Legal Translation and Sworn Translation: Two Big Unknowns

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Do I need a sworn translation? Or will a legal translation suffice? Is there even a difference? These are all good questions. And ones that we receive quite often. As a language service provider, here at Exero Soluciones we’re used to shedding light on the unknowns of the translation world for our clients.


In today’s globalized world we’ve found that more and more individuals and businesses need to hire translation services for different types of documents, but they’re not always sure exactly what type of translation service they need. And that makes complete sense. It’s hard to judge which one is right if you’re unaware of the differences between them. In fact, you, dear reader, may have stumbled upon our post trying to find the answer to these very same questions.


Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to bail you out!


In this article we’re going to disambiguate two related yet distinct concepts: legal translation and sworn translation. Despite the fact that they have some major differences, they are often mistaken one for the other. It’s time we submit the evidence.


Sworn Translation:
This first type is necessary for translating official documents. It’s referred to as sworn translation because the translator also acts as a notary. They use a stamp and their signature (like an oath) to accredit translated documents as legal equivalents of their originals. Certain documents, such as deeds, certificates (birth, death, wedding, divorce, and academic), contracts, powers of attorney, etc., must be accompanied by their corresponding sworn translation if:
  • You wish to present them in a foreign country.
  • They come from a foreign country and you wish to present them here.


It differs depending on where you live, but to perform a sworn translation in Spain, for example, you must be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and have your stamp and signature registered with the Ministry.


Due to the official nature, a sworn translation has to follow a certain special procedure. First, either a hard copy or a scanned copy of the original document must be sent to the sworn translator. Once received, he/she will translate the document and then sign and stamp it. Lastly, the sworn translation is mailed back to the client with the original.



Legal Translation:
Legal translation, on the other hand, is a specialized branch of translation. A legal translator is someone who has extensive knowledge and experience in the translation of legal, administrative and judicial texts. That is to say, it’s someone who is qualified to accurately translate these texts since he/she possesses a vast technical vocabulary related to the field. However, a legal translator isn’t necessarily certified to do sworn translations. Legal translators are merely experts in their field, just as a translator can be specialized in technical, scientific, financial, or marketing texts.



In conclusion, if you’d like a document translated that will have legal effects, you need to request a sworn translation. But on the contrary, if it’s for personal use or doesn’t need to be presented as an official document, then you can request a legal translation, meaning you can hire the translation services of an expert in that field. That way you’re sure to get the highest possible quality for either type of translation. We hope we’ve cleared up all your doubts!


Need a legal or sworn translation, but you’re not sure where to begin looking? Send us an email, we’d be glad to help you find the right translator for the job.


Similarly, if you enjoyed the article or found it useful, let us know with a like, a share, or a comment below. We’re waiting for your verdict!


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