Cyprus – New Law Introduced to Regulate the Provision of Official Translation Services

The Law Firm of G. Vrikis & Associates LLC would like to bring to your attention the recent introduction of a new Law which aims to regulation the registration and regulation of the services of sworn translators, including providing guidelines for official translations and related certifications. The new Law was introduced as of the 1st July 2019, namely the Registration and Regulation of Sworn Translator Services Law 45 (I)/2019 (the Law).

The effect of this new Law is to terminate the previous system of translation of documents which was done through the Press and Information Office (PIO), through expert freelance translators under contractual agreements with the PIO. Under the new Law, all individuals or public institutions interested in getting documents officially translated must refer directly to the certified translators registered with the Register of Sworn Translators of the Council of Sworn Translators (the “Register”)

It is worth noting that there are numerous laws necessitating the provision of a certified or sworn translator to the courts, for the administration of justice. Additionally, translated documents are frequently intended for official use. The enactment of this new Law serves to establish a clear legal framework for such requirements.

Below are some key elements of the new Law:

Who Can Be Registered as a Sworn Translator?

Under the provisions of the Law, and specifically Article 6, it is stated that a person can be registered as a certified or sworn translator, entitled to the payment of the prescribed fee, provided that they satisfy the certain conditions, such as:

  1. They are a citizen of the Republic of Cyprus or an EEA member state and habitually reside in Cyprus; or are a spouse of such a citizen.
  2. They have good command over Greek and/or the Turkish language.
  3. They hold a bachelor’s or postgraduate diploma or an equivalent qualification, recognised under the Law on the Recognition of Higher Education and Related Information Laws, dealing with: (i) translation of any language (ii) foreign languages or (iii) other related subjects.
  4. They have never been convicted of any offense related to moral malpractice or lack of honesty.
  5. They have never committed a disciplinary offense, which has led to their termination from a public service or a public-law body or any educational service.
  6. They have successfully cleared the examination conducted by the council for individuals applying for registration in the Register, according to the provisions under Article 7 of the Law.

The Council must consider all applications within two (2) months of the date of submission.  According to the law, registrations are effective for a period of five (5) years from the date that the certificate of registration is issued. Registrations can be renewed for 5-year periods, with the submission of a new application by the individual. All individuals registered with the Council for Registration of Sworn Translators must take the oath within two months of the certificate being issued.

Where are Sworn Translators required?

The new Law regulates a previously unregulated area and creates a benchmark for a number of legislative instruments that require certified translators. It is expected to also address procedural and technical impediments regularly faced in the Courts.

According to Article 17 of the Law, Courts, governmental offices and independent bodies in Cyprus are required to engage the services of a qualified sworn translator. Authorities of the Republic of Cyprus can, under certain circumstances and at their own expense, also ask a sworn translator to submit a recent criminal record certificate.

In addition, there could be certain urgent cases where a non-sworn translator’s services might be used due to the unavailability of a sworn translator for a particular source and target language. In such cases, the agency using the translation services will require the translators to submit a criminal record certificate.

Provisions Applicable to Lawyers

Article 14(2) details provisions for lawyers, which state that any lawyer registered with the Register of Lawyers, as well as the law firm in which they work, should not handle a case in which documents that they have translated are being used.

In case a lawyer is not registered, they can carry out translation of documents for cases handled by them or the law firm in which they work. Such translations will be considered certified by the court of law and authorities of Cyprus, only if accompanied by an affidavit declaring the exceptional circumstances in which the lawyer had to translate the documents, in place of a sworn translator.

Criminal Offenses Under the New Law

It should be noted that under the provisions of Article 32 of the Law, fraudulent representations by a person attempting to register themselves or someone else in the Registry will be considered a criminal offense. Also, a person who is not registered according to the provisions of the law, and yet provides services of a sworn translator, will be a criminal under the law.

In the event of such offenses, the person could face imprisonment not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding €8,000, or a combination of the two. Penalties will be awarded by a disciplinary commission established for this purpose.

A copy of the Registry of Sworn Translators will be published annually in the Gazette of the Republic (of Cyprus) and the website of the Press and Information Office (PIO).