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          Certified translations & “certified” or “sworn” translators

          Some translations, especially in legal circumstances, must be accompanied by something similar to a “certificate of authenticity” to confirm their legitimacy.

          That is, you might be asked to certify a translation in order to provide proof that the content of the original document is exactly the same as the content of the translation.

          In a translation agency, it’s not uncommon for customers to come looking for “sworn” translations.

          It’s also not uncommon for some institutions to inform their users that their translated documents must be carried out by “certified” translators or “sworn” translators.

          It’s no less unusual to find translation agencies claiming that they offer “sworn” translations carried out by “sworn” translators in your country.

          So where can you find a “sworn” translator?

          Well, let me tell you that you certainly will not find one of those in Portugal! Under the Portuguese legislation, there is no such thing as a sworn translator.

          Nor is it necessary to hire an “official” translator, i.e., a member of the Portuguese Translators Association—as some institutions unknowingly demand—to carry out a certified translation. Any professional translator can perform the translation, which will subsequently be certified by the competent authority, and the document produced will have legal validity.

          In some countries, this process is handled by “sworn” translators who have a legal liability over the translation, while other countries employ a third party—a lawyer or notary in Portugal—to validate such equivalence along with the translator.

          There are sworn translators in Spain, where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation is responsible for awarding the Sworn Translator and Interpreter certification, and in Brazil, where a Certified Public Translator and Commercial Interpreter (Tradutor Público e Intérprete Comercial – TPIC) is a professional who is licensed, appointed, and registered with the Board of Trade in the state where he or she resides.

          In many countries, a professional translator will swear an oath before a notary and receive the title of “sworn translator.” In such jurisdictions, a public notary will only authenticate the signatures of these “sworn” translators.

          These translators can either be working directly for the notary or they can be independent, having sworn an oath in the presence of the notary in question.

          Each country and institution will determine what you need to do. The process of certifying a document varies from institution to institution, so be sure to contact the institution requesting the certified translation to know exactly what is required.

          What’s the difference between a sworn and a notarized translation?

          • A sworn translation is any translation performed, signed, and sealed by a “sworn” translator, as is required by some countries’ jurisdictions.
          • A notarized translation is used when official documents are accurately translated from the source into the target language and then authenticated by a public notary, a lawyer, or a solicitor—as is the case in Portugal.
          • The Hague Apostille certifies the authenticity of official documents that are used in the countries that signed the Hague Convention.
          • Legalized translations are validated at an embassy, consulate, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as required by some countries’ jurisdictions.

          So what happens in Portugal?

          In Portugal, translations may be performed by a professional translator and certified by a notary, a lawyer, or a solicitor.

          These professionals will issue a Translation Certificate declaring that the translator is responsible for the translation.

          This translation certificate can never, under any circumstances, be issued by the person who needs the documents translated, nor by a close family member or their own lawyers or legal representatives.

          In sum, the translator will appear before the certifying entity to take responsibility for the translation and the customer will, ultimately, receive three documents, which are legally valid only if submitted together:

          • a declaration by the notary and the translator, signed and stamped by both parties;
          • the original document, signed and stamped by both parties;
          • and the document’s translation, also signed and stamped by both parties.

          Yes, your original documents WILL be stamped.

          And, if you need several documents translated and certified, each document will have to be certified separately.

          What is the Hague Apostille?

          If the documents are to be used internationally, you might be asked to authenticate them under the provisions of the Hague Convention by adding the Apostille.

          In Portugal, the Hague Apostille is required only for documents that will be used in one of the Hague Convention signatories, and this must be carried out by the Attorney General’s Offices (Procuradoria-Geral da República – PGR).

          The Portuguese Foreigners and Borders Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras – SEF) may require an Apostille only if the original document was issued by a country signatory of the convention. In this case, the Apostille must be handled in the country of origin (of the document) or the corresponding embassy.

          When does a translation need to be certified?

          This happens most often with legal documents like contracts or identity cards, birth or marriage certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, visas, school diplomas, court petitions, expert opinions, evidence documents, meeting minutes, court decisions, powers of attorney, etc.

          In sum, a certified translation is a legally valid translation that proves the translation of a given document is a faithful representation of the original, and that the original was issued by an official entity.

          We do recommend that this service is assigned to experienced translation professionals able to properly conduct the process so that you won’t end up with a legally invalid document.

          Take a look at what Verbarium has to offer here!

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