Certified Translations in Israel

Unlike some other legal systems, Israel does not have an institution known as a “certified translator”. The only fully official way of certifying a translation in Israel is through a form of notarized translations. However some ‘workarounds’ exist to avoid notarization where it is not necessary.

What are the Options?

The rule of thumb is to try and find out what the ‘end user’ requires. By ‘end user’ I mean the entity, person or institution requesting your document.
Notarization is expensive so make sure that this is what is really needed.
A notarized translation would normally (but not always) be your surest bet, because it is the ‘highest degree of certification’ recognized in Israel.

What Is a Notary in Israel?

Firstly, a notary in Israel must have been a licensed and practicing lawyer (advocate) for at least ten years, without a significant criminal convictions and/or ethical offences. In other words, a notary in Israel will be an attorney with both experience and good standing in the legal community.
The powers of a notary in Israel are significantly different to those of a notary public in the United States and/or a notary in continental Europe. The Israeli legal system follows the English system fairly closely regarding the powers of a notary.
An Israeli notary may, inter alia, certify signatures, copies of documents, translations and other specific legal actions. Whilst some of these actions (for example, certification of copy and/or signature) may be done by other entities (for example, a lawyer), some actions can, by law, only be done by a notary and only a notary’s certificate can have an apostille stamp appended to it.

What Is an Apostille?

Due to differences in certifying authorities and powers (as briefly hinted to above) between various legal systems, most countries in the world have signed on the “”12: Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents”.
This convention simplifies and regulates reciprocal recognition of certificates and authorizations executed in member countries. This means, in our case, that a document notarized in Israel with an apostille appended to it should be recognized by the receiving member state.

How Does the Apostille Work?

Every licensed and paid-up notary in Israel is registered with the Ministry of Justice. His details and a specimen signature appear in the computerized records of the Ministry of Justice.
To ‘apostille’ a document, the document needs first of all to be notarized.
Then one needs to either go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the relevant representative of the Ministry of Justice, usually situated in most courts. The said official will append a signed and sealed sticker on the back of the notary certificate. The obtaining of the apostille presently costs NIS 35 in Israel (to be paid in revenue stamps).

The Options for Certifying a Translation
Notary Certificate

As stated above, the only truly recognized ‘official’ translation is one which has been notarized. In certain cases the said authority will insist on a translation which has been notarized (for example, the Registrar of Companies, the Family Court in inheritance matters, etc.).

How Does a Notarized Translation Work?

In the language of the law, in order to certify a translation the notary must have a “good command” of both source and target languages.
The translation may either be translated by the notary himself or – as is usually the case – a professional translator (or even the client).
However, the notary must then thoroughly examine the translation and compare it with the original. Where necessary, the notary will demand that the translator make changes to the document before certifying the translation.
Once this process has been completed, the notary will append the notarization to the document.

How Does a Notarized Translation Work?

  1. The certificate itself, which must be in Hebrew and may be in another language as well;
  2. The translation itself;
  3. The original (or a copy thereof) of the document from which the translation was made. If desired, the notary may specify in his certificate that the translation was made from the original document, but this is not compulsory.

The notary will then bind the three elements with a red ribbon and will close the ribbon with a red embossed seal. The notary’s seal must also appear on each page plus the notary’s signature which will appear on each page. On the certificate itself, in addition to the said red seal, the notary will append his stamp and signature.

How Much Does It Cost?

Firstly and important distinction must be drawn: the notary’s fees are for the certification of the translation and are separate and distinct from the translation itself. In other words: in most cases you will pay for both the translation and the notarization.
The cost of notarizing a translation is determined by law and is by a fixed tariff. It is important to note that the notary is absolutely forbidden from deviating (for ‘better or for worse’) from the said fixed tariff. A notary deviating from this procedure risks losing his license.
Translator’s fees are not fixed by law.
The fixed tariff is in the form similar to that of tax brackets. As the calculation of the cost of notarizing a translation can be somewhat complicated using these ‘brackets’, I have prepared a table of notary units, which can be downloaded from here: Notary Units.

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