Germany has a system of ‘sworn translators’. If any legal documents and reports that have been issued outside the Federal Republic of Germany are to be submitted for example to German authorities or courts, then it is necessary for these documents to be translated by a sworn translator.

A translator is sworn in at the local court in the Federal Country where she is permanently resident, but her certified translations are valid nationwide. The courts require the translator to prove that she has relevant qualifications before she is sworn in.

The translation certificate consists of:

  1. The set certifying paragraph (a sentence at the end of the translation) whereby the sworn translator confirms that the translation is an accurate and complete reflection of the original. The certification also details the form in which the document was presented (hard copy, PDF file, attested copy, original document, etc.);
  2. the translator’s seal indicating the language(s) for which the translator is officially sworn; and
  3. the date and the signature of the translator.

It is therefore necessary for the certified translations to be forwarded by post. However, in the case of urgent orders, it is possible to provide an advance electronic copy of the translation with a scan of the last page containing the signature and seal.

Certified translations provided by a sworn translator are recognized by all authorities throughout Germany.

The Problem of ’embassy-certified‘ translations

The German embassy / the German Consulate General in Japan have no legitimation whatsoever to issue ‘certified translations’ (beglaubigte Übersetzungen) according to the German system of certified translations. Consequently, their certifications don’t have any legal value. In their Japanese language version the two diplomatic missions are giving the impression that they have the power to ‘admit’ (認定) translators. While this may sound impressive to Japanese ears, the missions are not entitled, in fact, to admit anybody or anything. Therefore, the translations produced by ‘embassy-admitted’ translators (who are not listed in the German official database of court translators) are generally not accepted in Germany. In their German language version they are claiming that ‘Our stamped translations are accepted by most German authorities’, but this is a mere lie. They have added the comment ‘We cannot guarantee acceptance of those translations’. Well, I can give you a guarantee that you will get translations that are accepted 100 % by all German authorities, and this is by using the German official database of legally sworn translators only. You can find a how-to-guide of the database in Japanese here: http://doitsugo-ninshou-honyaku.com/instructions-for-translators-database .

More on this: How to obtain official German translations