Who is entitled to translate official documents?

Understand the importance of this service and the professionals qualified to provide it

Official document translation is a quite popular service, both among Brazilians who travel abroad and among foreigners who come to Brazil.

Despite such popularity, many people still don’t know what the translation of official documents is and the difference compared to conventional translations, whether made by humans or machines.

Understand why official documents need translating, when they should be translated and which professionals are entitled to provide this service.

Why do official documents need translation?

Official documents need translation so that they become legally valid abroad.

For example, a power of attorney grants someone legal powers to act on behalf of someone else. This is quite common in lawsuits or to help people with age and/or health limitations.

However, when a power of attorney is written in Portuguese, for example, it will only be valid in Brazil. If one needs to act on behalf of someone else abroad, whether this person is an individual or a company headquartered outside Brazil, the document will not be valid because it was written in Portuguese.

A sworn translation, also known as a public translation, will be needed so that the document becomes legally valid abroad, and this type of translation has specific characteristics.

Some of the most common documents requiring a sworn translation are the following:

Personal identification documents: ID card, worker’s booklet, civil registry certificate, driver’s license, passport, etc.

Personal documents: birth and marriage certificates, criminal records, naturalization certificate, death certificate, adoption documents, etc.

Legal documents: affidavit, legal proceedings, initial appeals, powers of attorney, wills, contracts, etc.

Demand for official document translation is expected to increase more and more as the number of Brazilians who want to visit other countries doesn’t stop growing – the contrary also being true.

Data from the Brazilian Educational & Language Travel Association (Belta) show that over 220,000 Brazilians left the country in 2015 for an exchange program. Also according to Belta, the exchange program market turned over BRL 2 billion in 2016.

Globalization can also explain the higher demand for sworn translations in Brazil and around the world.

In Brazil, sworn translations became mandatory in 1943 with Decree No. 13609 passed on October 21st, which determined that documents issued abroad would need to be officially translated in order to be legally valid.

How does a sworn translation work?

A sworn translation has to be made by a sworn translator, qualified as a Public Translator and Commercial Interpreter (TPIC) and enrolled with the Commercial Board of their state of residence.

Learning how to translate official documents is not enough for this type of service. This service has legal and bureaucratic requirements that are more specific.

This is because official document translation has to be done by official translators and assured by governmental agencies that attest their legal validity.

Therefore, among all the translation services available, this is the most bureaucratic one. In addition to mastering the language pair, translators must have passed a public examination and be qualified by the Commercial Board of their state of residence.

Nevertheless, sworn translations do have similarities with technical translations, as they also demand expertise that goes beyond the language pair and involve being an expert in a field of knowledge.

However, the difference between technical and sworn translations (and all other types of translation) is that sworn translations are only valid when done by professionals who have been legally qualified.

Therefore, despite the fact a document’s content can be understood after a conventional or even automatic translation, the document will only be legally valid if accompanied by its sworn translation.

How does a sworn translation look like?

A new hardcopy document is created in letterhead paper, identified and signed by the professional in charge, and containing the full translation. The translation must accompany the original counterpart so that its legal validity is confirmed.

People usually think the visual identity, layout and colors in the original document must be maintained in the translation, but that is not true. The translation of official documents follows a standard layout and order that must be met by everyone.

Every single piece of information contained in the original document must be translated, including headers, footnotes and everything else. This ensures the legal value of the translation, indicating no piece of information will be lost during the process.

How to find a professional to translate official documents?

The best alternative is to look for specialized translation agencies, whose employees can confirm their professional qualification and expertise.

As this is quite a specific service, where translators have to meet different criteria, counting on the professionalism of an agency is the most suitable option to avoid any setbacks.

Those who want to study abroad, for example, or carry out other activities that require documents to be legally valid outside their country of origin will need the services of an experienced and professional agency that can meet your needs.

Choose an agency that has been in the market for a long time. This shows the agency has already helped innumerous customers with sworn translations over the years.

Resort to official document translation to maintain their legal validity

Sworn translation is a fundamental step of the process, whether for a student exchange program, a business trip or for those who wish to live abroad. Sworn translations require professionalism and effectiveness.

To avoid any setbacks or misunderstandings, hire an agency specialized in official document translation and preserve the legal validity of your documents, including powers of attorney or academic transcripts.

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