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What Is A Certified Translation?

How do you get a translation certified? Does the translator have to be certified to obtain a certified translation? These questions and others can create problems for us in our search to get translation services. This is an attempt to provide some basic information that will help individuals in making an informed choice in selecting the best translation service for their situation.

Many times documents that are translated are to be used in a court or other legal process. Documents normally falling into this category include birth certificates, immigration papers, university degrees and possibly divorce decrees (not an all-inclusive list). When this is the situation, the translation needs to be certified. It is important for you to check the laws in the country the document is to be used in so you will know whether it needs to be certified. The certification process will vary from one country to another. Any translation service you deal with will be able to tell you if they can provide a certified translation and whether or not it is required for your situation.

A certified translation contains a statement of translation accuracy written by a qualified translator who actually becomes the certifier. Translation service as a business is not regulated in the United States. It does not require a license. Practical knowledge of the languages is sufficient but this does not guarantee the translation would be acceptable in other countries.

In the United States, a certified translation is provided by the following procedures:

Translation from the original (source) language into the translated (target) language.
Translation of an original document. Content is the most important element. Style and format are not as important.

A statement of certification in the target language. The translator or a representative of the translation agency must sign this statement. This statement must be signed and notarized in the presence of a Notary Public.

A certified translation is provided in this manner and the translator does not have to be certified.
The Notary Public is not attesting to the accuracy of the translation. It only is proof that the person who presented the document to the Notary is the one who signed it.

In other countries, the process is different. Spain and Germany have a procedure whereby the translator can register as a "sworn translator". A person registered in this process becomes a professional translator. Any certified translation produced by them is an official document in its own right. The translator would only have to sign and seal the document and include their official number as a sworn translator.

The process, even though it varies from one country to another, is not difficult to understand. The customer needs to do his/her homework to know what documents need to be certified for a particular situation and then get the appropriate translation service to provide the proper documentation.


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