What is necessary for an into English legal doc. translation?
Thread poster: Timothy Woods

Timothy Woods

Local time: 02:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 7, 2014


I need to send for translation a Spanish birth certificate and Spanish ID card. They require the equivalent of a sworn translation, though into English, it seems to be called a "certified translation" rather than a sworn. Could someone clarify that please? I have a number of other questions, below, for which I would be very appreciative of some clarification.

I do not know what exactly is required.
1. Does it need to be notarised?
2. Does the format need to be the same, or close to, the original Spanish birth certificate? Would this be the same for the ID card?
3. Or can they simply be translated into simple text with no formatting?
4. Who is able to carry out such a translation?
5. Must the person hold a degree in translation and be English native?
6. Where can I find translators offering such services?
7. Lastly, will I need the same copy from the translator physically delivered to me, or will a scan be sufficient?

I would greatly appreciate help here as I am very confused. Also I would like to add that I can translate the document myself. The only thing is that I do not hold a certificate in translation, though I am currently enrolled on the CioL DipTrans course. I won't do the test until 2016 though. Could I translate it and have a certified translator proof it and sign off on it?

Many thanks!


[Edited at 2014-09-07 12:41 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-09-07 12:42 GMT]


Karen Stokes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:21
Member (2003)
French to English
Certified translation in the UK Sep 7, 2014

Hi Tim,

It will depend to some extent on why you need the documents translated, who's asking for them and where they are based. In the UK, for example, we don't have a system of sworn translators: instead, the translator "self-certifies" their translation.

CIOL's advice on this is as follows:

"Unlike many other European countries, the UK does not have a system of ‘sworn’ or ‘certified’ translators accredited by a particular body. Translations required for official purposes – such as birth, death and marriage certificates, legal documents, academic transcripts, etc. – can, however, be ‘self-certified’ by any practising translator, including members of the Chartered Institute of Linguists. Whilst certification does not in itself guarantee the quality of a translation, it does serve to identify the translator and their credentials and makes them accountable for their work.

You should check with the organisation requesting a certified translation exactly what its requirements are and explain these clearly to the translator when commissioning work from them."

Some organisations in the UK specify that they want an 'official' translator or for them to be a member of / registered with one of the professional bodies (CIOL or ITI in the UK) but you need to check exactly what their requirements are, as it can vary. To give you an example, I recently produced four copies of a certified translation for a client executing his mother's will: three of the financial institutions concerned were quite happy with a self-certified translation but one wanted it notarised, although they were all effectively dealing with the same type of transaction.

Notarisation goes a step further in establishing the identity and credentials of the translator: I would take my certified translation to a notary public, who would check the validity of the credentials declared on my certificate, sign and seal it.

To answer your other questions: as far as formatting goes, I would generally try to replicate the layout of the original as closely as possible for ease of comparison between source and target. Personally, I've never been asked to certify someone else's translation, so I've only ever signed off on my own work, and would only produce a certified translation as a hard copy with my original signature on it.

Hope this helps.

[Edited at 2014-09-07 15:59 GMT]


Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 20:21
Romanian to English
+ ...
Hi Timothy, Sep 7, 2014

Although I live in the US, I think that there are 2 situations: 1) if the original documents are in Spain, you may need a translated certificate with Apostille (Hague Convention); it means that the translator, in Spain needs to notarise the translation and have an apostille that certifies the authenticity of the notarisation;

2) if the original documents are in the UK, I believe that a notarised translation is enough.



Timothy Woods

Local time: 02:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thanks Sep 7, 2014

Hi Karen and Lee,

Thanks so much for your replies guys. It's really appreciated. I will clarify exactly what is required tomorrow. I imagine I will indeed have to have it notarised. It is a little frustrating though, as I can translate it perfectly well myself, but I'm not yet certified so can't!

Many thanks again for your advice.

Warmest regards,



Liviu-Lee Roth
United States
Local time: 20:21
Romanian to English
+ ...
Hi Tim, Sep 8, 2014

If you can translated to mirror the original, you should do it and ask a certified translator to proof it. Saves some money & time.



Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 19:21
German to English
+ ...
for what country? Sep 8, 2014

For these things we always need to know what country will be looking at the translation, since every country seems to have its own rules. I'm a Canadian certified translator, but my stamp doesn't count in Germany, while a German sworn translator's stamp doesn't count here (for example). So even if you do have some kind of title, a stamp and so on, that alone doesn't always count.


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