COST ESTIMATES - José Henrique Lamensdorf - translation - tradução

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It is absolutely normal wanting to know in advance how much a sworn translation will cost before ordering it. Nobody in their sound mind would spend, say, BRL 1,000 in translations to plea a refund worth BRL 700.

The problem here is that, pursuant to the applicable law, it is not possible to determine the exact cost of a sworn translation before having finished it.

The reason is that the Brazilian Law on Sworn Translations (Decree 13,609) dates back from 1943, and was never amended, though some of its (statewide) regulations have been updated. In those days sworn translations were typewritten, so the convention was that one standard page ("lauda")  should correspond to "25 lines of final (i.e. translated) text".

On the other hand, rates are statutory: any Sworn Translator has to charge the same rate (set by the Trade Register in the State where they operate) per "lauda" of final, translated text. The conclusion is that it is a waste of time to ask cost estimates from different Sworn Translators within the same State, searching for a cheaper one; none of them will be able to state exactly how much a sworn translation will cost before they have done it.

In some States, the Boards of Trade have converted the "lauda" metrics from lines to characters. In 2003, for the State of São Paulo, JUCESP determined that one "lauda" of sworn translation should correspond to 1,000 characters not counting spaces. Other States followed suit, however at times with different metrics.

Back to our issue: How much will your translation cost?

I can get you an approximate estimate, under no commitment, based on the original document, as long as it's NOT handwritten (nor uses Gothic, ornate or handwriting-style fonts), and if it is clearly legible, scanned at 300 dpi resolution, on a PDF or JPG files. Pack all docs into a ZIP file and use:

In 95% of the cases, the final cost has been between -15% and +5% of my estimates.

WARNING: Photos of the documents taken with smartphones (72 dpi) are useless for this purpose.

Back to the issue of requesting estimates from different Sworn Translators, there is no point in preferring one that gave you a BRL 400 estimate over another who estimated it at BRL 600. If, by applying the statutory rates to the character count on the final translation, the result is that the translation should cost you BRL 492.50, that's what either one should charge you.

Are there any other charges?

There may be.

First, the statutory rates assume both the original delivered and the translation picked up at the Sworn Translator's location. If you will be using mail, courier, or messenger services, it is an additional cost.

The statutory rates are net, presumed to be paid in Brazilian reais. If there are any international funds transfer fees, and/or any losses in foreign currency exchange transactions, this should be added to the final cost.

For your information:
    • Most international P2P funds transfer services (e.g. Moneygram, Western Union) offer the option to charge all (comparatively modest)  fees from the payer, which is the most sensible way.
    • International bank (aka "wire") transfers have costs on both ends. You, as payer, will have to pay a fee for sending funds, depending on your bank. The receiver will also be charged a fixed fee by their local bank; in Brazil such fees usually range from BRL 100 to BRL 350 per transaction, depending on the bank and the agreement the payee has with them, usually regardless of the amount involved.
    • PayPal charges nothing from the payer, however they deduct 6.5% in transaction fees, plus 3.5% in foreign currency exchange fees, so their service should increase your bill by 10%.

Depending on the total amount you'll have to pay, it is worth checking the various options for international funds transfers.

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