My procedures in Sworn Translations - José Henrique Lamensdorf - translation - tradução

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My procedures in Sworn Translations


José Henrique Lamensdorf
São Paulo - SP - Brazil


The Law determines various aspects of the Certified Public Translator's work, while it leaves others to each licensed translator's discretion. Some mandatory rules apply statewide only. As I am in the State of São Paulo, I report to JUCESP; my colleagues in other Brazilian states may have some different rules in place.

I'll try to answer here most of the FAQs on my work system, observing that not all answers will necessarily be identical to those given by any other Certified Public Translator in Brazil. Some derive from regulations enforced in the State of São Paulo alone, others stem from my personal work practices on deregulated matters.

The questions answered on this page are listed below.
Click on any of them to see the answer. Use the "TOP" button at the bottom right of the screen if you wish to return.
Alternatively, you may scroll down, as all Q&As remain permanently open.

1. How much do you charge for sworn translations?

I follow the statutory Jucesp rates strictly. Current rates are found on the table below. Please note that they may eventually change, and therefore a delay might occur between a change effected by Jucesp until I manage to update this web page. Such adjustments in rates take place wide apart, and though I'd try to limit such delay to a minimum, it remains a possibility.

according to JUCESP Deliberation #01 of 02/01/2017

Prices below are for each standard page ("lauda") comprising
1,000 characters of final, translated text, not counting spaces.

EN = English (any other foreign language will use the same rate)
PT = Portuguese
CURRENCY: BRL = Brazilian Reais
For exchange rates, please click here.

BRL 50.14
BRL 62.70
BRL 75.21
BRL 94.05
BRL 100.28
BRL 125.40
BRL 70.20
BRL 86.24
BRL 105.30
BRL 129.36
BRL 140.40
BRL 172.46
URGENT = more than 2 standard pages (laudas) per business day
EXTRAORDINARY = requiring work on Saturdays, Sundays and/or official holidays

2. What is considered urgent?

The law defines as urgent job one that is executed and made available to the requesting party at a rate higher than two standard pages per business day. It is easy to infer that this established a threshold of ten standard pages per week, if there is no holiday. The surcharge is 50% over the normal rate, and is not shown numerically on the Jucesp deliberation, having been calculated to build the table above.

This is the only legal parameter on urgency. According to my interpretation, it sets the limit beyond which the urgency surcharge applies. Therefore, if a client orders a sworn translation of up to 10 laudas to be delivered within a week, no urgency surcharge shall apply.

On the other hand, I understand that urgency relies exclusively on the client setting a deadline. If the client fails to stipulate a deadline and - due to my own availability - I deliver, say, ten standard pages translated on the next day, there won't be any reason for an urgency surcharge.

3. And what is considered extraordinary?

Again, according to the law, it is work performed on Saturdays, Sundays, and official holidays. The surcharge is 100% on the normal rate, and it also fails to appear numerically on the Jucesp deliberation, having been calculated for the table above.

Likewise, according to my interpretation, it relies on a client setting a deadline for the job to be delivered. If I do the job on these days because I chose to do so, there is no reason for the client to pay extra for that.

One may ask whether the 100% surcharge applies to the entire job, or only to the part(s) thereof done during weekends and/or holidays. They apply to the entire job, as it is impossible to determine when each part of it was done to meet the deadline set by the client, once it has been demonstrated that it will be necessary to work on the days deemed "extraordinary".

4. I failed to get an accurate idea on what are common and special texts. Could you give some examples?

A few typical cases:

Common Texts:
    • civil records: birth, marriage, and death certificates
    • personal identity documents, e.g. ID cards, driver's licenses, passports, etc.
    • letters, e-mails, and web pages that do not involve legal, technical, nor scientific terms

Special Texts:
    • all school documents (certificates, diplomas, records, syllabi)
    • court sentences, awards, decrees, judgments, orders, etc.
    • agreements and contracts
    • technical and commercial proposals/bids/quotes
    • medical statements
    • certificates and statements on technical or professional accreditation
    • financial and economic statements or reports

5. We are a translation agency (or a law office), therefore we are handling translations for third-parties, not for our own use. Do you offer discounts? Pay commissions?

