José Henrique Lamensdorf
CERTIFIED PUBLIC TRANSLATOR AND INTERPRETER
LANGUAGES: ENGLISH <> PORTUGUESE - JUCESP # 1086
São Paulo - SP - Brazil
ALMOST EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT
CERTIFIED (SWORN) TRANSLATIONS IN BRAZIL
IMPORTANT NOTICE: All information herein is given in good faith as a free public service, based on the material available at the time it was compiled. It is merely for elucidative purposes, and there is no liability implied as to its accuracy. Information available on web sites linked here is the sole responsibility of their respective authors. No endorsement whatsoever is implied by links to a web site here.
1. What is a sworn translation in Brazil?
It is a translation that is legally valid for presentation to Brazilian public sector authorities. In other words, it officially mirrors in Portuguese the contents of the original document it was translated from. A Sworn Translation is different from a Certified Translation, used in many countries, because in Brazil it must be done by a Sworn Translator, someone who passed a governmental exam, and was officially appointed as such. A Certified Translation can be done by anyone, as long as they sign an affidavit before a Notary Public, taking liability for its accuracy and completeness,
A sworn translation in Brazil is issued by a professional translator licensed as a "Tradutor Público e Intérprete Comercial" (Public Translator and Commercial Interpreter) by the "Junta Comercial" (Business Registering Agency) of his/her state of residence, in compliance with the rules and guidelines established for such a translation. This professional is most often called a "Tradutor Juramentado" (Sworn Translator), though the term is not officially accepted in some Brazilian states.
As the Brazilian law that regulates sworn translations has remained unamended since the era of typewriters and fountain pens, they are always always printed in hard copy, in at least two counterparts: one that will be delivered to the requester, and another that will be permanently filed in books kept by the Public Translator. In Brazil there is no such thing as a sworn translation by fax, e-mail, nor any electronic storage media.
The Sworn Translation is what gives legal existence in Brazil to a document written in any language other than Portuguese. Decree # 13,609, of 10/21/1943 states that:
Art. 18 - No book, document, or paper of any kind, issued in a foreign language, will have any effect whatsoever at Federal, State, or local agencies, nor at any level, court or jurisdiction, or entities maintained, controlled or guided by the public branches of government, without being accompanied by its respective translation, done in accordance with these rules.
Sole paragraph - These provisions include notaries of all types, which may not record, issue certificates, nor certified copies that are, in whole or in part, written in a foreign language.
In other words, any paper written in a foreign language (i.e. other than Portuguese) has no legal validity in Brazil, unless it is attached to the corresponding sworn translation. Note the "attached". This means that the original document (or a copy thereof) must be attached to the translation. The latter does not replace the original document.
2. So a sworn translation makes the original document valid in Brazil?
No. It doesn't give it any additional value to what it already had in its original language. The sworn translation only allows it to have whatever effect it may have, if any, before Brazilian authorities. A counterfeit document will remain equally false after the translation. The Certified Public Translator's job is limited to making it officially understandable, it is not up to him/her to ascertain the authenticity of the document being translated, and s/he is not empowered to certify it.
Likewise, the sworn translation of any document does not make it automatically effective in Brazil. If, for instance, a document entitles someone to do something (e.g. to operate a vehicle, to practice a profession requiring a specific license) within the issuing country, its sworn translation will not grant the bearer the same rights in Brazil. Such rights will be governed by the proper Brazilian laws.
To summarize, the sworn translation of any document does not alter its effect, just renders it acceptable by the Brazilian authorities.
3. What could be the original document for a sworn translation?
Any document on paper, or anything from which a hard copy may be obtained. It might be any business agreement, the technical description of a patented product, correspondence, school records and certificates, even personal documents. If it's a web site or an e-mail message, it will have to be printed out. Actually, it may even be a note scribbled on a napkin or a piece of wrapping paper.
