Becoming a Sworn Translator

For a British national, becoming a sworn translator in Germany is a much more irritating and expensive process than I had previously imagined. And I thought British red tape was bad!

As a translator, I have many translator friends, many of whom are German. From conversations with them, I received the impression that becoming a sworn translator, for them at least, was as easy as cutting out a newspaper coupon and mailing it off. Well, I was wrong. It has been one month since I decided to get myself sworn in as a translator, and my progress has been minimal. After enquiring with my local court as to how to become a ‘beeidigter Übersetzer’, I received a response informing me that I would have to provide written academic proof that I could speak English and German. I, the British national working as a translator of German in Germany, would have to provide written proof of my abilities in English. Perhaps I should send in this blog…

Needless to say, my German colleagues at the translation office find this absolutely hilarious and won’t let me forget it, adding in a pinch of good-natured Schadenfreude for good measure.

The required documents for becoming a sworn translator are a print-out of an application form, a university degree certificate, a transcript of your exam results and a German version of your CV. Fair enough, except that my examination transcript doesn’t technically prove that I can speak English since I sat no English language exams during my time at university.

The first step is subjecting your university degree to an examination by the court to make sure that it carries the same academic weight as the alternative state examination to become a sworn translator. I like nothing better than paying a couple of hundred euro just for a court to quickly (in the slowest possible sense of the word) check if it’s ever sworn in another Master’s degree-holder post-Bologna process.

Misgivings aside and placing faith on the court’s basic human powers of logic, I had my family mail over all the necessary documents and sent them off, and am now in the ‘check my mail every day with an ever-increasing sense of hope and trepidation’ phase. I swear I’ll be sworn…




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