What is a certified translation for USCIS? What you need to know

    Danilo Coviello

    A USCIS certified translation is a human translation from one language into another accompanied by a signed attestation stating that it is a true, accurate and complete translation of the original document.

    Along with this statement attesting that the translation is accurate, you will see the date of the translation and the full name and contact information for 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 when dealing with the USCIS.

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

    What is considered a certified translation?    

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

    DefinitionA certified translation is an officially recognized and legally accepted translation of a document accompanied by a signed statement of truth from the translator or translation company (certificate of translation accuracy).
    UsageCertified translations are often required for legal, immigration, educational and business purposes, where translation accuracy is vital.
    ProcessThe process involves the translation of the document certified by a professional 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 is slightly different.
    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, and 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 additional steps in the process may lengthen the time needed to complete your certified translation. If you need a hard copy of the translation, you may also have to wait a few days to receive them by post.

    What qualifies as a certified translation?

    In the US, a certified translation of a document not written in English must state that it is a true and accurate translation of the original document. The translator or translator agency signs and stamps the official statement to verify that the translation is accurate.

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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 contact information is listed on the translation certification, which means that they can be held liable for any errors or misinterpretations.

    When do you need a certified translation?

    Government agencies, public authorities and courts of law in the United States often require certified translation of the documents you submit to them. These might include translations of documents related to citizenship applications, university applications or legal matters, and other official proceedings.

    Where can I get a certified translation for USCIS?    

    If you need a certified translation in the United States for the USCIS or other official purposes, you should seek the assistance of a professional translator. Espresso Translations has translators all over the globe and offers translations for all types of documents that require certification in more than 150 languages.

    How do I certify a translation to USCIS in the US?    

    To get your documents translated and certified for the USCIS, this is the process:

    1. Send Espresso Translations an email with clearly legible scans of your document or documents.
    2. Espresso will assign the translation to a language professional with the most relevant expertise.
    3. We will double-check that the translation is complete and accurate and make sure that it meets applicable standards.
    4. Espresso Translations attaches to the translation a statement attesting that the translated document is accurate and true to the original.

    How can a translation be certified?

    A translation is certified with a signed declaration confirming the accuracy and truthfulness of the translation. The declaration will also include the translator’s name, address, and other contact information, or similar information for the translation company. The person who signs the declaration will be held responsible for the accuracy of the translation.

    What are the certified translation requirements?

    Documents for official use in the US that are not written in English must be translated and certified. Translation certification is not regulated in the US, so the translator does not need to get the certification sworn before a court, but a translator or translation agency can do the certification. Let Espresso Translations be your guide for all your certification needs. 

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

    The Espresso Translation agency can advise you if you have questions about any part of the process. In general, however, the following is what you will need to be sure the translation process is accurate and accepted by the USCIS:

    1. A true and accurate translation

    Look for proven experience in providing accurate, certified translations when you hire a translator or translation agency.

    2. Verified accuracy of a translation

    Make sure the translator’s work is double-checked by a second skilled translator to ensure accuracy.

    3. A professionally qualified translator

    The translator you hire should have relevant qualifications and experience in translating at the level required for official documents.

    4. Linguistic and cultural knowledge

    Last but certainly not least, your translator should be aware of the specific requirements for certified translations in the country where the documents will be used. Familiarity with that country’s culture is also essential for translators who fully understand a document’s content and have the skills to create a true and faithful translation.

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

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

    Translation agencies like Espresso use a network of certified professionals with proven experience, allowing them to handle various types of certified translations in a broad variety of fields and languages. Translation agencies should have robust quality controls and legal resources to manage any issues that might arise with a rigorous translation that involves such responsibility. Just be aware that higher prices may be charged because of the extra overhead involved.

    In contrast, freelance translators may offer competitive prices because of their reduced expenses, so long as the translator can provide certified translations. This will depend on the translator’s individual qualifications and their authorization by an official body in their country. Any given translator may specialize in particular subject areas, so all individual translators may not be able to provide the specific type of certified translations you need at all times.

    Additional services: notary public and solicitor

    If needed, an attorney or a notary public can attest to the translator’s identity by witnessing the signatures and stamps provided. The notary or attorney will provide an official seal, meaning that you can rest assured that governing bodies recognize the authenticity of the certifying translator’s signature.

    How much does USCIS certified translation cost?

    Prices for certified translation in the US will be around $30 per page. This may vary depending on the length or word count of the document, its urgency, any special formatting, and the complexity of the terminology and language combination. Any required postage expenses, apostilles or notarizations may add fees to the total.

    Why do I need a certified translation?

    Which documents require certified translations?

    Official documents such as the ones listed below usually require a certified translation. 

    Because government bodies (like USCIS) or international organizations such as courts of law or embassies may request certification for a wide range of documents, be sure to ask if you are not sure of the requirements.

    Also read: Difference between certified translation and notarized translation


    Can I do my own certified translation?

    In the US, you may not provide certified translations of documents for yourself or for your family members. Other countries may, of course, have different requirements.

    Who can certify a translation for USCIS?

    We do not recommend hiring just any translator for the job of certifying a translation. You may get best results from inquiring at a translation agency like Espresso Translations and specifying what the translation is needed for, so that the agency can assign their best translator in that subject and be sure that all official requirements are met. If you absolutely need to hire an individual translator for some reason, be sure that that person has a suitable history of creating successful certified translations.

    How long does it take to get a certified translation?

    Most of the time you can get a one-page certified translation done within 24 hours. Naturally, the turnaround time will depend on the length and complexity of the document as well as factors like elaborate formatting. Most translators can translate around 2,000 words per day, but with particularly complex or specialized documents this could take longer.

    Is certified translation accepted by the USCIS?    

    Yes, and in fact the USCIS will only accept certified translations of a document in which the translation of all visible text has been done in its entirety. While a certified translation is a must to meet USCIS prerequisites, however, most documents will not need to be notarized before submitting them to the USCIS. Ask the division of USCIS in question about its particular requirements to make sure the translator does everything necessary.

    How do I get certified translated documents?    

    Be sure to seek out a translator or company that is ISO certified or accredited with the American Translators Association or another formal accreditation body. The Espresso Translations agency, for instance, has certified translators for more than 150 language combinations.

    How to verify the credentials of a certified translator?

    Contact the translator or agency directly to verify their credentials. Be sure to ask for testimonials from clients happy with the quality of the translation the received, too. A certified translation must include the translator’s name and contact information.

    How does it work in different countries?

    Different countries often require different levels of certification for documents. A sworn translation is commonly required in countries like Spain, France and Germany, for instance. Espresso Translations can help make sure your documents are properly certified for any country.

    What is the difference between apostille and certified translations?

    An apostille is a notarized document that authenticates the signatures and stamps on official documents or certified translations for use in another country.

    How do certified translations and apostilles work together?

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

    What is the difference between a certified translation and a notarized translation?

    An attorney or a notary public will confirm the identity of the certifying translator producing a notarized translation.

    What is the difference between official translation and sworn translation?

    There are certifying authorities that can approve sworn translators. The US does not use sworn translators, but some civil law countries like Italy, France and Spain do need certified translations. Just ask Espresso Translations if you are not sure what you need for your translation project.


    A signed affidavit is needed for certified translations to confirm that the translation is a true and accurate copy of the original document. This affidavit must be completed by a skilled and experienced professional, who includes the contact and other information for the translation or translation agency who is responsible for the reliability of the translation. Some entities may also request an apostille service to verify foreign signatures or seals. Then a notary public confirms the translator’s identity. Espresso Translations can issue certified translations done by experienced linguists.