A sworn translation (also called a public, legal, official or certified translation) of a document is endorsed by the signature and seal of a Sworn Translator who is authorized by the Foreign Office to translate official documents. These translations are regarded as having formal status by the authorities. Who are sworn translators? A sworn translator is someone who is authorized by the Foreign Office to translate official documents. Accredited translators and interpreters are known by different official names according to the country. For example, in Spain, where Spanish is the language in question, the official denomination is sworn translator-interpreter, although it’s more common to use the title sworn translator. The name and details of a sworn interpreter are registered in the Office of the Chief State Law Adviser , and in the regional office of the District Council. By signing and sealing, the translator assumes responsibility for the document. A sworn translation is different from a normal translation insofar as it is signed and sealed by a sworn translator and is therefore regarded as having official and formal status by the authorities. Furthermore, sworn translations can only be provided in hard copies, given that they need to be signed and stamped by the translator. However, the original documents can be passed on in any form (email, fax, etc.). Although sworn translations can be made on stamped paper, this is not a requirement of the Foreign Office, and these days it is hardly used. In addition, it can be accompanied by additional documents, such as The Hague Apostillle. Each sworn translation needs to carry a certificate whose signature and seal have been registered by the Foreign Office through the District Council of the region in which the translator works. The format of a sworn translation Sworn translations ought to contain the signature and seal of a sworn translator: Signature: Mr / Mrs (name and surname), Sworn Interpreter of (language), certifies that the present document is a faithful and complete translation into (destination language) of a document originally written in (language of the original). In (location), on (date). Seal: Name, the heading “sworn interpreter of…” or “sworn translator-interpreter of…” followed by the designated language, address, telephone number and, if applicable, fax. When is a sworn translation required? A document that is written in a foreign language and presented to official bodies (e.g. administrative bodies, a university, a court, a notary) is normally accompanied by an exact Sworn Translation of the original text. In this case, a sworn translator is required. On the other hand, a sworn translation can be used to guarantee the accuracy of the information translated, given that a sworn translator takes responsibility for the translation with his/her signature and seal. Which documents does a sworn translator usually translate? Many institutions require a sworn translation when dealing with documents in a foreign language. For example, when validating a foreign university degree in the Ministry of Education, a sworn translation is required. Another time when sworn translations are needed is when studying abroad, where it is necessary to present an academic record, which should be certified by a sworn translator. In the case of marrying abroad, a sworn translation of the birth certificate of the foreign spouse(s) is usually required. In the world of business, there are many cases in which a sworn translation is needed, for example, when a company has commercial relations abroad, it is commonplace to require a sworn translation of the certificate of incorporation, statutes, and other internal documents.

The best and most accurate means to describe the Apostille Convention is to use its formal name: The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 (Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents). As you might already know, if you plan on using legal documents outside of South Africa, you will have to get them apostilled in order to ensure their validity. Continue reading

General information about South African Visas

Visitors’ visas are for international travellers (citizens of other countries) who have permanent residence outside South Africa and who wish to visit the country on a temporary basis for tourism or business purposes for a period of 90 days or less. Continue reading

Registering a death

The Births and Deaths Registration Act requires that a person’s death be reported to any one of the following people:

  • Specific officers at the Department of Home Affairs
  • South African Police Service members, especially in areas where the Department of Home Affairs has no offices
  • South African mission, embassy  or consulate, if the death occurred abroad
  • Funeral undertakers who are appointed and recognised by the law

  Continue reading

The solemnisation and registration of civil marriages, customary marriages and civil unions are managed by the Department of Home Affairs. Civil marriages are governed by the Marriage Act and regulations issued in terms of the Act. South Africa also recognizes customary marriages through the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, which became effective in November 2000. Civil unions are recognised in terms of the Civil Union Act (2006). Continue reading

Revised: 02 April 2019

The requirements for children travelling to or from the Republic of South Africa are aimed at giving effect to the Children’s Act, 2005.



1.1. The documents listed under paragraph 2 must on request be produced at a port of entry by South African children entering and leaving the Republic, as well as by unaccompanied minors, regardless of their nationalities.

1.2. Continue reading