How to become a sworn translatorLearn all about how to become a sworn translator
Why do some translators have “sworn translator” status?
Note that different countries use different systems for awarding this status to translators. In France, the process is simple: translators are sworn in by a court of appeal and then considered to be legal experts, helping the legal system with its work. In becoming a sworn translator, an individual is committing to make themselves available for a range of projects such as translating official documents and – for interpreters – interpreting assignments such as police custody interviews and legal hearings.
Sworn translators also work in the private sector for companies and individuals.
Various terms are used for sworn translators, including “official”, “certified” and “public”. Whatever phrasing is used, it’s important to remember that these are expert translators who have been sworn in by a court of appeal.
How to become a sworn translator in France
There is no particular academic course for becoming a sworn translator. However, you do need to have a degree – preferably in translation (see different ways to become a translator here) – and a certain amount of experience. It’s probably a good idea to work as a professional translator before becoming a sworn translator, although there is no such legal requirement.
In France, once you are set up as a translator, you need to apply to the public prosecutor at the high court. Your application will be carefully examined, a background check undertaken and you will have to go to the police for an interview. You may also be interviewed by the high court. If all goes well, your application will be passed on to the high court for final review.
If approved, you will then be asked to take an oath by the high court, following which you can practice as a sworn translator for five years (extendable). You will also be added to the court’s official translator list.
Sworn translator status is much sought-after: every year many applications are submitted and few are approved. If you would like to try your luck, it’s worth continuing to look for clients for “non-sworn” work rather than putting all your eggs into the sworn translation basket!
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