What is involved in making a translation official and accepted by an insurance company?
Thread poster: AberCap

United States
Member (2010)
Apr 21, 2010

Hello Proz people!

I have a question that I was hoping I could get some insight on from some of you who are sworn or "official" translators.

Here is what my client is asking for without going into specific details:

They need translations of manuals and safety procedures that are official and will be held up against an insurance company and/or in court.

For example: It is an American company operating in Korea (they are in other countries around the world, but this is just one example for you), and let's say a catastrophic event happens to one of the Korean manufacturing employees like a death, for instance. The insurance company will come in and ask the American company for documentation in Korean of safety procedures that were given to the Korean employee to prevent any accidents. The translations must be official in some way so they will accept them. If the translations were done by some non-professional translation with many mis-translations of safety procedures, the American company could be involved in a major lawsuit.

I need all the information possible on how I can go about getting sworn or official translations of these safety training manuals and other company documents in multiple language pairs. What is the easiest way? Do I use a sworn translator? If so, does each translation need to get sealed or something? Are there additional costs for this? If so, what is it?

Also, how do sworn translations work? Is the translator only sworn in a certain country or is it worldwide for a language pair?

As my company mainly focuses on multi-language subtitling, this is a new arena for me so any help would be much appreciated.

Thank you!!!

Joanna Scavo
Aberdeen Captioning, Inc.


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:41
English to Spanish
+ ...
Depends on Country Apr 22, 2010

What you are asking would depend on where the lawsuit is being heard (country). If it is being heard in the USA, then there is no such thing as a sworn translator or equivalent. Morever, despite the translator's credentials, no translation must be accepted on its face and any translation may be challenged.

Each country has its own requirements for translators (if any at all), plus they would only cover a certain limited number of languages, and the language pair involved may not be included.

My "official" status is that I am certified by the US Federal Courts, and actually as an interpreter, not specifically as a translator. It certainly adds a lot of credibility, but has no "official" status outside the US Federal Courts. In practice my work has never been challenged, but it could be.


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:41
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Brazil Apr 22, 2010

Brazil has laws on sworn translations. Therefore any document issued in a foreign language must be translated in compliance to certain rules to have official value. I've compiled a roundup of how it works at http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/faqs.html .

Now Brazil doesn't have federal, all-inclusive laws on certified copies nor notarized signatures. So some cases are covered by specific laws; while others are not. In the latter case, it's up to the agency/department to set the rules for that. When they don't, it may be up to the receiving employee's mood on that day to demand them or not.

AFAIK most countries that don't have laws on certified translations work like Brazil in the second case above (copies & signatures).

Now let's get back to reality, your case. Assume that ACME (= American Company that Makers Everything) Corporation has a subsidiary in Brazil. Their original safety manual was issued in English. Of course, there is no point in distributing manuals in English to Brazilian blue-collar workers. So these manuals will be translated into Portuguese before distribution. Brazilian workers will be expected to abide by the Brazilian manual they received in Portuguese, and supposedly read. If there is any mistranslation there, and an employee is injured after following the instructions to the dot, the company is liable for having provided an inaccurate manual. It doesn't matter whether it was originally wrong, or poorly translated, the manual in Portuguese will be taken as evidence in any Brazilian court.

If the company wants to sue the translator in Brazil, yes, then a sworn translation of the original may be required. However if the company's lawyer is smart, they'll ask an expert linguist, who may be a sworn translator for credibility, to act as an expert witness on the flawed translation.

So I don't see the point of the insurance company requesting any translation other than the one that was provided to the employees in the local language.


madak  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:41
Swedish to English
+ ...
The concept of sworn/authorised translation does not exist in all countries/jurisdictions Apr 22, 2010

But even if it does in X jurisdiction - would it be enough to exonerate a company which publishes incorrect instructions/information in X jurisdiction? I doubt it, although anything that the company has done to ensure correct translation should would work in its favour in any eventual subsequent legal proceedings.

Please note that these are my personal, non-legal, thoughts and should be construed as legal advice.


Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:41
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Please clarify the situation Apr 22, 2010

From the replies so far, I think there may be a misunderstanding here.
Please clarify what the situation is:
A. There is a lawsuit or insurance claim where it is necessary to provide sworn/certified translations of some documents (safety manuals).
B. There is no lawsuit, the company ordering this translation simply wants to make sure that the translations are accurate, because: it wants to make sure the safety procedures are conveyed correctly in the other language to its foreign employees in order to prevent accidents, and in the unfortunate case something happens in the future, they could prove that there was no problem with the safety instructions.

If it is case A, then I think you probably have a backtranslation job to do, in other words, (using your example) the Korean manual that was provided to the workers should be backtranslated for the US courts, to see what it said. In the US you can obtain certified translations from any qualified professional translator. If the lawsuit is in Korea, and it is the Korean court that needs the translation, then they would probably want the original manual, the exact same one that was given to the workers, and not another translation, however "official" that would be.

If it is case B, then you simply have to use your standard quality management procedures to ensure the accuracy of the translations. I assume you follow QA procedures for subtitling, too. It is pretty much the same: make sure you pick your team (translator, editor, proofreader) carefully, ensure appropriate communication, set up checkpoints and standards, use feedback constructively, etc.

So, could you clarify the situation?


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
IF there is a lawsuit Apr 24, 2010

The working language and legalizing/authentication procedures will be determined by the jurisdiction. Meaning, that if, as per your example, this takes place in Korea, some of the documents might just have to go through the consulate, which would be in a position to inform you.

Otherwise, Henry's right; it depends on the country. A "sworn" translator would be valid mainly for the country that certifies him (for ex., in steps prior to the apostille of The Hague for documents from that country that have to be presented abroad).

[Edited at 2010-04-24 07:54 GMT]


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