The term “certified translation” sometimes causes confusion — especially when it comes to when it is and isn’t required.
To understand when and why a certified translation might be necessary, it’s important to have a good grasp of the differences between certified and non-certified translations.
What a Certified Translation Is — and Isn’t
When a translation is certified, both the created document and the original are accompanied by a signed statement from the translator attesting to the completeness and accuracy of the translation. The statement is then notarized by a notary public. This documentation is required if you see that a document needs a “certified translation,” or that a translation requires a “Certificate of Accuracy.”
Reputable translation companies usually entrust certified translations to their more experienced and best-qualified translators, and most translation companies will have an editor proofread the final translation before it is certified.
Finally, a certified translation may not be available from an independent translator. Since the translation requires a notary seal to be made official, a translation company will be better-equipped to certify a translation than a linguist chosen at random from an online database.
Situations Requiring Certified Translation
Certified translations are almost always necessary for legal paperwork, such as documentation used in trials or hearings. For example, a trial transcript or any evidence in another language would need to be translated and certified. When it comes to any item that has to be submitted to a legal or government body, it’s likely that certified translations will be required.
Immigration is also a key area that nearly always requires certified translation. If you are applying for a residency (or even a temporary visitor’s permit) in a foreign country, it will likely require that all documents (such as your birth certificate) be submitted in the country’s official language — and that translations of these documents be certified.
Applications to universities and colleges also often require certified translations of documents like diplomas and transcripts. Depending on the school’s document policies, you may be required to submit the original grade report along with a certified translation; it’s always a good idea to confirm what documents are needed before submitting them.
These are just a few examples of when a certified translation might be necessary.
When You Don’t Need Certified Translation
There are many instances in which certified translation is generally not needed. Personal documents that will not be submitted for any legal proceedings, such as old family letters or documents, would not require certified translation. Translation of website content is another prominent example of an item that rarely demands certified translation.
A certified translation creates a legal record. This is why legal and government bodies almost always require translations to be certified.
When in doubt about whether you do or don’t need a translation to be certified, it’s best to check with the person, institution or company you’re submitting it to. Requirements will vary based on the type and purpose of the document, so if a certified translation is necessary, a brief consultation should get you the answers you need.