Obtain an official translation of a document

Obtain an official translation of a document

In short
Last update23 janv. 2023

What is it?

In many French administrative procedures, the "certified" or "sworn" translation of your documents written in another language is mandatory.

It is an official translation that has legal value anywhere in the world.

It is always done by a sworn translator (also called “ certified translator”) and is required for these official documents:

  • civil status documents : identity card, family record book, birth certificate, etc.
  • notarial deeds : will, power of attorney, deed of sale, etc.
  • documents with legal value : criminal record, divorce judgment, bailiff's deed, etc.
  • commercial and professional documents : employment contract, general conditions of sale, company status, etc.
  • administrative documents and official certificates: driving licence, diploma, etc.

Good to know: In France, sworn translators are legal experts registered on an official list.

Please note that there is a charge for official translation: the price varies according to the type of document and the number of words to be translated.

Who is it for?


France entière


France entière

What to do?


Make sure that the document has to be officially translated

First you need to check whether the translation of your document should be official or not.

Depending on your approach, take a good look at the list of documents to attach to your file: if it says “sworn translation” or “translated by an approved expert”, you need an official translation.

Good to know: Some documents delivered by a European Union state do not need to be translated. Go to the e-justice site for additional information.


Choose the Court of Appeal (Cour d’appel) closest to you

The list of certified translators is national.

To find a translator near you, you need to know which Court of Appeal you depend on. For that:


Check the list of sworn translators

Then go to this page and click on the link "Access the Experts page of the Court of Appeal website…" of the city of your Court of Appeal.

  • You can then download the directory of approved experts: it is a list with all the professionals recognized by French justice.
  • Look in the table of contents for the section "H - Interpreting - Translation" (or click on Ctrl + F at the same time, and write “translation” to easily find the section)
  • Go to the page indicated in the table of contents.
  • Translators are listed by language.

Contact the translator to make an appointment

You can choose a translator for your language from the list and contact them to make an appointment.

You must send or give him the original of the document to be translated to prove the authenticity of the document.

Good to know: Don't forget to ask for the price of the translation and the deadlines (how soon the translation will be ready). Three to ten days are generally required, depending on the length of the document.

And after?

Check if you also need to request the legalization of a document

In addition to the official translation, the legalization of a document established abroad may be required to make a procedure in France. For example, to apply for French nationality.

This is the case for foreign documents intended for a French administration. To find out if a document must be legalized, consult the summary table of rules by country.

The legalization procedure makes it possible to verify certain information (the authenticity of the signature, the function of the signatory, etc.) and to guarantee that it complies with the law (that it is “legal”).

At the end, an official legalization stamp is added to the document.

Good to know: To be legalized, a document must be written in French. The translation by a certified translator must therefore be completed before applying for legalization.

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