Sworn or certified translation: what steps do I need to take?

Sworn or certified legal translation is the translation of documents (summonses, judgments, legal proceedings, notarial deeds, birth certificates, driving licenses, transcripts, etc.) by an "expert" translator. Sworn translators have the legal authority to certify, by seal and signature, that the translation is faithful to the original document. Their translations can thus be presented to French or foreign administrations and institutions, and are considered authentic in court. Confidentiality is a crucial element of this service and one that the expert translator must respect.

Registered with the local Court of Appeal, by decision of a specialized commission, the expert is considered an auxiliary of justice. They offer their services to courts, lawyers and notaries, as well as to companies and private individuals. It is important to note that, as swearing-in is a French legal procedure, the language pairs supported must include French (English<->French, German<->French, Spanish<->French, etc.).

What is the purpose of a sworn translation?

Sworn translations can be required in a number of cases involving a national administration or institution. It is useful, for example, for a French citizen moving to another country, hiring a new employee or starting university in another country, and the same applies to a foreign citizen coming to France. Companies may also need to have their documents translated and sworn for legal and financial purposes (partnership agreements, setting up foreign subsidiaries, etc.).

Please note: if the document is destined for foreign authorities, swearing alone is no longer sufficient; an apostille (usually issued at the town hall) must also be added, or the document must be legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, depending on the country of destination.

What are the steps to follow to obtain a sworn translation?

  1. Be sure to ask the institution requiring the sworn translation exactly what it wants (swearing, legalization, apostille, etc.).
  2. Contact the agency or sworn translator specializing in the desired language combination for a quote.
  3. Send the original documents by post or PDF to the selected translator (using a secure service).
  4. If you wish, you can ask to proofread the translation (in digital format) before it is delivered to you certified (in paper format).
  5. Arrange for any additional formalities (apostille, legalization).
  6. Pick up your sworn translation, which will be delivered to you by post or by hand, since unlike a conventional translation, only original documents bearing the seal and the translator's handwritten signature are valid.

Sworn translations are a time-consuming process, especially when you take into account the time it takes to send them by post. If you need this service, we strongly advise you not to leave it to the last minute!

What is the cost of a sworn translation?

Calculated by the word or by the page, a sworn translation may seem expensive. It also involves printing and mailing costs that other translators don't have. Not to mention the numerous training courses required every year to keep their knowledge up to date.

Discuss your legal translation needs with our experts

Related articles