The main issue is whether a sworn translation of the document in a foreign (i.e. not Portuguese) language is actually needed. If it has to be submitted to any Brazilian authority, the sworn translation is a must; if it is to be entered as evidence in a lawsuit, certainly, so it can be taken as valid in court.
But it's always worth reminding that a document attached to its sworn translation will never have more intrinsic value than its original.
4. How do I go about finding a Certified Public Translator in Brazil?
Assuming you need a foreign (i.e. non-Brazilian) document to be translated into Portuguese for use in Brazil, the starting point is to identify the language the document is written in. A Brazilian Public Translator is licensed for one or more specific languages. Even if s/he translates from other languages, this won't enable them to issue Sworn Translations from languages in which they haven't been specifically certified. S/he may make plain (non-sworn) translations from/into other languages, though.
Example: I'm a certified public translator for English only. Though I speak rather fluently Italian, French, and Spanish, I don't translate from any of these, my personal choice. Even if I did, these wouldn't be valid sworn translations.
The second step is to find a Public Translator licensed in the language of the original document. This information may be provided by the "Junta Comercial" of any state in Brazil. For the State of São Paulo, you may download a PDF file from JUCESP, with all Certified Public Translators, their respective languages, addresses, and phones. You may also run an automated search at the ATPIESP (Certified Public Translators' Association of the São Paulo State) web site.
If you have trouble identifying the name of language you need in Portuguese, click here for a quick glossary of them in Portuguese, English, Italian, and French.
|State||Business Registry||Instructions for|
|Association||Name / Instructions|
for the Association
You will have to select the language.
Acetesp - Click on "Lista de Tradutores" at the top menu.
Scroll down to the line in blue, and click on the language.
Click on "Tradutores" in the menu on the left.
Mato Grosso do Sul
You will have to select the language.
ATP-MG - The fields on the top allow to filter data by language and/or city.
You will have to select the language.
Select the language on the drop-down menu.
Click on the flag representing the desired language.
ATPP - Fields on the top assist in filtering data.
Rio de Janeiro
Fields at the top assist in filtering data.
ATP-RIO - Fields on the top assist in filtering data.
Rio Grande do Norte
You will open a PDF file with links to translator lists by language, and instructions (in Portuguese only) on the appointment of an ad-hoc translator, if the origfinal document is in any language other than English.
They don't disclose contact info for the translator(s) licensed in English in that state, and an ad-hoc appointment will add red tape and costs to your translation.
Rio Grande do Sul
You will have to select the language.
Astrajur - You will have to select the language.
You will have to select the language.
ACTP - You will have to select the language in the menu on the left.
You will download an Excel spreadsheet.
ATPIESP - You will have to select a language on the menu.
Note: I strive to keep these links up-to-date, however it is difficult to keep track of changes to so many web sites. If you find any dead links here, be most welcome to warn me via e-mail, using the button on the left.
Again, if you have trouble identifying the language you need in Portuguese, click here for a quick glossary of them in Portuguese, English, Italian, and French.
Regarding choice, you should look for a Public Translator in some convenient location for you. First, you won't find any outside the Brazilian territory: being a local resident is one of the requirements. So, if you are in Brazil, check for the nearest one, as you'll have to physically provide the original, and later arrange for pick up of the sworn translation. If you are outside Brazil, try to get a Public Translator close to whoever will be using your translated documents: relatives, lawyers, etc. You may assume that each and every Certified Public Translator in Brazil will be equally capable of translating from and to the language they were licensed for, and will charge the same fee within their state, defined by the pertinent supervising agency.
5. I've seen some Brazilian sworn translations, and they looked quite different, one from each other. What varies?
There are specific rules for the stationery or joint printing of the Public Translator's letterhead and text. The layout and content must be identical to a sample submitted by each translator and specifically approved. Otherwise, there are no restrictions to appearance. Some translators use one or more of the following: hard cover, green-yellow ribbon, eyelets, golden stamps, embossed seals, etc. Some will take great pains to replicate every graphic element on the original. Others won't use anything like this, as it won't represent any difference in cost.
