In just two months, one year will have passed since the start of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, which has marked this second decade of a new century. Although it is true that the efforts made by many groups and sectors on a world-wide level have let us see glimmers of hope as time goes on, since the planet has sounded the alarm, it has been necessary to redefine and adjust our daily activities, both as individuals and as professional workers. One of the most pronounced drawbacks consisted of limitations on movement during periods of confinement, which imposed severe restrictions on sectors such as hospitality, vehicle repair and tourism.
As for the linguistic service sector, it could be said that most of its members were able to continue working as normal or, at least, mostly unscathed. In translation agencies, working from home was already very commonplace, meaning that translators, revisors, correctors and other professionals involved in the process were able to keep working. This was a stark contrast compared to the situation of those working as interpreters, who had to be highly imaginative when adapting their home environment to act as an interpreter cabin.
Nevertheless, there has been one type of service related to translation that has experienced certain limitations: sworn translations. A sworn translation is any kind of translation that has an official nature and holds legal validity. To do so, it must be accompanied by the signed manuscript and the validated sworn translator seal on all the pages, and traditionally, the document must be delivered physically. For this reason, many translators saw their work be affect as far as the laws and regulations that stopped them from travelling to deliver the documents in person. If, on the other hand, they decided to use a courier service, which is also common, they had difficulties with companies that had limited hours, creating risks for meeting deadlines or even companies that had stopped operating indefinitely. Being presented with this situation, these professionals went to MAEC (Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs) to discuss the validity of translations that were signed and sent digitally in the context of the new reality imposed on us all. Thus, on 6 April 2020 the OIL (Office of Language Interpretation) sent out the following response:
After repeated conversations about the validity and official nature of the translations done by Sworn Translators-Interpreters which are sent by means of electronic devices and signed electronically, the following is notified:
Article 10 of Law 39/2015, on October 1st, of the Common Administrative Procedure of Public Administrations, contains a relationship of the signature systems admitted by Public Administrations. Since the Administrations are the main recipients of the documents translated by Sworn Translators-Interpreters, it is admissible for them to be electronically signed through one of the systems included in the cited article.
This does not constitute, under any circumstance, an exemption to meeting the requirements established by Order AEC/2125/2014 on November 6th, for which reason guidelines are issued regarding examinations for obtaining the title of Sworn Translator-Interpreter, referring to certifications, signatures, seals and photocopies of the original that was translated.
Therefore, today, persons who need to obtain a sworn translation can do so electronically. In other words, sworn translations can carry an electronic signature (which is not the same as a scanned version of a signed manuscript) and be delivered via digital means. This makes the process much more practical because, apart from not carrying any additional cost, it eliminates the costs from courier services. Likewise, since it is a sworn translation in a digital format, it can be used for several processes, unlike before, when the original copy of a translation needed to be delivered for each individual process. Now, due to the relative novelty of this new regulation, it is possible that many entities may not accept electronic sworn translations yet. This is the case of some EU countries who still require the documents to be presented on paper, or it may also be the case of some certain legal institutions. For this reason, it is advisable to always consult with the receiving entity in order to make sure that they recognise the validity of this new method.