7 Legal Documents Requiring Translation for International Trade

legal documents for translation

Overseas expansion, mergers and international trade are common strategies for companies looking to increase their revenue and client base. This step can lead to quantifiable business success, making your product or service available to entirely new markets, however it comes with many challenges such as dealing with differences in legal systems and language barriers.

The preparation of documents, for example, requires special attention and specialized assistance. Although you may be proficient in the language of your new partner’s country, hiring a professional translation service will still be necessary. Let’s look at the main documents that need to be translated for international trade.

What documents should be translated?

Although you should consult a specialist who will advise you on the specific issues related to your case, there are certain types of documents which every business looking to trade internationally will come across. It is worth noting that your legislation and the laws of the partner country will differ. Accordingly, this will affect what documents should be translated.

Each border zone will have special requirements, which will also affect which document needs to be translated and which does not. And what if your products cross several border zones? Below you will find a basic list of documents that require translation if you want to enter the international market.

1. Financial documents

When it comes to international trade, it is clear that there will be a huge number of documents that will be related to finance. Starting with your bank account and your international supplier’s bank account. Let’s suppose you open an account in a particular bank, where finances from your partners will come. In any contract, a separate section prescribes pricing and other financial issues. You will need to acquaint partners with the fees and other nuances of the bank. Also, you will need to have a translation of all documents that are directly related to finances, such as a Financial Statement Analysis. While we’re on the topic of finance, remember to take into account fluctuating exchange rates.

2. Patents

Perhaps in the framework of your international trade, you will come across a patent. This means that you will need to have patent applications translated into all languages. Due to the fact that the patent is a legal document, it is crucial that the translation is done by an expert. Remember that when it comes to the law, every word and every punctuation mark matters.

Your translator should be specialized and experienced in this particular field. Don’t be afraid to ask them about the credentials and previous experience: do your research before you commit yourself and you’ll avoid problems down the line. Also think about reading external reviews about the translation agency to get a well rounded view, and don’t forget about writing service reviews to help other entrepreneurs in the future.

3. Certificates

As soon as you plunge into the realities of international trade or overseas mergers, you will immediately come across various certificates, such as quality certificates. What type of certificates you will deal with will depend on the industry you are working within. Here is a small selection of the types of certificates that may need translation for your international business:

  • Certificates of origin
  • International import certificates
  • Delivery verification certificates
  • Landing certificates
  • Inspection certificates
  • Health and safety certificates

Remember to check if your certificates need to be translated by a sworn translator.

4. Operational documentation

So far we have mainly discussed legal documents in relation to international trade, but there are many other texts that may need translation to make sure your business runs smoothly overseas. Some of these texts, such as internal staff memos, may not need to be rendered by professional human translators, machine translation may be enough, but others certainly need a skilled language expert. Some of these texts include:

  • invoices
  • product packaging
  • reports
  • waybills
  • loans

Simply put, this is a standard set of documents that allow determining how the company works. It is also worth noting that some of these documents, such as invoices, will be very similar every month, and your translation service may offer a reduced price for such work.

5. Audit documents

Independent audit results are one type of document that can play a key role in success in the international market. With auditing, there is a double need for translation. First, you can translate audit results to attract partners. Second, an audit may suddenly come to you and require documentation related to your international partners. If this documentation is in Chinese, for example, it will need to be translated. It’s avisable to get all these documents translated ahead of time, rather than waiting for an audit which may lead to rush translations which are more expensive.

6. Import/export declarations

In the international arena, you have to face import/export declarations, which are forms that provide information about the products being shipped, such as their value. If you think that filling them out is simple, think again. This is the type of document that, if dealt with incorrectly, could leave your goods sitting at customs. As with most of the other documents mentioned in this list, hiring an expert linguist is essential in these cases.

7. Import/export contracts

In addition to declarations, import/export contracts will also be drawn up with your partners and need to be translated. As you understand, the contract for international trade will be legal in nature and making a mistake in such a document is simply unaffordable.

You most likely will need a specialist who will draw up a contract taking into account international requirements. The import/export contract is a mini-plan of how your relations with the international partner will be built. In case of any misunderstanding, this contract will be a lifebuoy. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: if you want to avoid risks, hire a professional translation service.


Translation of commercial documents for international trade is a very complex area that requires specific, specialized translators. As already mentioned, just one slip up as seemingly tiny as a comma can change the meaning of a document. Therefore, when you look for a translator, you should not turn to the first person you come across, but to an experienced professional you can trust.

BeTranslated only works with these kind of trustworthy translators, and they have the perfect linguist to help you with your international expansion. Get in touch for more information or a free, no-obligation quote today.