Legalization of foreign texts in Brazil: understand how it works and the requirements

Text translation is serious business – and can be quite difficult if you don’t follow all the necessary steps. Regarding the validity of foreign documents in Brazil, the Brazilian legislation specifies that some documents must be endorsed by a Brazilian diplomatic authority in the country where the document was issued. This is also known as text legalization by Consular Officers and must be carried out before translation.

It is usually in Portuguese in a document attached to the main document that has been signed. Attention: if you have documents that need to be legally valid, these documents must be translated by a sworn translator after legalization by Consular officers.

Consularização de Textos

Public or sworn translation and simple translation

If you just want to understand a text written in a foreign language, for example, that’s easy: all you have to do is request a simple or free translation, a translation that can be done by any translator, in any format. Consequently, translator’s competence will influence text clarity and reliability, i.e., text quality.

However, if you need a foreign document to be valid in Brazil to be submitted to institutions and public agencies, Brazilian laws provide that this translation is done by a sworn translator (also known as public translator), who has passed a public entrance examination and has been duly appointed and enrolled in the Commercial Registry of his/her state of residence.Additionally, this translation must follow certain procedures, such as being printed in a letterhead paper and having the translator’s signature certified. This type of translation is known as sworn translation.

Documents usually requiring a sworn translation (or public translation) include resumes, diplomas and certificates, cover letters, statements, power of attorney, criminal records, school transcripts, vaccination cards, payment orders, medical certifications, civil registry certificates (birth, marriage, death, divorce), mail, driver’s license, ownership certificates, contracts, legal opinion reports, petitions, court decisions, letters of request, among others.

Legalization by Consular officers must happen before the sworn translation

Depending on the purpose of the document and document validity, a document needs to be legalized by the Brazilian Consulate that is closest to the location where the document was issued before it is translated. This will attest document authority. In other words, a legalization is an endorsement by Brazilian diplomatic authorities in the country where the document was issued, stating it is legitimate.

Nevertheless, legalization by Consular Officers is not always necessary. If you want to know whether it is necessary, contact the agency to which you intend to submit your document or contact Brazilian diplomatic representations abroad or foreign representations in Brazil. To avoid losses and rework, do that before you request a sworn translation service because a legalization by Consular officers must be carried out in the original document and, in the case of foreign documents, it cannot be carried out in Brazil, it needs to be effected in the country where the document was issued.

The Hague Apostille Convention can make things easier

An Apostille is a document issued by the countries signatory to the Hague Convention, effective on October 5th, 1961. It attests signatures and certifies the qualification of the person who signed the document to which the Apostille has been attached.

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