In any case, a Sworn Translation must have the full Public Translator's name and address, the language they have been licensed for, the corresponding registration number with the Commercial Registry in the state where they reside, plus the usual Brazilian ID numbers.
6. How much does a sworn translation cost?
The cost per "lauda" (= "standard page") and the size of the "lauda" itself varies from one state to another.
Differences between states will only become significant in very large documents. Upon considering having a translation done across state borders, factors to be taken into account are the cost and time involved in express mail, as well as the availability of Sworn Translators in a state where sworn translations are slightly cheaper. The most sensible thing to do is to hire a Sworn Translator as physically close as possible.
The rates are mandatory, being set by the "Junta Comercial" in each state. For the State of São Paulo, the prices per "lauda" can be found at JUCESP, or you may click here to see them on my copy of the São Paulo State Official Gazette. The rates are set by the "lauda" and depend on the type of document (either common or special text), and if it's a translation INTO Portuguese ("tradução") or FROM Portuguese ("versão"). For information on rates in other states, browse through their respective Junta Comercial web site, however not all of them offer this information online.
First, one should check what type of a document it is.
The examples given for common texts are: passports, civil record certificates, ID cards, driving licenses, professional license cards and similar documents, including personal letters not involving legal, technical, nor scientific texts.
The examples for special texts are: legal, technical, scientific, commercial, banking and accounting included, school records and diplomas.
7. What is a "lauda"? Is it equivalent to a page?
No. If you look it up in the dictionary, you'll see that "lauda" means simply a printed page. It is a measurement unit just as accurate as a "bottle". How much do you pay for a bottle of soda? You can't tell without specifying the volume, right? You'll find some of them in bottles ranging from 195 ml (6.5 fl.oz.) to 3.5 liters (almost one gallon).
Likewise, there are "laudas" in various sizes. Many book publishers work with 2,100-character "laudas", counting spaces as well.
In 2003, for the State of São Paulo, JUCESP determined that a 1,000-character "lauda", not counting spaces, would be equivalent. Some other states adopted a similar procedure, however the number of characters and including/excluyding spaces vary.
Therefore, it is not possible to determine precisely in advance how much a sworn translation will cost, however a rough estimate can be attempted. Most computer programs are capable of telling instantly how many characters without counting spaces there are in the translated file, so it's a matter of multiplying by the correct listed rate. The first "lauda" or part thereof is charged as one "lauda". Afterwards, the total cost increases at every one-tenth of a "lauda".
8. Are there cheaper and more expensive Public Translators?
In the same State, there cannot be. The various state-wide rates are independent from each other, but the rates within the same state are always the same.
Actually you could go checking which is the Brazilian State that has the lowest rates for public translations, and if it has a translator licensed for the language you need. However, would it really be worth the inconvenience, the additional postage expenses and time? And there would still be the risk - according to Murphy's Law - of the rates there being adjusted precisely when your job is on the way. If you are outside Brazil, bear in mind that international courier companies only offer really fast service to some, not all, of our State capitals.
Word has spread that some Public Translators offer covert discounts, which are forbidden by law. Obviously, the total fee shown on the translation and on the official receipt must match the official rates. Would it be ethically questionable? Definitely! There is no law that prevents anyone from giving away money to anybody they want, so if the sworn translator's client gets some lagniappe in form of cash, there won't be any evidence of it. However one should be wary when hiring vendors with less-than-respectable ethics.
9. I noticed that different rates are specified for "traducao" and "versao" in Portuguese. What is the difference?
It's Portuguese "shorthand" to explain the translation direction. Generically, it's a "tradução" (translation) when it's done from a foreign language into Portuguese; and it's a "versão" (version) when it's done from Portuguese into a foreign language.
In English, either way it's a translation. Actually for us, Brazilians, a "tradução" could also be either way. But this shorthand helps to make things simple.
