top of page

Certified, Sworn or
Notarized Translation

I wrote an article on my blog about this topic explaining in detail the difference between certified, sworn and notarized translations that you can read here, but on this website you will find a more concise version of it.

For the record, I am an APT Certified Legal Translator (as you can verify here; additional proof of certification can be made available via email request), which means that I can provide certified translations whenever is necessary, by issuing a certificate of accuracy bearing my own APT stamp and embossed seal, but in case you need a notarized translation, I can help you with that as well, as I work in partnership with a lawyer to help speed things up.

You can request a quote here.

Lastly, please keep in mind that in Portugal you will very often hear about certified translation as having the same meaning and effect as a notarized translation. This is because in Portuguese we say that a translation is "certificada" when we are actually referring to a notarized translation. It is a true case of false friend (where certificada is interpreted as certified). This is due to the fact that, besides a notary, other official bodies are allowed to provide notarized translations considering that in this regard, under the Portuguese law, they hold the same powers as a notary public. So because of this unique aspect, the broader term - certificada - is preferred in the Portuguese language. Other possible terms are: autenticada or oficial. But "tradução certificada" does not equal certified translation, instead it refers to what in English is known as a notarized translation. An equivalent in Portuguese of a certified translation would be "tradução ajuramentada" or "ajuramentação", as known in Brazil, although such terminology might suggest that the translation was done by a sworn translator, a concept that simply doesn't exist in Portugal.

This is why, to avoid misleading my clients, in Portuguese I use specific terminology, namely: tradução certificada notarial ou autenticada em notário ou advogado to refer to notarized translation and tradução acompanhada de certificado de qualidade e rigor assinado e carimbado pelo tradutor (which is the certificate of accuracy issued and signed and bearing the translator's stamp), or simply tradução acompanhada de certificação to refer to certified translation.

Do check the article where I explain this common misconception between certified, sworn and notarized, so you don't get everything all mixed up. 

So here are the main differences between certified and notarized translations (make sure to check the FAQ as well) :

When a simple translation is not enough because the requesting body is asking for a layer of safety and reliability, you need a certified translation. In some cases, the translation has to be notarized as well if an additional authentication layer is required. But since notarization is not a proper indicator of the quality or accuracy of the translation, because the notary's or lawyer's stamp and signature only verify the identity and signature of the translator, many institutions and official entities mostly require certified translations. Other times, they might go a little further and ask for notarized translations that have previously been certified.

 

Whether a translation needs to be certified or both certified and notarized depends on the country where the translation will be used and on the requirements imposed by the official body or entity, or any other recipient to which you will submit your documents.

 

In Portugal, notarization is required, in most cases, for translations of legal documents such as: passports, ID citizen cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, etc., since the translation of these official documents will necessarily have to be placed at the same legal level as the original in order to become likewise official. In the remaining cases, for documents such as bank statements, medical records, diplomas, certificates, academic transcripts, CV, reference letters, contracts, minutes, etc., a certified translation should be enough, but always confirm with the requesting body beforehand.

 

If the translation is meant for use outside of Portugal, then an apostille is also required in most cases. However, exceptions apply within the EU. Please see Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 and Commission Notice "Guidance on the right of free movement of EU citizens and their families".

What is a sworn translation? And what about a notarized translation?

Sworn translation is the type of translation done by a translator who has been authorized by the government or a court to provide legal translations, a.k.a. a sworn translator. Sworn translators are usually added to an official court list of approved translators. You should know from the get-go that this is not how things work in Portugal though. Here we do not have sworn translators. But we do have certified translators. So instead of sworn translations, we have two options: we either provide certified translations or notarized translations (or both). When a notarized translation is needed, in Portugal we do this with the intervention of third parties which are stipulated by law, namely a notary public, a lawyer, a solicitor, or a Chamber of Commerce. Thus, in such case, a translator, any translator, must, under oath or pledge of honor, declare before one of the above-mentioned third parties that the translation is accurate and faithful to the original document (and this step is necessary with every translation that needs to be notarized). The third party then confirms such statement in writing (which becomes an affidavit), and attaches it to the translation, after affixing their signature and stamp. The translator's signature is also needed. With that, the notarized translation becomes a legal document which in Portugal has the same legal validity and produces the same legal effects as the original document. Usually, for a notarized translation to be used abroad, an apostille is also required. It is important to note as well that the third party does not attest to the accuracy of the translation. They merely confirm the translator’s identity, credentials (if any) and signature. It is the translator who is responsible for the truthfulness of the statement made before the third party at issue.

2

Why do I need a notarized translation?

You may need one for legal purposes, when a certified translation is not enough (it's important to note that it always depends on the country where you are planning to use it and on the criteria established by the receiver), but you should know that it is usually more expensive and time-consuming, as in Portugal this involves an additional step of verification by a public official (as mentioned above), who may charge a fee or require an appointment. Notarized translations have legal consequences because, through notarization, a translation becomes legally binding, therefore you should resort to translators who are extremely qualified and trustworthy.

3

So what is a certified translation?

