Copy as a source document in sworn translation

Can I use a copy as a source document in sworn translation? Learn more.

Learn how to proceed if you have a copy that will be used as a source document in sworn translation. Check our tips and don’t miss important steps.

Are you applying for a position to study abroad and need to have your academic documents translated? Or do you intend to live and work abroad and are preparing the paperwork? Also, you may want to apply for a dual citizenship. Regardless of your reason, you will probably need to have your documents translated by a sworn translator.

Sworn translation is also known as public translation – it is different from a common translation of a book or article, for example. Sworn translation is the only type translation recognized by public agencies in Brazil, because according to the Brazilian law, documents written in foreign language must be accompanied by their respective Portuguese translations to be legally valid in the country. Additionally, foreign institutions can also require that a sworn translation be submitted, as in the examples given above.

Differently from a technical translation, a sworn translation is only made by sworn translators – also known as public translators – whose official name is Public Translator and Commercial Interpreter. Sworn translators must be qualified to translate Portuguese and at least one foreign language, must have passed a public examination and be registered with the Commercial Registry of their state of residence. This means “common” translators cannot make sworn translations, i.e. only sworn translators can make a translation conferring legal validity to a document.

Sworn translation structure


A sworn translation is not only a “reproduction” of a document written in another language. In fact, it follows a structure – which can vary depending on the Commercial Registry of each state – but some elements are common to all structures.
The first line in a sworn translation must specify the translation number, the book number and the page where the translation was recorded – this information should be repeated in all pages of the translation.
Then, sworn translations must have an introductory note mentioning the full name of the translator, his/her enrollment number in the Commercial Registry of his/her state of residence, his/her CPF number, and the languages he/she is qualified to translate.
In the end, after the translation, the document must have a closing note indicating that the translation has come to an end, in addition to the place, date, name of the sworn translator and his/her signature.

Certified copy as a source document in sworn translation

In general, sworn translations are made based on original documents, i.e. documents containing elements that attest their originality, such as signature, stamps or official seals, for example.
However, sworn translations can also be made based on a copy when the document has a copy authentication issued by a Notary, a division or a person with legal capacity to do that.

In this case, the sworn translator must mention in the translation that the translation was based on a certified copy. The same is valid if a translation has been made based on an original document, a reprographic copy, a fax, a website, etc.

Remember that using a certified copy as a source document for a sworn translation does not ensure the translation will be valid outside Brazil. We will address this subject in more detail below.

Validity of a sworn translation made from a certified copy

Documents written in foreign language must be accompanied by their respective Portuguese translations to be legally valid in Brazil and accepted by Brazilian public agencies.
After that, depending on the country that issued the document, it must be legalized in the Consulate-General or Embassy of Brazil in the country of origin. Otherwise, the translation will have to bear an Apostille certification according to the Hague Convention.

Similarly, the legal validity of an original document written in Portuguese to be translated into a foreign language will depend on the rules of each country. Therefore, this document may need to bear an Apostille certification or be legalized in the Consulate-General, depending on the rules of the country receiving the document.

Taking the facts above into consideration, sworn translation validity, even when made from an original document, is subjected to the requirements of each country or institution receiving the translation. The same is true for sworn translations made from certified copies.

The validity of this type of translation will depend on the requirements of the institution or country receiving the translation. In Brazil, an original document is required in some situations, and certified copies may not be accepted. The same is true for other countries. While some institutions accept sworn translations made from a copy, others will only consider a translation to be valid if made from an original document.

Remember: every sworn translation will have a part where the translator describes the document received: original document, reprographic copy, certified copy, fax, etc. Therefore, check all translation requirements with the agency or institution receiving your document to ensure you will not have any step – or the whole process – denied.

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