How to Distinguish Between a Sworn Translator and a Legal Translator in Istanbul

The field of translation encompasses various specialties, each catering to different needs and contexts. In Istanbul, a city that serves as a bridge between Europe and Asia, the roles of translators are particularly vital in facilitating communication across diverse languages and cultures. Among the various types of translators, two key roles often come up in legal and official contexts: the sworn translator, known as a “yeminli tercüman,” and the legal translator. While these roles share similarities, they also have distinct responsibilities and requirements. This article explores how to distinguish between a sworn translator and a legal translator in Istanbul, elucidating their unique functions and the importance of their work.

Understanding the Role of a Yeminli Tercüman

A yeminli tercüman in Istanbul is a translator who has taken an oath before a notary public, pledging to provide accurate and faithful translations. This oath grants them the authority to produce certified translations that are legally recognized by government agencies, courts, and other official institutions. The process to become a yeminli tercüman involves several steps, including educational qualifications, proficiency in multiple languages, and professional experience.

Steps to Becoming a Yeminli Tercüman:

  1. Educational Background: Typically, a yeminli tercüman holds a bachelor’s degree in translation and interpretation, applied linguistics, or a related field. This academic training provides a strong foundation in linguistic skills, translation techniques, and cultural understanding.
  2. Language Proficiency: A yeminli tercüman must be proficient in at least two languages, commonly Turkish and another foreign language such as English, German, French, or Arabic. This proficiency includes a deep understanding of grammar, idiomatic expressions, and specialised vocabulary.
  3. Professional Experience: Gaining practical experience through internships, freelance work, or employment with translation agencies is crucial. This experience helps in building a portfolio and acquiring practical knowledge of the translation industry.
  4. Taking the Notary Oath: The critical step to becoming a yeminli tercüman is taking an oath before a notary public. This involves presenting the necessary documents, including degree certificates and proof of language proficiency, to the notary. Upon taking the oath, the translator is officially recognized as a yeminli tercüman, authorised to provide certified translations.

The Role of a Legal Translator

In contrast, a legal translator specialises in translating legal documents and texts. These documents may include contracts, court documents, laws, regulations, and other legal texts. The primary focus of a legal translator is to ensure that the translation accurately reflects the original text’s legal terminology and intent.

Key Characteristics of a Legal Translator:

  1. Specialisation in Legal Terminology: Legal translators have an in-depth understanding of legal terminology and concepts in both the source and target languages. This specialisation allows them to accurately translate complex legal texts without altering their meaning or legal implications.
  2. Attention to Detail: Given the nature of legal documents, precision and attention to detail are paramount. Legal translators must ensure that every term, clause, and nuance is accurately conveyed in the translation.
  3. Ethical Standards and Confidentiality: Legal translators adhere to strict ethical standards and maintain confidentiality due to the sensitive nature of the documents they handle.

Comparing Yeminli Tercüman and Legal Translator Roles

While both yeminli tercüman and legal translators work with legal and official documents, their roles and responsibilities differ in significant ways.

Certification and Authority:

  • Yeminli Tercüman: A yeminli tercüman is authorised to provide certified translations that are legally recognized by official institutions in Turkey. Their certification process involves taking an oath before a notary, which grants them the authority to produce sworn translations.
  • Legal Translator: Legal translators do not necessarily take an oath or receive official certification from a notary public. Instead, their expertise lies in their specialised knowledge of legal terminology and their ability to accurately translate legal texts.

Scope of Work:

  • Yeminli Tercüman: The scope of work for a yeminli tercüman includes translating a wide range of official documents, such as birth certificates, academic diplomas, contracts, and court rulings. These translations are used in legal proceedings, government applications, and other official contexts.
  • Legal Translator: Legal translators primarily focus on legal documents, ensuring that the translation accurately reflects the original text’s legal meaning. Their work is critical in international legal cases, cross-border transactions, and situations where legal documents must be translated for use in another jurisdiction.

Recognition and Usage:

  • Yeminli Tercüman: The translations provided by a yeminli tercüman are recognized and accepted by governmental and judicial bodies in Turkey. This recognition is due to the oath taken before a notary, which attests to the translator’s commitment to accuracy and fidelity.
  • Legal Translator: While legal translators provide essential services, their translations may not carry the same official recognition as those of a yeminli tercüman unless they also hold the title of a sworn translator.

The Global Perspective: Legal Translators in the UAE

In the United Arab Emirates, the concept of sworn translators aligns closely with that of legal translators. In the UAE, sworn translators are licensed by the Ministry of Justice and are authorised to provide certified translations for legal and official purposes. These translators, who are often referred to as legal translators in Dubai and other emirates, ensure that translated documents are legally valid and recognized by governmental and judicial bodies.

Similar to the role of a yeminli tercüman in Istanbul, legal translators in the UAE must meet specific qualifications and adhere to strict standards of accuracy and confidentiality. Their services are essential for translating contracts, court documents, official certificates, and other legal texts, ensuring that the translations are precise and legally binding.


Distinguishing between a sworn translator, or yeminli tercüman, and a legal translator in Istanbul involves understanding their unique roles, responsibilities, and the contexts in which they operate. While both play crucial roles in translating legal and official documents, a yeminli tercüman is authorised to provide certified translations recognized by official institutions, whereas a legal translator specialises in accurately translating legal texts. Understanding these distinctions is essential for anyone seeking translation services in Istanbul or considering a career in the translation industry.

In the UAE, the roles of sworn and legal translators are integrated, with licensed translators providing certified legal translation in Dubai and other emirates. This global perspective underscores the importance of certified translations in ensuring legal and official communications are accurate, reliable, and recognized by authorities.

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