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Everything you need to know about legal translations

Legal translation refers to rendering law-related material from one language into another. This material comprises many types of documents which can be generally divided into those pertaining to public law and those from the field of private law.

These documents are written in specialised terms and depending on the text, the language can be highly specific. It’s crucial that the translator assigned to the job is familiar with the corresponding legal ins and outs. Why? Because only then will he or she be able to convey or describe them correctly in the target language.

Legal translation is therefore an extremely delicate task. On top of that, it often concerns all-important documents: a certificate to get married, an academic transcript to enrol in your dream university… For all these reasons and more, it’s essential that the translation is done by a professional translator.


Legal translation and sworn translation. Are they synonymous?

No. Legal translation is a translation of law-related material. Sworn translation, on the other hand, refers to the form of translation in which a professional guarantees with his or her stamp that the rendering is an accurate and faithful representation of the original document.

The two terms are often confused since the content of sworn translations usually pertains to the law. Nonetheless, sworn translation sometimes doesn’t concern legal texts, such as a letter that’ll be used as evidence in court.

Would you like to know more about sworn translation? Read on or visit the section on sworn translations on our website. Do you want to know the cost of a sworn translation? Click here.

Traduccion Juridica 2

 Professional sworn translators

As we have just mentioned, the content of sworn translations usually pertains to the law. In order to ensure the most accurate rendering or explanation, the translator must be knowledgeable in the highly specific terminology of this field and know the legal inner workings in both the target and the source language.

That is why at Overseas Translations we only work with professional translators. Besides having a command of languages, they are trained in law to guarantee expert and adequate translations.

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Our company is also ISO 17100:2015 certified, a guarantee that we work with mother-tongue, experienced translation professionals specialised in the legal field. Find out more about our ISO certifications by clicking here.


Legal terminology

We all understand the everyday language we speak and share. However, this changes once we delve into the language of some specific area of knowledge. The abundance of unfamiliar terms and their uses can be fairly disorienting, and the legal field is no exception. Both the target and the source language have particularities that belong exclusively to the legal jargon.

As a client, we would not like to receive a transcript of records, a divorce decree or a will translated with errors. Primarily because these are documents that are usually submitted to a public body that has to complete the proceeding pursuant to deadlines and a series of requirements. Errors in this situation would only bring about a misunderstanding and possible time delays.


An example of translating legal terms

Let’s take a look at some instances of false friends that illustrate what we have just discussed:

Prorrogar: does not mean to prorogue, but to suspend.

Autoridad: not authority, but power.

Caso: not a case, but a judicial proceeding, process or trial.

Legislatura: not legislature, but a legislative branch.

These four terms are very common translation errors. But remember! There are exceptions. The context always determines how a term is translated. That is why it’s essential to let expert translators handle your translations. They have expertise in legal systems in both languages, which guarantees that your proceedings and business dealings go seamlessly.

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What types of sworn translation are there?

Sworn translation may differ depending on the type of document and its content. It may pertain to the field of public law, private law or sometimes not even be legal at all. Bear in mind these categories are not strict and often overlap.

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The documents that usually need a sworn translation are those that are submitted to a public body, including marriage certificates, birth certificates, deeds and powers of attorney, records, etc. Other times they can be typical of the private sector: contracts, letters of recommendation, etc. Here we detail the types of documents that usually need a sworn translation.

Sworn translation in Spain

As we explain in the section on sworn translations, governmental procedures usually require sworn translations. These have a legal effect and an official character before public bodies. But private entities can also request them. Such translations can only be carried out by a sworn translator.

Becoming a sworn translator

A sworn translator’s licence is required to issue sworn translations, which is only awarded after meeting numerous requirements and passing a series of rigorous tests from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In these tests, prospective sworn translators must demonstrate their command of their native and foreign languages, as well as their area of specialisation.

A sworn translator can do “regular” or even legal translations without certifying it. However, when carrying out a sworn translation, the sworn translator guarantees that the translation is faithful and accurate with respect to the original document. In fact, he or she even assumes civil and criminal liability for his or her actions.

This also explains why the deadlines may be somewhat later and the fees higher than those of a regular translation. Here you can find more details regarding the cost of a sworn translation.

At Overseas Translations we work with translators specialised in legal translation. These professionals are mother-tongue experts with extensive experience, as required by the ISO 17100:2015 accreditation. Make sure to leave your documents in the best hands.

Find out more about legal translation from Overseas Translations by clicking here. For more details on sworn translations, click here. And do you want to know the cost of a sworn translation? Here you have the answer.

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