Everything You Need to Know about Official Translations in Spain

Buying a property in any country can be a lengthy and complicated process, involving an abundance of both stress and paperwork. But buying a property in Spain often involves another layer of bureaucracy, as you will need official translations of your documents, and many of these will need authenticating and legalising. Whilst that may sound like hard work, it doesn’t necessarily have to be: taking the time to understand this process, and get it right first time, will make the whole purchase process so much easier. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about official translations in Spain, and how you secure them:

1. What is an official translation?

An official translation is exactly what it sounds like it would be: a legal translation of a required document from your native language into Spanish. It is not possible to write this translation yourself: instead, you must hire the services for a professional official translator (known in Spanish as a traductor jurado) who is certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to translate legal documents from one language to another. Once the translation is completed it will be certified to prove that the translation is accurate.

2. Why Will I Need an Official Translation?

Official Translations are often required for a variety of legal documents: this could be proof of pension payments or salary, medical information, birth or marriage certificates, divorce paperwork, or even degree certificates and other professional qualifications. Often these are documents that are required to secure a mortgage, bank account, or other financial service.

 It is important to note that an official translation will only translate a document, it will not verify its authenticity, or update an unofficial document into an official one. For this reason, you are advised to check with the office or legal institution that has requested your documentation that you are translating the correct paperwork before you waste money on a translator. It may be that as well as being translated, your document will also require an apostille stamp or authenticity certificate too to ensure that it is valid and will be accepted.

3. How Long Will My Translation Take?

This is a how long is a piece of string question, as the size of the document will often determine how long it will take a translate: a single page birth certificate is likely to be translated much faster than a 500-page university syllabus, for example. For smaller, more comment documents (such as birth or marriage certificates) you should allow at least 2-4 working days. If you have a tight time frame then ask your translator if they offer an urgent or expedited delivery service: this will cost more, but may ensure that your documentation is placed at the front of their job queue.

4. How Much Does Official Translation Cost?

Much like the question above, the amount your translation will cost is likely to depend on how big the job is and how long it takes. When hiring a translator ask them if they will calculate your price by word or by time taken to complete the project. Some translators also have a sliding scale where they charge more for technical or legal documentation that will be more time-consuming to complete.

You may be asked to send your documents to your translator before you hire them in order for them to give you an accurate price for your project: this works out best for both you and the translator, as when they have seen the project, they will be better able to give you an accurate price, rather than an estimate, and you will know how much you are going to spend. Whilst some translators will give a quote over the phone, many won’t: don’t be surprised if your translator asks to see your documentation first. 

5. How Will My Documents Be Verified?

Once your documents have been translated, they may need to be verified as authentic. This is done using an Apostille, which is a special stamp that confirms the validity of the document. This can be used within all countries that participate in the Hague convention of 1961: if this doesn’t apply to your country, you may have to validate your documents using another authentication method. This can take the form of a stamp, ribbon or watermark: you should contact the authorities asking for the documentation for confirmation of the kind of authentication they will accept.

 Authentication provides evidence to authorities in another country that the foreign document is legal. The apostille that you acquire must be produced in the country (or in the embassy of the country) where the document was issued, so this is also something to consider when gathering the paperwork and information you need.

Official translators cannot issue apostilles for foreign documents. These are two separate processes, and should be treated as such. For this reason, you should ascertain whether your document will need an apostille before you send the document to your translator. If you add an apostille stamp after translation, there are also additional costs for your translator to reprint an official translation to include the missing authentication information. For this same reason, any copies of your certified translation that you require will also incur an extra cost.

6. Will My Information Be Safe?

You may have concerns about sharing your private documents with your translator, particularly if they contain sensitive information, such as medical history or details of a criminal record. But all of the documents you share with your translator will be treated as private and confidential. In fact, a verified translator won’t share any of your information (including your name and address) with anyone else: that’s why it’s important to ensure you hire a trusted and experienced translator who is legally registered with the correct authorities.

Are you thinking of moving to Spain? Always dreamt of working in Spain and living in the sun at the same time? Then why not get in touch with our locally based property experts, who have years of experience in helping house hunters just like you to find the property of their dreams.