10. Are the translations made by Brazilian Certified Public Translators valid outside Brazil?
11. What is an Apostille? Consular legalization? Notarization?
These are three different things that serve the same purpose: Certifying officially that the signature on a document is authentic, or that a copy of an original document is true and faithful.
A sworn or certified translation (depending on the legal provisions in effect at the destination country) is necessary when a document crosses national and consequently language borders. A document issued in the UK would not have to be translated, if intended for the USA, Canada or Australia, because it would have been issued in English. Likewise a document from Portugal shouldn't need a translation to be used in Brazil, and vice versa, since both countries share Portuguese as their common national language.
However regardless of the language used, one country has no means to ascertain whether a document (or a copy thereof) issued in another is legitimate, to accept it for official purposes.
Notarization is a domestic process. Each country has its own. It involves having people trained and empowered to - using methods that are irrelevant here - officially state that someone's alleged hand and/or seal on a document is that individual's legitimate signature and/or stamp, or that a copy of a document is absolutely identical in content to its original.
However notarization done in one country, by officials appointed by that country's government, cannot be accepted by another country's government unless there is some specific bilateral agreement for this purpose. That's where consular legalization steps in.
Consular legalization is a process similar in purpose to notarization, however performed by a consular officer of one country in another.
In order to help you envision the situation, let's imagine that I live in a country named Milvania. I have legal matters to be handled in another country, named Portistan, so I have to issue a Power of Attorney (PoA) to a cousin who lives there to do it on my behalf. How will the Portistan government officially know that my PoA was really signed by me? What will protect them from liability, if my "cousin" is merely a scammer who will be taking possession and squandering the proceeds from of my assets there?
Supposing it's all on the up-and-up, the Portistan consulate in Milvania (where I live) will have to certify that the signature on the PoA is mine.
An Apostille is a device, actually an internationally standardized piece of paper attached to a document, created by the Hague Convention of 05th October 1961, whereby the signatory countries will acknowledge and accept each other's signature or copy certification. Over 100 countries have signed it already. Brazil signed it in 2015, and it became effective in August 15th, 2016.
So, if you'll be having foreign documents from a Hague-Convention-signatory country sworn-translated into Portuguese for official use in Brazil, check with the Brazilian destination entity whether an Apostille is required. If it is, this will have to be arranged in the country of origin, before the translation.
If you are having Brazilian documents sworn-translated from Portuguese for official use in a Hague-Convention-signatory country, check with the destination agency overseas whether an Apostille is required on the document, and/or on the sworn translation itself. In case it is, you should get it done by a "Cartório" in Brazil.
If either the document source or destination country is not a signatory of the Hague Convention, the Consular Legalization - if required - process remains unchanged.
12. I have a document issued in Portugal (or any other Portuguese-speaking country). Does it need a sworn translation to be acceptable in Brazil?
The technically correct answer would be "no". First, the Brazilian Federal Constitution, in Art. 13th says that "The Portuguese language is the official tongue of the Federal Republic of Brazil". It doesn't leave room for regional variations of our language.
Second, every Certified Public Translator in Brazil is implicitly licensed in Portuguese, and at least one foreign language. There is no such thing as a Brazilian Certified Public translator licensed for European, Continental, or Iberian Portuguese, as they are not seen as foreign languages by our Constitution.
13. Are there public or sworn translation firms or agencies?
Technically, no. According to the law, the Public Translator's work is personal and cannot be assigned. However there are companies that resell Public Translators' services. A sworn translation will always be signed by a duly licensed Public Translator, regardless of who received the payment. And this Public Translator will be the one responsible for the accuracy of the translation; the in-between will have nothing to do with it.
Note that some Public Translators, merely for tax reasons, do business as a company. There won't be any problem in doing so, as long as the translation bears the name of the individual Public Translators, his or her personal data (address, language they were licensed for, their registration number with the Junta Comercial, and local ID numbers), their signature and stamp/seal. No translation company data may appear on a Sworn Translation.
