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.



Apostille, certified, sworn? An easy guide on official translations (part 1)

Have you ever needed an official translation? A college certificate or a license? It probably felt like going through a maze. Certification, legalization, apostilling—the bumbledom language never ceases to confuse and irritate.

Let’s cut this red tape short, shall we? 

Official translations: what are they?

An official translation is an umbrella term for many types of document translation. The name seems quite simple, but there’s a catch. There isn’t one single way of officializing a translation. It depends on:

  • The nature od the document
  • Its final purpose
  • The receiving country

Certified translation: official, but not legal

A certified translation happens when the translator or a translation agency attests that the translation is faithful, accurate, and complete. This is usually done by signing and stamping each page of the translation and accompanied by a translator’s affidavit.

Any translator or translation agency can self-certify the translation. Want to give more weight to the stamp? Choose a provider who’s a member of an association like the American Translators Association (ATA). Like yours truly.

A certified translation does not have legal value, though. To do so, it has to pass through notarization.

Notarization: legalizing a translation in the US

A notarized translation is when the translator swears an oath before the Notary Public that he or she has translated the document faithfully and accurately.

Does this mean a notary public is also a language specialist? Not by a mile. Notaries public don’t attest to the quality of the translation. Instead, they verify the translator’s identity so that the language expert can be held accountable for the translation produced.

By notarizing, your translation finally gets legal value in your country, as well.

How to make your translation legal in another country?

In this article, we shed some light on what it means to certify your translation and make your translated text have legal value in the US. What happens when you need to have your translations legally valid in another country?

Make sure you hover over next week to find out.