Sworn translations

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Sworn translations

What are sworn (or certified) translations?

Sworn translations are also known as certified or official translations. These translations are always drawn up by a sworn (certified) translator who is registered in the Netherlands in the Register of Sworn Interpreters and Translators (in Dutch: Rbtv), maintained by the Dutch government. Only translators who meet certain requirements of education and experience can be registered. For instance, after finishing law school, I obtained a four-year Bachelor degree in translation. You will recognise a sworn translator by his or her Wbtv-number and you can check that registration online as well.

What exactly does a sworn translation (certified translation) look like?

✓ Of course there is the translation itself, which is printed on special paper. Because it is important that the sworn translation also looks as similar as possible to the original document in terms of layout, as a translator I pay extra attention to this. It is often underestimated how much time it takes to make this look perfect! Especially since we often work with documents that are delivered as (scanned) PDF documents or even as photos, which often have stamps and signatures on them as well.

✓ A legible copy of the original text is added to the translation.

✓ The whole is accompanied by a signed statement by the translator.

✓ Each page of the translation also bears the translator’s special stamp.

✓ The entire set of papers is joined together with a ring, so that the papers cannot be detached without damage.

✓ I deliver the sworn translation by registered mail on paper and by email as a scanned PDF.

For which documents is a sworn translation necessary?

By no means all translations need to be sworn. As a sworn translator, of course I also provide “regular” translations, with the same quality. A misconception is that all legal translations need to be sworn. That is certainly not the case! Think of contracts, legal advice, correspondence or general terms and conditions. I simply deliver those in Word or PDF, for example.

If it concerns an official document used for official purposes, a sworn translation is however required. These are often documents with a legal character. For example:

✓ birth certificates

✓ diplomas and lists of grades

✓ passports

✓ extracts from the Chamber of Commerce

✓ certificates

✓ marriage certificates

✓ cohabitation agreements

✓ wills

✓ articles of association

✓ other notarial documents

How do I know whether I need a sworn translation?

Usually the (Dutch or foreign) government body itself indicates whether the translation needs to be sworn or not. If you are in doubt, I will be happy to help you.

Is a sworn translator better than an ‘ordinary’ translator?

First of all: a translator is not a protected profession (such as for example the profession of an attorney-at-law is). Anyone can call themselves a translator. But only translators who meet (high) requirements in terms of education and experience can become a sworn translator. Moreover, an entry in the Register is only valid for five years. During that period, the translator must obtain a large number of training credits in order to renew the registration and deliver a certain number of translation assignments. This guarantees the quality delivered. If you choose a sworn translator, you are always doing business with a professional who invests in his or her knowledge and skills. So this translator takes the profession seriously!

At the same time, there are also many translators for whom there is no added value in being listed in the Register: sworn translations are often legal translations. Therefore, marketing translators, medical translators, technical translators and so on are often not sworn but can be just as good as a sworn translator. “Sworn” in itself is therefore not a quality mark for translators outside the legal field.

What does 'legalisation' of a translation mean?

Legalisation means making a document suitable for use in another country. This is often required by authorities abroad, such as the government, notaries, banks or courts. These then require that the translator’s signature (which appears under the sworn translation) be legalised.

This confirms that the translator’s signature is genuine and that the translator is authorised to draw up sworn translations. Therefore a sworn translation is not immediately a legalised translation! This requires an extra step.

What is an apostille and when is this sufficient in order to legalise a translation?

It is often possible to have a sworn translation legalised by means of an apostille. This applies to countries that are party to the Apostille Convention (such as all EU countries).

An apostille is a stamp or sticker with a statement from the court confirming that the sworn translator’s signature is genuine. This makes the document valid for use abroad. Please note that sometimes a document must first be legalised by another authority before the court issues an apostille. This applies to diplomas, medicine certificates and documents from the tax authorities.

Please note that sometimes a document must first be legalised by another authority before the court issues an apostille. This applies to diplomas, medicine certificates and documents from the tax authorities.

Can Magister Translations arrange an apostille on a sworn translation?

Of course! This costs € 50,- excluding VAT + € 22 for court registry fees.

My translation cannot be legalised by an apostille, can Magister Translations help me?

If the sworn translation needs to be legalised for use in a country that not a party to the Apostille Convention, a (much) more extensive legalisation procedure must be followed via the Consular Services Centre (in Dutch: CDC). I would be happy to help you with this too. This is tailor-made; upon request I will send you a quote for these services.


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