Certified, sworn or official translations? Are they the same?


When looking for a translator that will produce a translation to be submitted with your Spanish visa application, you will have found several types of options:


-Sworn translations

-Certified translations

-Official translations


You will have wondered if these terms all mean the same and what they will look like. I will proceed to explain them in the simplest possible terms below:


I would describe a "sworn translation" as a translation carried out by a translator with a specific type of qualification in a country other than the UK. Having said that, the figure of "sworn translator" does not exist everywhere. In Spain, the term we use is "traductor jurado". We receive our lifelong qualification (I would not call it a licence) from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs after either sitting a rather challenging exam or finishing our degree after completing a number of legal translation credits. This is also restricted to a number of faculties in the country. This qualification enables us to produce translations between Spanish and English which bear our stamp and signature and are accepted by Spanish consulates around the world, some Latin American consulates/embassies in the UK and Spanish institutions in Spanish territory. They can potentially be accepted in the UK, but our signature may need to be legalised back in Madrid and this may not be a very fast process.


"Certified translation" is a term that is widely used in the UK. Anybody could theoretically certify a translation in the UK as "sworn translators" do not exist here. Translation agencies can certify translations, as well as members of CioL and ITI. It is up to the recipient organisation to accept them. In any case, some kind of self-certification formula or cover letter needs to be included with the translation.


Finally "official translations" is a rather broad term, generally used to refer to a translation that has been signed or certified in some way by a translator with adequate credentials and/or qualifications.


Remember that for your Spanish visa application you can only use a "sworn translator" from the official list provided by the Spanish government in their website. Further to that, when shopping around, ensure that the translator is fully insured, GDPR compliant and can issue an invoice as a UK taxpayer. If you find a big difference in price, then the saying "buy cheap, buy twice" comes to mind. Either that, or the translator is not running a serious business.