German Certification Rules
FAQs on certified translations in Germany
What does the term “sworn translator” mean in Germany?
Most importantly, under German certification rules, only a sworn or publicly appointed translator for the language in question may deliver a sworn/certified translation. A translator is either officially sworn-in at the local court in the Federal Country where he is permanently resident or otherwise publicly appointed. What is more, translators must prove relevant qualifications before they are sworn in/publicly appointed.
Which details must the translator include in a German certified translation?
A certified document must bear the translator’s address and his seal containing the words “Öffentlich bestellter und vereidigter Übersetzer” (“Publicly appointed and sworn translator”). Furthermore, the certification document must contain the language for which the translator is officially sworn in.
Can I obtain a sworn translation for German use outside of Germany?
No. Iolante believes that when a German authority – be it court, school, university or registry office – asks you to provide a sworn translation, it is best practice to use a German translator sworn in at the court which requires the translation.
According to German certification rules, a translator must be sworn in for whichever language pair you require, e.g. English/Spanish/French/Italian-German.
German courts will provide you with a list of “vereidigte Übersetzer” on request. German professional bodies for translators, like the BDÜ or the ADÜ Nord also offer lists of sworn translators.
Who can become a sworn translator at a German court?
Only qualified translators living in the relevant Federal Country may become sworn translators at a German court. Therefore a translator permanently resident outside of Germany cannot become sworn-in at a German court.
Can UK-based German-English and English-German translators certify translations?
Due to the above reasons stated, I cannot be registered as a sworn translator in Germany. However, I can self-certify translations for use within the UK. My self-certification is usually acceptable to UK authorities as I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.
Do I need to send original documents when requiring a translation for use in Germany?
Initially, to be able to supply you with a quote, sending copies will be sufficient. I will usually ask you to scan the relevant document(s) or send smartphone images of all pages per email for this purpose. Please make sure that your image shows the complete page and any print on the back of pages as well. The image you send must include every number and every stamp because the translator must transfer every single detail on the page(s) into the foreign language.
Having agreed on a price, I can carry out the translation using the copies provided. However, before I can certify the translation, I need to be in possession of the original certificate(s).
Please send them to my office by registered mail. After taking a copy, the translator will return the original to you together with the certified translation.
The reason for this procedure is that most German authorities require confirmation that the translation has been made using the original document.