Sworn translation or legal translation?


Sometimes we receive sworn translation requests from our clients when they don’t really need them; they just need a legal translation (specialised). This is why we would like to briefly explain the difference between sworn translation and legal translation.


Let’s imagine three situations:

-A textile manufacturer from the UK is expanding its distributors’ network in Europe and needs to translate a trade agreement into Spanish. Afterwards, this will have to be signed by its future distributor in Spain. It’s a formal text, containing legal terminology and phraseology. The manufacturer needs a specialised translation (legal).

-An architect’s office is in the process of setting up a new branch in Jordan together with its partner. They are requested to translate several corporate documents into Arabic, including the company’s articles of association. These documents were already signed and made official a long time ago; they are formal and contain terminology and phraseology like in the first situation. However, they have to be certified (as a notary would do) to be valid in the legal context of the country where the activity will take place. The architect’s office needs a sworn translation.

-A student from the UK wishes to study a master in Spain and the host university requests sworn translations of several academic certificates. These are university degrees and academic records which were already issued, so a sworn translation is needed to guarantee the accuracy of the translation.

Example of document types that would need a legal translation but also a sworn translation if required by the Administration or by other entities (for legal procedures, in order to guarantee the accuracy of the translation of a document originally written in another language):

-Sales contracts,commercial contracts

-Powers, deeds, wills

-Procedures, court decisions

-Deed of incorporation, articles of association (or bylaws)

-Laws and regulations


-Work documents

-Academic certificates

-Birth certificate, divorce decree, death certificate

-Family record books

-Criminal records

What is the difference between a translator specialised in legal texts and a sworn translator?

A translator specialised in legal texts is a professional with a broad experience and education in this specialised field, with a perfect command of legal concepts and phraseology.

A sworn translator is the same but additionally they are authorised as a sworn translator having passed a public exam. They guarantee the accuracy of the translation and their signature and certificate have the same validity as a notary.

How many languages can a sworn translator translate into?

A sworn translator can only translate into the languages they have been authorised to by passing a public exam held by the Administration.

Is there any special formality in sworn translations?

The translated text also shows the seals and signatures included in the original document and the translation has the same format as the original. A certificate is attached to the translation in which the translator guarantees the translation is accurate, and the translation is sealed and signed by the sworn translator.

Do both kinds of translation have the same price?

No, they don’t. The price for a sworn translation is higher since the translator assumes responsibility for the translation. Moreover, it has to be delivered in paper format so the shipping costs have to be added to the final price.

What can Cotranslating do for me?

Carme Estévez March, member of the team, is a sworn English-Catalan translator. Cotranslating manages both kinds of translations in any language combination since we have a network of experienced professional translators and proofreaders to deliver top quality services in other languages.

Contact us for a free quote and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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