Apostille, certified, sworn? An easy guide on official translations (part 2)

In this article, we pick up on official translations right where we left off last week. Only this time, we’ll look into the types of official translations that have legal value in other countries.

Sworn translation: a legalized translation in some countries

The concept of sworn translators doesn’t exist in the US, but it’s common in Europe and Latin America. 

Suppose you need to translate a document that has to have legal value in Spain. In that case, you could have it translated directly by a sworn translator. 

Sworn translators are language experts with a valid degree who have passed a certification process by the relevant government authority. This can either be the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Spain) or the Courts (France and Germany). Their translations have legal value in the country where they are sworn in. 

The upside: it saves you the step of legalizing or apostilling a translation made by a random translator in your own country. 

The downside: sworn translators require the original source document in order to validate it. So if the sworn translator is in Spain, it might take some time (and money) to FedEx it overseas.

Legalized translation and Apostille

What if you already notarized a translation in the US? Will it have legal value elsewhere? Unfortunately not. 

To make a translation legally valid in another country, you have two options. 

If the countries are not part of the Hague Convention, you’ll have to have it legalized once more in the recipient country.

If the countries are signatories of the Hague Convention, you can have it apostilled in your country of origin. This will give the translation legal weight in the other country, as well.

So to legalize a translation in Italy,  you could simply apostille it back in the US. But if you needed it to have legal value in Canada, it wouldn’t work. The Canucks have not signed the HCCH treaty.


When it comes to officializing, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. A lot depends on the nature of the document and the country where it must have legal value.

Luckily, there’s LingPerfect to help. With years of experience in the field, we’ll give you the best advice on the type of translation you need. Send us a message and let us take the burden off your shoulders.



Certified vs. Non-Certified

For many of LingPerfect’s legal clients, a key consideration when developing the initial workflow for a project is whether the final translation will require a certification of accuracy. These certificates are notarized affidavits detailing the nature of the document as well as the languages implicated in the project, and attest to the accuracy and quality of the completed translation. The primary factors in considering when certification is needed ultimately rests with the ultimate use of the translated file, whether it be for regulatory, immigration, litigation, or discovery purposes, and it decided on a case-by-case basis.
For example, although there is no standard certification requirement or formal entry into evidence of foreign documents in US federal courts, several state courts, including Texas and Florida, have enacted certification requirements for translated documents in state evidentiary requirements. However, many legal clients engaged in federal litigation will often certify the documents as a preemptive measure to guard against any challenges or objections by the opposing party.
Further, US Customs and Immigration Service requires that all documents submitted in support of an application or petition (i.e., birth/marriage certificates, education and employment records) require a formal certification attesting to the accuracy of the translation to be included with the application. Another example is in the life sciences and medical device fields, where the US Food and Drug Administration requires translation of a number of documents prior to registration, including the actual patent itself and training documents, label text, instructions, informed consent forms, brochures, and case reports.
On the other hand, if the translations are being used primarily for internal or reference purposes only, certification is not necessary or the files may be reviewed or certified prospectively depending upon the client’s preference. LingPerfect always provides notarized certifications as part and parcel of a project upon request without any additional fees, and our team is flexible with any requirements the client may have.

Please feel free to contact our team directly regarding any questions or concerns regarding the certification requirements for your translation project, and we look forward to hearing from you.