Patrick Bruha

Patrick Bruha

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


How To Become a Sworn Translator in Brazil

Patrick Bruha

Patrick Bruha

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Whenever an individual needs to present an official document to a body of the government, he must have his document translated by a sworn translator. In this article, we will see how someone, even a foreigner, can become a sworn translator.

What is sworn translation

The Brazilian legislation requires documents issued in a foreign language, that will be presented to Brazilian authorities, to be accompanied with a translated equivalent in Portuguese. In other words, a foreigner’s documents are only valid in Brazil as long as you can also present a version of the document translated to Portuguese.

For the translation of a foreign document to be considered valid, it must be performed by a sworn translator - the official name for the job is "Public Translator and Commercial Interpreter" - someone who is a professional that performs translations services.

Requirements to be a Sworn Translator

The person that wants to become a Sworn Translator does not need to prove any kind of prior education.

Documents for Applying

To apply for the Sworn Translation concurso público, the applicant must present documents to his State’s Board of Trade, proving the:

  • Applicant's age is older than 21 years old
  • Applicant does not have any tax-related pendencies
  • Applicant has a Brazilian citizenship
  • Applicant is not being sued, and has not been prosecuted for a crime
  • Applicant has resided for more than one year in the State in which he will perform translation services
  • Applicant is in a regular situation with the military service, as all Brazilian men are required to present themselves to the military the year they turn 18
  • Applicant’s identity

Board of Trade’s Concurso Público

The professional sworn translator, in order to be legally recognized by Brazilian authorities and, therefore, be able to make sworn translations, must participate in a concurso público promoted by each State’s Board of Trade.

The test is composed of a written test and an oral test:

  • Written test: Produce a text with 30 lines or more in a foreign language and translation of a text, normally a power of attorney, passport, notarial deed, certificate, or similar in the language the applicant wants to be certified
  • Oral test: Reading, translation, as well as, the realization of a lecture using the foreign language and using the natural language​​.

The concursos públicos usually happen at intervals of 20 years and are responsible for the selection of new professionals to work for the State’s Board of Trade. If someone is willing to become a Sworn Translator, he must pay attention to his State’s Board of Trade in case they issue an edit for a concurso público, as an edit is issued only when there is a demand for more Sworn Translators. The applicant has one month from the issue of the edit until the end of inscriptions. In the edit for the concurso público, each Board of Trade specifies which languages they will be holding the test.

The Sworn Translator’s Job

The sworn translator is usually hired to perform the translations of:

  • Birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates
  • Judicial sentences and other documents of legal proceedings
  • Powers of attorney
  • Agreements
  • Company registry documents
  • International transport documents
  • Any other foreign document that needs to be presented and recognized in Brazil.

Despite the legal documentation, sworn translators can also translate documents of other natures, such as:

  • School records, diplomas, and other educational certificates.
  • Medical certificates
  • Health certificates for pets who are taken abroad
  • Technical reports for engineering and industrial engineering.

In addition, even though the sworn translator was not trained as an interpreter, they can perform oral translations in some occasions as well, such as in:

  • Wedding ceremonies
  • Acts of drawing up public deeds
  • Meetings with judges and other public officials.

The sworn translator does not receive an an official public salary and State pension when he retires. Although, he receives from the State a lifetime authorization to issue documents with fé pública, which means they are recognized by law as legal documents.

It is important to note that the Sworn Translator can only work in the State where he passed the concurso público, despite his sworn translated document being valid throughout Brazil.

Specifications for foreigners

Foreigners can also apply for the State’s Board of Trade Sworn Translator concurso público. A foreigner willing to become a Sworn Translator needs to write and speak fluently in Portuguese, have a Brazilian citizenship, and prove that he has lived in the State in which he will perform the Sworn Translation job for more than one year. And, of course, he has to be pass the concurso público.