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CERTIFIED AND LEGAL TRANSLATIONS


What is a legal translation?

There is often a lot of confusion over the concepts of LEGAL TRANSLATION, SWORN TRANSLATION, JURIDICAL TRANSLATION, LEGALISED TRANSLATION and CERTIFIED TRANSLATION so it would be a good idea to explain the differences between the various needs involved.
LEGAL TRANSLATIONS
A LEGAL or JURIDICAL TRANSLATION entails translating texts of a juridical nature that requires the skills of an expert native speaker qualified in legal matters. MMW Europe has a team of legal translators, many of whom are licensed lawyers that have left their careers to offer their expertise in the translation field. As legal systems differ from country to country, detailed knowledge of technical terminology is essential when faced with complex texts such as appeals, judgements and legal briefs. A legal or juridical translation therefore solely regards the topic of the text in question. Numerous prestigious law firms, Notary Publics and corporate legal departments turn to MMW Europe for the juridical skills of our translators in technical translations of a rather complex legal nature.

What does certified translation stand for?

Certified translations are required when a translated document needs official value. However, “certified translation” or “official translation” may mean a number of things:
CERTIFIED TRANSLATIONS
A certified translation is one that is signed and stamped by a professional translator to confirm that the translation accurately and authentically complies with the original text. MMW Europe delivers certified translations with a certificate of authenticity, that is to say an affidavit issued by the official translator, on corporate headed paper. Affidavit may be officialised at a later time before a Notary Public or a Solicitor by way of ensuring that a translated document is effectively legal for both domestic and overseas use. Certified translations have considerable advantages, for example:

  • they are accepted and recognised in various countries
  • they help you to avoid additional costs for certifying them before a Notary Public or a Solicitor
  • they can be delivered in pdf format via email, but also in original format signed and stamped by the translator and on corporate headed paper
  • they can also be sworn at a later time, in which case solely certification and Notary Public costs need to be added.

SWORN OFFICIAL TRANSLATIONS 
The definition of SWORN translation, in other words a translated document the validity of which is sworn before a Notary Public or a Solicitor (in the UK) or a Court, Public Official, Court Clerk or Notary Public (in Italy) in order to make it fully legal, is different. It is important to know that any translated document can be sworn, whether it is an official document, a registrar’s certificate, a legal text such as a sentence, an appeal or a legal brief, an exam certificate, self-certification, a medical certificate, a bank reference letter, a corporate financial statement or a Chamber of Commerce company registration. Any document that requires its translation to be officialised can be not only sworn before a Notary Public but also legalised with an Apostille at the Legalisation Office (in the UK), the Public Prosecutor’s Office or Prefect’s Office (in Italy) or Consulates (in any country) in order to become fully legal abroad. In Italy and many other countries throughout the world, although not in the UK, translations can only be sworn by official translators listed in institutional registers independently – like in the USA – or before Public Officials. Please bear in mind, that Solicitors, Notary Publics (in the UK), Courts or any other Official Entities (in Italy, for instance, The Civil Court of Justice) cannot guarantee and confirm that the content of the translated document is genuine and true, since they are normally not responsible for this kind of activity. Although the wax seal or the ink stamp and the signature can give the impression of an official status, this kind of authority can merely authenticate the signature of the translator, who takes responsibility for the accuracy of the translation upon signing it in their presence.
Sworn translations in the UK
The translation industry in the UK is not regulated by any official authority and therefore there are no “official translators” or “sworn translators”. The only way to make a translation official in the UK is to swear it before a Notary Public or a Solicitor, thereby making the document a public deed. These translations can also be legalised with an Apostille at the Legalisation Office if required for use in another country.
Sworn translations in Italy
The situation is different in Italy, as there is an institutional way to certify translations with effective legal value by swearing an oath before the Court or a Notary Public. Translations are “sworn” and therefore made “official” in the joint presence of a Public Official and an Official Translator, in other words a translator recognised and certified with an institutional body such as the Court Register of Translators or the Chamber of Commerce Register of Experts.
Sworn translations in other Countries
In a number of other countries throughout the world, such as the USA, it is common practice for official translators to certify documents autonomously by stamping and signing their translations.

When is a sworn translation necessary?

Sworn translations are required for various reasons, for example, if someone is required to register a marriage entered into in a foreign country, they will certainly need a sworn or certified translation of their wedding certificate in order for their wedding to be recorded in their Registry Office. This also applies in the case of students who wish to have any academic qualifications obtained abroad recognised in their country of origin. Below is a list of the documents for which sworn translations are generally required for use abroad:

  1. Degree certificate or diploma, A-Levels, University or College reference letters;
  2. Personal documents: ID, driving licences, Passports, medical documents, medical reports, Deed Poll, Power of Attorney;
  3. Replacement copies of birth, marriage, death or residence certificates;
  4. Business documents, Company House certificates, Certificate of Incumbency, Certificate of Incorporation, Company good standing certificate, Company Authorisation Letters, Bank reference letters;
  5. Patents, Products certification issued by Official Authorities, Car Registrations, quality certificates and various other documents;
  6. Digital documents issued only in electronic format.

LEGALISED TRANSLATIONS
Sworn or certified translations should not be confused with legalised translations, although this term is often wrongly used as a synonym. Indeed, a legalisation or “Apostille” further formalise a translation, making it official, and entails the Legalisation Office placing an ink stamp or “Apostille” on the translated document. An Apostille may be placed on both original documents and translations of such, as long as the translator signs these before a Public Official who has this signature registered at the local Legalisation Office. An “Apostille” is required to make documents to be used abroad legal. See our specific section for further information regarding legalisations and Apostilles. An Apostille may be placed on original official documents or compliant documents authenticated by a Notary Public.

What is the difference between a sworn, an official legalised and a certified translation then?

CERTIFIED TRANSLATIONS
Translations certified with the stamp and signature of the translator on MMW Europe headed paper.
SWORN TRANSLATIONS
Translations sworn by a translator before a Public Official such as a Notary Public or Solicitor (in the UK) or a Court Clerk, Notary Public or Justice of the Peace (in Italy).
OFFICIAL LEGALISED TRANSLATIONS
Translations of official documents (original or authenticated copies) that are legalised at the Legalisation Office, sworn before a Public Official such as a Notary Public or Solicitor (in the UK), a Court Clerk, Notary Public or Justice of the Peace (in Italy) and subsequently legalised with an “Apostille” at the Legalisation Office. If you are unsure of which type of translation you require, ask us for free advice regarding the best kind to suit your needs by writing to info@mmweurope.com