4 Types of Legal Translations

The Judge Hammer

When it comes to types of legal translations, the first thing we need to understand is that the nomenclature of what is what can vary greatly from one country (or one legal system) to another. There is no globally accepted definition of an official translation, with terms such as “sworn translation”, “certified translation” and “notarized translation” often being thrown about left and right.

Despite the overlap in meaning, these definitions have one common denominator that links them together. They all imply a need for a translation to be carried out on a different level to that of an ordinary translation, mostly because of its importance or its potential legal consequences – something which could actually affect the client in a far more significant manner than, say, a user manual for a dishwasher.

Official translation services are usually needed for documents such as contracts, tax forms, medical certificates, marriage certificates, birth certificates, work permits, etc. You get the idea. They need to exhibit an air of professionalism, seriousness and credibility, especially seeing as they are usually intended to be inspected by foreign authorities and officials.

different legal translation types

So, to answer the question on everyone’s lips, what types of legal translations can you get?

A legal translation (or an official translation, to cover all bases) describes a legally valid translation that is identical to the original in terms of its function.


At Taia, for example, you can choose from several types of legal translation, depending on what kind of document you need and which country or government/administrative body you are submitting your documents to. Let’s take a look.

standard certified translation

1. Standard certified translations are merely an exact and accurate translation of the original document with an attestation by the language service provider that it was carried out by a qualified professional translator as a mark of quality. 

This type of legal translation will usually strictly adhere to the original text and is done by a translator who is an expert in the respective field, but is not a sworn translator per se. 

A standard certified translation could therefore be described as a regular translation of a legal text with additional reassurances that the task has been carried out to the highest possible standard.

2. Sworn translations are official translations of legal documents that are required for legal, governmental or administrative purposes. Examples of such documents are birth certificates, marriage certificates, academic diplomas and certificates, contracts, etc. 

If these documents are to be submitted or presented to a court, university or a similar official body, sworn translations are often mandatory. 

They are carried out exclusively by sworn translators (also referred to as court translators in some countries) who guarantee the accuracy of the translated document with their signature and stamp, usually assigning a unique number to the translation too.

sworn translations of documents
notarized translation

3. Notarized translations are similar to sworn translations. 

The difference is that notarized translations are verified and signed by a notary public – a person who is authorized by the government to authenticate legal documents. 

To finalize a notarized translation, the original is bound together with the professional translation, which must be certified by a notary.

4. Translation of apostilles is needed for an apostille – a type of international certificate used and recognized by countries who participate in the Hague Convention. 

The convention defines four types of documents which can be apostilled (marked with a special computer-generated label): court documents (wills, power of attorney, etc.), administrative documents (any document issued by a government agency), notarial acts and registered documents (anything from birth certificates to property documents).

types of legal translation

As always, if you’re unsure which service you need, talk to us and we’ll find the best solution for you. Every official translation done by Taia is dated and includes a declaration confirming that our translation agency is responsible for the accuracy of the translation.

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