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What is a Certified Translation And When Do You Need It?

Certified Translation
What is a Certified Translation And When Do You Need It?
on May, 11 2017

People new to translation services often ask the question:

What is a Certified Translation?

A certified translation is a statement signed by a translation company representative or the translator who carried out the translation. It attests that the final target language translation is an accurate and complete translation of the text from the source language.

At times, the certification needs to be notarized. However, the notarization does not certify that the translation is accurate. It just means that the document was presented to a Public Notary to attest that the signature on the certification is authentic.

The certification usually bears the title “Statement that Two Documents Have the Same Meaning” or "Certificate of Accuracy."

Related Post: The Many Definitions of Certified Translations



Set up in the United States

Unlike in many countries, the U.S. does not have state or federal certification/licensing for translators. The credentials for certain translators that work in specific language pairs in the U.S. are different from the weight that federal certification or licensing required in other countries carry. This does not undermine the fact that the U.S. has many experienced and excellent translators, despite them being not certified. The American Translators Association (ATA) offers language pair translator certification.

The need for certified translation services

In the United States, certified translations are usually required for all legal and official documents that must be presented to the country's authorities. These documents, written in a foreign language that is not officially spoken in the U.S. will have to be translated into English.

When a translator issues a Certificate of Accuracy, he, she or the company the translator works for guarantees that the translation is the faithful copy of the source or original text.

The types of documents that often require certified translations include:

  • Public records: Administrative documents such as crime reports, criminal records, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, voter registration forms, birth/death certificates, etc.
  • Private records: Contracts, references, employment certificates and more
  • Academic records: Academic qualifications, grades, etc.
  • Notarial deeds: Any kind
  • Legal documents: Verdicts, decisions, judgments, etc.

Related Post: Certified Translations Are Required for U.S. Immigration Documents


Instances when you need certified translation

Let's take a closer look at some of the situations when certified translation services are required.

  1. In the United States, one of the main key areas where certified translation is always required is immigration. The United States Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) requires that all documents of immigration applicants that are written in a foreign language should be translated into English. The translated documents should be certified. They should be translated by a professional translator or translation agency, accompanied by a Certificate of Accuracy. The USCIS has a suggested format for the certification. It must have the name of the translator and/or the translation agency, the translators or agency representative's signature, translator's/agency's address and the date when the document was certified.
  1. Certified translations are always required when dealing with legal paperwork not written in the official language, such as English. Documents that fall under this category include documentation used for hearings or trial such as evidence and trial transcripts. Documents in another language other than English that will be used in the United States and submitted to a government or legal body must always be certified translations.
  1. If you want to further your education by enrolling at a college or university in the U.S., your documents such as educational transcripts and diplomas should have certified translations if they are not written in English. This may include the submission of the original grade sheets together with the certified translation, which some schools require.
  1. Exceptional individuals who are eligible for employment-based immigration must submit evidence about overseas employment from a former employer. If your documents, including letters, recommendations and references are not in English you need to submit certified translations of these documents.
  1. Certified translation is also very much needed in the field of modern medicine. If a patient from a foreign country needs expert medical treatment in the United States, all of the patient's medical records need to have certified translations.

Medical Interpreting

This is crucial in order for English-speaking doctors to accurately learn about the patient's medical history, the medical procedures he had previously received, the prognosis, medication being administered and his doctors' recommendations. They can make the correct diagnosis and method/s of treatment when they can fully understand the patient's medical analysis.

There can never be miscommunication or mistranslation in a complicated medical report. That is why is it very critical that only experienced and professional subject matter experts make the certified translations of medical documents. This is to prevent costly and disastrous complaints of medical malpractice.

These are just some of the areas where certified translations are crucial. Aside from the documents previously mentioned, certified translations could also be required for bank statements, Apostilles, wills, deeds, research papers, police clearances, business plans and licenses, DNA exams and medical bills. Remember that whenever you have documents written in a foreign language that must be presented to government authorities and federal agencies in the United States, you need a certified translation.

Bernadine Racoma

Bernadine is a writer, researcher, professional and multi-awarded blogger and new media consultant. She brings with her a rich set of experience in the corporate world, as well as in the field of research and writing. Having taken early retirement after working as an international civil servant and traveling the world for 22 years, she has aggressively pursued her main interest in writing and research. You can also find Bernadine Racoma at .

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