Sworn translation: all about what, who and why it is necessary

sworn translation what is it

Sworn translation: all about what, who and why it is necessary

Let’s debunk a myth around sworn translation: in Italy, the sworn (or certified) translator does NOT exist.

The reason is simple: in our country there is not even a law regulating the translator as a professional. Sometimes this position is likened to a translator who is registered with the Register of Court Technical Consultants (CTU)/Court Experts, but actually – with some exceptions1 – for a sworn translation, a translator is generally not required to be registered.

sworn translation

Things are different in other countries, e.g. France, where the traducteur assermenté, who has been sworn in before a court and is officially accredited to provide a translation in a given language combination, certifies by their own stamp and signature that the translation conforms to the original text.


[1]For instance, on 10 July 2015 the President of the Court of Milan ordered that all sworn translations will be permitted exclusively for those registered in the REGISTER OF OFFICIAL TECHNICAL EXPERTS OF THE COURT or in the role of EXPERTS OF THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, under the category TRANSLATORS/INTERPRETERS or MEMBERS OF PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF INTERPRETERS AND TRANSLATORS WITH REFERENCE UNDER LAW NO. 4/2013as well as to members of official lists of translators and interpreters of bodies having public relevance.


What do we mean by sworn translation?

Back to Italy, let’s make it clear right away that the terms “sworn translation” and “certified translation” are the same thing. Sworn affidavit, in fact, is the oath by which the completeness and correspondence between the translated text and the original is declared to be true before the Registrar. There is no way the translator can confirm the validity of the original or translated text or its legal effect. On the other hand, by taking an oath, the translator undertakes civil and criminal liability for the translation. In plain words, the translator swears to have properly fulfilled their obligations but does not swear to the truthfulness of the facts stated in the document to be translated.

So when is a sworn translation actually required instead of a “standard” one? Sworn affidavits can be requested for various types of documents, basically whenever it is necessary to give official status to the translated document. Examples may include: documents related to application for citizenship, educational qualifications, wills, and generally any kind of court documents.


Who can endorse a sworn translation?

Virtually, in Italy anyone can endorse a sworn translation. For many Courts, it is enough for the person certifying the translation to meet the following requirements:

  • be of legal age;
  • be a person other than the person concerned;
  • be neither related nor kin to the person concerned.

However, some Courts also specify that the person who certifies the translation must be the same person who carried out the translation. This is the case, for example, in the courts of Genoa, Rome and Verona, but it is not a rule that applies everywhere.

On top of that, there are no territoriality requirements for the person certifying the translation, that is, neither the place of residence of the expert or translator, nor the place of any professional registration, nor even the place relating to the subject matter of the expert report or translation, is relevant to the sworn affidavit.

For example, a translator residing in Rome could safely swear a translation at the Office of the Court of Turin, and similarly, the translation related to events that occurred between London and Milan could be sworn at the Office of the Court of Naples.


A step-by-step guide to a sworn translation

Once the translation has been carried out, the translator (or potentially any other suitable person who can legally take an oath) personally turns up at the Office of a court, notary’s office or a small claims Judge, with a valid original id2, presenting a file consisting of:

  • document written in a foreign language;
  • Italian translation;
  • Oath form.

The record of the oath must be signed before the Secretary. On the last page before the form, the translator’s contact details, the date of translation and the language combination must be indicated.

It is not mandatory but advisable for the translation to be as close as possible to the original, even pictures and tables. It must faithfully report any stamps and seals, signatures, hand-written additions, etc.

Regarding the form, the content may vary from court to court; you should download the form from the relevant website or get one from the Court Clerk to photocopy and reuse.


Something you should not forget

Sworn translation is also subject to a stamp duty regime. As a rule, a 16.00 € stamp is affixed from the first page of the translation. Stamps should be placed every 4 sides (and in any case every 100 lines, regardless of the number of characters in each line).

Some courts require the application of the revenue stamps on the original document as well, while others also include the affidavit in the count of pages where to affix the stamp.

However, by law, a sworn translation of a specific type documents is exempt from stamp duty. Again, the exempt documents vary from court to court, but generally they are about:

  • adoptions;
  • scholarships;
  • separation (including consensual) /divorce;
  • labor and welfare;
  • conciliation;
  • judicial mediation;
  • probate proceedings.


As mentioned, this list is incomplete. For example, the Court of Turin also provides exemption for personal income statements, while at the Court of Genoa the exemption is also valid for civil cases where the unified contribution has already been paid.

The form of the affidavit must include the details of the exemption.


[1]Non-EU citizens must also submit their residence permit, in original, and show the details in the affidavit.



If you have been asked for a sworn translation of a document, despite this overview, it may not be easy for you to untangle between finding a translator in the necessary language combination and dealing with all the bureaucratic Court paperwork, revenue stamps, collating, and so on. You would be well advised to rely on a translation agency that offers this service, one that can support you across the board, leaving nothing to chance.

At Creative Words, for example, we count sworn translation among our varied services. Stop shilly-shallying! Contact us today!


                                                         roberta spinetta

Roberta Spinetta

Pragmatic, ironic (and self-deprecating), she loves spas, minimal style, and turnkey solutions. She has a soft spot for pizza, dark chocolate and dried fruits of all kinds.


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