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Frequently asked questions

A certified translation, also known as a sworn translation, is a translation carried out by a translator accredited by a French Court of Appeal. These translators are authorised by the French legal authorities to carry out legal translations such as driving licences, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc. As part of the process, the sworn translator stamps and signs the document, certifying that it is a faithful and accurate representation of the original. 

A sworn translator is a professional approved by a French Court of Appeal or the Court of Cassation. He or she is recognised as a judicial expert and ministerial officer, assisting the courts and public administrations in their work. The role of the sworn translator is to translate official documents from a source language into the language in which they specialise. Once the translation has been completed, the translator's stamp, signature and the words "conforms to the original" certify that the document has been faithfully translated thanks to his or her expertise. In this way, the translation is considered valid and admissible by the courts and public authorities, because it has been carried out and certified by a legal expert.

There is no real difference between a sworn translation and a certified translation, except in the use of terms. In fact, it is the translator who is sworn and it is the translation that is certified. This is why it is incorrect to say "sworn translation"; it is better to use the expression "certified translation" carried out by a "sworn translator".

For a certified translation, it is not compulsory to provide the original document, although this is recommended. Most sworn translators only work with digital copies of the documents to be translated, and the original is rarely used. It is therefore perfectly possible to send a scan of your document to the sworn translator who will do the translation. He or she will then print out the translation and the digital copy, stamp them both and write "conforms to the digital copy". You can then present both documents to the authorities, accompanied by the original document so that the authorities can check that the stamped digital document is identical to the original.

You do not have to use a translator sworn by a specific Court of Appeal to translate your official documents. In fact, all the sworn translators of all the Courts of Appeal in France are recognised as legal experts. So you can call on a translator sworn by the Court of Appeal of your choice to translate a document you need to present to a public authority, even if that authority is in another region. The translation will be perfectly acceptable.

It is compulsory to use a sworn translator for certain types of official document, such as legal proceedings, notarial deeds, bailiff's deeds, administrative documents, etc. If the document is to be presented to a French public institution such as a prefecture, town hall or court, it must be translated and certified by a sworn translator approved by a French court of appeal.

However, it is advisable to ask the relevant authority whether it requires a sworn translation of the document. Some authorities may accept unsworn translations for certain types of document. It is therefore important to check with the relevant authority before having the document translated.

A sworn translator is a translator approved by a French Court of Appeal or the Court of Cassation. If you want to check that a translator is sworn, you can ask them which Court of Appeal they are approved by. You can then check the list of legal experts for the Court of Appeal in question to confirm that the translator's name is listed under "translation".

Legalisation of a document is an essential procedure if it is to retain its legal value abroad. Without this procedure, a document cannot be considered legal in a foreign country. However, some countries, such as Italy, have agreements with France and do not require legalisation for certain types of document.

It is therefore important to check with the relevant authorities before ordering a sworn translation or having a document legalised. If legalisation is required, the sworn translator must also legalise his or her signature at a town hall.

There are two ways of legalising a document: the standard procedure and the simplified procedure. If you choose the standard procedure, you must first submit your document to your country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Once the document has been legalised, you must submit it to the embassy or consulate of the country concerned for a second legalisation. Both steps are essential for full legalisation of the document.

However, if you opt for the simplified procedure, all you have to do is go to the Court of Appeal in your region and submit the document to the Apostille Department. This simplified procedure only applies to countries that have signed the Apostille Convention.

To legalise a translated document, the sworn translator must have his or her signature legalised at a town hall. This legalisation of the signature is necessary for the document to be recognised as valid and admissible by the relevant foreign authorities.

Once the signature has been legalised, you can start the legalisation procedure with a Court of Appeal or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, depending on which procedure is appropriate for your document and the country in which you wish to use it.

The signature and stamp of a sworn translator make the translation official in France. However, if you want the translation of a document to be recognised as valid and admissible in another country, it is necessary to have the document legalised so that its official status is also recognised abroad.

Legalising a document is an essential procedure for ensuring that it retains its legal value abroad. It is an important step in ensuring that the document is recognised as valid and admissible by the relevant foreign authorities.

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