Translations/ apostille

I am looking for advice on the SEF requirements for document translations and apostille.
So far I have found in their ‘family reunification’ section as follows:
Documents written in a foreign language must be accompanied by the respective translation that can be certified by any of the entities listed in Notaries Code, namely: Portuguese Notary; Portuguese Consulate in the country where the document was passed; Consulate of that country in Portugal.

What does this mean in practice? That I need to send ALL of my original documents for translation by a Portugal-based certified translator? And then have a Portugal-based notary to certify those translations?

As for the apostille, I could not find it mentioned anywhere by SEF, can someone please point me out where it may be described in their GV or family reunification requirements?
In any case, do I need to apostille the originals only, or apostille BOTH the originals AND the notarized translations? If the latter, then surely it can only be done in the country of the original documents, NOT in Portugal, thus contradicting the above SEF quote.

You apostille a copy of a document, which is to say that the respective governmental unit that issued the document (or to which it’s otherwise relevant) issues a document specific to the needs of the foreign government you are sending the document to that certifies that the copy is true and genuine. So a state apostilles your birth certificate because it’s issued by a county in the name of a state, but US Dept of State apostilles a FBI record since it’s a fedgov document. YMMV for different countries. As to any mention in SEF documents, think “notary” since fundamentally an apostille is an international notarization.

You then translate it. Someone has to certify the translation of the apostilled document, which is a person that the Portuguese government trusts saying “here is a translation, and yes this translation actually represents this other specific document accurately”. You don’t apostille the translation since the entity issuing the original document has no idea how to read Portuguese, and of course the translation is not the actual document, it’s another document that represents the original document.

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Thanks Jeff, I appreciate your guidance re NOT apostilling the translations, it makes sense.
I just need to ensure the translations are certified by a Portuguese Notary.

Regarding apostille on a copy vs. the original - I agree with you in a sense that apostille CAN be placed on a certified copy of a document, however it would only confirm that the copy is true (legalized). It will NOT confirm that the original document is true (legalized).
Which means that all the GV related documents, such as birth cert, marriage cert, criminal record - will need to be apostilled as originals (in other words the apostille stamp will need to be placed on the ORIGINAL document).


Could you point me to a link of the document which mentions this ?

Documents written in a foreign language must be accompanied by the respective translation that can be certified by any of the entities listed in Notaries Code, namely: Portuguese Notary; Portuguese Consulate in the country where the document was passed; Consulate of that country in Portugal.

You are correct in that background check, marriage and birth certificate needs to be apostilled by the issuing country. For example in India the apostilling authority lies with Ministry of External Affairs which is equivalent to Department of State. So what happens is a chain of authentication. First the local (town) authority issues the certificate(either digitally signed soft copy or ink signed). It gets authenticated first by the state that issued. Then it gets further authenticated at central/federal level and apostille is affixed on the original document.

Sure, check this link, bottom of the Notes section:

Well, what’s true and what’s original in this day and age? You never get your original birth certificate, that’s the piece of paper on file in the clerk’s office, you only ever get a certified copy thereof. Granted it’s chopped by the clerk’s office, but it’s still a copy they’re running off their fancy xerox. The apostille’d fingerprint record, you get an email from the FBI with a PDF in it, you send the PDF to Monument Visa to take to DeptState, they apostille that. So what’s the true original of an electronic record?

In any case, the apostille IS saying that the document is true, in the sense of “I, US Dept Of State, state that this here piece of paper in your hands with this stuff on it looks just like the original on file at the government agency”. Since it’s a true copy of the original on file, it can through transitive property be legally counted on, whatever its state of “originality”.

(Is anyone at Dept Of State actually verifying against the actual records? Who knows. But they’re saying they are, that’ll just have to be good enough.)

Sure, we’re saying the same thing just using slightly different terminology. What I call the ‘original’ is whatever public document you receive first-hand from the issuing organization that’s subject to legalisation. What I call a ‘copy’ is literally a copy that either you take yourself from the ‘original’ on a xerox machine (that would be ‘uncertified copy’), or you ask a notary to take on his xerox machine and then sign and stamp (a ‘certified copy’ or ‘notarised copy’). I don’t call the internal ‘master original’ record within the issuing organization anything because it is not an issued document, cannot be apostilled and therefore irrelevant for our practical purposes.

I don’t think they do that at all, as it’s not what the apostille is for.
Quoting the 1961 Hague Apostille Convention itself:
“The only effect of an Apostille is to certify the authenticity of the signature, the capacity in which the person signing the document has acted, and the identity of the seal or stamp which the document bears (Art. 5). The Apostille does not authenticate the content of the underlying public document.”

Ok. I get that. And you’re right and I wasn’t thinking straight. But really, isn’t that all you really need to validate? Chain of evidence or whatever the right word is. The signature is the attestation that the document is true or agreed to. So A signs this document saying that A believes that B signed this document (or a copy of it that looks like this), B signed this document attesting that the contents of the document are true. You get to the end goal one way or the other.

Yes, I have no disagreement with you on anything you have just stated.
My initial ‘disagreement’ was on your use of the term ‘copy’ but we’ve cleared that too.

Anyone have an idea how much translations and certifications in Portuguese cost? I am being charged EUR50 per page and I am not sure if this is too steep or the norm?

I would have the same question soon, but my guess is that 50EUR per page is ok if it includes notarization.

That actually feels somewhat expensive. But it just varies a lot. I’ve seen 30, 500, 100/page. My lawyer just did it in house and didn’t charge me at all. I think someone like Nevada can chime in here with US based folks who can do it for reasonably cheap.

I use a Portuguese embassy listed translator. And the average comes out to $60 for two pages including notarization.
She is the first one in the list. Call her. The email does not work.

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I’ve used “We Translate On Time” and Languex. They both seem fine to me, with different but comparable service offerings and prices. They’re both much less expensive than what the OP is paying! My lawyer has also been very helpful about certifying documents and translations without nickle-and-diming me about it.

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Thanks for sharing. Let me ask if your lawyer was able to certify (notarize) the translations from these suppliers? I understood the translators must belong to some ‘register’ of Portuguese translators that the Portuguese notary/lawyer can recognize and certify.

Yes, my lawyer is able to certify documents and translations; refer to the last sentence of my prior message.