The law does not prescribe different rates for various client types, hence the rates are the same for anyone. Nothing prevents your end-client from contacting me or any other Certified Public Translator directly (click here for links to all official online Certified Public Translators directories) and obtaining the same rates shown on the table (though they apply to the São Paulo state alone).

The point is that the law assumes that the originals will be delivered, and the translations will be picked up, at my office. Furthermore, my job is limited to translation. I don't go after (Hague Conventin) Apostilles consular legalization, certified copies, notarized signatures, nothing of the kind. If the client is willing to pay for the convenience of having the originals picked up at their location, finding Certified Public Translators available for all languages they need, negotiating delivery dates with them, getting all notarizations and legalizations required, it's beyond my mission. I think whoever undertakes these tasks should be paid for carrying them out.

Regarding commissions, as the name says, a Certified Public Translator is public. In addition to this web site, I am listed at Jucesp, anyone should be able to find me. I have no need for salespeople promoting my services, to place them in the market.

Please note that this applies to sworn translations only. For "common" translations, not regulated by law, I am a translator like any other.

6. How can I find out in advance how much a sworn translation will cost?

You can't, as the cost is calculated on the standard pages count on the final, translated text. At best, you may ask for a ballpark estimate.

When I'm asked for such an estimate, I scan the document and do OCR (Optical Character Recognition) on it to get an approximate character count. As a rule of thumb, I increase that count by 20% for the usual "swelling" of the text. This swelling is caused mostly by the need for writing all acronyms and abbreviations in full, as well as dates, to avoid confusion between mm/dd and dd/mm. This gives me a very rough estimate of the final translation standard pages count, quite unreliable. Its accuracy may vary a lot if there are many stamps and seals, which elude OCR.

As a general rule, in 95% of cases, the final cost is between -15% and +5% od my estimate.

IMPORTANT: To do OCR, I need the document scanned at 300 dpi (dots per inch) in either PDF or JPG files. There is no way to make estimates with snapshots taken with smartphones (72 dpi).

7. I am far away, out of São Paulo, or even out of Brazil. Can you mail the translation to me?

Yes, I can mail it via any trackable delivery method, at your choice, expense, and risk.

If you are in São Paulo and want to use a messenger, at your expense and risk, it shall be your messenger, as I don't recommend any of them.

If you want me to send the translation by mail (Correios), you may choose between a registered letter and all the various kinds of Sedex (domestic express service) available; I don't send translations as unregistered (aka First Class) mail, since the Brazilian Post Office takes no liability. I prefer to include the estimated postage in your bill than to send it via Sedex collect, as this would require you to pickup at the post office location they consider nearest to you.

If international mail is required, I can do it by registered letter or, depending on your urgency, use your preferred courier service (for pickup at my office). As it will be at your expense and risk, I have no objection to your choice, however I've had good experiences with Federal Express. On the other hand, I've had bad experiences with DHL, hence if it is your preferred courier, I recommend taking adequate caution to ensure timely delivery.

8. I am far away, the original documents are not finalized yet, but I'd like to gain some time. What can I do to shorten the timeline?

This is pretty common. Maybe all you have are copies or scanned* files from the documents, and the originals are on their way to you. Maybe they will have to undergo consular legalization. They may be an agreement that is finished, but signatures are still missing. Otherwise, you may have it ready to mail me, but you want to gain the time it will be en route here.

We can gain some time if I draft your sworn translation before the original gets here, especially if it's a lengthy one. Depending on the schedule, it is possible that, once having drafted it, when the original arrives, it will take me only 0 to 2 more days to get its sworn translation finished, regardless of size.

Please note that, depending on the size of the job, an advance payment may be required on the estimated total.

*Important note: If you are going to scan your docs, I need them in 300 dpi (dots per inch) PDF or JPG files. Snaphots taken with smartphones (72 dpi) are useless for this purpose.

