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What is a certified translation? A Spanish perspective

When presenting documents in a foreign language before an official body, such as a government department, a university, a court or a notary, in many cases it is necessary to accompany the original document with its translation. The latter must be certified as an accurate and truthful translation of the original text.

This requires a certified translator, i.e. a translator authorised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to translate official documents. A certified translation must bear on each of its pages the signature, seal and certification of the certified translator, which attests to the fidelity and accuracy of the translation. Although it is possible that the certified translation is printed on stamped paper, the use of this is not required by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It may also be accompanied by additional documents, such as the Hague Apostille.

Thus, certified translations are official as they are signed and stamped by certified translators authorised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The certified translator is then responsible for the veracity and accuracy of the certified translation, as it is signed and stamped by the certified translator. Since it is an official document, receiving authorities can be assured of the accuracy of the translation, and that the translated and sealed documents correspond to the originals, which is not the case for unofficial translations.

FORMAT OF A CERTIFIED TRANSLATION

The certified translation usually consists of a copy of the documents to be translated, duly stamped and signed by the certified translator, together with the translation thereof and a letter from the translator certifying that it is a true and complete translation of the attached copy. In addition to the certified translation, the original document or a certified copy thereof must be submitted when submitting the documentation to the official body.

That is to say, in the certified translation, in addition to the original and its translation, the federative formula must appear. In this text the certified translator certifies the accuracy and quality of the translation, as well as other information that he or she considers relevant to the document, such as the number of pages, if the translation was made from a copy of the original, etc. The following is an example of a type certification:

[Name], Certified Translator-Interpreter of English, certifies that the foregoing is a true and complete translation into Spanish of a document written in English. The translation consists of three numbered, signed and stamped pages.

In XXXXX, on September 15, 2010.

STAMP and SIGNATURE

A certified translation must also include the signature of the certified translator on each and every page, as well as his or her official seal, which contains their details as a certified translator. The format of the translation is not regulated, and can be either faithful to the original, or a linear format with descriptions between brackets of the various elements that make up the original format, such as stamps, tables, logos, etc.

WHEN DO I NEED A CERTIFIED TRANSLATION?

There are many authorities that require a certified translation accompanying documents in a foreign language. For example, when validating a foreign university degree at the Ministry of Education, a certified translation is required. Another common case in which certified translations are required is when studying abroad, where it is necessary to present the academic record duly certified by a certified translator. In the case of a marriage abroad, or when a foreign person wishes to marry in Spain, a certified translation of the birth certificate of the foreign spouse is usually necessary. In the business world there are several cases in which a certified translation is necessary, for example, if a foreign company wants to open a branch in Spain, or if a Spanish company is in international expansion, its articles of association, statutes and other internal documents must be translated.

A certified translation that is signed and sealed by a certified translator appointed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is legally valid before Spanish institutions, and in many cases abroad. In certain cases, however, the certification of a Spanish certified translator must be accompanied by the Apostille of The Hague in order for the translation to have official validity. The Apostille of The Hague is an attached sheet certifying that the signature and seal of the certified translator corresponded to a certified translator qualified in Spain, and is valid in all countries that are party to the agreement.

In this article we have explained what a certified translation is. In short, a certified translation is an official translation. In order for a certified translation to be legally valid before the authorities, it must bear the signature, seal and certification of the duly authorised certified translator. Now we’ll take a look at a few of the types of documents for which certified translations are often required.

Birth certificate: Certified translation

The birth certificate is a document issued by the Civil Registry attesting to the fact of birth, as well as the place, date and time it took place. A birth certificate is required to complete certain formalities, such as applying for nationality, getting married etc.

If the certificate is in a language other than Spanish, or is destined for a foreign country, a certified translation may be required. Although in Spain it is possible to request a multilingual birth certificate with official validity in several countries, it is sometimes necessary to carry out a certified translation of the original birth certificate.

BIRTH CERTIFICATE

A birth certificate is a document issued by the Civil or Consular Registry of each country. It includes the following information:

- The identity and birth certificate of the registrant.

- The page and volume of the entry, or the folio and file where the original annotation of birth is found.

- The Registry from which it comes, either municipal or consular.

- The name and signature of the certifying Officer or Secretary, date and seal of the office.

- If an electronic stamp is used, the procedure for verifying the content of the document shall be indicated.

There are several types of birth certificates:

- Extract of a birth certificate: A summary of the information related to the fact of the birth that is recorded in the Civil Registry. It can be ordered in several languages:

- Ordinary: Issued in Spanish language in those autonomous communities whose only official language is Spanish.

