How to translate official documents?

Learn about the official procedure for the translation of Brazilian documents into other languages

Globalization has helped the world function in a fully integrated way. The actions taken by one country can directly influence the economic performance of the other, several times with unpredictable consequences. To understand phenomena of this type or to acquire knowledge in other corners of the world, Brazilians increasingly have the opportunity to study abroad.

With renowned professors and scientists, and great research investments, some universities and educational institutions are more attractive to Brazilian students. However, one should pay attention to a series of requirements to study abroad, and these requirements change from country to country.

For example, both countries are members of the European Union, but to study in France, you need to submit certain documents which are different from those required in Germany, and so on. Document translation is among one of the requirements to study abroad, i.e. documents must be written in the official language of the country.

Do you know how documents are officially translated? Let’s take a look at the document translation process.

How to translate official documents

Sworn translation: suitability assurance

Let’s suppose you can speak a foreign language, you could translate your diploma or completion certificate yourself, couldn’t you? But how would your institution know your translation is faithful to the original document?

A sworn translation will confirm the suitability of the translated document.
A sworn translation is an official translation, including of a diploma, birth certificate, power of attorney, school transcript or any other document written in Portuguese or foreign language. Only sworn translators are qualified, who have passed a public entrance examination and are registered with the Commercial Registry.
As in a Notary’s Office, a sworn translation will attest to an international institution that the translated documents you are submitting are legitimate. That is why this is such a strict process and some international universities request that all documents submitted are written in the official language of the country.

How do you know which documents to translate?

Unfortunately, there is no specific rule for that. Each institution will require different documents according to the job or function of the applicant. Not all countries have the same level of strictness. A university in France, for example, can be extremely demanding, while other, in the same country, can be more flexible.

Nevertheless, although there are no specific rules, we do have some parameters that can help you. Diplomas, financial status documents and cover letters, for example, are usually listed as documents requiring official translation. Therefore, you must be aware of these requirements before travelling abroad.

A diploma translation, for example, depending on the language, cannot be delivered in only a few days. Being ahead of time is very important. Before you take part in a selection process, ask the institution for detailed information on which documents are necessary and also how they should be submitted by the translation professional or company.

Additional documents: Pay attention to your deadlines

Applicants for a vacancy in an international university or company should pay attention to other details in addition to the official translation of a document. As we mentioned earlier, each country has its own rules and, for this reason, you must pay attention to the validity of your documents and certificates.

Proficiency tests, for example, are usually valid for two to three years, i.e. if you are proficient in English and has a document to prove it, this document must be valid at the time you enroll or it must observe the minimum deadline required by the institution.

Brazilian passports are one good example. To travel to Germany, for example, your passport must be valid for at least six months as of your return date. If your passport is about to expire, the airline company can prevent you from boarding in Brazil.

The same is true for vaccination cards or health insurances. Vaccines are valid for a certain period and, most of the times, you need to take it some time before your trip. You should take a yellow fever vaccine, for example, a few days before boarding so that it is considered valid.

As for health insurance, each country has its own rules: in Europe, it is mandatory, but it is not checked in every immigration check point. However, they can be checked and if you don’t have one, you can be prevented from entering the country.

Having your documents translated is a warranty for you

Even when a sworn translation is not mandatory, in some cases, having a document translated by a sworn translator in your documentation can increase your chances of being approved – or at least the chances of having your application reviewed. Submitting documents with official translations indicates you are aware of and interested in the vacancy you are applying.

Additionally, this will make document check easier for the person in charge of the selection process, and this can give you some extra advantage.

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