All Spanish residence visa application documents are submitted in Spanish. Therefore, documents issued in English, such as your criminal background check, marriage certificate and bank statements, must be translated into Spanish by a certified Spanish translator or a sworn Spanish translator.
In other words, you can’t just ask for help from your Spanish speaking friend (unless she happens to be one of the above.)
Sworn translators are individuals officially recognized by the nation(s) that have certified them. Their translations follow a precise protocol and are considered official and acceptable by legal authorities in that country. Since you’re applying for a visa to move to Spain, any sworn translator registered with the government of Spain will be acceptable for translating your documents. There will be no question of the authenticity of their translation and therefore, no concerns about the legality of the use of your translated documents for use in Spain. The Spanish Consulate of Los Angeles requires all translations be completed by a sworn translator.
As with just about every other official individual or entity in Spain, sworn translators have an official seal. Each page of every translation will bear their stamp and their signature. The final page of each document will also include a copy of their oath or a legend declaring that their translation is a complete and faithful representation of the original.
Certified translators are a little different. The US doesn’t have a certifying body for translators, either at the state or federal level. Therefore, unlike in Spain, there is technically no “sworn American translator.” However, certain private bodies in the industry issue their own certifications. They don’t bear any legal distinction, but in theory, should better ensure accurate and acceptable translations of your documents.
If you opt for a certified translator as opposed to sworn, ask the translator to provide a notarized statement attesting to their execution and accuracy of their translations. The act of notarizing their translations effectively “certifies” them for legal use. They should be acceptable at all consulates except Los Angeles.
How to Find a Certified Translator
Your translator can be located anywhere in the world, so long as they have that official seal. If you want to work with one specifically in the United States, jump directly to page 610. There, you’ll find the start of the individuals and business entities who translate from English to Spanish based in the States.
If any of your original documents were issued in a language other than English, you’re in luck. This list contains translators working all over the world across a variety of languages. You can find certified individuals to translate from German (alemán), French (francés), Italian (italiano) and even Korean (coreano). As this document is written in Spanish, you’ll need to search for the language in question using the Spanish word for that language. Then scroll through the pages to see which country the translator who works in that specific language is located.
Contacting Translators to Get a Quote
I recommend interviewing at least two people, preferably three.
Be sure to tell them your time frame and the number of people on your application.
Ideally, find a translator with experience specifically for visa and immigration purposes. Their familiarity with the process will help. Mine caught an error and also gave me advice on our financial means documentation.
Once you get a good feel for someone, ask for a quote and turn around time. Most translators charge by the page, others work on a package price. Some will discount pages that are almost identical, such as Apostille seals, which literally only vary in name and record number. Others not.
Finally, verify their delivery protocols. Your translator can work from a scan of your original. Ideally documents are relayed through a secure, shared cloud drive or email. However, you must provide the original translation with your application. For peace of mind, make sure your translator sends you your originals by some type of tracked mail, even if it costs a bit more.