Sworn or Certified translation – what’s the difference?

Sworn or Certified translation – what’s the difference?

What's the difference between "official", "certified", and "sworn" translations? These are terms you may hear in the context of translations, and it can be helpful to understand the differences between each.

What is an 'official' translation?

A translation is regarded as 'official' when it bears the stamp or signature of a recognised body or member of such a body.

The exact requirements for an 'official' translation will vary from country to depending on their legal system & regulatory regime.

In the UK, members of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and employees of ITI members can certify a translation as 'official', as can members of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) and organisations registered with the Association of Translation Companies (ATC).

What is a 'Certified' translation?

For a translation to be 'certified', the translator must attest that their translation is a true, complete and accurate translation of the original work.

The translator (or the certifying authority) should stamp, mark, or initial each page of the translation. In the UK, ITI members or those employed by ITI corporate members, members of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), organisations registered with the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) can use certification seals to confirm they are members of the relevant institute or association and that the work is certified. 

What is a Legalised or Apostilled translation?

In order for a translation to be sealed with an Apostille stamp, it must carry a declaration endorsed by a notary public.  In the UK, it is the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office that issues Apostilles. The stamp is placed on the original document. This may be required if you intend to use the document abroad, and it ensures that your document is recognised as valid around the world.

An Apostille verifies the document will be recognised in all countries which are signatories to the Hague Convention 1961. 

What is a notarised translation?

A translation is notified when it carries a declaration by the translator or certifying authority that has been signed by a Notary Public or bears a declaration by a Notary Public that the original document and the translation are valid. Since the notary may not themselves be multilingual, they will be unable to check that the translated document is in fact accurate, the Notary Public is instead authenticating the signatures of the parties attesting to the accuracy and authenticity of the translation, not the actual translation itself.

Translations are normally notarised in order to make them 'official' overseas. This also gives accountability by including the details of the translator or certifying organisation.  

What is a Sworn Translation?

Sworn translation are features of Civil law jurisdictions such as France, Italy, and Spain. As a common law country, the UK does not recognise such a thing as a 'sworn' translation.

In Civil law countries, sworn translators are appointed and accredited by the relevant governing body. In these jurisdictions, only translators who are regulated by that governing body may produce a sworn translation. Exactly how each sworn translation is processed can differ between these jurisdictions - the sworn translation process in Italy differs somewhat from how it is governed in the Netherlands for instance.

Why Choose IMD Translation?

With IMD Translation, you can be sure that your translation is true, accurate, and complete reflection of the original document. All of our human translations come with our company certification as standard, and is accepted by most UK institutions.

We know that accuracy is vital in legal translations, which is why we use expert human translators to deliver the highest quality translations on time.

If you require a legal interpreter or the services of an expert legal translator, then please get in touch with us here today.