My personal advice regarding Official Translation
So, you need to apply for a Spanish NIE, or maybe you are planning to buy a property. It may be the case that you want to apply for residency, or you want to initiate proceedings against a company or individual.
All of the above have something in common: you need to get your documents officially translated into Spanish language.
The laws in Spain establish that official translations can only be done by official sworn translators authorized by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we are called “traductores jurados”. These official translations are true and faithful translations of full documents, which means that all of the document must be translated, not just one or two lines.
Why do I need my documents to be translated? The official language in Spain is Spanish, together with the three co-official languages which can be used in the regions of Galicia, Basque Country and Catalonia. This means that no public entity will accept a document written in another language but Spanish.
I was certified as a Sworn Translator in 2001, and after 19 years I have translated thousands of documents. I have seen documents of many different types, from wills and death certificates to bank statements and e-mails.
Based on my experience I can offer you a series of tips:
My first advice is: seek for legal assistance first. Local lawyers will be able to provide you with precise information on the requirements, as the laws may vary from one region to another, and they may even know the officials, they may know who works better, who is faster and who is nicer.
I always recommend my clients to ask for a printout of the list of documents requested by a certain entity, as different officials may ask for different or additional documents. Remember that for Spanish bureaucracy no matter how many documents and photocopies you take along, there will always be at least one missing. So, make sure that you are provided with an official list of requirements, you will need it if an officer asks for different or additional documents. Also the wrong documents may cause a severe delay, so try to get it right the first time.
You need to differentiate public from private documents. Public documents, such as but not limited to Birth/Marriage/Death certificates, Criminal Records, Police Reports, Affidavits are issued by public authorities. Private documents are issued by individuals or companies, this may include among others bank statements, medical reports, business documentation, annual reports and balance sheets.
This differentiation is important, as public documents need to be legalised in your country before they are translated into another language. The United Kingdom (and many other countries) is part of the Hague Convention of 1961, which means that this legalisation is made by means of a “so called” Apostille, which is a special stamp that certifies the validity of a document within countries that are part in the abovementioned Convention. Most of the times you will get this Apostille in the Home Office.
If your country is not a part of the Hague Convention, the legalisation must be done through the embassies of your country and the country where you want to present your documents (in this case, Spain).
Before you send your translator any documents, you should find out from the relevant authorities whether it needs an apostille or not. If you add an apostille stamp to your document after it’s been translated, the translation will no longer be valid and there will typically be additional costs for reprinting an official translation to include the missing authentication information. This is the case with most translators, but I don’t charge for this.
Once the translation is ready, you will need the hardcopy, as an official translation bears the seal and signature of the translator. I always provide my clients with a scanned copy for their record, but this cannot be used as an original.
Can you get copies of the translation for free?
A copy might seem like just an extra document from the printer but this is not the case. Each copy is in fact a new original: official translations are typically printed on official paper coded with a serial number which differs one from another, and they are stamped and signed afterwards. For this reason, copies must be paid for (although I only charge 50% per copy).
Once your document has been officially translated, you can produce your documents before any Spanish official entity and they will be accepted as originals.
Alfonso García Moreno