Frequently Asked Questions

About sworn translators

Do translations done by sworn translators need to be notarised or confirmed in some other way?
  • Translations done by sworn translators do not require notarisation or other confirmation.
Why prefer a sworn translator to a notary?
  • Unlike a notary, who authenticates only the signature of a translator and does not verify the contents of the translation, a sworn translator certifies the authenticity and correctness of the content of a translation. Thus in “notarized translations” the translations themselves are not notarized, just the signatures.
  • Faster service than in a notary’s office.
Why prefer a sworn translator to other translators?
  • Quality — the skills and suitability of a sworn translator have been certified by the state.
  • Liability — the professional liability of a sworn translator for the damage caused by the sworn translator has been provided by law.
  • Faster service — in an ordinary translation agency documents are taken to a notary public for authentication after they have been translated, but a sworn translator authenticates his or her translations personally.
What can a sworn translator translate and certify?
A sworn translator can translate all kinds of documents – for instance, you may need to translate a candy wrapper (in connection with an industrial design solution or a trademark dispute) or information printed out from the Internet (in connection with an accusation of libel). The same applies to the certifying of copies of documents (exemplification) – it is not important who issued the document or what form the document is in (it could, for instance, even be a photograph on which there is some text).
Please note, however, that it is usually necessary for the translation to be done from the original document, and the original document often needs to be apostilled.
Can sworn translators also do interpreting?
Sworn translators also do interpreting work, but they mostly do written translations. Sworn translators register their written translations in a register of professional activities. Interpreting is not registered as a professional activity.
In court, notarial and administrative proceedings, sworn translators do not have to say a separate oath or be warned of the liability arising from incorrect translation.
If you wish to have an oral translation certified, you must make a written copy of it or present it to the sworn translator in other written form (for instance as the text of a judgement or contract, etc.), so that the sworn translator could translate it in writing and enter it in his register of professional activities.
Can sworn translators also do ordinary translations?
Of course, because sworn translators do, after all, translate. You can be certain that other translations done by specialists who have passed the sworn translator’s examination will also be of a high quality. Ordinary translations are less expensive than certified translations, because the fee for certifying documents does not have to be paid.
Authorized translators, sworn translators, official translations - what is the difference?
All of these terms refer to the same thing, but the terminology varies from one country to another. In the United States such translations are known as “certified translations”. In Europe they are usually known as “sworn translations” or sometimes “authorized translations”. “Authorized translators” exist in Finland and Sweden, for example. The designation “sworn translator” comes from the oath that sworn translators must take when they are sworn into office. The fundamental difference between an ordinary translation and a sworn/certified/authorized translation is that a sworn translator seals and signs the translated document and it is valid as an official document.
How to contact sworn translators working in Estonia Legislation regulating the work of sworn translators
Sworn Translators Act (Estonian) (English)
Notaries Act (Estonian) (English)
Notarisation Act (Estonian) (English)
Notaries Disciplinary Action Act (Estonian) (English)
Code of Conduct of Sworn Translators (Estonian)

The translation process

How long will my translation take?
  • Shorter documents can usually be completed in two-three working days. Urgent translations can be done on the same day, if necessary. Please specify by telephone whether or not your translation is urgent.
  • Please take into consideration that the maximum speed for high-quality translation is 5 pages (9000 characters) per day. It is only possible to do more by working overtime, and thus there is an extra charge of 50% for more urgent translations.
  • If a document needs to be apostilled, please make allowance for the additional time required for that procedure.
How can I bring documents to you for translation?
Documents can be brought to my office in person or sent by mail to the following address: Dmitri Platonov, Rävala pst 6, 10143 Tallinn, Estonia.
You can contact me even outside regular working hours and on weekends and holidays. In this case please phone to arrange a convenient time and place to meet.


How much does a certified translation by a sworn translator cost?
  • For more information, please see my prices.
How much is one page of text?
1 standard page = 1800 characters (including spaces) of the translated text.
Most Estonian service providers calculate the final price of a translation this way. An A4 page cannot be the basis for calculating price, because one can fit very different amounts of text on a page. In Microsoft Word, one can calculate the number of characters using the Word Count function: Tools –> Word Count –> Characters (with spaces).