9. What kind of documents should I send you to issue a sworn translation from? Originals? Plain copies? Notarized copies? Scanned computer files?

This decision is up to the place where you will submit your sworn translation. I can translate from any of these, however you should be aware that I must specify in the translation what kind of document I translated from, namely: original, plain copy, certified copy, electronic file, etc.

As a Certified Public Translator in Brazil, I can only tell you about Brazilian laws. In Brazil, a sworn translation does not replace the "original" document (I mean from which it was done), it only renders that document officially acceptable when attached to it. This means that the original document - or a copy of it - will be attached to the translation. It's worth asking what are the requirements, regarding original or copy (take the chance to ask about Hague Convention Apostille, consular legalization, signature notarization, i.e. if they are at all required) where you intend to submit these documents with their translations.

This creates two basic options:

  • The document was issued specifically for this purpose. One typical case is an international Power of Attorney. In Brazil, notarial offices demand the original document to be attached to its translation for registration purposes. There are some specifically issued certificates, e.g. a company's certificate of good standing, that are valid only in their original form, and for a limited period of time. In this case, there is no choice, and the original will be attached to the translation.

  • The document is unique, and you need to keep it. Some typical cases are diplomas, academic records, IDs, driver's licenses. These may include hard-to-obtain documents, such as certificates issued in other places. Here we may have two alternatives:
        • I can make a copy myself, translate from the original, stamp and initial both this copy and the original, and attach the copy to the translation. This will let you have the original bearing my stamp and initial to present, if required, or to make certified copies from and attach to transcripts (see below) from the translation in case you need them in the future. This is common for diplomas and other school documents. (If you don't want anything like my filthy stamp on your diploma - even if it's on the reverse side - kindly advise!)
        • I can do a sworn translation from a certified/notarized/apostilled (in Brazil or elsewhere) copy, stamp and initial it to attach to the sworn translation. On the translation itself, I'll state that I translated from a certified copy. Some Brazilian notarial offices will refuse to certify copies from documents in a foreign language, sometimes you'll have to search for one that will do it. The most common case requiring a certified copy is when these are documents that cannot be stamped, such as IDs or drivers' licenses.

10. What are "certified copies" and "certified transcripts" (of sworn translations)? What is the difference?

Both are identical duplicates of a sworn translation. The difference lies in the certified copies being ordered simultaneously with the translation, while certified transcripts are ordered at a later time.

Let's take an example. Assume that you graduated from a Brazilian university, and intend to study for a postgraduate degree in some university overseas. Any such institution will usually require sworn translations from your diploma and academic record transcript. You intend to apply at three different universities. The best will be to have me translate from the originals, stamp them, and make copies (that I'll stamp and initial) to attach to the translation and its two certified copies. There won't be any difference between the three sets, so no university will suspect that you are applying at others as well.

According to the law, each certified copy costs 20% of the cost of the corresponding sworn translation.

Let's say that after a certain time you are in the same situation again. Once your documents have already been translated, and you have their originals stamped and initialled by me, it's the case for requesting a certified transcript from the sworn translation. As I don't have the originals any longer, you will only get a copy of the sworn translation. You may get copies (plain or certified, depending on the requirements where you will be submitting them) from the originals I originally stamped and initialled upon translating.

Each certified transcript costs, as prescribed by law, 50% of what the same translation would cost then, at the prevailing rates.

11. Outside Brazil, do the originals or their copies have to be attached to the sworn translation?

I wouldn't be able to tell. Each country has its own laws.

In countries that have no specific law on certified translations, each organization is supposedly free to set their own rules. The solution is to ask the entity where you will be submitting such translated documents.

Hint: Ask for written instructions (e-mail), to be able to show that you have done exactly what they told you to do.

12. When and how do you receive payment?

As the exact cost can only be determined after the translation is finished, any previous estimate of that amount will be mere speculation. As soon as I have the final amount, I'll advise you. Translations will be made available as soon as the payment is confirmed as cleared.

