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Notary Public Translation in Israel

Michael Decker
Michael Decker

Notary public translation should be made by a fluent speaker. The Israeli Notary Law states that a notary public can provide a notarized translation only if he speaks the languages in question. The Israeli Ministry of Interior (for example) will only accept a translation from a local Israeli notary who speaks both the source language of the document and the translation language.

Why is it important for the notary public to read the document when making a notarized translation? Why not simply certify the work of an external translator? A notarial translation assures readers unfamiliar with the language in which the original document was written that the translation is true and accurate to the source. A notary’s license in Israel is granted only to veteran and reputable lawyers, and a notary is diligent and trustworthy by definition. A notarized translation allows the proper authorities, courts, or institutions to be reasonably sure that the translated document was not subject to deception, tampering, forgery, or fraud.

Our law firm specializes in legal translation and notary public certification in a number of different languages. We translate to and from Russian, English, Hebrew, French, Arabic, German, Spanish and more. We specialize in translating contracts, wills, identity documents, court rulings, power of attorney documents, certificates of integrity (criminal background checks) and other documents related to civil law and immigration. We help obtain verification certificates for documents that require them by means of an apostille stamp or notarized translation. Depending on the circumstances, we also translate and notarize other types of documents.

Attorney Michael Decker will explain what you need to know about notarial translation. In particular, why it should be made by a notary who is fluent in the language of the translated document.

Not everyone is willing to accept an English translation, particularly if it might be faulty

Notary Public translation in IsraelTranslation into Hebrew is required for foreign documents that are presented to Israeli authorities, particularly when it is very important to ensure that the translation is accurate to the original. However, sometimes the authorities will agree to accept documents issued in English or translated into English in their country of origin.

When are English documents acceptable? Depends on who you present them to and how. A lawyer familiar with the system can advise when an Israeli notary translation is required. This way you won’t be required to pay for the notarial translation of potentially hundreds of pages (in the case of contracts or when appealing for enforcement of a foreign judgment).

On the other hand, practically no foreign institutions, outside of Israel, will agree to receive Hebrew documents without translation. For any purpose of emigration abroad, receipt of a work visa or student visa, or other emigration applications, any Israeli document that you will not be able to obtain in English to begin with, will generally require translation. Some authorities are unwilling to accept a document translated into English rather than the language of the country in question .

It is recommended to cooperate with a notary who can provide a quick and professional translation into several languages. It is also important that the notary be familiar with legal theory and practice in the country to which the document is addressed. A notary who is knowledgeable about the subject can provide useful information and help save needless translation costs. Knowing in advance which documents require the additional cost of notarized translation and apostille stamp, as opposed to regular expert translation is very handy.

What kind of documents require a Israeli Notary Public translation?

All types of identity documents – your passport, identity card, driver’s license, birth certificate, marriage certificate, death certificate and so on – often require a notarized certificate of translation, especially when presented to the Ministry of the Interior. Here, too, there are different cases, each being judged on its merits. Much depends on the document type, the intended recipient and how they are presented.

In certain circumstances, translation certification is also required for rulings, claims, statements recorded in the protocol, invoices, licenses and business management reports, and more. It’s worth consulting with an expert to see if there’s a need for notarial translation of the documents in question.

In general, notarial translations are required for emigration, studies, work, establishment of companies, reporting of financial transactions, transfer of land, inheritance documents, enforcement of foreign rulings and more.

What documents does our law office translate?

We are willing to review and take upon ourselves the translation of unconventional documents. However, we have considerable experience in the translation of:

  • Identity and registration documents required with the Ministry of the Interior: birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce certificate, identity card / passport, adoption decision, summary of registration from the Population Registry, name change certificate, death certificate, divorce certificate and criminal record check.
  • Agreements, contracts, and rulings: court judgments and orders, wills, prenuptial agreements, real estate contracts, real estate rental or purchase contracts and more.
  • Various diplomas: academic and professional certificates, course completion documents, certificates of education, university degrees, recommendations, letters.
  • Documents for establishing and running a business: Registration of a company or association with the Registrar at the Ministry of Justice, annual reports, minutes, resolutions, reports to meetings and shareholders.
  • Various accounts: bank account details, residential address, electricity, water, telephone and municipal tax bills for proof of residential address, and more.

Does the law require that a notary public only approve a translation that they can read?

The Notary Law (1976) is the relevant law on the subject of a notarized certificate of translation. Article 15 of the law explicitly states:

“A notary shall not certify the correctness of a translation unless fluent in the language in which the original document was made and in the language to which it was translated, and having personally edited the translation or checked its correctness.”

However, some authorities in Israel are willing to accept a document based on notarized confirmation of the “translator’s declaration”. This consists of the notary certifying that the translator personally confirmed that the translation is accurate. As is often the case, the complexities of reality overrule the simple letter of the law. Although Israel is a country with a large number of lawyers, the number of notaries is not exceptionally high. It is difficult or even impossible to find a notary who is fluent in several different languages. This is particularly the case for non-European languages – certain “exotic” languages have no fluent notaries in Israel.

In addition, notaries are, by definition, experienced and reputable lawyers. The authorities rely on them to approve translations made by experts who provide a competent and accurate translation.

Why does the Interior Ministry require a notarized translation by someone who speaks the language of the document?

Interior Ministry officials had previously received translation permits from notaries who were not familiar with the original language. The procedure has changed relatively recently, to curb possible abuse. Some notaries would turn to potential immigrant and Olim populations to offer wholesale translation services in several languages. The translation quality was poor, and there was even suspicion of documents being forged or manipulated.

Therefore, Ministry of Interior officials (especially the central bureaus such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv) now demand that the Israeli notary public signing the translation certificate only approve the translation of documents if fluent in both languages – the source (the language in which the original document is written) and the target language (Hebrew for documents presented in Israel).

It should be noted that the notary can certify that an external translator stated that the translation document is accurate in every detail. A notary can thus certify any document, even the language isn’t know to the notary, since the Israeli notary public is not testifying to the accuracy of the translation, but only signs an authentication regarding the translator’s affidavit. However, for the Ministry of the Interior this approval does not constitute a substitute for a properly notarized translation.

How much does a notarial translation cost?

We recommend reading our article, dealing specifically with the costs of notary translations. The cost of a notarial translation is determined according to the number of words translated, per the Notary Regulations. A notarized translation must be distinguished from the cost of the notary’s certification of a translator’s affidavit.

Legal translation by legal experts

A mistake in drafting or translating a contract can cost millions. A mistake in translating an appeal to the authorities can change the course of the applicant’s life for the worse. An expert translator with no legal education may not understand or confuse complex and specific legal terms.

Regardless of legal restrictions, one should hire a translator who has knowledge of both legalese and the languages in question. This is why legal translation in the office of Decker, Pex, Levi is done by translators with legal education. Contact our law office in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv for assistance in drafting documents, legal and notarized translation and more.

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