Certified translation is a type of translation done by a translator who has been certified by a professional association or an organization that regulates the translation industry. In Portugal, such certification is granted by the Portuguese Association of Translators (APT) after passing an exam in a specific language combination (e.g. English into Portuguese and Portuguese into English) and sometimes even a specific domain (e.g. legal). Because certified translations within this meaning can only be done by certified translators, this means that the APT certified translator needs to provide, along with their translation, a certificate of accuracy that states their name, credentials, and contact information, and by which they attest that the translation is an accurate representation of the original. The certificate must also carry the translator's signature and bear the APT approved stamp and embossed seal. The certificate of accuracy has no value if any of these elements are missing because the certified translator should be easily identifiable and recheable by the entity requesting the translation.

4

Why do I need a certified translation?

In Portugal, you may need one when in contact with the authorities or institutions requesting you to have certain documents translated and certified for confirmation purposes as to the nature of the information present therein. It could be certificates, diplomas, CV, reference letters, contracts, minutes, bank statements, medical records, academic transcripts, and other important paperwork. In other words, if the translation is not meant to hold the same legal value as the original document and thus become an official translation, but only seeks to make the content comprehensible to the receiving institution or body because they may not be familiar with the language in which the original document was written, and a standard translation won't do it because of the importance of the document which requires an added layer of safety, then a certified translation will provide the reliability that the requesting body is looking for. Since, in Portugal, a certified translation doesn't hold legal value by itself and therefore cannot become an official translation (unless notarized), you will need to submit it along with the original document (or a legalized copy thereof). And, in some cases, an apostille may also be required. However, in other countries, such as in the US or the UK (just to name a few), certified translations often times can be used for legal purposes as well, which doesn't mean they act as a substitute for notarized translations. Nevertheless, considering that certified translations are faster and cheaper than notarized translations and most documents are eligible or suitable for it, the truth of the matter is that they are usually preferred by clients and widely accepted by the authorities, especially in those two countries where notarized translations are only required occasionally. Conversely, in countries with well-established translation systems, like Italy, France, Spain, Germany, or Brazil, official translations are mandatory for legal purposes and these can only be done by government-appointed translators (better known as "sworn translators" mentioned earlier). Again, please bear in mind that the type of translation you need for your situation always depends on the country and authorities involved. Therefore, it is advisable to check with them first.

5

How to decide?

In conclusion, to help you choose the right type of translation for your situation, you should consider the following factors:

•  the purpose of the translation: What do you need the translation for? If you need it for legal purposes, to hold the same legal value as the original document, then in Portugal what you need is a notarized translation or a certified and notarized translation. For other purposes, when all is needed is for the requesting body to fully comprehend the content of the original document, then a certified translation should do it. Outside of Portugal and depending on the country and the receiver, a certified translation may be all you need, regardless of the purpose. Again, this is subject to confirmation.

•  the cost and time of the translation: How soon do you need the translation? How much are you willing to pay? Notarized translations are more expensive and time-consuming than certified translations. Please keep that in mind.

•  the quality of the translation: Because in Portugal any translator can provide a notarized translation (with the help of a public official), without necessarily having a legal background, and because through notarization what is actually being confirmed is the translator's identity, statement and signature, requesting a notarized-only translation does not guarantee its quality, but rather serves the purpose of placing it at the same legal level as the original document, which means you can't really tell if the translation is truly reliable and 100% accurate. Sure, if there's a problem with the translation, the translator is accountable and legal action can be taken against them, but this still doesn't save you the trouble of having to start from scratch. Certified legal translators, on the other hand, are proven to be highly qualified. It is precisely based on their knowledge and expertise that they receive accreditation. From this point of view, you are better off with a certified translator who not only can certify their own translations but they can also provide notarized translations on demand (with the help of a notary, lawyer, solicitor etc.).

Often times, when it comes to translating official documents, you will encounter terms such as certified or sworn translator and certified, sworn or notarized translations, which can be confusing.

If you need to translate a document for official purposes (e.g. applying for a visa or citizenship), it is important to first understand the difference between certified, sworn and notarized translation, because having a clear understanding of which is which will help you choose the right one for your situation.

So, let's brake it down by answering to some frequently asked questions:

Price list

In accordance with the principle of lawfulness, fairness and transparency, below you can find a price list for certification and notarization services and the shipping costs involved:

​╰┈➤ certification service:
■ for 1 document:

 monolingual certificate of accuracy - 20€
 bilingual certificate of accuracy - 22€
■ for 2 or more documents:

● monolingual certificates of accuracy - 15€ each
● bilingual certificates of accuracy - 17€ each

​╰┈➤ notarization service:
■ for 1 document:

 monolingual notarization - 25€
 bilingual notarization - 30€
■ for 2 or more documents:

● monolingual notarization - 20€ each
● bilingual notarization - 25€ each

​╰┈➤ shipping costs (tracking number included):
domestic registered mail - 7,50€
 international registered mail:

■ countries within the EU, except Spain - 12€
■ countries outside the EU, except U.S. - 17€

■ Spain - 10€

■ U.S. - 15€

The prices stated above do not include the translation service for which the price is calculated per word or per page, based on the document at issue and the deadline involved. All prices are subject to change without notice, therefore, an increase in prices may occur at any given time or a discount may be applied at the discretion of Maria Vana, except for prices concerning unpaid service requests that have already been confirmed in good faith by the parties, for which, in order to protect the client's legitimate expectations, no price increase may be subsequently imposed. For a service request to be confirmed, explicit and informed consent in that regard is required from the client. Simply requesting a quote does not equal confirmation regarding the provision of a service. Also, no shipping costs are due for a delivery in digital format. 

bottom of page