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French Courthouse

Sworn translations

"I swear to assist the courts, to accomplish my duties, to issue my report and to deliver my opinion honorably and conscientiously."

In 2019 I was appointed as a sworn translator (expert-traducteur) for French and English by the Lyon Court of Appeal. This means that I am authorized to produce official, or sworn, translations of various documents to be be used for official purposes (proof of ID, legal proceedings, etc.).

As a sworn translator, I collaborate with the French judicial system and provide my services to private individuals, professionals, companies and administrations.

 

The function of sworn translator is nationally recognized in France, which means that you can call on the services of any expert-traducteur regardless of your location.

 

Sworn translators appointed by a French court of appeal have nationwide jurisdiction that is not limited by any departmental or regional boundaries within France. In other words, you can use my services wherever you reside in France or abroad.

Below is a brief description of the sworn translation process as well as some frequently asked questions.

Sworn translations of technical, medical and legal documents

What does the process entail?

The process of obtaining a sworn translation is similar to that of a so-called normal translation. However, a few additional steps are required to ensure that the translation is not rejected by the party requiring the sworn translation.

I'll first need to see the documents to be translated. You can email them directly to me at contact[at]spstrad.com or, for maximum confidentiality, upload them via a secure link that I will send to you.

The documents must be double-sided scans and of good quality. Photos and/or screenshots will not be accepted.

I'll also need to know the following:

  • the desired variant of English (U.S. English, U.K. English, etc.);

  • for whom the translation is intended;

  • whether an apostille or authentication will be required (see below);

  • if an electronic copy of the translation will suffice or if you also require a hard copy.

 

Once I have all this information, I will provide you with a quote (my fees are inclusive of VAT) and proposed turnaround time.

If you accept my quote, you will receive your sworn translation within the stated turnaround time and via the agreed means.

FAQ

What is a sworn translation?

Who can do it?

What is the process involved?

I was given a list of CESEDA translators. Are they authorized to do official translations?

Can I use the services of a sworn translator who is not located in my immediate area or region?

What is cost and turnaround time?

What is an apostille?

What is signature authentication?

What is a sworn translation?

In France, a sworn translation is one that has been translated, signed and stamped by a sworn translator, i.e. a translator appointed by one of the country's 36 courts of appeal or its Court of Cassation.

A sworn translation has the same legal validity as its original and the translator's signature attests that it is a true and faithful rendering of the original document.
Any document could require a sworn translation: vital records documents, authentic instruments, driver's licences, academic transcripts, diplomas, medical reports, etc.

Who can do them?

In France, only translators appointed by a court of appeal or the Court of Cassation are authorized to do certified translations (Article 233 of France's code of civil procedure). Under the same article, sworn translators are prohibited from signing and stamping a translation done or to be done by a third party.

​​I was given a list of CESEDA translators. Are they authorized to do official translations?

“CESEDA” is the name of a list consisting primarily of interpreters who are called on by the French justice system only in cases provided for by France’s Code of Entry and Residence of Foreigners and of the Right to Asylum (CESEDA). They are required to swear an oath each time they are called on.

Each of France’s tribunaux judiciaires (judicial courts) has its own list. It was created to allow the French justice system to have interpreters on hand day and night, on weekends and holidays.

 

By law, a person named on a CESEDA list is barred from using the title of expert-judiciaire (judicial expert), from claiming that they have been sworn by a French court of appeal, and from using a name or title that is similar enough to create a misunderstanding in the public’s mind.

 

Any person who falsely represents themselves as an expert-judiciaire (judicial expert) is liable to the penalties set out in articles 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the French Act No 71-498 of June 29, 1971, relating to experts-judiciaires (judicial experts), and article 433-17 of France’s Criminal Code.

 

Furthermore, it is strictly forbidden for any person named on a CESEDA list to use their registration on the list to offer paid or unpaid official (sworn) translation interpretation services to any natural or legal person.

 

It is worth noting that interpreters sworn by a French court of appeal are added to the CESEDA list of their jurisdiction either automatically or at their request.

Can I use the services of a sworn translator who is not located in my immediate area or region?

Sworn translators appointed by a French court of appeal have nationwide jurisdiction that is not limited by any departmental or regional boundaries within France. In other words, if the only available translator is based in, say, Brittany and you live in Corsica, you can call on his or her services without any problem.

The only obstacle is that in principle the translator is supposed to see the physical original. This is because the translation is certified based on the physical original. However, no legislation in France bars sworn translators from translating from a reproduction of the original and certifying their translation. If a sworn translation is made from a digital document or a photocopy (even one certified as a true copy) the certification phrase must be amended to reflect this.

It is therefore the client’s responsibility to inquire about the specific requirements of the authority requesting the translation, particularly with regard to the need for authentication and an apostille (see below), and to inform the translator before the start of a project.

What is the cost and turnaround time?

A number of factors mean that a sworn translation generally costs more than a non-sworn translation. These include:

  • special legal obligations applicable to sworn translators in France (archival, professional liability insurance/errors & omissions, training requirements, etc.).

  • the technical complexity of the source document;

  • the layout of the translation (because it must fully match the source document's presentation);

  • the possible need to legalize the signature of the expert translator and to have an apostille affixed (see below);

  • delivery by snail mail, because the French authorities will only accept hard copies.

The turnaround times involved are often longer for the same reasons.

What is an apostille and do I need one?

An apostille is a certificate that authenticates the origin of a public document (e.g., marriage certificates, court decisions, etc.) and/or their translation. It is issued for document issued in one country party to the Hague Convention and that are to be used in another country which is also a party to the Convention.

An apostille only certifies the authenticity of the signature and the capacity of the person who has signed the public document, and, where appropriate, the identity of the seal or stamp which the public document bears. It therefore does not mean that the content of the document is correct or that the issuing country approves of its content.

In France, apostilles are affixed to the original and/or the translation by the sworn translator's home court of appeal. The sworn translator must get his/her signature authenticated beforehand.

It is the client’s responsibility to contact the party requesting the sworn translation to find out if an apostille is necessary and to inform the translator of this before the start of the translation process.

 

Starting on January 1, 2025, French notaries will assume the task of carrying out signature authentication and apostille formalities.

I'm told that the translator's signature has to be authenticated. What does this mean?

If a sworn translation is to be used abroad, the authority that will be receiving the translation may require that the sworn translator's signature be authenticated beforehand. To do so, the translator must go to his/her town hall, a French notary or a French chamber of commerce (in the last instance, the translator must register his/her signature).

Starting on January 1, 2025, French notaries will assume the task of carrying out signature authentication and apostille formalities.

It is the client’s responsibility to contact the party requesting the sworn translation to find out if an apostille is necessary and to inform the translator of this before the start of the translation process.

 

More information is available in the ABC's of Apostilles Handbook published by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH).

Sources: SFT, UNETICA, HCCH, Public Service.com

For more information, contact me using the form below or download the PDF opposite (in French only).

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