14. Does a Public Translator also work with plain, "unsworn" translations?
Yes, most of us do. There are many who are Public Translators licensed for one language, but they do plain translations from/to that one and other languages. Very few, if any, Public Translators work exclusively as such. And many Public Translators are specialized in areas where sworn translations will never be required.
15. Is it by any means 'better' to hire a Certified Public Translator for normal, unsworn translation jobs?
Not necessarily. The Public Translator is a professional who, on top of complying with a whole series of requirements (e.g. Brazilian citizenship and residence, clean record, etc.) was approved in an exam organized by the "Junta Comercial" of his/her state. To give you an idea, the last three such exams in the São Paulo State took place 20 years apart! Some other states did not have these exams for over a quarter century.
Therefore, it is easy to realize that there are countless translators who a) were not interested in becoming Certified Public Translators; b) do not have Brazilian citizenship or don't fulfill any of the other requirements; c) specialized in areas where there is absolutely no demand for sworn translations; d) missed the rare opportunity to take the exam for any reason; and even e) those who took the exam and flunked.
To summarize, for common translations, the best is to hire a good translator. If the subject is specific, better get someone specialized in this area.
16. Are there specialized Public Translators?
Theoretically, no. The Public Translator is forbidden to turn down any job in the language pair s/he is licensed, except in case of work overload (and there are objective measurements for this). Some have specific degrees (e.g. Law, BA, Engineering, etc.), which gives them more ease to translate some types of documents. Others, as a result of their clients and the kind(s) of documents they have been translating most often, get more practice with specific types of jobs.
However conceptually no educational degree or experience makes a Public Translator's final job more acceptable than any other's. All are considered equivalent for their respective languages.
17. I have a fax, or an e-mail, or an electronic (e.g. PDF) file, or a web page, in a foreign language, and I need a sworn translation of it, as it will be used as evidence in a lawsuit in Brazil. How should I proceed?
After having chosen a Public Translator, agree with him or her the way of sending the material. If feasible, you may send the material to be translated by fax or e-mail, or simply inform the web page URL. The public translator will print it out and attach the hardcopy to the sworn translation.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that the Public Translator will specify on the translation that it was made from a fax, an e-mail, an electronic file, or a web page, and the translation will have the same value as the original. If a fax will not be acceptable, neither will be its sworn translation. On top of that, you'll have to go to the translator's place to pick up the translation, or to arrange with him/her to get it mailed to you.
18. I have (or I know someone who has) a degree in Translation, but I'm not a Certified Public Translator, and I need a sworn translation. If I do the translation and give it to a Public Translator to get it "sworn", will I be entitled to any kind of discount?
No, you won't. No Public Translator will "swear" your translation. Though a notary public may certify a photocopy you made yourself from a document, a sworn translation involves interpreting the document's content, something for which the Public Translator will be personally responsible. And the law that sets the rates does not allow any discounts.
If your document involves very specialized terms and you provide suggestions for the translation of some highly technical terms, at the Public Translator's sole discretion, s/he might (or not) use your suggestions.
19. I have a lengthy agreement in a foreign (i.e. other than Portuguese) language. The text is ready, but the parties (or just one of them) haven't signed it yet. Can I request the sworn translation now, to save time?
If you send it for a sworn translation before it is fully executed, whatever is done afterwards will not be included in the translation. If some signatures are missing when it is translated, you might have the sworn translation of a worthless document. If you want to shorten the timeline, after having selected a Public Translator, make arrangements to send them the text to be translated by e-mail or fax, so they can work on the text. When the document is finalized, send them the original. They will have to check the whole original document against the translation made from the draft, so it's a matter of courtesy to advise where changes, if any, were made in this meantime. This will enable the Public Translator to give you the complete translation only a few days after having received the final issue, regardless of its size.
