Like yin and yang translation and legalisation often go together hand by hand.
As every good union they could sometimes exist independently from one another – no legalisation is needed, if the document for translation is not an official document or if it is intended for domestic or private use only and no translation is needed, if the official document needs to be submitted in another country with the same official language.
Outside these cases though, both the source and the target text would need some form of certification in order to be used accordingly.
As bureaucratic as it might sound, legalisation is merely the official stamp of the country in which the document is issued, confirming its validity and authenticity.
It is required for any certified translation and it always includes legalisation of both the original document which needs to be translated and of its translation.
1961 Hague Convention (Apostille Convention)
Considering the volume of such cases and the previously complicated lengthy chain of formalities, on 5th of October 1961 the Hague Convention (also known as the Apostille convention simplified greatly the process of legalisation by agreeing on a unified form of certificate called “Apostille”.
It is issued by the authorities of the origin state and bears a unique number, which can be used to identify the specific document.
The institution which would issue the Apostille is being determined by the nature of the document – if it is a legal one, the Ministry of Justice is the validating institution, if it is a financial statement or a certificate of good standing – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc.
Currently 120 states are benefiting from this now 60-year-old agreement on a less-costly and lightened legalisation of domestic and foreign public documents.
In case you don’t find the origin/destination country of your document in the list here, the authenticity of the content and of the official stamps and signatures it contains need to be also validated by the stamp and signature of the consul of the destination country in the embassy of the country from which it emanated or vice-versa.
Legalisation of translation
The second half of the legalisation process – the legalisation of the translated text is by far less complicated and conditioned.
Here is where the sworn translator plays his/her role. If a foreign document is meant to be used domestically, he/she signs the translation before a notary, and if a domestic document is meant to be used in a foreign country, the sworn translator’s signature is being certified by the domestic Consulate Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As a notary can only legalise the content or the signature on a text which is written in the official language (or one of the official languages) of the respective country, there are cases where translation and interpreting might need to be combined, in order for the legalisation to be completed.
Those cases arise when, for example, the signatory is an English speaker and the document needs to be legalised in Germany.
Then the document is translated in German, so that the German notary can certify its content.
It is also needed, though, at the moment of the legalisation the signatory to be accompanied by an interpreter who performs consecutive interpreting from German to English, so that the notary could be able to validate that the signature is being placed with full understanding of the document’s content.
An alternative to this procedure is the text to be translated in a bilingual format.
When mentioning legalisation of documents with foreign origin, it is essential to note that a third/middle state cannot serve as a legalisation authority for documents originating from one state and destined for another.
The whole two- (or sometimes three-) step process is often more costly and lengthy than the translation itself, so we kindly advise, in case of any doubts whether legalisation is needed, to simply double-check with the institution for which the document is destined.
As much as all countries strive to implement universal legalisation standards, country specifics still do apply, so we highly recommend you double-check the guidelines on the local legalisation process and practises.
You already know by now – in case you have any doubts regarding the legalisation process, deadlines and respective prices, kindly contact us.