What is a certified translation in the UK? What you need to know

    Danilo Coviello

    A certified translation is a translation accompanied by a signed attestation stating that it is a true and accurate translation of the original document.

    Along with this statement of truth, it also includes the date of the translation and the full name and contact details of the translator or representative of the translation company.

    You will often need a certified translation for official documents such as visa applications, overseas university applications or legal documentation.

    Certified translations, also known as official translations, differ from notarized translations, legalised translations and sworn translations. We can help you determine exactly which type of certified translation service you need.

    What are legally certified translations?

    The main aspects of a certified translation are listed in the table below.

    DefinitionA certified translation is an officially recognised and legally accepted translation of a document, accompanied by a signed statement of truth from the translator or translation company.
    UseCertified translations are often required for legal, immigration, educational and business purposes, where translation accuracy is vital.
    ProcessThe process involves the translation of the document by a qualified translator or translation company followed by proofreading by a second translator. Then, the statement of truth is attached.
    VerificationThe translator or translation company adds a signed affidavit along with a seal or stamp to verify the certification. Some jurisdictions require a notarized certification, which differs slightly.
    ResponsibilityThe translator or translation company is legally responsible for the accuracy of a certified translation. Errors or inaccuracies could have serious repercussions.
    QualificationsTranslators providing certified translations typically have specific qualifications and experience, are authorised by a government body or are members of professional translation associations.
    CostCertified translations usually cost more than regular translations due to the additional responsibility and effort involved in certifying that the translation is accurate.
    Turnaround TimeThe process of certifying a translation might lengthen the turnaround time due to the additional steps in the process. You may also have to wait a few days for hard copies to be posted.

    What are the basics of a certified translation?

    In the UK, as per .gov.uk guidelines, a certified translation of a document that’s not written in English or Welsh has to state that it is a true and accurate translation of the original document. The official statement is signed and stamped by a translator or a translation agency.

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    What is the role of a certified translator in the certification process?

    Certified translators attest to and are responsible for accurately and truthfully translating the content of the original document. Their personal details are included on the translation certification meaning they are held liable for any errors or misinterpretations.

    When do you need a certified translation?

    Certified translations are often requested by government bodies, public authorities or courts of law. They are translations of documents required for official proceedings, such as those related to citizenship applications, university applications or legal matters, among others.

    How do I get an official translation? How do I certify a translation in London and UK?

    If you need a certified translation in London UK, you should seek the assistance of a professional translator based in London. Espresso Translations offers translations for all types of documents that require certification in over 200 languages, with our translators located all over the globe.

    What are the steps to certify a translation?

    The steps to certify a translation are as follows:

    1. Send us clear scans of the document by email
    2. We will assign the translation to a language professional with the most relevant expertise
    3. The translation is double-checked to ensure we meet the best standards
    4. The translation agency creates a statement attesting that the translated document is accurate and true to the original

    What is included in the certification statement?

    The certification statement will confirm the accuracy and truthfulness of the translation. It will also include the translator’s name, address and contact details or those of the translation company. The signee will be held responsible for the accuracy of the translation.

    What are the requirements of a translation certification in the UK?

    The translation of official documents in the UK that are not written in English or Welsh need to be certified. Translation certification is not regulated in the UK, therefore translations don’t need to be sworn before a court but can be certified by a translator or translation agency in accordance with UK government guidelines.

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    How do I ensure the quality and accuracy of a certified translator?

    These are the steps needed to ensure the quality and accuracy of a translator:

    1. Ensuring true and accurate translations

    Your translator should have proven experience in providing accurate certified translations.

    2. Verifying the accuracy of a translation

    Our translations are always double-checked by a second skilled translator to ensure accuracy.

    3. Working with professionally qualified translators

    The translator should have relevant qualifications and experience to translate to the level required for official documents.

    Importance of linguistic and cultural knowledge

    Translators need to be aware of the specific requirements for certified translations in the country where the documents will be used. Additionally, cultural knowledge is essential for translators to fully understand a document’s content and translate it accurately.

    How do I choose the right translation service? Translation companies vs. freelance translators

    Translation agencies typically have a network of certified professionals with proven experience, allowing them to handle various types of certified translations across diverse fields and languages. They have robust quality controls and legal resources to manage issues that could arise from such responsibility. However, they might charge higher prices due to these additional overheads.

    Freelance translators, on the other hand, can offer competitive prices due to having lower overheads. Their ability to provide certified translations depends on individual qualifications and authorisation by an official body. They may specialise in certain areas, which can limit the types of certified translations they are able to complete to a high level.

    Additional services: notary public and solicitor

    A solicitor or a notary public has the ability to authenticate the translator’s identity with signatures and stamps. They will provide an official seal so that governing bodies recognise the authenticity of the signature of the translator that certified the translation.

    How much does a certified translation cost in UK?

    Certified translation in the UK costs around £30 per page. This may vary depending on the length or word count, urgency, formatting, complexity of the terminology and language combination. There may also be additional costs relating to postage, apostilles or notarisation where requested.

    What kinds of translations are commonly certified?

    Certified translations are usually required for official documents. Government bodies or international organisations such as courts of law or embassies may request certification for a wide range of documents. Below are some examples of documents for which certified translations are most commonly requested:

    • Birth certificates
    • Marriage certificates for legal and common law marriages
    • Divorce decrees
    • Diplomas and transcripts
    • Death certificates
    • Passports
    • ID cards
    • Legal documents
    • Medical records
    • Visa applications
    • Criminal record checks
    • Business and finance documents

    Also Read: What is the difference between certified translation and sworn translation?


    Can I provide a certified translation myself in the UK?

    In the UK, you are not able to provide certified translations of documents for yourself or your family members.

    How long does it take to get a certified translation?

    It usually takes less than 24 hours to get a one-page certified translation. It depends on the length and complexity of the document and also factors such as the reproduction of formatting. A translator can usually translate around 2000 words per day, but with particularly complex documents this could take longer.

    How to find a certified translator?

    You need to look for a translator or company that is ISO certified or accredited with the Chartered Institute of Linguists or another formal accreditation body. We have certified translators for over 200 language combinations.

    How to verify the credentials of a certified translator?

    A certified translation should include the translator’s name and contact details. You can contact them directly or the translation agency to verify their credentials.

    How does it work in different countries?

    Other countries often require different levels of certification for documents. For example, countries such as Spain, France and Germany require sworn translations. We can help make sure your documents are properly certified for any country.

    What is the difference between apostille and certified translations?

    An apostille authenticates the signatures and stamps on official documents or certified translations for use in another country.

    How do certified translations and apostilles work together?

    When an official document contains an apostille, it will be translated and certified with the rest of the document.

    Official translation vs. notarized translation?

    A notarized translation has to be produced to a solicitor or notary public to confirm the identity of the translator.

    Official translation vs. sworn translation?

    Sworn translators have to be approved by certifying authorities. The UK does not use sworn translators, but some civil law countries such as Italy, France and Spain do.


    Certified translations include a signed affidavit confirming that the translation is a true and accurate copy of the original document and needs to be completed by a skilled and experienced professional. They also need to include the details of the translation or translation agency who will be responsible for the reliability of the translation. Some entities may also request an apostille service to verify foreign signatures or seals, or a notary public to confirm the identity of the translator. Espresso Translations can help with all types of translation, certified or official. Get in touch with our team today.