I didn't invent this. The DNRC - National Department of Business Records, the supervising agency for all Juntas Comerciais, in its Normative Instruction #84 of February 29th, 2000, states on this matter:
Art. 15 - Fees are owed after the immediate performance of the duties of the assignment.

The law considers that the client will get the original document delivered at the Certified Public Translator's location, and later pick it up at the same place, paying in cash. Therefore, any money transfer fees should be covered by the client.

For my clients' convenience and security in Brazil, I also accept payments via deposit or funds transfer to my account at Banco Itaú. In case of internal funds transfer within that bank, or TED*, clearing is done in real time. If payments are made by DOC*, check or ATM cash deposits, their clearance will be awaited before translations are made available or mailed.

* TED and DOC are two domestic Brazilian inter-banks funds transfer systems. A TED can only be issued during banking hours, and clears the amount on the recipient's account within 20 minutes. A DOC is processed overnight on consecutive banking days.

For clients outside Brazil, I also accept payments via:
    • PayPal (a 10% surcharge applies, corresponding to what they deduct from the payee's receivables)
    • Western Union
    • Payoneer (still trying it)
    • International bank transfers to Brazil, aka "wire transfers" (a BRL 115.00 surcharge applies - receiving fee)

I don't accept non-Brazilian checks, nor payment via Moneybookers. Transfer fees are at the sender's expense, and may be included in an international invoice.

Whatever you choose from these payment options, kindly click on the e-mail button on the left to request instructions.

13. Do you do sworn interpreting? When is it necessary? How much does it cost?

According to the law, every Certified Public Translator in Brazil is licensed to do sworn (consecutive) interpreting. The issue here is in the translator's availability to go to the venue, both in terms of time and means of transportation.

An interpreter is required in Brazil whenever an individual who does not speak Portuguese is a party in any act that will make them incur in responsibilities or liabilities. The most common case is the marriage of a foreigner to a Brazilian. However it also applies a foreigner buying or selling real estate, registering a child born in Brazil, or making an affidavit.

It is worth mentioning that while the Certified Sworn Translator may translate the foreigner's documents as necessary, and act as interpreter for them during formal circumstances, they are in no way qualified to offer guidance on the required documentation. For such purposes, one should get adequate information from the cartório, or secure appropriate help, e.g. here, a web site that contains very useful information on civil marriages in Brazil. (Information contained on that web site is responsibility of its respective author, no endorsement implied.)

Prices for the sworn interpreting work are set by law:

First working hour
BRL 174.49
Every 15 minutes thereafter
BRL 50.14

Interpreting the spirit of the law, I adopt the following practices for sworn interpreting fees/costs:
Travel time to and from the venue
to be agreed in advance*
Transportation expenses to and from the venue
to be agreed in advance*
Monday through Friday from 5:00 PM to 11:59 PM
50% additional
Monday through Friday from midnight to 8:00 AM
100% additional
Saturdays, Sundays, and official holidays
100% additional
* For travel time I adopt the rate corresponding to the first working hour as defined by law. Regarding transportation expenses, there is the option for the client to provide adequate round trip transportation for me on their own.

Specifically on marriages, I don't charge additional time when they take place in the cartórios within walking distance from my office . For all other locations within São Paulo City, I offer a closed civil marriage package corresponding to three hours from the table, which covers transportation, parking, as well as unforeseen delays regardless of reason. One less source of stress for the bride!
Payment of sworn interpretation services is required forthwith.

14. In addition to a sworn interpreter for the formalities, I'll also need a "plain" interpreter before/after the event. Do you offer this service?

First, I don't offer simultaneous (chuchotage or whispered, nor booth) interpreting services; all I offer is consecutive interpreting.

I can do this kind of work, however it will not be sworn, hence outside the conditions defined by law. It will be a mutual agreement between us, which is open to negotiation.

Last but not least, I only translate professionally between Portuguese and English. You may have learned elsewhere on this web site that I also speak Italian, French, and Spanish, but not sufficiently well to translate from/to these languages, so if I eventually have to do it, the responsibility will be yours, not mine.

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