Becoming a sworn translator
Thread poster: loretta huether

loretta huether
Local time: 21:04
German to English
Jan 5, 2007

Hi everyone,

I`m just getting started as a freelancer and have done several translations. I`ve been asked by an agency if I am a sworn translator.
I´d like to know how one becomes a sworn tranlsator and if it is necessarcy.



Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:04
Member (2005)
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Hi Loretta Jan 6, 2007

I don't know the procedure in your country, but to be a sworn translator in Indonesia, a translator should sit for a legal translation accreditation test (so far, it is administered by Universitas Indonesia).

If he/she passed the test with an A qualification, he/she is entitled to applying for a certificate of sworn translator issued by the government agency (so far, it is issued by the head of Jakarta province).

Good Luck.


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends on the country where you're based Jan 6, 2007

loretta huether wrote:
I´d like to know how one becomes a sworn tranlsator and if it is necessarcy.

In Spain, there are undergraduate courses leading to the degree of sworn translator OR a state exam. I believe in Germany this is subject to an exam, but I don't know about courses.

However, your profile states that you translate into English and not the inverse. The UK uses other means for certifying translations (Notary Public as Commissioner of Oaths). You might want to study the point from this angle.


Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:04
Member (Feb 2018)
German to English
Not necessary except for certificates, etc. Jan 6, 2007

In Germany you need to be a sworn translator to translate certificates and so on, and put a stamp on them to show they are certified translations. You only need to be a sworn translator if you want to documents (e.g. birth certificates) which require an official stamp.

Each federal state has different rules on who can be a sworn translator. In Saxony, for example, you can apply once a year (in March, I think) and you have to take a special exam (including legal translation) translating in and out of German.

If you pass you can then call yourself an "öffentlich bestellter und allgemein beeidigter Übersetzer für die englische Sprache" and you can have a stamp made for yourself to put on official translations.

When you take your oath, you also agree to do other things: you have to promise to do translations and interpreting for the local court and for the police. You can only refuse to do these translations "aus wichtigem Grund".

If you move, you have to go apply again in the new federal state you move to.


loretta huether
Local time: 21:04
German to English
The difference between certified and sworn translator Jan 6, 2007

Thank you Hipyan and Anne!

It is all a little confusing...

What is the difference between a "certified translator" and a "sworn tranlsator"? Is the test you have to take the same? What test is it? How can I prepare for such a test?

I don`t think I would want to be a sworn translator if I HAVE to translate documents for the court and police...

Thanks for your comments



Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:04
Member (Feb 2018)
German to English
I know what you mean. Jan 6, 2007

I find it a little odd that in order to be able to translate a wedding certificate into English, I need to take an exam involving translating legal texts into German and promise that I will go to the prison and interpret. But you can get by very well without being a sworn translator, so it isn't that important. What I have done is to find a sworn translator or two nearby so that when customers phone and ask if I'll translate their birth certificate I say "my 'colleague' is in charge of that" and give them the sworn translator's number.

In Saxony there is a law on translators (SächsDolmG) which was the only document I could find explaining how to become a sworn translator when I looked into it. You could look for a similar law in your state, or go to the Landgericht and ask.

A sworn (beeidigt) translator is when you take an oath in court (after the special exam) to say you will translate properly and carry out the other duties. You can then use the stamp I described above. In England you have to get a notary public to give you this stamp (as I understand it, I haven't worked in England!) but in Germany the translator herself gets this special authorisation.

(More details: )

A certified translator is simply one who has an official certificate as a translator, as far as I know.

Other topics:

In Germany you don't actually need to have any certification to say you are a translator, but if you want to join a translators' association here or get more work it helps greatly. I took a British exam, the Dip Trans IoL, here in Germany, and that (and maybe my degree in French?) got me into the BDÜ (Bund der Übersetzer). I am on their list of translators and can write BDÜ after my name, which has been very helpful in getting work.


Alison Schwitzgebel
Local time: 21:04
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Different in every state in Germany Jan 7, 2007

Hi Loretta!

This has been discussed a few times before - see the links posted above. The requirements to become a "sworn" translator are different in every state in Germany. Basically, you need to have a German translation qualification (obtained in Germany). A degree, no matter how good, from a foreign university will not suffice. I have heard that it's possible to get foreign degrees "converted" into German degrees, but I'm not sure how you would go about it or how much this would cost.

The best approach is to contact your local "Landgericht" and ask exactly what they require in the way of qualifications.

In Hesse and Rhineland Palatinate you have to submit proof of your qualification to the court and then attend an appointment there to get sworn in.

Each state section of the BDÜ in Germany has someone who specialises in the requirements for sworn translations. You can also contact them to find out more about how to become a "sworn" translator.




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