Certified Translation Services,
and Authenticating Foreign Government Documents

Certified Translation of
Foreign Government Documents

Foreign Government Document Translation Services

There’s a growing need for getting foreign government documents translated into English. The Rules of Evidence require the authentication of all government documents introduced as evidence. When a foreign government document is introduced in international litigation, it is subject to the authentication requirements of Rule 901. According to Federal Rule of Evidence 901, authentication requires the presentation of evidence “sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.”

A foreign government document clearly showing it was executed or attested to in an official capacity by a person authorized by the foreign country’s laws to make such an execution or attestation and containing a final certification as to the genuineness of the signature and official position of the signor needs no extrinsic evidence to be authenticated. (Federal Rule of Evidence 902(3).

If the country which issued the foreign government document is a party to the Hague Convention, then the final certification requirement is deemed waived. (See Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents).

Since foreign government documents are often made and subscribed to in a foreign language, an additional step for authentication is required. In order to be authenticated, the foreign government document must, in addition to the above Rule 901 requirements, contain an affidavit of a qualified foreign language translator (also know as certified translation) that clearly sets forth their qualifications and certifies that the foreign language translation is fair and accurate.

After proper service, if no objection to the foreign language translation is made, the court must admit the foreign government document as authenticated without further proof. (See, for example, Texas Rule of Evidence 1009).




(a) Translations. A translation of foreign language documents shall be admissible upon the affidavit of a qualified translator setting forth the qualifications of the translator and certifying that the translation is fair and accurate. Such affidavit, along with the translation and the underlying foreign language documents, shall be served upon all parties at least 45 days prior to the date of trial.

(b) Objections. Any party may object to the accuracy of another party’s translation by pointing out the specific inaccuracies of the translation and by stating with specificity what the objecting party contends is a fair and accurate translation. Such objection shall be served upon all parties at least 15 days prior to the date of trial.

(c) Effect of Failure to Object or Offer Conflicting Translation. If no conflicting translation or objection is timely served, the court shall admit a translation submitted under paragraph (a) without need of proof, provided however that the underlying foreign language documents are otherwise admissible under the Texas Rules of Evidence. Failure to serve a conflicting translation under paragraph (a) or failure to timely and properly object to the accuracy of a translation under paragraph (b) shall preclude a party from attacking or offering evidence contradicting the accuracy of such translation at trial.

(d) Effect of Objections or Conflicting Translations. In the event of conflicting translations under paragraph (a) or if objections to another party’s translation are served under paragraph (b), the court shall determine whether there is a genuine issue as to the accuracy of a material part of the translation to be resolved by the trier of fact.

(e) Expert Testimony of Translator. Except as provided in paragraph (c), this Rule does not preclude the admission of a translation of foreign language documents at trial either by live testimony or by deposition testimony of a qualified expert translator.

(f) Varying of Time Limits. The court, upon motion of any party and for good cause shown, may enlarge or shorten the time limits set forth in this Rule.

(g) Court Appointment. The court, if necessary, may appoint a qualified translator, the reasonable value of whose services shall be taxed as court costs.





Up Next: Language Interpreter Accused of Giving Legal Advice to Spanish-Speaking Defendants