Understanding Certified, Sworn, Notarised & Legalised Translations

In an increasingly globalised world, where documents often need to traverse international boundaries, the demand for high-quality translation services is rapidly growing. This is where certified, sworn, notarised, and legalised translations come into play. These different types of translations can be essential, depending on the nature and purpose of the document being translated. This article seeks to demystify these categories and help you understand when and why each is necessary.

Certified Translations

A certified translation is a document that has been translated and is accompanied by a formal declaration confirming the accuracy of the translation. This certificate, issued by a qualified translator or translation agency, verifies that the translated text is a true and accurate representation of the original. These are typically required for official purposes, such as immigration applications, academic records, or legal proceedings.

Usage Example:

When applying for a visa, official translations by Translayte or another reputable service may be needed to certify your personal documents.

Sworn Translations

Sworn translations, also known as public translations, are produced by translators who have been authorised by their local government or a relevant authority to provide translation services. A sworn translator’s signature and seal on a document indicating that the translation is official and recognised by the government.

Usage Example:

If you are involved in a legal case abroad, you might need a sworn translation of your relevant legal documents.

Notarised Translations

A notarised translation involves an additional step beyond certification. In this process, the translator or a representative of the translation agency appears before a Notary Public, who then verifies the identity of the person signing the certification statement. The Notary Public does not check the accuracy of the translation, but they authenticate the identity of the person certifying the document. This adds an extra layer of verification to the process.

Usage Example:

For international property transactions, a notarised translation of the purchase agreement might be necessary to ensure the document’s validity in both countries involved.

Legalised Translations

Legalised translations are often required when a document needs to be used in a foreign country that is not a party to the Hague Apostille Convention. This is a multi-step process that involves the certification of a document by various governmental authorities. In essence, it is the highest level of authentication a document can receive and usually involves several verification stages, from a Notary Public to the country’s consulate or embassy.

Usage Example:

If you are planning to marry in a foreign country, you might need your birth certificate legalised and translated to comply with that country’s regulations.

Key Differences

While these terms may seem similar, it is crucial to differentiate between them:

  1. Certified translations are backed by a statement of accuracy from a translator or agency.
  2. Sworn translations are completed by a government-recognised translator who stamps and signs the document.
  3. Notarised translations involve a Notary Public who verifies the identity of the person certifying the translation.
  4. Legalised translations undergo a stringent, multi-step verification process, often involving a country’s consulate or embassy.

Choosing the Right Translation

Determining which type of translation you need depends on the purpose of your document and the country where it will be used. For example, while certified translations are commonly accepted for academic and immigration purposes in the UK, some countries may demand notarised or legalised translations for similar applications.


Navigating the world of translations can be complicated, but understanding the distinctions between certified, sworn, notarised, and legalised translations is essential. These classifications are not just bureaucratic hurdles; they are designed to ensure the highest degree of accuracy and authenticity in translated documents, making them trustworthy for official use globally.

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