Where to Translate Legal Documents in Singapore

Last updated on November 3, 2020

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Documents which are not fully in English have to be translated into English if they are to be received, filed or used in court.

(Documents do not just refer to words on paper or electronic form. They may also include pictures, screenshots of text messages, receipts, and even videos.)

As the court requires documents to be translated only if they are to be received, filed or used in court, documents obtained during the discovery stage of a trial may not need to be translated if it is uncertain whether these documents will be received, filed or used in court.

Who is Qualified to Translate Legal Documents?

Only court interpreters and qualified persons may translate legal documents.

Judges and Assistant Registrars may not proffer their own translations, even if they disagree with how certain words or phrases have been translated. This is because they are neither court interpreters nor persons qualified to translate text.

How to Get Documents Translated in Singapore

Court Interpreters

Documents to be used in court proceedings in the Supreme Court, State Courts and Family Justice Courts (and not for any other purpose) can be translated at the translation offices of the respective courts. This service is available for translation of documents only from Chinese, Malay and Tamil to English.

The court interpreter will also certify the translated document. The translated document and certificate are to accompany the original document when the original document is received, filed, or used in court.

How to have a court interpreter translate your document

Make a request for translation with the translation office of the Supreme Court, State Courts or Family Justice Courts (depending on which court proceeding the document is to be used in) at least 4 weeks before the date the translated document(s) is required.

Each court has its own method for making a translation request:

Supreme Court For law firms

File their requests via the Request for Administrative Support module in eLitigation.

For litigants-in-person (i.e. parties not represented by a lawyer)

Contact the Head Interpreters at the following numbers:

  • Head Interpreter (Chinese): 6557 7637
  • Head Interpreter (Indian): 6332 3930
  • Head Interpreter (Malay): 6332 3970
State Courts Make a request via eLitigation.

Litigants-in-person may approach the CrimsonLogic Customer Service Bureaus for help with accessing eLitigation.

Family Justice Courts Approach Counter 10 at the Registry at level 1 of the Family Justice Courts with the documents for translation

The court may decline to accept a translation request for any reason, such as where the original document contains specialised technical terms.

Court interpreters charge S$45.00 per page or part thereof for their services.

You will be advised of the total translation fee only upon completion of the translation.

Qualified Persons (Private Translators)

Alternatively, you may approach private translation services to have your legal documents translated.

The translation obtained from a private translator must be verified by an affidavit made by a person qualified to translate the original document. This affidavit must accompany the original and translated documents when the original document is received, filed, or used in court.

The Rules of Court and the Supreme Court Practice Directions do not state what qualifications private translators must have in order to translate documents for court purposes. Therefore, the qualifications of private translators may be a point of contention when parties dispute the translation’s accuracy. In this situation, expert witnesses may be needed.

The cost of private translation services differs from provider to provider. The fee payable may depend on the following considerations:

  • Language of the original document;
  • Number of words to be translated;
  • Whether there are any technical terms; and
  • Whether the private translator charges a minimum fee.

For more information, read our guide to legal translation services in Singapore.