Spanish Sworn Translations

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What is a sworn translation?

A Spanish sworn translation is a translation done by a Spanish government-registered translator, replicating the original as much as possible. It is a legal document and can be used in all official settings in Spain.

Sworn Translations for use in Spain

If you’re going through an official procedure in Spain, the chances are that you will be asked to provide a sworn translation into Spanish of some of your English documents.

A common procedure needing sworn translations now that Brexit is in place, is applying for a visa or residency in Spain, which involves providing proof of income, physical health, criminal record status, and so on.

If you’re going through the inheritance process in Spain, you will also need to provide sworn translations of any UK death certificates or wills.

But what exactly is a sworn translation? And how do you get one?

Government regulated profession

In Spain, translators who fulfil the criteria can take exams to become a Sworn Translator (traductor jurado). They are registered on a government-approved list and assigned a registration number, which they must quote on their official translations.

When they translate an official document, they follow strict government guidelines on layout and notes. They add a set statement at the foot of each piece, swearing that the document is faithful to the original, which they attach to the translation, and they sign and stamp the pages with the date and their registration number.

Some sworn translators also use watermarked government-issue paper, although that is not currently compulsory (as of Sept 2021).

Legal document

Since sworn translators are registered with the Spanish government, the translations they provide are considered government documents and need no further legalisation.

This means that sworn translations do not need an apostille to make them acceptable for official use in Spain. They should already be accepted in all Spanish authorities.

Apostille on the original document

Although sworn translations do not need an apostille to be considered legal documents in Spain, the original documents, in English, may need one.

An apostille certifies a document as genuine and legalises it for use in an official process. In other words, it proves the document is not fraudulent.

By providing a sworn translation of an apostilled document, you are showing that:

  1. the translation is accurate, and
  2. the original document itself is genuine.

Always check with the relevant authority what they need first, to prevent delays or repeated costly procedures.

Is sworn translation the same as certified translation?

Sworn and certified translations are similar but they are not the same. Certified translations are the UK’s equivalent of Spain’s sworn translations and will meet some, but not all, of the required criteria in Spain.

The main difference is that translators are not government-registered in the UK and so, to make sure their translations are accepted as legal documents in Spain, they first have to be notarised and then have an apostille. This article explains the process in more depth.

Some Spanish authorities will accept translations legalised like this but others will prefer a sworn translation, so always check first.

If you need translations into English for use in the UK, you will need a certified translation that follows the UK guidelines, and a sworn translation is unlikely to fulfil that criteria.

When in doubt, always check with the relevant authority exactly what they need.

Paper or digital

The final sworn translation bundle you receive will contain copies of your original document in English at the back and the Spanish translations at the front. Each page will be signed and stamped by the translator and the final page of the translation will have a set statement by the translator that the translation is an accurate replication of the original.

You may opt for an electronically signed pdf translation bundle or a hard copy paper bundle.

Both options have been ruled acceptable by the Spanish government although, at the time of writing (Sept 2021) some Spanish authorities are still reluctant to accept digital documents and prefer to receive the paper bundles.

The best thing to do, as always, is check with the relevant authority what format they prefer, before arranging any translation.

About QL QL is a specialist agency dealing with translations between English and ten other languages. We use Spanish government-registered translators to create Sworn Translations into Spanish and ITI and CIOL-registered translators to create Certified Translations into English and Spanish. We also work regularly with local Notaries for notarised translations that need a Hague Apostille. Contact us for a quote

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