What is the difference between a free and a sworn translation?

Clients seeking the services of Fidelity Translations usually have questions about the difference between a free and a sworn translation.

Free translation


Free translations are used in non-official documents, such as academic papers, websites, email messages, and other texts requiring translation. This type of translation is used for personal, non-official purposes. It can be done by anyone who masters the pair of languages involved.

Sworn translation


A sworn translation must be done by qualified professionals (public translators registered with the Commercial Registry) and it involves official documents, such as court decisions, business documents, documents issued by public agencies and other official papers. The sworn translation of documents written in foreign language is set forth in the Brazilian law, as created by Decree No. 13609, dated October 21st, 1943, which specifies:
Article 18 – No book, document or paper of any kind, written in foreign language, shall be legally valid in Brazilian municipal and state agencies, in any sphere, court or jurisdiction, or in any supported entity which is inspected or managed by the government, without its respective translation, which shall be done in accordance with this regulation.
Sole Paragraph – These provisions also cover public servants working with documents and notary’s offices that record deeds and documents which shall not be entitled to record, issue certificates or public documents, in whole or in part, that are written in foreign language.
Therefore, the difference between a free and a sworn translation is in the purpose of the document. Documents written in foreign language shall only be legally valid if translated by a sworn translator.
Fidelity Translations is the largest translation agency in Brazil. In the market for over 40 years, it performs free and sworn translations in a wide range of languages. Translations follow strict international quality standards and are characterized by accuracy, confidentiality and great cost-effectiveness.
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