Spanish Contract Translation

Helping commercial legal teams translate legal documents.

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Spanish Contract Translation

Approximately 580 million people speak Spanish. That accounts for about 7.6% of the world’s population. While that might not sound like much, Spanish is a prominent language in the business world. Notably, Spanish is also the third most used language on the Internet after English and Chinese.

Businesses looking to do business in Spain, Latin America, and even the US will need to work with legal documents in Spanish.

Translating between English and Spanish requires specialized knowledge. Similar to other Romance languages like French and Italian, Spanish is a Latin-based language. English is a conglomeration influenced by various Germanic languages as well as Latin and French.

This means that while there are some similarities between Spanish and English, there are also significant differences and translators must be aware of these to produce an accurate translation.

Spanish Legal Translation

Spanish legal translation can get tricky. It isn’t just a matter of translating from one language to another, but also understanding the local legal audience. Spanish is spoken in various countries and both the language and the legal systems differ from one country to the next.

There are hefty differences between Spain Spanish and Latin American Spanish, plus each Latin American country has their own variations of certain words. While most of this variation takes place within the realm of slang, there are still distinct differences that a translator must know and account for when translating legal documents.

Suffice it to say, the Spanish translation of a legal document used in Spain will look quite different from one used in the United States.

English to Spanish Contract Translation

For In-Country Use

When businesses want to expand into a foreign market, a website in the country’s native language is an absolute must. Even in countries where a large portion of the business world speaks English, it is still necessary to use the native language.

When it comes to Spanish websites, it is also important to use the correct type of Spanish for the country. When you want to appeal to a certain audience, the most basic way of doing so is by speaking their language.

Machine translations fall short when it comes to fully understanding the nuance of a particular area’s use of Spanish. The reader won’t have read two full sentences before they know a machine was used to translate the content. When businesses are trying to sell to an audience, it doesn’t look good that they didn’t make the extra effort to ensure an accurate translation.

This is even more important when dealing with legal pages such as the website’s Terms of Service or Privacy Policy. The information in legal documents must be clearly spelled out and every translation must be flawless. Anything less is leaving the door open for a lawsuit.

Spanish to English Contract Translation

For Cross-Border Negotiations

That goes the other way too. Businesses coming from the US or another English-speaking country already have a band of English-speaking lawyers at the ready. Plus, key personnel within the company may not have the language skills to navigate the higher level of language in legal documents.

In order for English-speaking lawyers to review software agreements, contracts, and other legal documents in Spanish, they must first be translated.

When dealing with sensitive information such as this, the potential for misunderstanding is high and absolutely crucial to avoid. This is where 100% accurate translations are vital to the company’s success. The lawyers must be able to review an error-free copy to ensure the terms of the agreement are acceptable for the business to agree to.

This is further complicated by the fact that introductory clauses for Spanish and English legal contracts vary significantly — as in they have different forms and content. The translator must have an understanding of how to navigate between the two formats without losing the intent of the piece.

Contract Translation Tips

Word for word translation isn’t always best when it comes to legal translation. There are various archaic terms that appear in Spanish contracts that won’t translate well into English or need to be adjusted. Plus, the language must be expanded or contracted correctly. It takes about 20-25% more words to say the same thing in Spanish when translating from English.

Local law and language differences must also be taken into account and the correct dialect of Spanish must be used.

Types of Spanish Contracts

There are various types of Spanish contracts we routinely translate for our clients. These include:

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

Contracts in Spanish-Speaking Countries

Not surprisingly, contracts requirements vary slightly in Spanish-speaking countries. Here’s a breakdown of what’s required in each general area.

Latin America

Contract laws in Latin America are as varied as the countries and cultures that put them into place. Recently, harmonization efforts have been made but at this point there are still distinct regional differences in contract construction. An accurate legal translation must take these differences into account.


In Spain, there must be three elements present in a binding contract

  • The clear consent of all parties
  • A clear and obvious objective
  • The agreed-upon act must be lawful

Outside of this, the format can vary widely and the contract can be formalized either online or on paper.

United States

Spanish contracts in the US are governed by US law. If a disagreement arises and there appears to be a discrepancy between the two versions, a Prevailing Language Clause ensures that the English version is the one which will prevail in court.

Popular Spanish Contract Terms

Legal terms can differ between languages and some are hard to translate directly. Plus, as we mentioned, more words are sometimes necessary in Spanish to say the same thing. As you’ll see, some of the Spanish contract terms are considerably longer.

Prueba de la notificación judicial
Proof of Service
Embargo de bienes en posesión de terceros

Legal Systems in Spanish Speaking Countries

There are two basic types of legal systems used by countries around the world, although there is a lot of variation among them. About 150 ascribe to the civil law construction whereas about 80 are based on common law systems.

When comparing common law v civil law, the main difference is that case law, or published judicial opinions holds center stage in common law countries, whereas codified statutes are most important in civil law countries.

The US is predominantly a common law country (with the exception of Louisiana whose law system is based on French and Spanish civil law). As noted, Spain uses a civil law system. Most countries in Latin America also use some form of civil law.

Accurate Translations 100% of the Time

All in all, while it can be difficult to translate contracts correctly, it is imperative that businesses have accurate translations 100% of the time. That is why you should only ever use legal translation services that offer a high attention to detail as well as translators familiar with the various systems of law and regional language differences.

Reach out to us today for Spanish contract translation services that are 100% accurate, 100% of the time.

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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