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Expats in Spain lost in translation

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Expats in Spain lost in translation

Translators in Spain, Spanish sworn translators

If you’ve come to Spain to live, work or even just to do business, very often you will be told that you will need x document translated. However, the translation can’t be done by anyone. Most translations presented to the Spanish authorities need to be done by duly appointed sworn translators, known in Spanish as “traductores jurados“. So, what is a sworn translator anyway and how do I find one?

In Spain, like many other Civil law countries, many professions are regulated by law. Translation is no different. However, in the case of translation, there is a special qualification that distinguishes some translators from others. These are called sworn translators.

The legislation on sworn translators has changed on a few occasions over the past few decades. Up to about a decade ago, you could obtain the title of sworn translator and interpreter by doing a couple of extra subjects at some universities that offered translation degrees. However, that ended with the new education plan (the Bologna process) and now the only real way you can become a sworn translator is by passing a state exam organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Most Spanish sworn translators who work with commonly spoken languages such as English, French and even German, received their title by studying translation in one of these universities. The state exam is rarely held (especially for commonly spoken languages) and is very competitive and difficult to pass.

Now that we know what it takes to become a Spanish sworn translator, what exactly do they do?

A sworn translator can translate any type of document. A sworn translator’s job is to translate said document accurately and, due to the translator’s training and/or proven skills, the Spanish government deems that the translator has the wherewithal to produce accurate “official” translations.

The idea is that the Spanish authorities can trust the content of the translation and the quality of the same. To this end, a sworn translator will swear to the accurateness of the translation. This is essential because the Spanish authorities must feel confident that what is written in the original document is faithfully reproduced in the translation.

This can sometimes be difficult to understand for some clients who request that certain things be translated in a certain way. If the translator believes that that translation would be incorrect, he would be legally liable for translating something that wasn’t true. I have heard many stories of clients asking translators to give them certain studies or change certain “unhelpful” information in order to benefit them. This is downright fraud and any translator worth their salt wouldn’t accept any mistranslations of this kind. Especially as they would also be liable.

However, if you do want the translator to make a sensible change to a translation or to put something in a way that does not affect the accuracy of the translation, you can always ask. The translator will then evaluate the request and decide how to translate the document.

So, I need a sworn translator… but how can I find one?

There are three main ways:

  1. You contact a translation company and ask them to manage the task for you. Businesses of this kind work with sworn translators on a regular basis and will most likely have a translator who they trust and work with on a regular basis.
  2. You look for a sworn translator online in your local area.
  3. You go to the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website and look for the list of sworn translators.

Of these options, the last two will probably be the ones that will take you the most time as you will have to put in all the work of finding and coordinating with the translator. Also, you will probably not know much about the translator and won’t know if they are any good or not. Translation companies will probably have had more experience of working with the translator and will have a better idea of if they are any good or not.

However, if you work directly with a translator you will be able to make requests directly to them and not have to go through an intermediary. You will also be able to choose a specific translator and not have one thrust upon you.

Lastly, I would always suggest checking that the translator does indeed appear on the Ministry’s list of sworn translators irrespective of how you found them. There have been cases of people passing themselves off as sworn translators when they aren’t. This can be done by going to the Ministry’s webpage by, for example, following this helpful link.

Now you know what a sworn translator is, what they do, how to become one and how to find one. All that’s left is to contact one.

If you are looking for a sworn translator or have any other questions, look no further than the link below. We will be happy to help you with anything you may need.

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