If you ever need translations of official documents in Portugal or abroad, you’ll be asked for a certified translation. This type of translation might also be called a legalised translation or official translation. Translations going by any of these names may involve any one of the following: certification, legalisation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or at an embassy, or a Hague Apostille).


What is a certified translation, and why do you need it?

You may need a certified translation to open an account with a foreign bank, get married in another country or enrol your children in an international school. Each country and institution determines what languages they need the documents to be in.

If your documents are in a language other than that accepted, then you will need a certified translation – a legally-validated translation proving the document is an accurate representation of the original; that it contains no falsehoods; and that the original was issued by an official body (government, school, etc.).


Examples of official documents:
  • Birth certificates;
  • Marriage certificates;
  • Divorce certificates;
  • Death certificates;
  • Education diplomas and certificates;
  • Legal and judicial transcripts;
  • Driving licences;
  • ID / citizen cards;
  • Passports;
  • Criminal records;
  • Bank statements.


You will need a certified translation if:
  • You want to get married in Portugal, but one or both of you were born abroad;
  • You need to provide a certificate from a foreign school to a school/ university/ professional order;
  • You plan to study, work or do business in another country;
  • You plan to open a branch of your company abroad and need to provide your company documentation in the language of that country;
  • You want to open a bank account abroad, or if you’re a foreign national and want to open a bank account in Portugal;
  • You have a document granting you parental responsibility and wish to travel to another country with your child;
  • You would like to write a will or enter into a contract, whether in Portugal or abroad;
  • You are applying for residency in Portugal (SEF) or elsewhere;
  • You are involved in a court case abroad, or with foreign documents in Portugal;
  • You need a visa.

Information you must provide when requesting a certified translation

The languages

What language is your document in and what language(s) do you want it translated into?

In addition to the language(s), you must mention the country(ies) you plan to use the translation in. This is important because the same language may have regional variants. One example is French, which differs between France, Belgium and Canada. The same is true of Portuguese, which is different in Portugal and Brazil.


The document to be translated

Before proceeding with the translation, you should contact the institute requesting the document and ask them what they need. This will let you know if the entire document needs to be translated and which documents you must supply. This will help you avoid unnecessary travel and expenses. If you need to translate the whole document, then when requesting a translation quote you must provide both sides of each page of the original (or a certified copy), including the Hague Apostille and any other attached documents, if applicable. If you have several documents requiring certified translation, each document will be certified separately.


Requesting a quote

We can only provide a quote after reviewing your documents. Please send a scan/photo of the documents, making sure they are legible and of the best quality possible. Note that if you accept our quote and wish to proceed, you will need to provide us with paper copies of your documents.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to provide the original document for a certified translation or can it be done with a copy? Can it be a photocopy or does it have to be authenticated/certified?

When a translation is certified and/or legalised, the original document will be stamped, initialled and attached to the translation. It must not be separated after certification. If you would prefer not to put the original document through this process, we suggest you request an authenticated (or certified) copy of the original document in addition to the translation. This copy has the same validity as the original.


What does is meant by “certified translation”?

The process of certifying/legalising a document varies from institution to institution, so you must ascertain exactly what is required. First, find out which of the following you will need:

  • Notary/lawyer/solicitor certification: This is the most common procedure. In Portugal, translations may be carried out by any professional translator and then certified by a notary, lawyer or solicitor. In this case, certification means a Translation Certificate is issued which states the translator is responsible for the translation. Note: The person to whom the documents belong, close family members or people involved in the case (lawyers or representatives, for example) cannot certify translations.
  • The Hague Apostille: certifies the authenticity of official documents in countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention. Certification is carried out by a public body within the country (which differs from country to country). In Portugal, this is done by the Attorney General’s Office. The Hague Apostille applies only to documents to be used in one of the countries that are signatories to the treaty. The Hague Apostille cannot be used on documents and/or translations issued by Portuguese institutions for use in Portugal. This is because the Attorney General’s Office cannot certify documents for domestic use. The Hague Apostille does not expire, but some original documents may (e.g. criminal records). Always check expiry dates before beginning the process of certifying a translation. Note: Some institutions, such as the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF), may also require the original has an Apostille (if issued by one of the signatories to the convention). This procedure must be completed before translation and in the country in which the document was issued, or at its embassy, if it offers this service.
  • Legalisation at an embassy or consulate: Some countries require translators to certify translations at their country’s embassy or consulate. If the country in which the documents will be used has not signed the Hague Convention, official documents will be certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Directorate-General for Higher Education (DGES): Some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, require documents to be certified before applying for school visas and DGES equivalences.

In these cases, you will need:

  • a certified translation
  • DGES certification
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs certification
  • and certification by the United Arab Emirates Embassy.


Note that the procedures may change without notice. All that is required for processes to change is for a new directive to be issued. We therefore suggest you make sure you have the latest information from your institution whenever you are asked to provide a new certified translation.


Need a legally recognised translation? SMARTIDIOM handles the entire process, from translating the document to getting it certified by a notary, the chamber of commerce and industry, and/or a lawyer or solicitor. Sit back and relax safe in the knowledge you won’t have to deal with any of the paperwork, travelling or inconvenience.