How to Find a Translator in Spain
Moving to a new country comes with a lot of planning and preparation and Spain is no exception. One key step to making sure everything goes smoothly with your move is to ensure that all of your paperwork is in order. The paperwork doesn’t stop once you move to Spain, over the years your life may take you down paths that will require additional paperwork such as a visa renewals, marriage, loans, mortgages, citizenship, etc. all of which may requires official translations of requested documents.
If you are planning to move to Spain or already live there, any process that requires official documents will require those documents to be in Spanish, regardless of the country of origin. This is where and when you will need to enlist the help of an official sworn translator to translate your documents from English to Spain. If you’re not sure what an official sworn translator is or how to find a translator in Spain, we’ve got you covered!
Why you may need a translator in Spain
Translators help with the translation of official or legal documents such as birth, marriage and death certificates; bank statements; pension payments; medical information; divorce paperwork; degree certificates; background checks; and more.
Most documents from your home country that are not already in Spanish will need an official sworn translation, or a “traducción jurada”. Meaning they cannot be translated by just anyone. They will need to be officially translated by a sworn translator, or a “traductor jurado”.
What does a ‘sworn translation’ mean and why is it necessary?
Sworn translations are necessary for translating official documents in order to avoid perjury and falsification of information. For example, if you wish to get married in Spain, you’ll have to provide your birth certificate from your home country and have it officially translated into Spanish.
Official translators are appointed by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and they appear in court to ‘swear’ that their translations of all documents are true and accurate, otherwise they could face legal action for misconduct.
Their translations will bear a stamp certifying that they are accurate and can be used in court or any legal proceeding, such as applying for a visa, getting married, or buying an apartment, to name a few.
While almost anyone who is bilingual can translate any document from emails to a hundred page dissertation, however, for any legal process a translation that is not completed by a sworn translator is not legally binding and will not be accepted.
How to Find a Translator in Spain
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the governing body that handles document translation and appoints sworn Spanish translators. If you are looking for a sworn translator you can consult this list of sworn translators which is up-to-date as of 2022. The English section starts on about page 600. In the gray boxes at the top of some of the pages you’ll see cities in Spain listed in alphabetical order in case if you need to find a sworn translator located in a specific city. Continue scrolling down to your city if you don’t see it.
Along with the city, you’ll find personal information for each translator: full name, phone number, email address, office address, and whether they are still active. You can simply email or call the translator of your choosing about your needs and in most cases, you’ll be able to send them an electronic copy of the document/s you need translated. Be sure to clarify this process beforehand with your translator, as some may prefer to have the original document from start to finish.
After the translator has evaluated the documents they will give you a price and an estimate of how long it will take to complete the translation. Once it is completed, you will have to go to their office to pick up the official stamped translation.
Client protection is taken seriously and your information will remain confidential between you and your translator. If you end up getting quotes from several translators but don’t use their services, don’t worry, your information is still protected and will not be shared. You can find more information about sworn translators here on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs page.
In addition to the translation, depending on the document/s and the process you are going through, you may also need to have it legalized (Apostille) as well. An Apostille (also called a legalization or the Apostille of Hague) is a specific stamp that authenticates the seals and signatures of officials on public documents such as birth certificates, court orders, or any other document issued by a federal agency or certified by an American or foreign consul. An Apostille must be done in the same country as the original document, for instance if you were born in the U.S. and need an Apostille for your birth certificate you will need submit an original birth certificate in-person or via mail in the U.S. to receive the Apostille stamp.
You can obtain this at your Secretary of State, the US State Department Authentication Services, or you can go through a private company that will get your documents much faster but will be more expensive. Be aware, as of 2022, authentication services are backed up and can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months to receive, so if you’re running short on time, go with a private company such as One Source Process.
To be clear, official sworn translators do not provide Apostilles; this is a separate process after translation is completed. However, consult with your immigration lawyer or the Spanish Consulate or Embassy about this step before proceeding.
How to Choose a Sworn Translator
The list of sworn translators who translate from English to Spanish in Spain is very long, so you may be wondering how do you choose the right one? You can select one from the Ministry’s list mentioned above or you can go through a reputable translation company. If you have an immigration lawyer, chances are they have a sworn translator they work with on a consistent basis that can provide translation services.
If you’d like to use a company or get recommendations for individuals, reach out in online expat groups to ask what translation services or individuals others have used successfully. Gather referrals, compare their testimonials, and from there decide how you want to proceed.
How Much Does a Translator Cost?
The cost of an official sworn translation depends on the type of document and number of pages. Some translators also calculate the cost by word count. To give you an idea, in 2021 in Madrid, I had a one page document translated that proved I was single and it cost €40.
More than likely, if you just have a one page document to translate, this could take 1-2 working days depending on the current workload of the translator. Of course, the more complex the topic and the more pages, the more money and time it will take. If cost is a concern, email a few translators/companies about your needs and send them an electronic copy of your document to see if they have a similar fee. It doesn’t hurt to compare!
Translators in Spain
Finding an official sworn translator isn’t has hard as it sounds. By working with a sworn translator you will avoid further delay in the already arduous bureaucracy of Spain by ensuring your documents are translated in according to the requirements. Shop around to ensure you find an affordable price. Getting your paperwork in order in Spain will be one of the biggest battles you fight as a foreigner, but knowing how to navigate these aspects of the red tape will make many processes so much easier.