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Rgamez | Traductor Jurídico - Legal Translator

Camino Viejo de Simancas, 15 B - 4 B. 47008 Valladolid. -

Ruth Gámez

"A sworn translator is a translator appointed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to translate or to interpret from a foreign language to the Spanish language and vice versa, authenticating such translation."

Ruth Gámez

Sworn Translator for the English language appointed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2009).

Expert in legal translation since 2000.


Which is the difference between a legal translation and a sworn translation?

A Legal translation, as its name suggests, refers to the translation of texts within the legal sphere, either contracts, or legislation, case law, etc.

The legal text has a technical nature and it has to take equal effects in the legal system of the target language (language that it is to be translated into) than in the source language (language to be translated). Thus, the translation process demands two necessary and complementary levels: linguistic and legal. In the linguistic level, the complexity of the legal language has to be overcome. It is well known the archaic ritualism of this kind of language, not only in English but also in Spanish. In the legal level, Comparative law has to be mastered, as there are many concepts in the legal system of the source language that have their correspondence in the legal system of the target language but that may involve misunderstandings, from a legal point of view. For instance, and just as an example, the concept of "breach of contract" in American Law has its equivalent in Spanish as "incumplimiento de contrato", but both the formation and content of the American doctrine is very different from the Spanish one, where the negligence plays an essential role.

However, Sworn translation refers to the translation of documents, usually legal ones, that aim at having legal effects or legal authentication. Those documents have to be translated by sworn translators. A sworn interpreter (also named sworn translator) is a translator appointed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to translate or to interpret from a foreign language to the Spanish language and vice versa, authenticating such translation. She/he is usually required in legal or administrative procedures when foreign documentation has to be submitted or when a statement before the Public Administration has to be made.

Which are the translation services performed by a sworn translator?

The most common services that a sworn translator can perform are:

  • To translate a written document and to certify that such translation is complete and accurate.
  • To certify that a translation carried out by another person is complete and accurate.
  • To interpret (consecutive interpreting) a statement before a judge, an act before a public notary, a marriage celebration, or any other act of legal nature where individuals with a mother tongue language different that the one of the legal act intervene.

In these cases, the translator or interpreter becomes a commissioner for oaths, of linguistic kind, that complements the function developed, within the Spanish legal system, by the registrars of deeds and public notaries. This way, the translation, which is stamped and signed by the sworn translator, becomes official.

Which documents need a sworn translation and which don't?

Most of documents used in business relationships between companies and individuals don't need a sworn translation. Contracts, agreements, insurance policies, etc. do not require the sworn translator's stamp and signature to be valid. However, it is highly recommended to entrust a legal translation to a translator expert in Law in order to avoid mistakes when searching the appropriate equivalents of legal concepts. A translator that is not an expert in Law won't be acquainted with the legal systems of different countries nor with the legal concepts of both the source and target languages and may make important translation mistakes, thus affecting negatively the client's business or case.

Typical cases where sworn translations are required include:

  • Any document that will be presented as evidence in a lawsuit
  • Academic certificates and transcripts
  • Criminal records certificates
  • Medical certificates
  • Naturalisation proceedings
  • Birth/marriage/death certificates
  • Residents' permits
  • Powers of attorney
  • Letters of intent and memoranda
  • Auditing reports
  • Financial information
  • Minutes of meetings