How to Get Documents Officially Translated in France


Essential Reading

How to Get Documents Officially Translated in France

If you are moving to France, registering with the French healthcare system, or getting married or PACsed in France, you will probably need to translate any official English-language documents into French. Here’s how to get documents officially translated in France.

What is an official document translation?

A ‘Sworn’ document, ‘official translation’ or ‘certified translation’ is a translation of an official document which is carried out by a sworn expert translator authorised by a Court of Appeal or by a High Court in France.

It is a translation of that document into the French language, which is accurate and true to the original meaning. These kinds of official translations must be carried out by a certified translator – they cannot be carried out by anyone, even by a professional (but non-certified) translator.

What is a ‘certified translator’ in France?

A certified translator or traducteur certifié is registered on an official government list of legal experts. A special commission convenes once a year to verify the official list in the French Courts of Appeals, and the Public Prosecutor maintains a list of each registered sworn translator – the CEDESA list.

Each officially translated document will be signed by the registered translator and officially stamped, displaying their unique registration number.

Why might I need documents officially translating in France?

Certified translations are most commonly requested for legal documents, especially for any official documents required by Government authorities.

For example, if you wish to apply for a French long-stay visa, apply for a Carte de Séjour residency card, or enter into the French healthcare system, some of your documents that are not currently in French may require an official translation. For example, birth certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, or official business documents. Financial investments in foreign markets may also need officially translated documents.

If you have lived in France for more than five years and wish to apply for a ‘Carte de Sejour Permanente’ (a permanent residency card), you will likely need any document that is in English officially translated.

What are my rights regarding translations in France?

It’s important to note that the French authorities are always within their rights to request that non-French documents be translated into French. However, you may find that these requirements differ between departments and application processes or may even depend upon the person who processes your application. It is not unusual to find that a document you were not asked to translate for, say, your initial visa application, you are later asked to translate for your Carte de Sejour application. It is also not uncommon that you will hear of a friend or other expat who wasn’t asked to translate their documents, but yet you have been.

Unfortunately, in these instances, you have very little recourse – it is always worth very politely suggesting to the person processing your application that you have heard others haven’t needed to translate documents. If you can point them (again, politely!) to any official wording on a French government or embassy site that states it is not needed, even better! It can also sometimes be worth trying to have your application processed by a different administrative assistant. But ultimately, government officials are within their rights to ask for a translation, and – frustrating as it may be – you will likely end up having to make the translation.

How to find an official translator in France

There are many internet websites offering online quotes and official online translation services if you perform a Google search. Buyer beware – always ensure you are dealing with an officially recognised translator for sworn, official translations!

This list is a good place to start, and the UK Government website also provides a list of verified translators in France here. If you are purchasing a property in France, your French notaire should be able to find an official translator for you too.

How much does it cost to have a document officially translated in France?

Translators normally charge per word or per ‘standard’ document. For example, there may be a set charge for Birth and Marriage certificates, etc. As a rough guideline, expect to pay about €30 or €40 a page. There may also be postage costs on top of that. Always ask for a full quote or ‘devis’ including postage before you agree.

One final tip: watch out for timing!

One final thing to remember is that, as with many official documents in France, your translation will sometimes need to have been made within the last six months. This can be highly frustrating, especially if you have lots of different documents to assemble or if the application process ends up taking longer than six months and then your translation ‘expires’.

The best advice is to check upfront whether or not your translation needs to be provided within the last six months or not (and ideally get this in writing!) before you set about collecting your documents.

This isn’t always the case, however – for example, the French government’s Brexit site (see here) states that “it is not necessary for [translations of civil status documents] to be dated within the last six months” when applying for citizenship.

Moving to France?

From applying for your visa and opening a French bank account, to integrating in your new community – FrenchEntrée is here to help! Let our Essential Reading and Visa & Residency articles guide you through the whole process, then visit our Owning Property, French Tax, Healthcare, and Life in France zones for everything else you need to know.

Disclaimer: Our Essential Reading articles are designed to give an overview of the visa requirements and procedures for moving to France. We always check our information against the official government information made available to the public, however, please remember that all visa applications are considered on an individual basis and the exact requirements, fees, or application procedure may vary. Unless you are an EU citizen, obtaining a French visa is not a right, and we cannot guarantee that your visa will be approved.

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Carol, a teacher from Hurworth in Darlington, lives in Charente in South-West France, where she runs La Grue Gites with her family.

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    2023-10-26 02:27:56
    Hi i need my UK birth certificate translated into French for my residency permit can you provide this service and how much would it be please ?


  •  Noshin Nawal Ramisha
    2023-09-08 01:14:12
    Noshin Nawal Ramisha
    i want to translate my certificate


  •  Mia Evans
    2023-05-03 02:31:19
    Mia Evans
    I find it interesting when you said that there are instances wherein you would have to check if a document translation service can be provided within six months or not. I think it can definitely be important, especially when they are legal files that you need to submit. These kinds of processes might be needed for those who have dual citizenship or those who would be applying for certain immigration processes.