Legal translation services

Legal translation services requires us to fully understand the profound meaning of a text conceived in a particular language in regards to a specified legal regime in order to translate it into a foreign language in compliance with the latter’s own legal system. Even in one’s own native language, legal texts can be quite difficult to decipher and interpret and more often than not, require the assistance of a legal expert. For these reasons, legal translation stands in a category of its own in the field of translation. It features a host of intricacies inherent to amendments to pending laws and international agreements and should exclusively be assigned to a specialist. In the translation field, a distinction is made between non-certified translation and a certified translation or sworn translation required for official documents.

Non-certified legal translation services

Non-certified legal translation is valid for all legal documents whose source text is not considered as the sole reference (the translation becomes the reference). In terms of contracts, non-certified translation allows us to adapt the source text in accordance with the target country’s law and proper terminology; in this case we are referring to localization, an aspect a certified translation cannot allow.

Sworn / Certified Legal Translation services

These two designations refer to the same concept, defining the legal and official nature of a document and its translation. One must not confuse the expression “certified translation” with the term “certification”.

Certified translation through a sworn translator holds official or legal value thanks to the expert translator’s stamp serving as proof of their oath. It is the only translation recognized by courts and government authorities. Certified translation is quite literal, as it must be an exact replica of the source text. It is valid in its country of certification and in the majority of foreign states for an indefinite period.

Legal Translation Clientele

  • Law firms
  • Public authorities and institutions
  • Banks and Insurance companies
  • Notaries and real-estate agencies
  • Stockbroking firms

Legal Translation Projects

  • Contracts and Articles of Association
  • Financial reports
  • Public instruments, court rulings, minutes.
  • Sales agreements
  • Calls for tenders
  • Patents

When to assign a sworn translator?

  • For all official documents requested by foreign government authorities and administrations regarding personal, industrial or commercial procedures.
  • For frequently used personal documents: birth, marriage, divorce or death certificates, diplomas, driver’s license, citizenship or adoption applications, employment contracts, identity documents, etc.
  • For court rulings, bills of sales, notarial acts, wills, articles of association.

The authentication procedure of French documents addressed to foreign authorities varies in terms of document type and destination country (EU member state or other).

Documents for the European Union

Although most official documents’ certified translations are valid across the EU without additional authentication formalities, some documents may still require further procedures similar to documents intended for non-EU countries.

Documents for non-EU countries

If your certified translation is intended for non-EU countries, 3 solutions are at hand based on agreements between France and the destination country: exemption of formality, apostille or legalization formality.

First off, the exemption of formality: as the name suggests no further procedure is required, and a certified translation should prove sufficient.

The Apostille

An apostille is, by definition, a stamp certifying an official document’s compliance with French law and the authenticity of a seal or signature, free of charge. The apostille must be added by the court of appeal issuing the document prior to its certified translation. It is recommended to conduct proper verification and enquire with the Foreign Affairs Ministry as this procedure is only recognized by the member-states of the Apostille Convention of The Hague Convention (HCCH). If the destination country is not a signatory to the HCCH, you must refer to the relevant authorities.

Translation Legalization

In most cases, once the document is translated and certified, the Foreign Affairs Ministry validates the sworn translation and forwards it to the relevant consulate or embassy in order for the document to be officially recognized by foreign government authorities.

It is also possible to authenticate certain translated documents, free of charge, through a city council stamp or through the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for commercial or industrial procedures.

Our legal translation service is available to you in most languages. We advise and assist you throughout the required procedures, the choice of apostille or the legalization formality which depends on the destination country as well as the nature of document.


Contact us today for a detailed analysis of your legal translation requirements