Many people, including translators from other countries, ask me about the difference between a sworn and a certified translator.

A certified translation is simply a translator who has a certificate in translation in their working language combinations. A sworn translator is under oath. They declare – by using their unique stamp and signature – that the translation is a literal and correct reproduction of the text in the original document. In order to be permitted to do this, the translator must be sworn in by a court of law.

A sworn translator has to satisfy many conditions set by the Ministry of Justice in the Netherlands and the Dutch Legal Aid Council. Some of the basic conditions to register as a sworn translator are as follows:

1. Integrity: a sworn translator must provide a Certificate of good conduct VOG;

2. Language proficiency: Native (or at least C1 level) in the target language and at least C1 level in source language;

3. Education: Translation degree or certificate in the working language combinations;

4. Translation skills: at least 420 hours training in translation skills: texts, technical aspects and cultures.

5. Experience: at least 500.000 translated in the relevant language combinations and 5 years in the specialisation immediately prior to application to become a sworn translator.

Every five years, a sworn translator should gain 80 PE credits based on activities relevant to their language combinations and specialisations to be able to renew their license:

  • Continuing professional development by providers accredited by the Dutch Legal Aid Council “Raad voor Rechtsbijstand Wbtv”;
  • Professional training in organisations;
  • Business trip to source and target language countries for at least 10 days;
  • Work as a teacher or examiner/assessor;
  • Publications;
  • Self-study, keeping up-to-date with professional literature;
  • Signed peer review.

The Dutch Legal Aid Council imposes those strict conditions to guarantee and maintain the high quality of translations which are not restricted to legal translations only. It can also involve financial translations and the translation of official documents and correspondences between heads of state or diplomats in addition to many certificates.