Any number of private companies, public institutions, and individuals work in Spain with relevant documentation that requires sworn translation: certificates, contracts, minutes, etc. For those documents to be valid, they must be translated by a sworn translator, someone in possession of the certification granted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union, and Cooperation (or the MAEUEC in the original Spanish).
What is a sworn translation?
A sworn translation consists of the translation of documents by a translator certified to do so.This sworn translator (or interpreter), recognized by the MAEUEC, swears that the translation is true to the original content, making it as official as the original document being translated. This should not be confused with legal translation, which is another specialization within the various fields of translation and is the translation of documents that contain legal content. Although sworn translations are often of legal documentation, like marriage certificates or notarized powers of attorney, financial or technical translations, for instance, can also be sworn.
Digital signatures on sworn translations
Since sworn translation first appeared and till now, it has evolved and been modernized and adapted to the needs of those who require it today. Up until today, sworn translations had to be delivered on paper, attached to the original document, and, amongst other requirements, had to be signed, sealed, and dated by the sworn translator to give them validity.
Today, and after the issues that arose when sworn translations could not be submitted in person, the Language Interpreting Office (OIL in Spanish), highest body of the Public Administration of Translation and Interpreting, proposed in 2020 the option of delivering sworn translations online. To do so, the sworn translators have to have a validated electronic signature and follow a series of guidelines for it to be considered just as valid. This not only streamlined the document submission processes but also reduced courier costs and is more environmentally friendly since it cuts back on printing what can often be a large number of pages.
Requirements to authenticate official records and their sworn translations
The conditions mentioned above are only applicable in Spain and to documents that work with Spanish as the source language, i.e. for original text in Spanish whose sworn translation is to another language or vice versa. Any documents issued within and for use in the national territory and translated by a sworn translator will not need to be authenticated later.
When the document comes from outside Spain or is a document from Spain but for use abroad, however, there may be a number of additional steps needed to ensure its validity. There are, then, a series of factors that determine in each case the steps to follow to authenticate the document depending on its context.
As explained on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website, some documents do not require any authentication to be considered valid in Spain although they meet the characteristics mentioned. This is the case of documents related to Vital Records, common law marriages, parentage, domicile, residence, nationality, and police records if they are from a European Union country or the embassy or consulate of one of those countries in Spain.
The document must be authenticated if any of those characteristics are not met. The process to authenticate documents is different depending on whether the country they are for or they are from is a signatory of the Hague Convention.
If not part of the Convention, the original document will need to be authenticated by an official body before the sworn translation by, for example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the embassy or consulate of the country involved. For notary documents in particular, first you must go to the notary association, then the Ministry of Justice, then the MAEUEC, and lastly, the corresponding embassy or consulate. It is a similar process for documents for Saudi Arabia, where the document’s authentication will vary depending on its purpose. In the case of the translation of a notary document for that country, before the sworn translation the notary’s signature must be authenticated and its authentication obtained at the Ministry of Justice. After being sworn, it must be submitted at the Saudi Arabian Consulate.
The situation changes if the document is from or for countries who have signed the Hague Convention, as indicated above. To make the document valid, before translation the Apostille needs to be affixed to it. This seal authenticates a document among countries who have signed the Hague Convention. The seal can be obtained at the High Court of Justice or the Notary Association. One the Apostille has been affixed and the document thereby authenticated, remember that the sworn translator will have to translate the seal as well as the document itself.
(depending on the case)
In any of those cases, after the pertinent authentication of each document and its later sworn translation, the sworn translator’s signature may also need to be authenticated.
Given that the steps to authenticate sworn translations for other countries and for Spain depend on an array of requirements related to the origin, destination, and purpose of the document being translated, please be sure to have that information ready when requesting a translation. That way you can ensure all the necessary paperwork is carried out for each case and it can acquire the corresponding authenticity.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. At Nakom we’d be more than happy to offer you assistance at no charge.
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