator to attest to the accuracy and integrity of the translated text. Generally, the translator issues a written statement, attached to the translation, confirming that the translation is accurate and complete. But it does not need to be a sworn translator, nor does it require the official stamp.Basically, the main difference between the two types of certification lies in the legal nature of sworn translations, which require a translator with legal authorization for this type of translation. Certified translation does not require a translator with legal authorization, only certification to attest to the veracity of the document, and it covers a wider range of documents.Does this type of translation vary according to each country?The terminology related to sworn and certified translations may vary between countries and legal systems.Some countries use the term "sworn translation" with the distinction we made in this article. Others may use "sworn translation" as a generic term, which includes any translation with some certification, sworn or not.Some countries may also require even the stamp to be authenticated or registered with the competent authorities.It’s necessary to consult the specific regulations of the country where the translated document will be received to ensure you’re attending to the requisites.And when seeking sworn or certified translation services, it is ideal to choose someone who understands the specific requirements of your jurisdiction and knows the specific language that this area requires.At Bureau Works, we provide both Legal Translation and Certified Translation Services for various segments. Some of the recurring projects we handle are:

  • Immigration (documents for immigration processes, including processes to acquire USCIS - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
  • Education (assistance to international students in their admission processes to educational institutions)
  • Employment (helping to ensure clear agreements and contracts for both parties)
  • Statements and other court documents (court records, transcripts, and other legal documents that aid in the procedures of a process).
  • Birth certificate
  • Travel documents; among others.

All done with great care because we know the importance of these documents for those requesting the service.So, are you able to choose now which translation is the best for your requirements?

Thalita Lima
photography | writing | communication for socio-environmental impact | art
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