A legal translation is any used within the legal system. This can mean all manner of documents required by the civil and criminal justice systems. It includes documents such as contracts, patent and trademark filings, court and witness transcripts, depositions, registration documents, expert reports, legal disclaimers, affidavits, regulations, laws, confidentiality agreements, legal certifications and statements, government and legal ruling reports, letters of credit, technical documents to support litigation efforts , licenses, litigation and arbitration documents.
The list of legal translation is endless and we must also bear in mind that other documents become "legal" when they cross into the civil and criminal justice systems.
Examples include passports, death certificates, birth certificates, last wills and testaments, immigration documents, marriage certificates, powers of attorney, evidentiary recordings of phone calls, police interviews, court documents, contracts, complaints, judgments, affidavits, judgments, adoption papers, , summons, legal proceedings, trusts, partnership deeds, sales contracts, real estate titles or leases papers, permits, insurance policies, trademarks and copyrights, service agreements, escrow instructions, distribution agreements or arbitration documents.
The main question is when a document needs to be translated legally and the answer is when whenever the document is to be used by the courts or for legal matters. If, for example, you moved to another country with your family and died there, you would need a sworn or notarized translation of the will in the language of that country in order to go through the relevant legal proceedings of that country.
It is always best to have these things done in advance rather at the last minute at times of stress when mistakes are more likely to occur. After all, in a lot of cases these events will definitely occur so why add the extra stress.
This brings us to our next question. Who can do a legal translation and how do we know they have the credentials and qualifications to do it. In Spain for example a it needs to be translated by a sworn translator. A sworn translator in Spain takes periodic exams with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On passing these exams their work is accompanied by their stamp. In the United States it is less clear cut in that there are no official exams or licenses. There are voluntary certifications given by bodies such as the American Translators Association and the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters & Translators. These bodies work along similar lines to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in that the translators and interpreters have to pass periodic exams to maintain their status. Some may have a relevant legal background such as a law degree. When choosing a someone it's really important that the translator or Agency has a demonstrable legal qualification or experience.
To make a legal Translation official a professional agency should be able to certify or notarize their work with the relevant stamp from that particular country. At One stop Shop legal translations are notarized or stamped according to the country they are intended for. I would now like to define a few essential terms for legal translations that may help you decide in choosing the best qualified person in the country you wish to use the translation.
A certified translation as one that has a document accompanying it attesting to its accuracy or validity, but is not notarized. With a notarized translation the accompanying certificate is notarized by the relevant legal representative.
A sworn translation has the official stamp of the sworn translator who is regulated by a Government body in that country
Below is a list of the qualifications per country used by One Stop Shop to "legalize" its translation. In the case where a translator is sworn the translation is sworn in that particular country in order to legalize it.
French Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with a Regional court of Appeal in France.
Spanish legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign affairs.
German Legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with a regional court in Germany.
Italian Legal translation: Translations are sworn at the local Italian court of Justice on a case by case basis. Some legal translations need to be notarized before a notary and the relevant parties.
Austrian Legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with a regional court in Austria.
Dutch Legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with a regional court in Holland.
Portuguese Legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with a regional court in Portugal.
Czech Legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with a regional court in the Czech republic.
Polish legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Polish Ministry of Justice.
Romanian legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Romanian Ministry of Justice.
Turkish legal translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Turkish Ministry of Foreign affairs.
Venezuelan Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Venezuelan Ministry of Justice.
U.K. legal translation: no sworn translation system.
Argentinean Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Argentinean Ministry of Justice
U.S. legal translation: No sworn translation system. Translators are registered with the ATA (American translators association)
Mexican Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Mexican Superior Court of Justice
Norwegian Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the Association of Government Authorized Translators.
South African Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the South African High Court.
Swedish Legal Translation: Translators sworn and registered with the "Kammarkollegiet".