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Certified translations: What are the rules for translating documents into French?

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
Certified translations: What are the rules for translating documents into French?
Photo: AFP

Anyone going through the process of applying for official French documentation such as a residency or health insurance card may need to have some documents translated - but what are the rules on translation?

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When applying for certain official things in France - the carte de séjour residency card or the carte vitale health insurance - you will often be asked for supporting documents such as birth or marriage certificates or pension details. And, of course, these documents are likely to be in your native language and may need translating.

What needs to be translated?

Anything that you supply that is not in French can be requested to be translated. In the carte de séjour application process, many people have reported that their local authorities have not asked for the translation of more simple documents such as birth certificates. But the authorities are within their rights to make such a demand if you are supplying non-French documents.

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Who can translate it?

Sadly, it's not as simple as just asking your mate who speaks French. All documents must be translated by a certified translator (traducteur certifié).

This is someone who is on the official roll of the Court of Appeals in France, which is updated yearly. In order to get on to the certified list, translators must prove their competence and have their identity checked.

They are then given a number and a stamp, which they provide together with your translated document, so you can prove to French officialdom that you have used an accredited translator who has provided a faithful and accurate copy of your documents.

What does it cost?

The cost varies depending on who you use and where they are based, but the average cost is about €30 to €40 per page.

And is there a date limit on translations?

Some préfectures stipulate that translations have to have been made within the last six months for a carte de séjour application, leading to frustration for people who have to pay out multiple times to get the same document translated for different purposes.

However, this is not the case when applying for citizenship.

The previous government website for Brexit stated in relation to gaining nationality - rather than residency - that: "The originals of civil status documents [such as birth of marriage certificates] and their translation by a sworn translator are required in procedures for access to French nationality, but it is not necessary for them to be dated within the last six months."

Where can I find a certified translator?

Dozens of them advertise their services online, but the French government keeps the official list here.

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Comments (5)

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Anonymous 2021/05/15 22:37
My wife and I are planning to buy a property in France and retire permanently. We will both be below UK state pension age. But will be mortgage free and I will have a Civil Service pension. I am confused about the minimum income requirements for applying for a visa. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance. Doug
Anonymous 2019/09/16 19:15
If you're in the USA before you go to France, any office of the French Consul General will (for a modest fee) ALSO "certify" translations which you bring to them in person. (That is, assuming the translations you did yourself or HAD done, are accurate). We've had our Birth Certificates, Drivers' Licenses, Vehicle Titles, Veterans' paperwork and other items pre-"certified" in just that way.
Anonymous 2019/09/16 18:42
Paris has been excellent. <br />I've heard of horror stories from others in other departments. <br />You are correct, Paul ... :)
Anonymous 2019/09/16 14:56
I suggest this is because, in the every day world, not all prefectures insist on applying the "required" bit of the process.<br />My prefecture, (Perpignan) for instance, did not require any document to be translated for either my Titre de Sejour or Carte Vitale applications; they were sympathetic and most helpful at every stage.<br />Not all 'fonctionaires' may be so understanding or forgiving.
Anonymous 2019/09/16 12:03
Certified translations are REQUIRED as you state, so why does paragraph one state "may need translating"?<br />

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