Some facts about sworn translations - and a few tips

Some facts about sworn translations - and a few tips


To begin as a school teacher for a moment: strictly speaking, it is not correct to talk about a sworn translation. It is the translator who is certified. The translation itself is certified and so should actually be called a "certified translation. But the term "certified translation" has become so ingrained that even language purists have come to terms with it.

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Do you have an official document such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, will or court decision? No worries! Our sworn translators are all registered with the Rbtv and know their stuff. Request a free quote now.

When do you need a sworn translation?

In short, when explicitly requested. It is almost always government agencies that require you to provide a sworn translation if you want to use a foreign document (such as a deed, diploma or medical certificate) in a Dutch procedure. Think of the procedure for naturalization or registration of a company. Insurance companies and banks also sometimes want to see a sworn translation of foreign documents, for example when you apply for a mortgage.

What exactly is a sworn translator?

A sworn translator is a translator who has been sworn in by the court and is therefore authorized to make translations that can be used in official proceedings instead of the original document. The translation then has the same legal status as the source document. The stamp of a sworn translator is therefore not primarily a quality mark, but a proof of competence.

Of course, most sworn translators do deliver good quality. To be sworn in, you must meet strict requirements, such as completed translator training or years of demonstrable work experience. Since 2009, sworn translators must also be listed in the Register of Sworn Interpreters and Translators (Rbtv), which requires, among other things, a substantial investment in continuing education (PE), just like the registers for, say, lawyers or accountants. (A curious piece of legislator humor: a translator who is sworn in but not listed on the registry may just call himself a sworn translator but not make sworn translations.) It is generally in legal texts specialized translators and medical translators who are sworn in. For example, for marketing translators or technical translators certification has little added value.

Tips for a sworn translation

As promised, a few tips for when you need a certified translation:

  • Make sure you know exactly what the agency in question wants. Is a sworn translation sec (with the translator's stamp, signature and statement) enough or is an apostille or legalization also requested?
  • If you want to use a certified translation made in the Netherlands abroad, check first whether this is possible. Within Europe this is often no problem, provided the translation is accompanied by an apostille, but elsewhere it is usually wiser to have your documents translated locally. Scriptware Translations can of course help you with this.
  • Some authorities are very fussy. One spelling mistake in a name can be disastrous. Therefore, always carefully check the document to be translated and have it corrected by the issuing organization if necessary. This is because the translator must copy elements such as names, dates and amounts one-to-one from the original. Unauthorized corrections can be seen as fraud.
  • Nowadays, it is often not necessary to hand over the original document for translation. Better for your own peace of mind and that of the translator - the misery is sometimes great when a document gets lost. Make a scan of the document and mail it to the translator. Do check first that the scan covers the entire document and is legible.
  • Don't wait until the last minute. Taking care of a certified translation usually takes a little more time, especially if the language combination is not very common or if you also want an apostille on the translation.

Unsure of exactly what you need or want a clear understanding of the entire process in advance? Then call or email to Scriptware Translations. We handle hundreds of sworn translations a year and are happy to provide you with specific advice.

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