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The Definitive Guide to Legal Translation You Need to Read

Legal Documents
The Definitive Guide to Legal Translation You Need to Read
on November, 04 2015

Within the law and order system, legal translation plays an important role. It could be required for all types of documents needed by the criminal and civil justice systems. In short, whenever a foreign document is needed for legal matters in court, it needs to be translated.


Quick Tip; The translation of the document should be done in advance to avoid stress and mistakes.


What is a Sworn Translator? 

In countries such as Spain, a sworn translator is the only one empowered to do legal translations. A sworn translator periodically takes exams given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain. Once they pass the exams, they are allowed to put their stamp on all of their legal-translation work.

In the U.S. the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters & Translators (NAJIT) and the American Translators Association provide certifications for translators who voluntarily take periodic examinations. Some of these translators also have a degree in law.

Other countries have sworn translation system, such as Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, Portugal, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, and Sweden.


What’s the difference between a certified translation and a notarized translation?

A legal translation could be made official when a professional agency certifies or notarizes the work with the required stamp from a specific country.

It should be clear that a certified translation includes a document attesting to the validity or accuracy of the translation, but it does not necessarily need to be notarized.

When a notarized translation is needed, it should come with a certificate that is notarized by a qualified legal representative. A sworn translation contains the official stamp of a sworn translator, who conforms to the government regulating body of a specific country.


Put your Legal Documents in the hands of the experts

While it is cheaper to get a freelance translator to do legal translations, you have to keep in mind that it is a complex task and it requires expertise. The translated document must go through proofing, re-checking and honing so that it could be used in court.

Adding to the complexity of the task is the fact that each country's law is based on local factors and culture. Legal translators must be masters not only of the language but its particular characteristics. You might get inaccurate output from a general translation service, thus it is prudent to work only with a language service provider (LSP) whose specialty is legal translation or hire native-speaking certified translators with a deep understanding of law and with long years of professional translation experience.


Increasing significance

As the world becomes smaller, legal translation takes on further significance. With companies going global, people migrating and getting married into various cultures and setting up families in other countries. Indubitably, legal translations will come up handy to any individual or corporation,

Speaking of foreign land, when you want to migrate, your documents should be legally valid in that country, including personal documents such as corporate legal documents, patent certificate, proof of identity, birth certificate and so on.


But... Who needs legal translations?

It is not only the courts that need legal translation services. Businesses wanting to expand their market reach to other countries also need this type of translation. Real estate agencies and landlords also need product information translated, especially with the increasing number of people who do not speak the country's language buying and leasing properties in different countries.

People wishing to migrate to other countries need all their pertinent documents translated. In the U.S., the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) demands that all documents accompanying immigration applications that are not written in English must be translated.

Types of documents that are translated

In broad terms, these are the types of documents that commonly require legal translation:

- Licenses
- Depositions
- Confidentiality
- Letters of credits
- Registration documents
- Trademark and patent filings
- Arbitration and litigation documents

- Contracts
- Affidavits
- Legal disclaimers
- Powers of attorney
- Laws and regulations

- Passports
- Immigration documents
- Last wills and testaments
- Adoption papers
- Permits

- Insurance policies
- Real estate leases and titles
- Trademarks and copyrights
- Service agreements and sales contracts
- Certificates of birth, marriage and death

The above terms could include different forms of specific documents depending on the situation. Whether you are an individual, a lawyer or a business owner, you have to make sure that your important documents are translated into a language that your customers, business partners and authorities can understand.

It is important to note that all the documents above must be accurately translated because they have a direct effect on the well-being of a person.

Conflicts and disagreements could arise from an incorrect translation. It could affect the success of a business negotiation, the sales of products and services, an application for immigration, acceptance to a new school, etcetera.

For precise legal translation, work with a professional translation service provider.

The LSP you choose should not only work diligently and ethically, it must have subject matter expertise, experience and deep knowledge of the legal field, the specific languages needed for the job, a thorough knowledge of a country's culture, the desire to uphold the company's reputation for delivering quality legal translation each and every time, and the ability to work on the client's deadline without sacrificing the integrity of the document.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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