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What is legal translation and what are its features?

The legal translation, as its name already indicates, is based on the translation of any type of document containing legal information. As with other types of specialized translations, legal translation requires a professional translator who is specialized and expert in the field.

Let's find out together what exactly a legal translation is and what its characteristics and requirements are.

Definition of legal translation

Definition of legal translation

Legal translation is a type of specialized translation, which consists of the translation of any type of document related to the law or to any legal administrative processes. These are some examples of documents that are part of the legal translation: court judgments, notarial deeds, company registration certificates, ID documents, etc.). Within legal translation, we distinguish two types of translation: standard translations and sworn/certified translations.

It is the type of document to be translated and the type of use that will determine whether you need a standard translation or a sworn/certified translation. In general, public institutions will require translations submitted to them to be sworn/certified.

Sworn/certified legal translation.

Sworn/certified legal translation.

The special feature of sworn/certified legal translations is that they must be carried out by a professional translated that sign and dates the translation. A sworn/certified translation can be made of any type of legal document, but, in many countries, it is compulsory when it is intended for an official public body: courts, ministries, embassies, civil or commercial registers...

In the case of Spain, with the official recognition of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, the sworn translator can offer translations officially certified as conforming to the original documents with his signature and stamp.

If you need a sworn translation for Spanish official organization, you can contact a sworn translator recognized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation. You can consult the official list of sworn translators in the list of sworn translators appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

Standard legal translation.

Standard legal translation.

The standard translation has the same requirements as the sworn translation in terms of the quality of the translation and its characteristics. The difference is that the translation is not required to be signed and sealed by a professional translator or registered sworn translator, in the case of those countries like Spain, France or Germany, where this is necessary.

When we talk about standard legal translations, we are talking about legal documents that are not going to be processed by an official public body or documents intended for private use only.

The multiple functions of a legal translator

The multiple functions of a legal translator

The main feature of legal translation is that it requires the translator to be competent and expert in several fields. Not only must you master all aspects of professional translation in general, but you must also be fully familiar with the regulations in force in both the source and target countries.

The laws of each country often have similarities, but they also have many differences that the translator must know in detail in order to adapt his or her translation, making sure that it is completely faithful to the original. A very specific localization work that makes legal translation sometimes dangerous.

Since the legal field is very complex, legal translators specialize in a particular type of law. For the translation of a permanent contract, for example, you will need to use a legal translator who specialises in employment law.

For your standard legal translations, we advise you to work with a specialised translation company such as our agency, AbroadLink Translations, which works closely with legal translators with years of experience. We will also guide you to the best translators according to the singularities of your project with personalized support and adapted rates.

José Gambín's picture
José Gambín

José Gambín holds a 5-year degree in Biology from the University of Valencia (Spain) and a 4-year degree in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada (Spain). He has worked as a freelance translator, in-house translator, desktop publisher and project manager. From 2002, he is a founding member of AbroadLlink and currently works as Marketing and Sales Manager.

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