meaning of sworn translator

What is a sworn translator in South Africa?

As the certification process is not standardized globally, a sworn translation has a different meaning in each country. In South Africa, a sworn translation is an official translation carried out, signed, and sealed by a Sworn Translator-Interpreter. A sworn translation can only be issued in hard copy, due to the fact that it must contain the original signature, statement, and seal of the sworn translator, who was previously admitted and enrolled by any division of the Supreme Court (High Court) This grants the document full legal validity. And the translated document, provided that it is presented alongside the original, holds the same validity held by the original in the country in which it was first issued.

This title  “sworn translator”empowers a translator to perform certified translations and/or interpretations in the language combination they were sworn in e.g. from English to French or English to Portuguese throughout South Africa.

Sworn translators/interpreters can certify, through their signature and corresponding stamp, that their actions are faithful and accurate, using the formula designed to that end by the ministerial department. Translations and interpretations from a foreign language to English and vice versa made by sworn translators/interpreters are officially recognized and accepted as a full and faithful rendering of the original.

What sort of documents has to be ‘sworn’?

Translations of documents relating to the civil registry (birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.) will usually require the services of a sworn translator. Other documents that must be ‘sworn’ include (title) deeds, school certificates, degrees and diplomas, affidavits, witness statements, and court rulings. 


There are no set requirements for producing a sworn translation, but the translator must ensure that the translated text can be compared and ‘verified’ against the original. This generally means that the form and layout must remain as close to the original as possible. If there are any features of the text that cannot be translated (such as a seal or signature), the translator will make a note between square brackets: [signature]. Interestingly, there is no legal requirement for the translator to add his or her own stamp, but in practice, all sworn translations bear a stamp since omitting it would rather defeat the object of the exercise! 

Sworn translation has recently become very important due to international trade, the creation of political-economic blocks, migration, and tourism.

Frenchside is a Pretoria-based translation agency with a track record of high-quality translation. For over 10 years, our translation services have helped our clients in South Africa build deeper relationships with their customers around the world. We work in French, Portuguese, Spanish, and German languages. If you have any questions you’d like to discuss, please give us a call at

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What is a sworn translator in South Africa?
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What is a sworn translator in South Africa?
A sworn translation is a translation that was done, signed & stamped by a sworn translator who has been officially sworn in by a Court in South Africa.
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FrenchSide, Translation & Interpretation Services
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