Demystifying legal jargon in translation: Certified translation, apostille & sworn translation

No matter the sector in which you operate, there will come a time when you need to translate an official document. While the actual translation process might seem straightforward, clients often end up at a crossroads when it comes to technical legal jargon.

As experienced providers of certified document translation services in Malta, our team at Transcripta is fully aware of these challenges.

In this blog post, we delve into key terminology that will be useful to clients looking for translation services, including apostilles, certified translations, and sworn translations.

Lost in translation legalese

Legalese is defined as the technical language that is used to draw up legal documents, and which is generally difficult to understand. The term ‘legalese’ is in itself quite a baffling word, so it is unsurprising that those lacking a legal background find it so inexplicable.

The vast majority of laws contain such jargon, which make them very unfriendly to any outside user. We believe that knowledge is power, so legalese should be simple and more consumable by anyone who needs to access it.

So even though our team of professionals at Transcripta is accustomed to legalese, they want to share their knowledge with anyone interested in the translation aspect of legal documentation.

The meaning of an Apostille

The term ‘Apostille’ refers to a method of authentication that is issued to official documents for countries that are privy to the Hague Convention of 1961.

Apostilles are very useful as they verify the signatures and official seals of documents that are issued by a public authority, which means that they are recognised in any foreign country that is party to the Hague Convention.

If the documents intended for translation are destined for a country that does not participate in the Hague Convention, these need to be sent directly to that country for certification.

What is a certified translation?

A certified translation is a translation of any official documentation (such as contracts, diplomas, and birth and marriage certificates), that is officially certified as being accurate. The certification of the translation is generally made by the translator or by a translation company, either of which will confirm the precision of the translation.

Such a certification is generally more than enough, but it is suggested that translators also list their qualifications, affiliation to official bodies, or a signature by a notary public to attest to their work as professional translators.

When thinking about translating an official document, it is always advised to keep in mind the intended audience – different entities such as embassies, European Institutions, and international legal bodies might require different types of certifications.

Defining the sworn translation

The greatest difference between a sworn translation and certified translation lies with the translator itself. For a translation to be sworn, a translator needs to take an oath before a court of law in which he or she provides a copy of the translation which is subsequently accepted as being complete and faithful to the original.

The process entails the translator providing a certification of the accuracy of the translation produced, by attaching a copy of the original and the translated result, as well as a signed declaration.

This process is not recognised globally, as there are some procedural discrepancies between each country. In some cases, it can also mean that the translation is officially approved by the competent authority in the field of that country.

Clarity is essential

Despite the fact that a blog post cannot possibly disentangle the complex web of legalese that exists, we are confident that it can provide some much needed clarity in the context of translations for legal documentation.

Our team at Transcripta have ample experience in providing professional translation services for clients in Malta. Whether it’s an Apostille, a certified translation, or a sworn translation, we believe that you should be fully aware of these terms before you decide to request the translation of an official document.