20. I work for/own a company that exports products to Brazil. We will be licensing some 20 local firms that will provide technical support and service there. Will it be necessary to translate the 32-page agreement with each one of them? Would there be any discount from the text being always the same, the single exception being the other party's details, or any other way to save on costs?
Theoretically, no. If it's another agreement, it's another translation, and the mandatory rates do not consider such possibility of partial transcription.
What can be done is to change the structure of the agreement, developing a document with all clauses, titled, for instance, "General terms and conditions for providing authorized technical services for XXX". This done, all you need is a brief contract for each of these 20 firms, identifying both parties, and determining that they are in full agreement regarding all clauses in the said "General Terms and Conditions", and that these are an integral and inseparable part of the Contract. This allows you to substantially reduce the volume of translation required.
21. I need the sworn translation from a document written in a language for which there is no public translator in my state (in Brazil). What should I do?
The law provides for the ad-hoc assignment (specifically, for individual cases) of translators not officially certified as public translators. Suggestion: contact the local Junta Comercial, or the diplomatic offices of the country where the document was issued.
22. I did my studies in some other country, now I am in Brazil. I brought my school records, but didn't get them consularized there. I would like to resume my studies in Brazil from where I stopped. What should I do?
First, check at the institution where you intend to proceed with your studies if they require the consular legaliization. If not, you may go for a Sworn Translation of your docs.
However if they demand the consular legalization, you will need it done by the Brazilian embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over the place where you studied, via mail or courier.
Formerly, the Brazilian Red Cross (Cruz Vermelha Brasileira) used to provide an equivalent service, but they don't do it anymore, after a Resolution from the CEE (State Council of Education), which I could not find online. All I found was some information on this page (published by a third party, so I cannot be held responsible for its contents).
23. I need several original or certified copies of the same foreign (i.e. non Brazilian) document with its sworn translation. Alternatively, I must keep the original, and deliver copies with the sworn translation. How should I proceed?
The best is for you to give the Public Translator the original document. Upon making a sworn translation, s/he will stamp it, therefore identifying him/herself and the corresponding translation. You may go to a "Cartório" (Notary Public) in Brazil and get "cópias autenticadas" (certified copies) of both the original document, now with the translator's stamp, and the corresponding sworn translation.
You should know that a Public Translator won't apply his stamp, seal, signature, nothing to change personal documents, such as IDs, driver's licenses, passports, but will attach a copy thereof to the sworn translation. In this case, you may inform the number of additional copies you need, and request them - "Cópias Autênticas da Tradução" - from the Public Translator, each one, according to the rates, for 20% of the price of the translation itself.
One final remark: If eventually you need more copies of a sworn translation, contact the translator who did it for you, and ask for a "Traslado" (transcript). It will cost only 50% of the whole translation at the prevailing rates. If you can inform the numbers: translation #, pages #, book #, it will speed up the process.
24. I have other questions about translations (sworn or common) in Brazil. Who might help me?
Contact a Certified Public Translator licensed for the language involved (or any other, they might refer you to colleagues). Every professional translator will be eager to be of assistance.
If the language involved is English, you may send me an e-mail message by clicking on the E-MAIL button on the left.
25. I am not familiar with all these procedures in Brazil, so I'm afraid that my question might be somewhat silly. Any other tips?
The only silly question is the one that remains unasked. I've tried to cover a few specific cases that now and then puzzle non-Brazilians on the More FAQs (click here) page.
26. Is this all of it? I expected to have some ideas on costs, how long it will take, etc.
It is worth noting that not everything for certified public translators in Brazil is prescribed by federal law. While the original decree is federal, administration is statewide, i.e. delegated to each State's Junta Comercial (Business Register), which is empowered to issue and enforce its own resolutions.
Nevertheless, all sworn translations are valid nationwide, regardless of the State where the sworn translator is located.
The remainder is left to each individual Certified Public Translator's judgment. For information on my personal working system, within the regulations specific to the State of São Paulo, including statutory prices, please click here.
Click here for more information on Sworn Translations in Brazil.