- Bilingual: If the certificate is requested in an Autonomous Community that has its own official language, it will be issued in Spanish and in the official language of the Autonomous Community in which it is issued.

- International or multilingual: Intended for use in countries which have ratified the Vienna Convention of 8 September 1976. This certificate is issued in the official language of the signatory countries.

- Verbatim birth certificate: It is a verbatim copy of the birth registration, which includes all data relating to the fact of birth and identity of the registrant.

- Electronic birth certificate with the electronic seal of the Directorate General of Registries and Notaries: This certifies the data contained in the database of persons registered in the civil registers.

- Negative birth certificate: This certifies that a person is not registered in the Civil Registry that issues it.

HOW TO APPLY FOR A BIRTH CERTIFICATE?

You can apply for a birth certificate in person at the registry, or in person. Although it was initially required to apply for the certificate in person at the Civil Registry that issued it, today it is also possible to apply for it by mail or via the Internet.

In order to apply for a birth certificate by ordinary mail, it is necessary to send the application form or a letter to the Civil Registry indicating the type of certificate (literal, ordinary extract, bilingual extract, international or multilingual extract, negative), name, surname, date and place of birth of the person on whom the certificate is requested, as well as the name and postal address where the certificate will be sent.

To apply for the certificate online, you must access the Ministry of Justice's Electronic Headquarters in the corresponding section. The certificate requested in this way will preferably be sent by ordinary mail to the address indicated in the application. However, the person concerned may collect it in person provided that he or she has expressly indicated this in the application.

The time limit for receipt of the certificate will depend on the delivery method you have chosen. If you have opted for the certificate to be sent by post, the period between the request and receipt of the certificate will be close to 15 days.

CERTIFIED TRANSLATION OF A BIRTH CERTIFICATE

Before requesting a certified translation of a birth certificate, it should be consulted whether an international or multilingual certificate can be used instead, as it can be obtained free of charge. The international or multilingual certificate is directly valid in the countries that signed the Vienna Convention of 8 September 1976 (Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro), and in certain cases in other countries whose official language is one of those included in the multilingual certificate (Spanish, French, German, English, Greek, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, etc.). In the latter case, some additional legalization procedures may be necessary, so it is advisable to consult the addressee organization.

If for any reason a certified translation of the original birth certificate is required, an official certified translator should be contacted. Certified translators and interpreters are free to set their own rates as they are not officially regulated. Therefore, the price of a translation can vary greatly from one translator to another. In any case, the birth certificate is a short document and is usually considered a translation with a minimum charge, which can cost between 30 and 50 euros, depending on the language combination, delivery time, etc.

Marriage Certificate: Certified Translation

The marriage certificate is a document issued by the Civil Registry attesting to the act of marriage, including information on the place, date and time at which it was performed. Among the most common procedures that require a marriage certificate is the application for nationality. If the marriage certificate is issued in a foreign language, a certified translation may be required.

Spain has ratified the Vienna Convention of the International Commission on Civil Status of 8 September 1976, which establishes multilingual or international certificates. Thus, it is possible to apply for a multilingual marriage certificate with direct validity (without the need for a certified translation) in the countries that have signed this agreement. Otherwise a certified translation of the marriage certificate is required.

MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE

The marriage certificate is a document issued by the Registrar and attesting to the act of marriage and the date, time and place in which it took place. It can be of various types:

- Extract: A summary of the information related to the fact of the marriage that is recorded in the Civil Registry. It can be given in several languages:

- Ordinary: In those autonomous communities whose only official language is Spanish.

The marriage certificate will be issued in Spanish.

- Bilingual: In those autonomous communities with their own official language. The certificate shall be issued in Spanish and in the official language of the Autonomous Community.

- International or multilingual: Intended for use in countries which have ratified the Vienna Convention of 8 September 1976. This certificate is issued in the official languages of the signatory countries.

- Verbatim Marriage Certificate: A verbatim copy of the registration of the marriage in the registry. It includes all recorded data on the fact of marriage and the identity of the contracting parties.

- Electronic marriage certificates: This certifies the data contained in the Civil Registry database. It includes the electronic seal of the Directorate General of Registries and Notaries.

- Negative certificate: Certifies that the marriage is not registered in the Civil Registry.

HOW TO APPLY FOR A MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE?

You can apply for the marriage certificate in person at the registry, or in person (by regular mail or internet). The marriage certificate may be requested by any citizen who requires it, except for certain personal data that would require a special authorization (for example, adoptive filiation, non-marital or unknown, causes of nullity of marriage, separation or divorce, etc.). However, certifications with an electronic seal from the General Directorate of Registries and Notaries may only be requested by the holder of the data, duly identified.