Apostille and legalization

Do I need to legalize or obtain the apostille?
  • When documents issued by agencies in one country are used in another country, their authenticity must be proven. To do this the documents must be legalised or verified with an apostille. An apostille is a certificate which confirms in another country the authenticity of documents issued within Estonia.
  • Whether the document should be confirmed with an apostille or legalized, depends which foreign country the document is to be used in.
  • 1. Documents need to be legalized – if they are to be used in countries that have not joined the “Hague apostille convention of 1961” and with whom Estonia has not signed a legal aid agreement.
  • 2. Documents need to be confirmed with a certificate /apostille/ – if they are to be used in countries that have joined the “Hague apostille convention of 1961”.
  • 3. Documents issued in Estonia do not need to be confirmed with a certificate /apostille/ or legalized – if they are to be used in countries with whom Estonia has signed a legal aid agreement (Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, Russia).
  • Started on October 1, 2001, all public documents issued in Estonia, which are to be used in countries that have joined the convention, must be confirmed with a certificate /apostille/.
  • This operation does not certify the contents of the document, it only confirms that the signatory who has signed the document has the legal authorization and rights to conduct the respective operation and the signatory of the document operates on the territory of that country.
  • When the document is confirmed with a certificate /apostille/, then its authenticity is acknowledged in all countries that are parties to the convention without any additional formalities.
  • NB! Before the issuing of a single-use document, please inform the public servant that the document will later be apostilled. Not all public servants are competent to sign documents that require an apostille!
  • This is what an Estonian legalisation stamp looks like:
    Photo: Estonian legalisation stamp issued by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Where do I legalize my documents in Estonia?
The legalisation procedure in Estonia is carried out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Please call (+372) 6377 440 for additional information.
What is an apostille?
  • The apostille confirms that the signatory who has signed the public document has the legal authorization and rights to conduct the respective operation and the signatory of the document operates on the territory of that country.
  • See what an Estonian apostille looks like (click to enlarge):
  • Please take into consideration that without an apostille / legalisation, documents generally do not have legal force abroad, i.e. public servants or organisations may refuse to recognise them.
  • In more serious cases, both the original document and the translation are apostilled, because the original and the translation are two different legal instruments. It is often sufficient to apostille only the original document, in which case the translation does not need to be apostilled. If you are uncertain whether you need a document apostilled, it is better to have the apostille done and thereby avoid problems when you are abroad!
Is it possible to apostille the documents of a private company or individual?
One can only apostille public documents (e.g. birth certificates, diplomas, documents issued by courts, notaries and sworn translators, Tax Bureau documents, etc.) not those of private individuals or companies. In the latter case, when an apostille is needed, a notarised copy is made of the document, and the copy is then apostilled. Another possibility is for a private individual to make a formal statement at a notary’s office and have the notary certify the authenticity of his or her signature, and if necessary also the content of the statement. Since it is a document certified by a notary, it can then be apostilled.
What is a public document?
Public documents are for example:

  • birth certificates
  • marriage certificates
  • divorce certificates
  • name change certificates
  • death certificates
  • transcripts of vital record
  • certificates of no impediment to marriage
  • marital status certificates
  • notices and certificates from the citizen and migration board
  • notices from the punishment register
  • police certificates
  • local government notices, regulations and documents
  • extracts from the population register
  • diplomas with diploma supplements
  • school leaving certificates
  • pension certificates
  • medical certificates
  • documents issued by an administrative authority evidencing employment and length of employment
  • documents issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and agencies under its jurisdiction
  • a document issued by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and by other authority under the area of government of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (e.g. Estonian Motor Vehicle Centre, Estonian Maritime Administration, Estonian Patent Office)
  • a document issued by the Ministry of Finance and by other authority under the area of government of the Ministry of Finance (e.g. Tax and Customs Board, Statistical Office)
  • a document issued by the Ministry of the Environment and by other authority under the area of government of the Ministry of the Environment (e.g. Environmental Inspection)
  • a document issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and by other authority under the area of government of the Ministry of Agriculture (e.g. Plant Production Inspectorate, Veterinary and Food Board)
  • a document issued by the Ministry of Defence and by other authority under the area of government of the Ministry of Defence (e.g. Defence Resources Agency)
  • certificates issued by the National Archives (incl. Historical Archives, State Archives, Film Archives and regional archives)
  • a document of Financial Inspection
  • a document issued by the Bank of Estonia
  • a document issued by the Central Securities Depository
  • documents issued by courts, notaries and sworn translators
  • Prosecutor’s Office and prison documentation
  • notarised copies of documents or copies and translations of documents done by a sworn translator
  • documents issued by court registry departments and land registry departments
  • extracts from the commercial register (A-card or B-card) (NB! You do not have to request an extract from the Commercial Register. I can arrange everything for you from the register extract by certifying the translation through a notary public and obtaining an apostille for you).
Does the apostille itself also have to be translated?
An apostille is a standard document that does not usually need to be translated.
The form that is used to apply for an apostille is bilingual (in Estonian and English), and the text of the apostille is in English. See what an Estonian apostille looks like (click to enlarge):
My document was issued abroad, can I have it apostilled in Estonia?
Documents issued abroad (for instance in Germany) can only be apostilled in the corresponding country. For additional information, please contact with the authority that has issued the document.
Where and when can one get an apostille in Estonia?
As of the 1st of January 2010, all notaries in Estonia authenticate public documents by apostille. A notary will authenticate documents by apostille irrespective of his or her work area, but not documents notarised or authenticated by himself or herself.
An apostille can be applied for by mail (one can download the form from the webpages of the Chamber of Notaries) or one can come and pick it up in person.
If you do not wish to organise the apostilling yourself, you can entrust that work to the translator for a fee.
How much does an apostille cost?
The state fee for an apostille is 26.84 euros (including 20 % VAT). In the event the apostilling procedure is arranged by the sworn translator, there will be an additional fee for obtaining the apostille.
How long does it take to get an apostille?
According to law, a notary must issue an apostille within 5 working days from the day on which the application was made. Typically, however, the apostille will be ready on the next working day.

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