Certified Translation

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People who request certified translation services (also known as sworn translation) often have doubts about this type of translation. With this in mind, we’ve created this handy guide, with the aim of covering everything you need to know before you hire a certified translation service and avoid costly mistakes.

To make your search easier, we’ve organized this simultaneous translation guide in the form of Q&A, as follows:

What is certified translation?

Certified translation, also known as sworn translation or public translation, is any translation performed by a certified translator (also known as a sworn translator, a public translator, or a “public commercial translator and interpreter”, as this professional is officially called in Brazil) who is duly appointed and registered with the Board of Trade of the state where the translator resides.

Brazilian law requires that any document in a foreign language be presented to Brazilian authorities with a sworn translation into Portuguese in order to be legally valid. In the case of certified translations from Portuguese into another language, the acceptance of sworn translations by Brazilian sworn translators is determined by the laws of the destination country.

Therefore, sworn translation is always necessary when documents and court proceedings require “legal authority to attest documents” or need to be filed in court. Therefore, sworn translation is always necessary when documents and court proceedings require “legal authority to attest documents” or need to be filed in court. Most often, documents that require sworn translation are lawsuits, certificates, powers-of-attorney, tax and commercial representations, as well as articles of organization/association and other official documents.

Who can act as a sworn translator?

Only Brazilian individuals who have undergone a public selection process, attained the required score on an official exam, and are properly registered with the Board of Trade in their state of residence, can act as sworn translators.

Sworn translators must faithfully follow all resolutions and obligations of sworn translation, and charge the amounts pre-established by official price schedules. Sworn translators from São Paulo follow the fee schedule established by the São Paulo State Board of Trade.

Contrary to what many people believe, “public commercial translator and interpreters” are not civil servants, do not receive fixed pay, and are not entitled to paid vacation or benefits in this category. They are simply licensed to perform sworn translation services; their compensation will depend exclusively on the volume of pages translated.

Sworn translators can also act as interpreters in court, civil law notary offices, or other venues where interpreting from one language to another is required.

In other situations, such professionals may act at weddings between Brazilians and foreigners, in the purchase and sale of real estate by foreigners, in registering children born to foreigners in Brazil, at public hearings, and so on. This shows that sworn translators are versatile and necessary for our economy.

What’s the difference between ‘normal’ translation and ‘sworn’ translation?

Unlike normal translation, which in theory can be done by anyone, sworn translation can only be done by sworn translators who have passed a public exam and have a very specific purpose: publicly attest to the accuracy of the translated documents, i.e., such documents are able to produce legal effects in government offices in Brazil and abroad, certifying that the translated text faithfully reflects the content of the original document.

Translation of documents such as passports, financial statements, powers-of-attorney, and contracts, among others, is not legally valid in Brazil unless it has been performed by a sworn translator, accredited to certify that the translated content reflects exactly what appears in the original document. Only then will any foreign document have legal effect and validity at all state and federal government offices.

Moreover, certified/sworn translation, the official name of which is public translation, also allows documents, mandates or representations to be valid in court and at organizations directly linked to and overseen by public authorities.

When do you actually need a sworn translation?

A sworn translation is usually required when you need to submit an international document to a Brazilian authority and certify that the translation represents a faithful reproduction of the original text. In this case, the original document must be accompanied by the respective sworn translation. This is also true when you need to translate a Portuguese-language document into another language for submitting to a foreign authority that requires an ‘official’ translation.

Additionally, consular legalization of the foreign document may be required; In other words, the authentication of the document by the Brazilian consulate in the country of origin of the respective document. Without this consularization, the authenticity of the original document and the validity of its translation may be questioned, or even invalidated.

What types of documents require sworn translation?

As mentioned earlier, any document that must be translated by a professional who is publicly certified to attest to the accuracy of the translated text will require a sworn translation. We can mention the following examples:

  • Public documents, such as certificates from offices of vital statistics and registries (birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, public deeds);
  • Court decisions;
  • Contracts, meeting minutes and powers-of-attorney;
  • Academic diplomas issued by public institutions;
  • Passports;
  • ID Cards;
  • Criminal Background Certificates;
  • Documents of a private nature that have been previously notarized by a notary public or competent public authority.

How much does a sworn translation cost?

The prices of sworn translation must follow the fee schedule established by the Board of Trade of the public translator’s state of residence.

BTS follows the prices ​​established in the Official Fee Schedule of the São Paulo State Board of Trade.

At BTS, sworn translation is more expensive than normal translation; this is why you need to carefully read this guide to assess whether you really require a public translation.

What are the main characteristics of sworn translation?

