Notarial authentication in translation

What is and how does a notarial authentication work in translation?

Some additional procedures may be necessary to ensure your translation is valid abroad. See how a notarial authentication works.

Notarial authentication in translation

You may be looking for a translator because you need to have some documents translated like your Birth Certificate or School Transcript and Diploma, because you want to study abroad. Or maybe you are getting your paperwork organized to start on your dream job abroad. Also, you may want to apply for a dual citizenship.

The truth is that even if you have had your documents translated by a sworn translator, you still need to follow other steps depending on the country, the institution or the agency to which you will submit your paperwork. This can include translation certification, such as notarial authentication, legalization by consular officers, and apostille. These three processes are aimed at attesting the appropriateness of the document translated.

Let’s take a look at each one of them.

Notarial authentication

A notarial authentication attests that a copy is identical to its original counterpart. This certification is not restricted to translations and can be used whenever you need to “attest a copy”.

The copy must be submitted together with the original document to a Notary’s Office that will make the certification. When the original document was written in a foreign language, its sworn translation will also be required for authentication by a Notary Officer.

It is also possible that you need a copy to be translated by a sworn translator. After the copy is authenticated in a Notary’s Office, you will be able to request its sworn translation. However, you should bear in mind that despite the fact authenticated copies can be translated by a sworn translator, they may not be accepted by the target country or the institution.

Each country or institution has its own rules; some accept translations from a copy and others don’t. Be sure to know that in advance. Important: You can’t tell a translator to ignore the fact the text is an authenticated copy because the translation must be accurate according to the original document submitted.

Legalization by Consular Officers

This type of authentication is similar to the notarial authentication, but is not done by a Notary Officer in a Notary’s Office, it is done by a Consular Officer who diplomatically represents a country inside another country.

Documents issued in foreign countries and authenticated by Consular Officers will have legal effect in Brazil. A legalization includes signature authentication or document authentication. Subsequently, a notarial record is made attesting its authenticity. Applicants must pay a legalization fee.

This legalization is made in the Consular Offices of the Ministry of Foreign Relations (MRE) located in the country of origin of the document, i.e. the Ministry of Foreign Relations is located in Brasília and cannot legalize documents coming from other countries.

A consular legalization may be necessary even when the foreign document has been translated by a sworn translator. It will depend on the policies of the country or institution that will receive the document. If you need to submit a foreign document to Brazil, you must have it translated by a sworn translator and have it legalized by consular officers, unless the issuing country is a signatory to the Apostille Convention, described below.

Some countries which are not signatory to the Convention and require documents to be legalized by consular officers are Bangladesh, Canada, Greenland, China (except Hong Kong and Macau), United Arab Emirates and Lebanon.


The Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents, known as the Apostille Convention, became effective in Brazil on August 14th, 2016. “Apostille” is a French word meaning “annotation”.

The Apostille Convention is an integral part of the Hague Convention, with 112 signatory countries. Brazilian documents submitted to signatory countries do not need to be authenticated by consular officers and can be certified by an Apostille in duly authorized courts of record. The same is valid for documents coming from these countries and submitted to Brazil. The Apostille makes the services of the Ministry of Foreign Relations unnecessary, differently from what happens in a legalization by consular officers.

Some of the countries signatory to the Convention are among Brazilians’ favorite study or work destinations, including Germany, Spain, the United States, France, Ireland, and United Kingdom. Check the complete list on the website of the National Council of Justice.

It is important to stress that the fact that Brazil is a signatory to the Apostille Convention does not make sworn translations unnecessary. Each country, official agency or institution has its own rules and some still require that documents issued in Brazil be translated by a sworn translator. Please check the requirements of each country or institution in advance.

A sworn translation is still necessary for foreign documents submitted to Brazil even when the issuing country is a signatory to the Apostille Convention.

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