When is a certified translation sufficient and when are an apostille or superlegalization needed?

Are you in a situation where you need to present an official document issued by a Czech authority abroad? In many cases, a certified translation with a round stamp will be sufficient, but there are also countries where an apostille or superlegalization are required. What do all these terms mean, what countries do they refer to, and how you can get a sworn translation? We have summarized all the important answers in this article for you.

In a situation where you need to present your birth certificate, extract from the criminal record, university degree or business license to foreign authorities, you will no doubt think that the document should be translated. But this is only the beginning of the path to recognizing a document abroad. The document needs certification, sometimes even a higher level of certification, to authenticate it. There are three methods of translating and certifying official documents abroad – certified translation with a round stamp, certified translation with an apostille and certified translation with superlegalization.

Certified translation with a court translator’s clause and a round stamp

Official (certified) translations are carried out by professional court translators appointed by the competent regional court. With their clause and a round stamp they certify that the original of the document or its notarized copy is an exact translation. The translation of this type of documents is sufficient in countries having a bilateral treaty for an exemption from the authentication of documents with the Czech Republic. In EU countries not having such treaty, some documents are exempt from a higher level of authentication based on Regulation (EU) 2016/1191 of the European Parliament and of the Council on promoting the free movement of citizens by simplifying the requirements for presenting certain public documents in the European Union and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012, which entered into force on 16 February 2019. These include documents such as the birth certificate, death certificate, marriage certificated, parenthood-related documents, or absence of a criminal record.

Countries having a bilateral treaty with the Czech Republic

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, France, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, North Korea, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Syria, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen

Apostille and certified translation

Another method of document authentication for use abroad is the so-called apostille, a higher level of authentication than a regular certified translation with a translator’s stamp. It has to be affixed to documents you need to present in countries not having a bilateral treaty with the Czech Republic, and being a party to the Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents of 5 October 1961. The list of these countries can be found here.

Where can you apply for and obtain the apostille clause?

Apostille clauses are issued in the Czech Republic by the Apostille Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Justice for public documents issued or authenticated by courts and executors, and now, from 1 October 2021, also by the Notarial Chamber of the Czech Republic, including all their regional offices. If you decide to arrange for document legalization by yourselves, you will need to get stamps for each signature and subsequently attend to the relevant office, or send them the documents with the stamps not affixed by mail. Then you will have to arrange for the certified translation of all documents. If you do not want to waste time with all this red tape, do not hesitate to contact our translation agency which has qualified court translations available and takes care of all administrative operations for you.

TIP: Do you need to legalize a document issued abroad to be presented to the Czech authorities? The Czech embassy in the relevant country will provide information about the competent authorities issuing apostille clauses in the given country.


When the superlegalization of documents is needed

All documents presented in countries not having a bilateral international treaty with the Czech Republic, who are not signatories of the Apostille Treaty, are subject to superlegalization. This involves a certified translation that has to be authenticated both by the authorities of the country issuing the document and the authorities of the country where the document is presented. The steps for official document superlegalization are similar to those needed for the apostille. You have to get the required number of stamps, have the document authenticated by the issuing authority (e.g. the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for proof of the qualifications, Criminal Records for the extract from the CR, Czech Chamber of Commerce for business documents, etc.), then the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs affixes the higher authentication, and the representative office of the country where the document is presented carries out the final authentication. This last step completes the process of superlegalization.

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