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Providing translations for the major events in life
What exactly is a certified translation?
In addition to being 100% accurate and complete, a certified translation often contains explanations as to the significance of words. Its footnotes may explain the reputation behind official logos on a training certificate, acronyms which follow a signatory’s name or any other details on the original document that give the translation its true value but which a Judge from another nationality may not know about.

A certified translation is instantly recognizable by the presence of the sworn translator’s signature, seal and certification stating that it is a true copy (in translation) of a source document. This source document, be it a copy or an original, must remain attached as it bears the same signature, seal, date, and number.

The translator's contact details also appear on a certified translation in order that the receiving authority may easily verify that the translation is his/her work. Judges, lawyers, notaries, registrars, university registrars and immigration officers from around the world can sleep soundly knowing that a certified translation is the work of a registered and legally responsible translator.

When do I need a certified translation?
As a general rule, town halls, prefectures, commercial courts and other governmental bodies require certified translations. Judges, lawyers, notaries and other justice department authorities are independent (thank goodness) and will decide according to their ability to understand the source-language document, just like university registrars, banks and insurance companies. If in doubt, please ask for our opinion and/or that of the receiving authority or opt for the risk-free choice because a certified translation will never be refused.
What's the difference between a “certified” translation and a “sworn” one?
Don't worry, these are two common terms for the same thing. If you want to be strict about it, a translation can't take an oath, so it can't really be sworn, but both synonyms are widely used, as are the French terms ‘traductions juridiques’, ‘traductions officielles’ and ‘traductions légalisées’.

Do I need to have my translation legalised?
First of all, there are several levels of translation legalisation in France and sometimes you need all of them:
- legalisation of the translator's signature by a town hall, Chamber of Commerce or notary;
- legalisation by apostille issued by the Court of Appeal with which a sworn translator is registered;
- legalisation for overseas use by the Legalisation Office of the French Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs;
- legalisation for overseas use by the embassy or consulate of the country concerned.

Whether or not any legalisation is necessary and the number of levels depends on three things: the type of document, the recieving country (including whether or not it's a signatory to the Hague Convention), and the current requirements.

In order to advise our clients, we follow a summary table published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but in fact the decision on whether legalisation is necessary and what type(s), is not up to the French Ministry, nor us, nor you; it’s up to the authority receiving the translation. Fortunately, legalisation is rarely necessary in France, for translations done in France.