Translations of legal documents are typically subject to much stricter quality requirements compared to regular translations. This is because the implications are normally much more serious. Oftentimes, a single misspelled letter or a wrong or confusing formulation can create huge bureaucratic problems for the document owners or their relatives. Whether we are talking about identity documents, documents required to apply for asylum, citizenship, permanent residence, documents confirming property ownership, but also deeds, wills, mortgages, legal complaints, police reports, contracts, partnership agreements, trusts, etc. they are all subject to strict regulations covering the content, style, format, and sometimes, even the type of paper and ink used. Apart from that, legal translations require appropriate use of legal terminology specific to a particular country or even jurisdiction.
5 Aspects to Know About Legal Document Translation
Law is an extremely complex domain and ultimately, if you haven’t much experience with it, you’d have to trust a professional. There are a few aspects that could be useful to know when translating legal documents:
- The status of a certified translator is required but often insufficient for translating the entire spectrum of legal documents. Certified translators are confirmed to fulfill basic requirements existing in a respective country or jurisdiction, enabling them to produce translations for regular use and for certain formal procedures or to translate basic legal documents such as identity documents, diplomas, birth certificates, etc. Although certified translators take responsibility for the quality of their work, the requirements towards them vary greatly from country to country. By contrast, when it comes to documents concerning legal matters, complex documents produced by lawyers, or used in court, additional requirements might apply – translators normally need to prove that they specialize in legal translations and that they have high credentials, might need to swear certain oaths. Again, the requirements and their strictness vary greatly from country to country.
- Translation and legalization often go hand in hand, so they are often provided through the same channel or party. For instance, a translation bureau could collaborate with a notary, so that both can offer integrated services to their clients. Thus, clients could get their translations already legalized by a notary. Nevertheless, both parties should be flexible enough to offer their services separately as well.
- Be ready to submit legal documents destined for translation in person in order for them to be confirmed as authentic and legalized. While this is true in many cases, translation services have fully embraced the connectivity and benefits brought by the Internet era. It could be incredibly helpful to be able to contact online certified translation services asking them to start working immediately on an urgent task. Clients can submit scanned documents by email or by uploading them to the website, then they can make the payment, and the work can begin. Later, many legal documents would have to be provided in a physical format, but the entire procedure would be greatly accelerated and more convenient – clients could also monitor the quality of translation in real-time. Importantly, websites also allow translation services to implement and display a variety of useful materials and features, such as calculators of the expected word count and price, translation samples, comprehensive information about the languages covered, and the directions of translation, expected time of completion, etc.
- Be ready to undergo complex procedures of authentication, especially when important legal documents are involved. For instance, when dealing with legal issues revolving around the property, fraud is a very frequent phenomenon (and translations could be one more avenue to commit such fraud). Multiple mechanisms are employed to counteract fraud and extensive authentication is one of them. Also, consider opting for an electronic signature to make authentication more convenient by moving much of your “paperwork” online.
- Just to ensure you avoid problems, check the requirements of the corresponding legal body for which the documents are destined (for instance, the court). Sometimes, courts and agencies have specific forms for certain documents and particular requirements for translations (and even for document formatting). Feel free to forward these requirements to the translation service for any eventuality. Also, feel free to check whether the final documents provided by the translation service satisfy these requirements (grammar and spelling, content presentation, page size, margins, font size, line spacing, headings, page numbering, etc.).
Legal translations are among the most challenging ones due to the extensive jargon involved but also the importance of avoiding errors, because the latter may lead to dire consequences for many people. Given all these, it is no wonder that the formal requirements towards legal translators are significantly higher than for regular translators. Even so, one is often interested in finding the professionals with the best credentials on the market as well as the best offers in terms of price, time of completion, guarantees, etc. With a bit of research into this problem, one can navigate with some confidence through the multitude of translation services offered.
Mark Blackwood has built a career in content writing and on-demand research for business clients. Apart from that, he has a good understanding of the content writing platforms working in the field of education. Mark frequently offers writing advice and covers tools destined for writers, translators, SEO specialists – these tools and practices can not only make their life easier but also lead to higher quality results.