One of the most remarkable features of sworn translation is that – unlike normal translation, which is usually delivered electronically (as an email attachment) – it is usually delivered on hard copy, in a specific and mandatory format, containing the following elements:

– Opening paragraph with identification of the sworn translator;

– Translation number, Translation Log Book number, and page numbers;

– Body of the translation, with the translation of the text contained in the document and all the respective graphic elements, such as seals, coats of arms, stamps, shields, signatures, and other non-text markings;

– Closing paragraph stating that the translation is complete and faithful to the original document;

– Translator’s signature, name and stamp, and registration number with the State Board of Trade;

– Amount paid for the translation, according to the price schedule of the respective state’s Board of Trade;

– Translator’s notarized signature and authentication by Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by the consulate of the destination country of the translation, if required by the institution that will receive the translation (only for translations into languages other than Portuguese).

How have hard copies of sworn translation documents been handled during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Digital certification for sworn translation services in Brazil was created as a solution to ease the misgivings of handling physical copies of documents and being infected by the novel coronavirus.

Sworn translation with digital signature offers greater speed, lower costs and more practicality by eliminating the need to print out the documents, and has been a tremendous facilitator in the process of sworn translation.

According to Decree 10.278 of March 18, 2020, all public agencies are authorized to receive digitized documents. So, during this pandemic, BTS is sending all of its scanned sworn translations via email, offering greater convenience and safety.

The right company for Sworn Translation services

We know there are many situations in which you and your company will need a sworn translation company. With this in mind, below we list the main reasons for you to choose BTS. Check it out!

1 – A multidisciplinary team
Sworn translation is a complex service, requiring a heightened level of knowledge of the language to be translated as well as the legal parlance involved. Plus, it’s important to remember that not just anyone can work as a sworn translator, but only professionals who have passed a public selection process and attained the required score on an official exam administered by the respective state Board of Trade. BTS offers a team of professional and time-tested sworn translators with in-depth understanding and vast experience in wide-ranging areas.

2 – Experience
With more than 20 years in the translation market, we’ve worked with many types of sworn translation projects that involved documents in all fields and degrees of complexity (see our Legal Translation Success Case). This type of experience provides for security and peace-of mind to continue working with all types of translation jobs, including processes that require sworn translation.

3 – Quality control
Any mistake in a sworn translation may seriously compromise your company, create legal troubles, and add exorbitant costs to your project. In order to avoid this type of problem, we have Project Managers who closely monitor all stages of the translation process, ranging from the selection of the most suitable translators and reviewers to the publishing and printing of your documents. This way, we can guarantee that you will receive an impeccable sworn translation.

4 – Various languages
At BTS, we have a team of qualified sworn translators in six languages ​​(English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese). And don’t forget that our professionals master not only the language in general, but also the jargon and specific terminology of your sworn translation.

5 – Personalized and consultative client service
In an area as delicate and complex as sworn translation, it’s essential to receive consultative and professional service, whereby we will understand and assess the difficulties and particularities of your translation project. In order to offer effective solutions, we offer true consultancy services, where clients can explain their needs and find the best answers for their sworn translation project.

6 – Desktop Publishing Desktop publishing
plays a key role in sworn translation services. We often receive very poor-quality original hard copies. So we have a team of designers who scan and “clean up” these documents, transforming them into organized files and properly prepared for sworn translation, in the format required for delivery. Depending on the process, the documentation to be translated, and the entity for which it is intended, we can offer a specific format and configuration. This is one of BTS’s major differentiators, because this way we’re able to streamline the sworn translator’s work and minimize mistakes caused by unclear original documents (eliminating errors in numbers, names, addresses, etc.).

7 – Fast delivery
Sworn translation usually requires fast delivery. Depending on its purpose (e.g., participation in tenders, lawsuits, translation of contracts), time is of the essence and speed is essential. Sworn translation needs to be not only accurate and thorough, but fast as well. BTS is known for meeting deadlines many would consider impossible! Additionally, we believe that quality and speed can go hand in hand, as long as you’ve got the right team of translators and reviewers as well as the right quality control processes.

8 – Service channels
BTS comes up with all the solutions for you and your company, and aims to offer as many service channels as possible. You can request your price quotes on our website, by email, via WhatsApp, over the telephone, or in person. The BTS website also allows you to attach and upload your documents for an even faster response.

9 – Specialization
We believe that the more we specialize, the higher quality work we can deliver. So we’re a translation company that specializes in diverse areas and offers quick solutions to the translation problems faced by your company. We have teams of translators specializing in the fields of business, finance, law, IT, insurance, medicine, and technology, among others.

10 – A database of time-tested sworn translators
As explained earlier, sworn (aka certified) translators must have undergone a public selection process and be registered with the respective State Board of Trade. BTS has forged partnerships with dozens of sworn translators, who can work alone or together to take on larger sworn translation jobs with tight deadlines. Plus, these translators have all been previously tested and validated by us, and can also count on our entire structure for preparing documents for translation, greatly speeding up the entire process as a whole.

Don’t waste any time! Let BTS take care of everything for your company!

Would you like to know more about sworn translation, its processes, our team of sworn translators, or anything else? Contact us and we’ll clear up all your doubts!