Sworn Translation VS. Regular Translation: What is the Difference?

As the world became more globalized and international businesses operating across language barriers have become an increasingly commonplace scenario, the world saw a significant rise in the volume of documents requiring translation in the corporate world. Not all documents have to undergo sworn translation, however – in many cases, the content can remain in the original language or undergo a simple translation, with no need for legal validity of the resulting document. But in certain circumstances, the law requires that a translation be performed by a sworn translator.

What most people don’t know is that not every translator can offer this type of translation, which enjoys full faith and credit in Brazil. The professional responsible for preparing the translation must have proven qualifications for the job, namely having passed a competitive civil service examination of their skills in Portuguese and the source/target languages involved and be registered with the state business registry.


Pazetti Leaf - Bullet Regular Translation
Regular translations can be used for any private purpose, including in academia and business, when their legal validity does not need to be recognized by a Brazilian government institution.

Pazetti Leaf - Bullet Sworn translation
Sworn translations can only be performed by a sworn translator. Some documents are required by law to undergo sworn translation (as governed by Decree-Law 13,609/43). Every sworn translation must bear certification that it was produced by a sworn translator, which can be effected via electronic means (Certificado Digital, a form of electronic signature) or through notarization of his/her signature.

To be legally accepted in Brazil, civil documents in a foreign language, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, and divorce papers, require a sworn translation. This rule also covers personal documents, such as identity cards, driver's licenses, professional licenses, diplomas, school transcripts, powers of attorney, articles of association, and others, that must have their full faith and credit recognized in order to be accepted.

The result of a sworn translation (also known as a “public translation”) is a Portuguese document that mirrors the original, but, unlike a simple translation, must also contain other information – including standard introductory and closing sections with a description of the type of document and how it was received (original hard copy, via email etc.), an official marking of where the translation begins and ends, and an official declaration of its registration by the sworn translator (who is required to keep a record of every translation performed and submit it from time to time to the business registry). The translator must faithfully translate all elements of the document, including any non-text elements, such as seals, stamps, symbols, signatures, and anything else that contributes to its understanding.

Pazetti Leaf - Bullet Conclusion
Although a simple translation – or no translation at all – is generally sufficient for many international business contracts , in the event of a legal dispute under Brazilian jurisdiction, for example, the court will demand a sworn translation of the contract and any other documents related to the proceedings.

Sworn and regular translations are distinguished not only by their legal validity and the qualifications required of the translator, but also by the level of complexity involved. Sworn translation is used to validate documents originally produced in a foreign language, ensuring they are legally recognized in Brazil and avoiding potential misinterpretations and tampering with translations.

Andreia Daros is a Partner at Ferrareze e Freitas Advogados

OAB/SP 294.669-A

OAB/RS 74.050