German Contract Translation

Helping commercial legal teams translate legal documents.

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German Contract Translation

Accurate German contract translation is an absolute must for businesses looking to expand into Germany or a German-speaking country. Approximately 130 million people speak German and it is the most widely spoken mother language in the European Union.

To properly move into a German market, complete and accurate German legal translations are vital. From Terms of Services to Privacy Policies, companies need to have their legal documents available to their German audience as well as have accurate English translations of German documents for use by their English-speaking lawyers.

Though English has roots in various Germanic languages, translating between modern-day German and English is no easy task. There are various differences including gendered nouns and strict grammar rules in German that don’t appear in English. A translator must be intimately acquainted with the nuances of both languages in order to produce an accurate translation.

German Legal Translation

Legal translation between English and German is further complicated in that the overarching approach to contracts is quite different. Whereas English contracts tend to spell out every little detail in an effort to ensure there are no misunderstandings, German contracts take a short and sweet approach.

Handling this difference can often prove to be quite challenging and is far beyond the scope of machine or even basic level human translation services. Highly skilled human translators with an intimate understanding of legal language and nuance in both languages are required to produce an accurate translation.

English to German Contract Translation

For In-Country Use

When moving into a German market, businesses need website content in German that will appeal to their new German audience. Even though many people in Germany understand English, not everyone does. Beyond that, it looks good when a company makes the extra effort to make using their website easy for German users. It’s much more comfortable for visitors to read in their native language.

Simple translations such as product descriptions or service information might be fairly easy to have translated. Some companies might even opt to use machine translation, although your audience will be able to tell and it may not leave the best impression.

However, when it comes to legal translation such as the Terms of Service or Privacy Policy information, machine translation won’t even come close to cutting it. These pages have to be translated between the two languages with no mistakes. And word-for-word translation often misses the mark. Translators need to understand not only the words but the meaning of the content and how to accurately portray that meaning in the translation.  

The best option here is to use highly skilled, human translators to get the job done.

German to English Contract Translation

For Cross-Border Negotiations

Moving into a German market means you’ll be forming relationships with German companies. Contracts come with those relationships and it is extremely important that nothing be overlooked. Misunderstandings in business agreements can cost businesses hundreds of thousands (or perhaps even millions of dollars), depending on the mistake.

Accurate translation from German to English is absolutely vital. With a solid translation, an English-speaking lawyer can review the documents and ensure that it is in the company’s best interest to sign.

Legal contracts tend to be overly specific to ensure there is no room for misunderstandings. The translation has to be handled with the same attention to detail to ensure that nothing is “lost in translation”.

Contract Translation Tips

Legal language in English is sophisticated and refined. Keeping that text elegance when translating to German is difficult. English to German translators have to be cognizant of translating both the exact meaning of the contract while ensuring that the wording used sounds elegant in German.

English is widely spoken and understood in Germany and many terms are universally known. In those cases, translators will typically leave commonly known English phrases or terms in English. This is especially true of technical terms or other terms that are widely understood in English and don’t really need to be translated.

German is known for its long compound words. Plus, more words are generally required to say the same thing as in English. This leads to some hefty text expansion when translating. German copy can end up to be about 35% longer than the same content in English.

Types of German Contracts

There are many types of legal contracts and documents that companies need to make use of when expanding into foreign markets. Only someone with extensive legal translation experience can accurately translate these difficult texts between languages.

We have a dedicated team of highly attentive individuals always striving to ensure every translation is 100% accurate both to the words and the meaning. Common documents we work with include:

  • Terms of Services
  • Privacy Policies
  • Online Agreements
  • Vendor Contracts
  • Customer Contracts
  • Master Service Agreements

Contracts in Germany

The format for contracts in Germany is pretty open. The basics just require the presence of a couple of elements to create a legal contract in Germany. These are

  • Mutual consent free from coercion, fraud, or obvious mistakes
  • Offer and acceptance (one party offers something and the other accepts it)

Work Contracts in Germany

Employment contracts are a common type of contract that needs to be translated between English and German. Expats working in Germany or English-speaking businesses hiring German employees will need to use both English and German contracts to ensure that both parties fully understand their obligations.

There are various types of work contracts in Germany including:

  • Permanent labor contracts
  • Fixed-term labor contracts
  • Recruitment agency contracts
  • Mini job contracts
  • Freelance contracts
  • Contracts for services
  • Contracts for specific work

There are various requirements that these contracts must comply with. These include specific trial periods, notice periods, and more.

Popular German Contract Terms

Because of German’s long compound words, many contract terms in German end up being super long mega words that translators will need to know how to separate out (or put together). Let’s look at a few examples.

contract terms
die Vertragsbedingungen ändern
to alter the terms of contract
Allgemeine Vertragsbedingungen
general terms and conditions of contract

Legal Systems in Germany

Loosely, there are two types of legal codes on which countries around the world base their legal systems. These are the common law and civil law systems. Individual countries will have differences or even a mix of the two, but these general systems provide the basis.

When considering common law v civil law the main difference is what lays the foundation for new laws and judicial interpretation. The US follows a common law system based on published judicial opinions, whereas Germany follows a civil law system that emphasizes codified statutes.

Superior German Contract Translation

When you need to translate contracts, simple human translation or machine translation services will not be your best option. If you want complete, accurate legal translations between these two languages you need sophisticated human translation services performed by a translator who intimately understands both languages.

Contact us today to learn more about our high-quality contract translation services and properly facilitate your business’s expansion into a German-speaking market today.

When it’s time for businesses to work indifferent countries, proper legal contract translation is essential to their business. Reach out to us today for legal contract translation services you can count on.

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