What is a certified translation?
Any reputable translation agency will offer a wide range of certified translation services.
Clients seek certified translations when handing in documents to official bodies, schools, or to government offices. A certified translation lends an extra layer of security and attests to the accuracy of the translation.
In this post, we’ll answer the following questions and more:
- What is a certified translation?
- What is a certified translator?
- When do I need a certified translation?
- Who can issue a certified translation?
- What is the difference between a certified and a legalized translation?
What is a certified translation?
Put simply, a certified translation is a translation that is certified. Let us explain.
A translation can be used as-is, or it can be accompanied by a separate statement attesting to the accuracy of the translation itself.
This statement usually includes wording like “I, (Translator’s Name), attest that I am fluent in the (language pair) and that the attached (language) translation is an accurate and complete rendering of the original (language) document. I do not attest to the accuracy of the statements in the original document.”
The translator may include his or her qualifications on the statement. It is then signed, notarized, and attached to the original translation.
That statement, coupled with the translation, makes up the certified translation.
What is a certified translator?
In the United States, translation is not a regulated profession. This means that anyone who is bilingual can translate a document—it is up to translation agencies to vet their translators carefully.
There are qualification exams (such as those held by the reputable American Translators Association). However, these are not official certifications, nor do they entitle a translator to call him or herself certified.
Since there is no such thing as a certified translator in the United States, the translator must separately certify the translation with the above statement—or something similar—each time.
In other countries, there are government exams which certify translators. Translators who pass these exams usually get a stamp with a unique number (much like a notary). Certified translators in these countries can use the stamps (rather than the certified translator’s statement) to certify the translation itself.
- United States translators use separate certified and notarized statements.
- Translators in countries with government certification exams use their unique stamps or credentials.
- There is no such thing as a “certified translator” in the United States.
- There are professional organizations with rigorous testing standards; however, these are not professional certifications.
When do I need a certified translation?
Basically, any time you must provide one.
A good rule of thumb is to present a certified translation to an official body. This can include government officers, schools, courts, etc.
When in doubt, have your document certified.
However, you will usually not need a certified translation for internal business memos, websites, brochures, periodicals, and other similar written works.
What is the difference between a certified and a legalized translation?
There is a big difference!
A certified translation is simply a translation that has been certified (either with a separate statement of accuracy, or by a translator’s unique stamp or credentials).
A legalized translation is one that is made legal for use in a foreign jurisdiction.
You may need a legalized translation when presenting a translation for use abroad. Also, you may need a legalized translation for use at a consulate. Finally, you may also need a legalized translation when immigrating abroad.
These translations usually contain apostilles, but depending on the country, they may contain a separate form of authentication.
In order for a translation to be legalized, it must first be certified. Then, the legalization (apostille) is added on top of the signed, notarized certification. The apostille and certification are both attached to the translation. Then, the translation is ready for use abroad.