When Do You Need a Certified Translation & Why?

Before we figure out the when, let’s figure out the what. A certified translation is a translation where both the source document and the translated document are accompanied by a signed statement attesting that the translation is accurate and complete to the best of the translator’s knowledge and ability. This documentation is required if you see that a document needs a “certification,” or that a translation requires a “Certificate of Accuracy.”

It should be noted that a certified translation is not a ‘notarised’, ‘sworn’, or ‘legal’ translation, so if the body or organisation in question has requested one of these types of translations, the chances are a certified translation will not suffice. 

Below are some common situations that you may come across that require a certified translation.

College & University Applications

Applications to universities and colleges often require certified translations of documents such as diplomas and transcripts. Depending on the school’s document policies, you may be required to submit the original report card and grade logs along with a certified translation.

That may not always be the requirement though, so we suggest you check with the school before you submit any documents to them to confirm what they do and do not require.

Legal Paperwork

Certified translations are almost always required 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. The same thing usually goes for government paperwork and other official documentation.

It is not uncommon or unexpected for countries to require commercial certificates and licenses that were earned in another country to be submitted in the native language of both the person submitting the document and of the professional body itself. That includes safety training certificates, health licenses, drivers’ licenses etc.

It’s also a good idea to have certified translations for things like criminal record checks for employment, recruitment or immigration. Also, any marriages that happen outside the home country will need licenses and certificates translated for the record keeping purposes of the home country.

Immigration Documentation

Immigration is an important area that nearly always requires a 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 identification documents or birth certificates be submitted in the country’s official language and that translations of these documents be certified. The translation should also match the visual appearance of the original document, including the placement of stamps, seals and signatures.

International Business

Anytime business is done internationally, there is always the potential for legal disputes. That’s a part of business. Any disputes that will need to be mediated or fought in court will need all documents that are entered into the dispute to be certified translations.

Businesses often use certified translations when they are translating documents, contracts, and legal agreements with overseas suppliers, investors or other parties. It is a way for everyone involved to know that they will have the same understanding of the document in question regardless of the language they read it in.

Business relationships that span the globe and last long term take a lot of time and attention to detail to nurture the relationship. These certified translations ensure complications and misunderstandings are kept to a minimum while undergoing a transaction between two parties.

Personnel Documents

Human resources departments are also using certified translations more frequently as they know employment contracts and agreements are legally binding once they are signed, so they want to make sure there is no miscommunication and that these documents mirror their originals exactly in content and context.

Business policy documents that employees must abide by could have huge negative impacts on a company if they are translated incorrectly. So it’s always suggested when companies are converting their policy and procedure documents into another language that they take the route that will help them avoid future legal ramifications and use a certified translation.

You don’t want to be caught in a mess later because of an incorrect translation. Obviously, these are guidelines. Companies are not legally bound to obtain certified translations for these things, but it may just be good and cautious business sense.

When You Don't Need a Certified Translation

If you have personal documents that would not be submitted for legal proceedings, then you can sit back and relax. You do not need certified translations of these sorts of things. It could be anything from old family letters, other personal documents or family histories. There also is no need to have the translated content of a website certified. That has remained a fairly common guideline except for in a few rare cases.

You might still have questions though and that’s ok. The best advice we can give you is to ask the institution, government body, or company that is requiring the documents. They will know what they need and whether or not they need it to be certified. Every institution will have their own requirements.

Contact us now for a quote for certified translation services and we will get back to you within the hour.

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