The time limit for receipt of the certificate will depend on the delivery method you have chosen. If you have opted for the certificate to be sent by post, the period between the request and receipt of the certificate will be close to 15 days. In the case of certificates in which the method of delivery chosen by the interested party is face-to-face, it will be the Civil Registry itself which will indicate the date from which the certificate can be collected.

CERTIFIED TRANSLATION OF A MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE

A certified translation of the marriage certificate may be required when the marriage certificate is written in a language other than the official language in the destination country.

However, before requesting a certified translation of a marriage certificate, it should be consulted whether an international or multilingual certificate can be used instead, as it can be obtained free of charge. The international or multilingual certificate is directly valid in the countries that signed the Vienna Convention of 8 September 1976 (Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Portugal, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro). In certain cases, one of the languages included in the multilingual certificate (Spanish, French, German, English, Greek, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, etc.) may also be valid in other countries of the official language. In the latter case, some additional legalization procedure may be necessary, so it is advisable to consult the addressee organization.

If for any reason a certified translation of the original marriage certificate is required, an official certified translator should be contacted. This happens, for example, if the marriage certificate is written in English, and must be submitted in Spain, certified translation from English into Spanish, or vice versa. The price of a certified translation can vary greatly from one translator to another. In any case, the marriage certificate is a short document and is usually considered a minimum translation, which can cost between 30 and 50 euros, depending on the language combination, delivery time, etc.

Death certificate: Certified translation

The death certificate is an official document proving a person's death. This document can be requested from the Civil Registry where the death is registered, either in person, by post or via the Internet. In certain cases, such as when applying for an inheritance or a widow's or widower's benefit in a foreign country, a certified translation of the death certificate may be necessary. However, as Spain has ratified the Vienna Convention of the International Commission on Civil Status of 8 September 1976, this document can be issued directly in multilingual form. Thus, the multilingual death certificate will have direct validity (without the need for a certified translation) in the countries that have signed the aforementioned agreement.

DEATH CERTIFICATE


The death certificate is a document issued by the Civil Registry that proves the death of a person. There are several types of death certificate:

- Extract: A summary of the information related to the fact of death that is recorded in the Civil Registry. This extract can be requested in several languages:

- Ordinary: In those autonomous communities whose only official language is Spanish.

The marriage certificate will be issued in Spanish.

- Bilingual: In those autonomous communities with their own official language, the death certificate will be issued in two languages: Spanish and the official language of the Autonomous Community.

- International or multilingual: Intended for countries which have ratified the Vienna Convention of 8 September 1976. This certificate is issued in the official languages of the signatory countries.

- Verbatim death certificate: A literal copy of the death inscription, containing all data relating to the identity of the deceased and the fact of death.

- Negative certificate: This certifies that the death of a certain person is not registered in the Civil Registry.

HOW TO APPLY FOR A DEATH CERTIFICATE?

You can apply for the marriage certificate in person at the registry, or in person (by regular mail or internet). The marriage certificate can be requested by any citizen, except in certain cases contemplated by law (adoptive filiation, sex rectification, abortion records, etc.).

The time limit for receipt of the certificate will depend on the method of delivery and the date on which the event occurred. For example, in the case of a face-to-face application, the issue will be immediate when the death is recorded in the databases (deaths after 2004), whereas for deaths before 1967, the issuance of the certificate will take about ten days. In some cases it may be requested as a matter of urgency.

CERTIFIED TRANSLATION OF A DEATH CERTIFICATE

A certified translation of the death certificate may be required when the death certificate is written in a language other than the official language in the country of destination.

However, before requesting a certified translation of a death certificate, it should be consulted whether it is possible to use an international or multilingual certificate instead, as this can be obtained free of charge. The international or multilingual certificate is directly valid in the countries that signed the Vienna Convention of 8 September 1976 (Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Portugal, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro). In certain cases it may also be valid in other countries with an official language equal to one of those included in the multilingual certificate (Spanish, French, German, English, Greek, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, etc.). Even so, it may be necessary to legalize the death certificate, so it is advisable to consult the body requesting it.

If a certified translation of the death certificate is still required, an official certified translator should be contacted. The price of a certified translation of a certificate can vary greatly from one translator to another. In any case, it is always advisable to contact freelance translators directly and to avoid translation agencies, which, by acting as intermediaries, increase the final price of the translation. The death certificate is a short document and is usually a minimum certified translation price, which can cost between 30 and 50 euros (although it depends on the translator chosen, language combination, delivery time, etc.).

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