Is legalising a certified translation necessary?

Published on 08/09/2021

In order for a certified translation to be one, it must bear the signature and stamp of a sworn translator appointed by a higher governmental body, European Union and Cooperation. This gives the final document an official character. Is it therefore necessary to legalise a certified translation?

If you are asking yourself the same question, you can't miss this article. I will tell you everything you need to know about how to legalise a certified translation and why.

1. What does “legalising” a certified translation mean?

Legalising a document means certifying its authenticity and legitimacy to a foreign body. Although the certified translation is already an official document itself, legalising it provides an additional guarantee of legal validity.

The stamp and signature of a certified translator attest the accuracy and completeness of the translation, but who can guarantee the authenticity of the original document?

It will be necessary to legalise any foreign document that is to be presented to the resident’s country administration. Many official bodies will demand a "legalised sworn translation".

The steps to follow for legalisation depend on the document’s issuing country, the document type and the country of destination.

2. How to legalise a certified translation?

Generally there are two ways of legalising a certified translation:


It consists of a simplified legalisation procedure, valid in the member countries of the 1965 Hague Convention.

The issuing of an apostille for a document is a simple and quick procedure, which is quite important when it comes to bureaucracy. An apostille serves to legalise the signature and stamps of the original document, although it often does not guarantee the veracity of the content. This is the responsibility of the notary, who signed the original documents.


If the issuing country (or the receiving country) does not form part of the Hague Convention, it’s not possible to legalise the document by apostille. Instead, diplomatic or consular legalisation will be required, a rather longer and more tedious process.

The first step is to legalise the original document at the Embassy or Consulate of the country where it was issued. Once this is done, a certified translation is required. To legalise it, it is common to go to the Foreign Affairs Office or the General Register Office of the country.

*LEGALISATION: this is a sub-procedure of the previous one, diplomatic legalisation, for the legalisation of a certified translation. It is only necessary when the legalised documents are to be accepted abroad.

3. Why should a certified translation be legalised?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, the signature and stamp of a certified translator give the translation an official character. So why legalise the translation?

Well, the crux of the matter is that a certified translator, like a notary or any other public person authorised by higher governmental bodies, only has a limited jurisdiction, in a specific territory.

Therefore, if we want this translation, like any other official document, to be valid in another country, it will be necessary to legalise it in order to certify its validity and authenticity.

The Hague Apostille (abbreviated legalisation) and diplomatic or consular legalisation legalise the original document and its signature: it confirms, guarantees and certifies that the issuing country recognises the signatory of the document and that the document is therefore valid in the issuing country.
What it does not certify, however, is the veracity of the content of the document which, as I said before, will be the task of the notary in the country of origin.

The legalisation of the signature, as part of the diplomatic or consular legalisation procedure, legalises the certified translator's signature, and therefore legitimises him/her to translate a document with full legal validity abroad.

4. Any questions?

If you are still in doubt as to whether your document or certified translation needs to be legalised or not, we recommend to contact the office where the documents are to be submitted.

Knowing exactly which documents are needed and whether they need to be translated will save you a lot of time and money in the future.

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Alba García's picture
Alba García

Graduate in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Granada (Spain), and in Translation and Translatology from the Moscow State Linguistic University as part of an unprecedented double degree programme between the two universities. Specialised in legal translation and marketing. Language lover.

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