The sworn translation in Anglo-Saxon countries

As we have already explained in our blog, sworn translators in Spain are officially authorized by the Foreign Affairs Language Office. This authorization grants them the ability to translate, stamp and swear official documents. To perform this task as a sworn translator for translations, a sworn translator must have a broad knowledge of the subject matter and legal and economic terminology, as well as extensive linguistic knowledge. This is the only way to guarantee a faithful and accurate translation of the original document.

Sworn translations in English-speaking countries are usually governed by a different legal framework: the so-called Common Law.

This Common Law is based on judicial precedent and court decisions or jurisprudence, rather than relying primarily on written laws and legislative codes. It is therefore a more flexible system in which interpretation is possible. This system originated in England during the Middle Ages and has developed over the centuries, becoming the basis of the legal system in many Anglo-Saxon countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Countries such as those mentioned above do not have an official translation system. In these cases, the requirements depend on the specific authority. Normally, the document must include a statement from the translator certifying that it is a true and accurate translation of the original, including the name and contact details of the translator.

On the other hand, in countries governed by Civil Law (originating in Roman Law, used in countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany, where the law is based on written codes and laws). In these countries, sworn translators are appointed and accredited by the Administration or competent bodies, both at state and regional level.

What does this mean?

This means that if you want to apply for a visa for the United States from, for example, an Asian country, you will not need the services of a sworn translator to translate your documents from the source language into English, since the figure of the sworn translator itself does not exist. But you will need a professional translator to certify your documents and, if necessary, notarize them.

On the other hand, if you wish to apply for a visa for Spain, Spain will require a sworn translator to translate all the required documents into Spanish. The same applies to official translations into Italian, German, French or Portuguese, as these countries are also governed by civil law.

What is the sworn translation procedure?

The sworn translator requests either the original documents or a scanned color copy of the documents requiring sworn translation. The translation must include the translator's signature and personal seal, as well as the translator's license number. Unmarked plain paper or stamped paper may be used. The translations do not require additional legalization, as they are done by an authorized sworn translator. This means that the sworn translation does not have to be notarized afterwards, as the sworn translator acts as a notary public for translations.

In the case already mentioned here of countries governed by Common Law, where there is normally no sworn translator as such, the translation is usually done by a translator and then notarized by a notary public.

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