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 authorities, compliant to applicable federal laws. 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 supposedly 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) in their state of residence, and compliant to the rules and guidelines established for such translations. This professional is often called a Tradutor Juramentado (Sworn Translator).
As the Brazilian law regulating sworn translations dates back from 1943, and 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 to be delivered to the requester, and another that will be permanently kept on file by the Public Translator.
In Brazil, the law does not provision for sworn translations by fax, e-mail, nor in any electronic storage media. However there is no restriction to scanning the printed sworn translations, as long as the electronic files so obtained are accepted by the receiving entity.
A 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 ruled 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 word "attached". This means that the original document (or a copy thereof) must be attached to its sworn 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 attached sworn translation only allows the original document 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 ascertaining the authenticity of any 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.
In a nutshell, 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, civil records, even personal documents. If it's a web site or an e-mail message, it will have to be printed out. Actually, it could 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.
The second step is to find a Public Translator licensed in the language of the original document. This information may be obtained from the Junta Comercial of any state in Brazil. For the State of São Paulo, you may download an Excel spreadsheet file from JUCESP, listing all Certified Public Translators, their respective languages, addresses, and phones. You may also run an automated search at the ATPIESP (São Paulo State Certified Public Translators') 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|
|Associ-ation||Name / Instructions|
for the Association
You will have to select the language.
Acetesp - Click on Tradutores on the top menu, and select the language.
Scroll down to the line in blue, and click on the language.
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 filter data by Language (Idioma) and Neighborhood (Bairro).
ATP-RIO - Fields on the top assist in filtering data.
Rio Grande do Norte
This will download 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 may add red tape, delay, 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 - Select the language in the menu on the left.
This 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, please 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 conveniently located Public Translator. First, you won't find any outside the Brazilian territory, as being a local resident is one of the requirements. So, if you are in Brazil, look for the nearest one, as you may 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 into the language they were licensed for, and must charge the same statutory fee effective in their state, defined by the corresponding Junta Comercial.
5. I've seen a few Brazilian sworn translations, and they looked quite different 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 individually approved. There are no restrictions to appearance otherwise. 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 transltion cost per"lauda" (= standard page), and often the size of the "lauda" itself, vary from one state to another, though not so significantly.
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 such 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 downloaded from JUCESP, or you may click here to see 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 on whether it's a translation INTO Portuguese (tradução) or FROM Portuguese (versão). For information on rates in other states, please browse through their respective Junta Comercial web site, however not all of them offer this information online.
The type of document makes a difference in price.
Typical examples given for common texts are: passports, civil record certificates, ID cards, driving licenses, professional IDs 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, as well as all 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 simply means a printed page. It is a measurement unit as accurate as a bottle. How much do you pay for a bottle of soda? You can't tell without specifying the volume, right? In Brazil you'll find such soda bottles ranging from 195 ml (6.5 fl.oz.) to 3.5 liters (almost one gallon).
Likewise, there are laudas in many different sizes. Brazilian book publishers often use laudas to represent 2,100-character-including-spaces.
Therefore, it is not possible to determine accurately in advance how much a sworn translation should cost, however a rough estimate can be attempted. The first lauda or part thereof is always charged as one lauda, hence the minimum price. Afterwards, the cost increases at every 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 whether it has a translator licensed for the language you need there. However, would it really be worth the inconvenience, the additional postage expenses, and the time involved? And yet, there would still be the risk - according to Murphy's Law - of the rates there being adjusted precisely while 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 expressly 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 preventing 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.
However 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?
This is often a messy issue, and I have rewritten my explanations over and over again, never being able to cover all bases.
This is not related to translation itself. Bluntly stated, it is a matter of what or how much will be at stake, in terms of liability, if a counterfeit document is accepted as the basis for any official or legal action. So it is up to the entity where you'll be submitting a foreign document with its translation to decide how much official certification should be required. If they usually require notarized signatures/certified copies on domestic documents for some purpose/procedure, it is likely that they'll require its international equivalent on foreign documents. The solution is to ask there (the place where you'll be submitting the document with the translation) whether an Apostille is required.
It is all about ensuring the legitimacy of a document, by means of someone duly empowered formally attesting that a document is authentic, by certifying the signature/seal on it, or certifying that a copy of some official record is true and faithful.
Every country has its own domestic certification procedures, however when a document has to cross borders, one country's process will not necessarily be effective in another.
Over 100 countries found a common solution to simplify this, by signing the Hague Convention of October 05th, 1961 on the Apostille. The Apostille is a standard-content paper, sticker, or stamp attached to the original document, whereby specifically empowered authorities of the issuing country certify it, and such certification is directly accepted by all other signatory countries.
Most apostilles are issued in more than one language, as they are intended for use across national borders. Some countries may require the Apostille to be translated into their national language, if it is not included there.
When such authentication is required, and either country (or both) is not a signatory of the Hague Convention, the solution is to obtrain Consular Legalization on the document.
Consular Legalization is a sticker/stamp/attachment on the document placed by the receiving country's diplomatic mission in the issuing country. It is a standard way for the receiving county's "arm" in the issuing country to establish the original document as legitimate.
If the document issuing country is a signatory of the Hague Convention, hence an Apostille issuer, it is common practice for the non-signatory country's Consulate to apply its Legalization on the Apostille.
The sequence of events rendering a document from one country certified for another may vary considerably.
In some cases, it may be as simple as issuing an Apostille or a Consular Legalization certifying the signature/seal/copy on the original document. On the other extreme, it could involve as much as: a) certification of the signature by a notary public; b) certification of that notary public by the competent authority; c) an Apostille on that notary public's signature/seal; d) a Consular Legalization on that Apostille (if either country is not a signatory).
So it's worth checking whether the receiving entity requires such certifications.
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. If it is, you can get it done by a Cartório in Brazil.
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 is "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.
Finally, there is a recommendation from the Brazilian National Council of Justice on it.
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 Translator, 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 ever 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 plus other languages. Very few Public Translators - if any - 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.
In short, for plain 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 file (e.g. PDF), or perhaps 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 provide the web page URL. The public translator will print it out and attach the hard copy to the sworn translation.
Keep in mind that the Public Translator will have 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 Sworn Translator in Brazil, 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 expressly forbids 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, from which I'll need a sworn translation. The text is ready, but some or all parties haven't signed it yet. Can I request the sworn translation now, in order 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 signatures are missing when it is translated, you might get 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 start drafting. When the document is finalized, send them the original. They will have to check the whole original document against 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 just 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 tech support and service there. Will it be necessary to translate the 32-page agreement executed 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 would there be 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 the 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. If the country whwere the documents were issued is a signatory of the Hague Convention, an Apostille will do. The local Consulate of that country may help, or not.
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 matching it to 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 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.