How to Properly Choose a Sworn Translator

Every year, a growing number of French natives decide to move abroad. If you have also made that choice, your receiving country’s civil service can ask for a number of required documents, such as a birth, marriage or divorce certificate. If the country does not speak French, one issue remains : you need these documents translated. Even if you consider yourself bilingual, you cannot translate these documents yourself. Any translator won’t be able to do it : a sworn translator is required.


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What is a sworn translator ?

A sworn translator will perform a certified translation of any of your documents and will guarantee its legal value. Not everyone can pretend to be a sworn translator. In France, sworn translators are recognized as judiciary experts by courts. They are required to obtain a master’s degree and to have a solid working experience before they can present themselves in Court. They are also required to have a clean criminal record.

Each region’s Court of Appeals establishes a directory of every sworn translator, which you are free to consult if you ever find yourself in need of one.

How should you proceed ?

Once you have found a skilled sworn translator, don’t hesitate to ask for a sample of their work. If everything seems in order, you can ask for a quote. The translator establishes a price depending on the number of pages in the document (each page can be billed between $45 and $136 – rate for the 12/4/18) and the language pair. The rarer the pair, the more expensive the translation becomes.

Once a price has been agreed upon and the translation is finished, the latter needs to be legalized. The legal validation process – also called an apostille depending on the country which have signed this global convention – certifies that the documents are authentic. It is one of the sworn translator’s prerogatives.

Indeed, the translator’s stamp and signature will both appear of the original document and its translated copy. After this, they need to be validated by the town hall, the chamber of commerce or a notary.

What if you are in a hurry ?

If you do not wish to worry about all these formalities, the easiest solution would be to contact a translation agency. Currently, there are agencies which operate online and to which you can directly send your documents in a PDF format. They will then find a sworn translator for you, even though it will cost you more.

Dorian Baret

Translated by Céline ECHILLEY