What is a Sworn Translation and When do I Need One?

sworn translation
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The certification process has not been standardized globally. This means that sworn translation may have different meaning in different countries.

What is a sworn translation?

“A sworn translation is an officially accepted translation performed by a professional translator approved by the competent authority of each country.”

sworn translation in different countries

The sworn translation concept in different countries

US and UK

The US and the UK have not adopted the sworn translation concept. Still, you may need to provide either a notarized or a certified translation. A notarized translation pertains to that which has an attached certificate or affidavit. It must be signed and dated by a qualified translation agency or translator. It must also come with a statement that says all the translation provided is accurate.


In Australia, translators that are accredited by NAATI or The National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters are the only ones allowed to make certified translations.


In Canada, translations must pass the standards of the CTTIC or Canadian Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters Council. A translator must undergo a standardized translation examination before he can be given a certificate. Once passed, he can have the initials TA for “traducteur agree” or CT for certified translator.


In France, sworn translations stand for “traduction assermentee”. They are usually done by certified translators who have personally taken an oath before the court of law and are approved to give translations within the language/s indicated.


In Mexico, translators need to apply to the Superior Court of Justice of the State of the Mexican Federation. They must pass the oral and written exams. Only then can they be labelled as an official translator or “perito traductor oficial”.

official translation in Canada

Documents that need sworn translations

Nearly all documents that are required by the official body or State authority (municipalities, consulates, universities, prefectures, etc.), as well as those presented as a requirement to get official documents (naturalization applications, residence card, etc.), commonly need a certified translation.

Some examples:

  • civil record certificates (death certificate, birth certificate, marriage certificate)
  • notary documents
  • contracts, financial reports and statements
  • bailiff notices
  • transcripts of records and diplomas
  • documents needed for adoption

Validity of sworn translation in other countries

Most translations performed by certified translators are often formally recognized all throughout the origin country. However, international recognition is dependent on individual cases. It’s usually based on the defined requirements of the requesting authority. For instance, a translation by a Canadian translator who has sworn before a Canadian court won’t automatically be accepted in Mexico or France.

Defining certified translation

In the United States, a certified translation is one that was prepared by a translator and/or translation company wherein they certify that it is an accurate and complete translation of the original document on a sworn statement affixed to the translation. Some agencies including the FDA require that all certified translations also include a brief summary of its translator’s qualifications. Moreover, certified translations may need notarization in order to confirm the identity of the translator signing the statement. Basically, the certification must state that the translation was made in good faith and according to the standards and norms of professional translation.

When Does One Need Sworn Translation?

Sworn translations need a lot of experience in linguistics, vocabulary, and legislation. These translations follow a particular ethical code and correct commands. The sworn translation proves to the equivalence between the original and translated text so that the translated version of the document holds the same legal values as the original.

The most common examples are:

  • you want for your qualification, granted in a foreign country, to be recognized throughout the US
  • a non-US citizen would like their driving license to be recognized in the US
  • for family reunification, you need sworn translations of your birth and marriage certificates into English
  • you have got a car abroad and need its registration information translated into English
  • translation of documents necessary for US citizenship
  • translation of certificates for a marriage
  • any legitimate document, relating to an individual or to a company or institution, that includes foreign bodies or entities

When submitting foreign documents to a court of law or agencies like the USCIS, certified translation is a requirement. Other official documents like birth certificates or college transcript of records also require similar certification. When you need to submit certified translations, it is best to first check what kind of certification is required. Afterwards, it may need to be notarized together with the translator’s qualification and/or resume.

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