The strategy used in sworn translation is different from general translation. General translation has a strong communicative function, and the translator must make the text more accessible to the reader. In sworn translation, however, the translator must not attempt to improve on the source document or try to adapt it to a specific audience. A sworn translator will certify on every page of the translation that it is a “true translation of the original” and will date and sign or stamp each page. An ordinary translator might provide a certification declaration with signature on a separate page only.
Since a sworn translation is done for legal purposes, the translation should be clearly recognizable as the same document, with all the information as in the original, even if some of it seems unnecessary or repetitious. Sworn translators assume that every word and every nuance has a purpose, and reproduce the content, every signature, every stamp in the way they appear on the original. A sworn translation of a document is the legal equivalent of the original document for evidentiary purposes in a court of law. A sworn translation differs from ordinary translations by way of needing the original, or certified copy of the original document, from which to translate. Sworn translations cannot be done from an electronic source or an uncertified copy of the original document. Original documents need to be certified (Apostille) by either or both the registrar of the courts, a commissioner of oath such as the consulate of the destination or the original country in the case of South Africa. A sworn translation is a specialised field of translation, and they are required only for certain purposes. Sworn translators can certify a translation done by someone else.