I may work as a translator, dealing with items with large amounts of money at stake, but there are certain things I can’t translate. In particular birth/marriage certificates – not through any deficiency in my knowledge of German, but because I am not a sworn translator (or a translator offering sworn translations).
A lot of the groups on the Internet for supporting foreigners living in Austria – both on social media platforms and other websites seem to regularly have questions from people looking for a translator. And invariably they are looking for a “reliable but cheap” one. Often their request is for an “official translator” or a translator to “translate a marriage certificate” – when what they really need is a “sworn translation” or a “certified translation” (beglaubigte Übersetzung).
A list of translators offering sworn/certified translation from English into German can be found on the website of the Austrian Association of Certified Court Interpreters. It is worth explaining that in order to be able to offer sworn translations, the translators also have to do court interpreting (hence why the website for interpreters is the correct port of call).
This service comes at a cost – in addition to the translation costs (usually quoted per line of 55 characters including spaces (known as a Normzeile), on the basis of the number of characters in the target language translation) there is a stamp fee – which is for the cost of having the Beglaubigungsvermerk on the translation. In addition to a circular stamp and pages being stuck together with a tamper-proof sticker over staples, a certified translation will contain a signed declaration by the translator of:
I hereby certify under my oath the full conformity of the above translation with the original / transcript / photocopy attached / seen by me.
or in German:
Die genaue Übereinstimmung der vorstehenden Übersetzung mit der – angehefteten – vorliegenden – Urschrift – Abschrift – Ablichtung – bestätige ich unter Berufung auf meinen Eid.
Any other wording purporting to confer an “official” status on a translation is not allowed to be used – and only serves to mislead the public.
From my perspective as someone who uses certified translators for work quite frequently, for translating Austrian administrative decisions into foreign languages, I would advise going directly to the translator on the list. A translation agency will probably only in very rare cases have a certified translator on their books and will probably use the same list as I have supplied the link for above. I generally also advise just using the person who is closest and most convenient for you. If you have a large number of papers that need translating (e.g. marriage certificates and paperwork from divorces, it might be worth exploring having all pieces translated at the same time).
Regarding the price – cheap is not the name of the game, since many are bound by strict guidelines on the prices they may charge. Ultimately if a birth certificate with Hague Apostille has been translated once with the necessary stamp and declaration, it does not expire (the translation after all does not change!) and can therefore be reused between say getting married and naturalising.
The one thing I would add is that the more complicated your life prior to arriving in Austria (e.g. dissolved marriages, adoptions of children etc.) the more need there is likely to be for certified translations.
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