Translating documents for embassies and government organizations
Thread poster: Rob_H

Rob_H
China
Local time: 08:00
Feb 9, 2017

Hi there

I would like to know what requirements a registered translation agency needs to meet in order to translate official documents (birth certificates, degree certificates, etc.) for Foreign Embassies.

For example, does an embassy always require a translation from a sworn translator with the relevant certificate, or is a stamp from the translation agency sufficient ?

I know these requirements may vary from country to country, so all information on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Robert


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:00
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sworn translators Feb 10, 2017

As you say, these requirements vary from country to country. I was a sworn translator working for the Belgian Courts (translating diplomas, birth, marriage and death certificates, divorce proceedings, adoption records, wills, powers of attorney, incorporation of companies…). After 30 years in Belgium (1986-2016) I moved back to my home country last year and in Portugal, unlike other countries, there are no sworn translators. To certify a translation, so that a translated document is legally valid, it is necessary to make its certification at the organizations empowered to do so (namely Notary’s Offices and Attorneys). That is why since my return I have been working with an attorney for the certification of my translations. So, you should ask your Ministry of Foreign Affairs (or the Ministry of Justice) what exactly is required to be a sworn translator in your country.

Regarding some European Union member countries, I've just found this:

http://ec.europa.eu/translation/LID/index.cfm?fuseaction=main.PublicationContent&PBL_ID=363

[Edited at 2017-02-10 10:41 GMT]


 

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:00
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Awful Feb 11, 2017

Teresa Borges wrote:

....

Regarding some European Union member countries, I've just found this:

http://ec.europa.eu/translation/LID/index.cfm?fuseaction=main.PublicationContent&PBL_ID=363

[Edited at 2017-02-10 10:41 GMT]


That's awful:
"... even the chinese guy ..." -??? In a europe.eu source?? An awful English full of mistakes and typos is likewise inadmissible for an officia EU site.
By the way, a Notary Public often charges more than 24 euros (in Portugal), I wonder who and when indicated that amount. An attorney, several years ago, requested 25 euros+VAT.


 

Javier Sancho Durán  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:00
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Inaccurate information Feb 12, 2017

Inga Petkelyte wrote:
"... even the chinese guy ..." -??? In a europe.eu source?? An awful English full of mistakes and typos is likewise inadmissible for an officia EU site.


This is probably some sort of unofficial and very informal working document. The information about Spain is completely wrong (and outdated). For instance, it is just the other way round: we are authorised to translate into both languages, but some of us only accept to translate into our mother tongue (as in any other job).


 

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:00
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Must be Feb 14, 2017

Javier Sancho Durán wrote:

...
This is probably some sort of unofficial and very informal working document. The information about Spain is completely wrong (and outdated). For instance, it is just the other way round: we are authorised to translate into both languages, but some of us only accept to translate into our mother tongue (as in any other job).


You must be right about it being informal. Yet! I wonder how many of us would work like that at any stage of drafting.
Back to the topic - it seems that only 4 EU countries don't have a procedure to become a sworn translator.
wonder what happens when a translator sworn under the rules of one country moves to a country where such rules do not exist.
Technically, the translator is still sworn, but how much valid is that credential in such a country?


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
The MOST formal country regarding sworn translations is Brazil Feb 14, 2017

Inga Petkelyte wrote:

You must be right about it being informal. Yet! I wonder how many of us would work like that at any stage of drafting.
Back to the topic - it seems that only 4 EU countries don't have a procedure to become a sworn translator.
wonder what happens when a translator sworn under the rules of one country moves to a country where such rules do not exist.
Technically, the translator is still sworn, but how much valid is that credential in such a country?


We have a federal decree in Brazil which dates back from 1943, and has never been amended.
Full details in English on this page.

It obviously precedes electrostatic copiers, fax, telex, computers, printers, scanners, and the Internet.
So we have to adapt it as much as we can to use computers instead of typewriters (or fountain pens!), but everything here is still... on paper!

The reason this ancient decree has never been amended is that sworn translations don't result in levying any additional taxes, if compared to plain translations. The "suivez l'argent" thing falls flat when there is no "argent" whatsoever to be followed. Our legislators are clearly tax-driven.

Yet the law is crystal-clear: NO document in a foreign language may be accepted for any legal/official purpose in Brazil without being attached to a sworn translation compliant to it.

We are about 3,700 sworn translators (registered, but possibly including some inactive and deceased ones) in a country with 2 million people. We aren't allowed to operate outside the national territory, and we cover a total of 22 languages, not all present in every state. For other languages, ad-hoc appointments are made. Though our translations are valid nationwide, mandatory rates are statewide. Exams are usually spread 20-30 years apart in each state that does them.

Though the law doesn't cover it, we are examined and licensed to translate from Portuguese into the foreign language we get licensed in. Brazilian law couldn't possibly rule on that, as it depends on foreign sovereign nations. However most countries accept Brazilian sworn translations.

