Differences between Sworn and Normal Translations in South Africa

Are you looking for a sworn translation in Sandton? Thinking of immigrating and now you are being told you need your documents to be translated by a certified or sworn translator? You are worried and even stressed out because what does it mean to have your official documentation translated by a sworn translator? How does one translate a birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce certificate, will or even your degree certificates into another language and know it will be accepted?

Discover below the main differences between a sworn translation versus a normal translation

What is the exactly a sworn translation?

A sworn translation (also called a public, legal, official or certified translation) of a document is endorsed by the signature and seal and unique case number of a translator who has taken an oath in one of the High Court of South Africa to translate official documents. These translations are regarded as having legal status by the authorities

The specific status of those translators makes them the only people authorized to certify the conformity of a translated document to the original. They work with the justice system, police, customs whenever a need arises for interpretation or translation. They also work with administrative and legal cases, translating legal and official documents, in the case of criminal proceedings, for example.

As for the general public, a sworn translator intervenes on the certification of official documents: driving permits, civil certificates (birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, divorce certificates), diplomas, company statutes, accounting documents, wills, judgments, notary contracts, etc.

The texts of a sworn translation should be clearly recognizable as in the original document, with all the information as in the original, even if some of it seems unnecessary or repetitious. Sworn translators assume that every word and every nuance has a purpose, and reproduce the content, every signature, every stamp in the way they appear on the original.


Having said all of this there is one huge myth which needs to be dispelled and that is simply to have a document stamped and signed at a police station, by a commissioner of oaths or by a lawyer does not make it a sworn translation. Furthermore, also remember that a sworn translator is sworn for a particular language combination which implies that a translator sworn for English-French is not necessarily also sworn for French-English. Translators wishing to provide sworn translation in both directions have to be tested and sworn for each language combination separately.

Now that you understand the differences between the two kinds of translations, do not forget that a sworn translation needs to be given to a client as a hard copy, whereas a normal translation can be sent electronically. Therefore, factor into your calculations an extra three to four working days for postage.


Frenchside is committed in providing quality translations, exceptional service, on-time delivery and complete customer satisfaction, so you will always receive professional results at competitive rates. For further information about Business document translation Services please phone us at: +27 (0) 12-348- 3134 or e-mail us at info@frenchside.co.za and we’ll be more than happy to talk with you or to answer any questions you may have

Find out what are the differences between a sworn translation and a normal translation in South Africa and when do you need Sworn translations.
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Find out what are the differences between a sworn translation and a normal translation in South Africa and when do you need Sworn translations.
Find out what are the differences between a sworn translation and a normal translation in South Africa and when you need Sworn translations.
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