What is Contract Translation?

January 24, 2021
6 minute read
Product Marketing

What is Contract Translation?

A contract forms the legal foundation between signing parties, and contract translation provides an accurate translation into one or more languages so that all parties have a clear and legally binding understanding of the terms included. As businesses expand internationally and gain customers who speak a variety of languages, contract translation takes on increasing importance. It is especially important to get your contracts translated by lawyers who understand both the nuances of the target language and the legal requirements of your contract.

​ContractsGlobal provides contract translation you can count on by partnering with commercial legal teams. Our teams prepare and update contracts so these contracts are ready to be used internationally. Drawing on an extensive network of legal professionals and international lawyers, our project management team delivers translation work with the high quality of a law firm, but at a much lower price.

Formulaic Language vs. Contract Information

Distinguishing between formulaic language and contract information helps professional translators to dissect and navigate a source document. Formulaic language is any language that does not distinguish a particular contract from any other contract of the same type. Formulaic language in legal documents refers to set legal phrases that appear in legal documents such as:

Formulaic language in legal documents refers to set legal phrases that appear in legal documents such as:

  • Contracts
  • Petitions
  • Wills

Formulaic language in contracts can include:

  • Boilerplate or housekeeping clauses
  • Headings, including headings of clauses and sections as well as the contract itself
  • Set formulas, which include frequently used legalese structures
  • Structural elements, such as number conventions
  • Style and syntax

Typically, contracts and court documents will include a lot of formulaic language at the beginning and then move into specific information that makes that particular document unique. Operative clauses in a contract must be translated well and accurately to preserve the meaning of a contract, so you will want to turn to a professional contract translator who can capture the nuances and specifics of the language used in your contract. By hiring a lawyer to translate your legal contract, you will know that the translator properly distinguished between formulaic language and the content of your contract.

Who Uses Contract Translation?

Anyone may need to have a contract professionally translated. Examples include:

Corporations or Businesses

Businesses or corporations may need contract translation in situations such as:

Employment contracts: A legal contract translation offers certainty that all parties of an employment contract are fully cognizant of all contents of the contract, as well as the potential ramifications. This may be necessary when:

  • Employing people who have difficulty reading/understanding a contract written in the language used by the corporation or business.
  • Transferring an employee to work in an international branch of the corporation or business.
  • Subcontracting part of an international job to a vendor when the vendor has employees who primarily speak a foreign language.

Service agreements: When a corporation or business requires service or product users to disclose confidential information, such as trading information to a third party, they need to have a legal agreement in place to ensure those who want to use their products and services understand the limitations and rules.

Confidentiality agreements: Businesses may give a contractor or employee a confidentiality agreement to ensure that confidential information like trade information or other proprietary information is not shared.

Real-estate contracts: If a business or corporation sells or purchases international property, contract translation is necessary to make sure paperwork is free of any errors.

Law Firms

Law firms working with international clients will also need contract translation services. Lawyers may need to have vital case depositions translated.


Individuals may need contract translations in circumstances including:

  • Sharing information: Individuals may want a legal agreement in place before sharing copyrighted information with other individuals or businesses.
  • Real-estate contracts: Individuals may also sell or purchase property in an international setting.

Before entering into legal agreements or contracts, these documents should be professionally translated using accurate language that is legally binding. Professional contract translation ensures that all language remains clear and concise.

Types of Contracts and Documents Needing Translation

Whether you need customer agreements, website agreements, or commercial agreements, any legally binding agreement must be vetted and translated by an experienced professional translation service. Work with a team that has extensive experience both with the culture your business serves as well as the language your contract is written in. By hiring a lawyer to translate your legal contract, you will know that all components of your documents will be accurate and clear.

Customer Agreements can include:

  • Master Services Agreements
  • Sales Contracts
  • End User License Agreements
  • Service Level Agreements

Website Agreements can include:

  • Terms of Service
  • Privacy Policies
  • Acceptable Use Policies
  • Data Processing Agreements

Commercial Agreements can include:

  • Distribution Agreements
  • Employment Agreements
  • Loan Contracts

Certified Translation vs. Standard Translation

If you need a translation for official use, you will most likely need a certified translation. However, if you are not submitting the contract to a government or court, you may be able to use a standard translation. The same professional translators may perform both certified and standard translations. Translation style and deliverables vary based on the service you need.

You should use a certified translation for official use, including submitting contracts to:

  • Courts
  • Governments, including local, state, and federal
  • Embassies
  • Universities

You can choose standard contract translation for personal or business use if the receiver of the contract does not require certification. Some individuals and businesses may opt to use a certified translation as well.

Why Is Contract Translation Important?

No matter what language you use for your business, legally binding, clear agreements are a must. Essential paperwork can span from contracts with employees to patents and beyond. Contract translation performed by lawyers provides:

  • Accuracy and integrity: An accurate translation in your target language is essential for any contract you create or sign. Obtaining an ineffective translation can jeopardize the integrity of your contract. All parties involved must be able to get a true, accurate translation of any legal contract before they sign a document, so accurate contract translation is a key component of doing business internationally.
  • Cultural sensitivity and understanding: Various courts or parties may place different weight on intended and literal meaning of the words and phrases in a contract. Courts in some locations may choose to interpret a contract considering factual circumstances, so contract translation prevents this ambiguity.
  • Protections for businesses: Contract translation requires both precision and legal expertise. In the global business environment of today's world, a contract dispute can cause a business unit or company to fail. Courts in some countries may not be willing to amend agreements or may do so only under certain conditions. An effective contract translation prevents future disputes as all parties will understand the contract that they sign.
  • Legal continuity: A court may also throw out a contract with translation flaws if they deem the contract to be misrepresentation and defective as a result. If one party is deemed to have misled the other into entering into a contract as a result of misrepresentation of false claims, a contract may be considered flawed or invalid. Additionally, any small errors or inaccuracies may even create loopholes that affect a contract's terms or render the document void. Ensuring you obtain an effective translation will ensure there is no dispute.
  • Contract localization: An effective and accurate translation will localize your document so that you have an agreement that works in each region and language you target for your business.

It's important to work with expert translators with experience in the type of contract you need translated as well as native language abilities. Translators handpicked to translate the target language can ensure an accurate contract translation — and we work with lawyers who can provide clear, effective translations for all major worldwide business markets. Instead of trusting just any translator, you can work with a lawyer who will deliver a legally effective and clear contract. ContactGlobal today to get started on your project.

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