I'd say that most of the candidates who fail in the Brazilian exam for sworn translators do it because they lack the competence in translating into the foreign language they are applying for. When I took the exam, in São Paulo, 1999, there were about 6,000 candidates, of which less than 1,500 passed. However that's the rule: a Brazilian sworn translator must be fully competent in both translating and interpreting (consecutively) in both directions.


 

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 00:00
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Interesting Feb 15, 2017

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:


...

Yet the law is crystal-clear: NO document in a foreign language may be accepted for any legal/official purpose in Brazil without being attached to a sworn translation compliant to it.

We are about 3,700 sworn translators (registered, but possibly including some inactive and deceased ones) in a country with 2 million people. We aren't allowed to operate outside the national territory, and we cover a total of 22 languages, not all present in every state.

For other languages, ad-hoc appointments are made. Though our translations are valid nationwide, mandatory rates are statewide. Exams are usually spread 20-30 years apart in each state that does them.

Though the law doesn't cover it, we are examined and licensed to translate from Portuguese into the foreign language we get licensed in. Brazilian law couldn't possibly rule on that, as it depends on foreign sovereign nations. However most countries accept Brazilian sworn translations.

I'd say that most of the candidates who fail in the Brazilian exam for sworn translators do it because they lack the competence in translating into the foreign language they are applying for. When I took the exam, in São Paulo, 1999, there were about 6,000 candidates, of which less than 1,500 passed. However that's the rule: a Brazilian sworn translator must be fully competent in both translating and interpreting (consecutively) in both directions.


Does that mean that a translation needs only a sworn translator's signature or also has to be appostilled anyway?
If you have passed the exam in one state, can you operate in other states?
Can you set up your rates for a sworn translations or do you have to follow "tabela"? (In Portugal, translations for courts are paid by officially established rates.)

After having written my previous post, I aw this on the jobs board:
"We are looking for sworn translators who are empowered by a german court to certify a translation. from EN to PT".
I understand, this would be an ad-hoc situation - otherwise, is it possible that a state would licence a translator to work in foreign only language, none being the official language of that country?
(Don't let me talk - I am all questions:) )


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Answers to Inga Feb 15, 2017

Inga Petkelyte wrote:
Does that mean that a translation needs only a sworn translator's signature or also has to be appostilled anyway?


This is an interesting point. Brazilian law states that "no document in a foreign language may be accepted by... (authorities) unless attached to a sworn translation compliant to..."

Therefore what's being accepted is the original document (with the translation), and not the translation itself.
As I put it, I can do a sworn translation from a message written on a nightclub napkin, sent to me by fax. The point is whether the entity where it will be filed will accept that.

Brazil has joined the 1961 Hague Convention on the Apostille recently. It became effective here since Aug. 16th, 2016.

It is up to the receiving entity to determine authentication requirements:
a) on the original document;
b) on the translation; or
c) both.

School docs usually go without them. If an undergraduate goes overseas to do, say, some graduate course in Physics, and a professor finds out that he thinks that Isaac Newton is likely to be no more than Wayne Newton's great-uncle, it is possible to phone or e-mail that jerk's school that supposedly issued the BSc diploma he provided, to check whether it's legit.

On the other extreme, utmost care is applied to demand full legitimacy of instruments granting Power of Attorney. Only originals with all possible notarizations are accepted, because after a fake proxy has sold some property and vanished with the loot, whoever accepted the PoA & translation will be left holding the sack.

Inga Petkelyte wrote:
If you have passed the exam in one state, can you operate in other states?


Technically, no, because the supervising authorities are statewide.
Our sworn translations are valid nationwide, this is said explicitly in the law.
Therefore, as the statewide rates are different, if the text is very long, sometimes it's worth having the translation done in another state by mail. However there is a matter of translator availability. Almost half of all sworn translators in Brazil are in the Sao Paulo state. About 10% in the Rio de Janeiro state. And the others are scattered among most of the other 24 states (26 total) and the Federal District. I know two states that have only one sworn translator: one for English in Piaui, and one for French in Paraiba.
However any sworn translator moving from one state to another can request a transfer.

Inga Petkelyte wrote:
Can you set up your rates for a sworn translations or do you have to follow "tabela"? (In Portugal, translations for courts are paid by officially established rates.)


The law says we must charge the amount calculated using the "tabela" for our state, and clearly forbids any kind of discount to anyone. However there is no law anywhere preventing anyone from giving money away as they please, so some "desperados" are known to give discounts, extra time to pay (our interest rates are about 15% per month - sic!), and other amenities. I think it's a shot in ones own foot.

Inga Petkelyte wrote:
After having written my previous post, I aw this on the jobs board:
"We are looking for sworn translators who are empowered by a german court to certify a translation. from EN to PT".
I understand, this would be an ad-hoc situation - otherwise, is it possible that a state would licence a translator to work in foreign only language, none being the official language of that country?


I don't know. I sent them the link to my pages in English about it, just in case the translation is intended for Brazil.


 


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