How to become a certified translator in the Netherlands

How to become a certified translator in the Netherlands


Suppose you’re trying to land a project as a freelancer with a German company. Your future client in Germany wants to know exactly what is in your CV. But can you really compare GCSEs to a German Realschule? And what is the difference between A-levels and ‘Gymnasium’? What about the grade system? Shouldn’t you be ashamed of having a 9 on your grade list, when that can mean something completely different in another education system? To make sure that your education, grades, work experiences and other qualifications are translated properly into German, you’ll need a professional translator. This way you won’t sell yourself short. For the legal translation of an official document, such as a diploma, you can’t just hire any translator. In this case you’ll need the help of a certified translator. As it happens, I was sworn in as a certified translator and can tell you all about this profession.

Our certified translators swear to deliver faultless translations!

At Scriptware Translations we can help you with certified translations in many languages, including Dutch, German, French and Arabic. Get an instant online quote now!

Regular translator vs. certified translator

What is the difference between a ‘normal’ translator and a certified translator? You may think that quality plays a part, but nothing could be further from the truth. A regular translator is someone who translates material without a legal status or authority, usually for companies, individuals, or organizations. A certified translator on the other hand is a professional translator who has taken an official oath in a court of law. Certified translators are legally qualified to translate official documents, such as deeds, diploma’s, ID’s, and legal papers. They are also known as “sworn translators”. So, the difference between normal translators and sworn translators lies primarily in the legal status and authority of the certified translator. Certified translations often have a higher legal status than ordinary translations and are required for official documents that are submitted to government agencies, courts, and other official bodies.

Certified translation as a profession is legally protected by law in the Netherlands (Section 28 Sworn Court Interpreters and Translators Act, WBTV). In order to work as a certified translator, you need to be registered in the Register for Sworn Court Interpreters and Translators (RBTV) and to take an oath before a judge. So how do you become a certified, or sworn, translator?

You register

You start by sending an application for entry in the RBTV to the minister of Justice. You’ll need to be a Dutch citizen or to have a valid residence permit for the Netherlands. Also, you need to have a Certificate of Good Behaviour (VOG) to be eligible for registration. In addition to the VOG, a translator who has lived in the Netherlands for less than five years must submit a declaration of integrity issued by the relevant authorities in their country of origin. Apart from that you should be able to prove that you have mastered both source and target language at level C1, have sufficient cultural knowledge and, of course, are a qualified translator.

Swearing in

Once your request has been approved by the ministry, your credentials are submitted into the registry, and you receive proof of registration. After this, there is only one thing left to do: within two months after registration, you need to swear an oath in the court of law presiding over your city or town. You then say the following words in front of the judge, after which you may officially call yourself a sworn translator:

“I swear/promise that as a sworn translator I will execute my tasks with honesty, faithfulness and impartiality and that I will conduct myself as befits a sworn translator.”

“I swear/promise to observe secrecy when dealing with any confidential information I may come across through my work as a sworn translator.”

Mandatory refresher courses

But that’s not all. Now that you are a sworn translator, you’ll need to take regular refresher courses. Every five years you are required to obtain 80 Permanent Education points (PE), after which your registration is renewed for another five years. One PE point equals one hour of study. So, as a sworn translator you need to keep gaining in-depth knowledge of your field. This way you’ll know what you’re doing.

At Scriptware Translations, we deliver certified translation daily. Languages include English, German, French and Arabic, among many others. Feel free to contact us for more information.

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