Emigrating usually comes with a lot of paperwork. One of the most important documents when it comes to life in a new country is your birth certificate.
In the United States in particular, birth certificates are required for all sorts of paperwork, most of which have specific requirements.
In this article, we’ll cover a lot of questions regarding how to translate a birth certificate, particularly focusing on translation services for immigration purposes.
But first, let’s get some context.
- What is a birth certificate?
- When to translate a birth certificate
- What is a certified translation?
- Can I translate my birth certificate on my own?
- Does a translated birth certificate need to be notarized for USCIS?
- How much does it cost to get a birth certificate translated?
How to translate a birth certificate
- 1. Find an appropriate translator or translation company to translate your birth certificate.
- 2. Ask for a quote and delivery time for your translation.
- 3. Submit an electronic copy of your birth certificate to the translation provider of your choice.
- 4. When the translation is complete, it will be reviewed for accuracy.
- Other things you should know
- Final thoughts
What is a birth certificate?
A birth certificate is a legal document that summarizes your birth record; it includes your date of birth (serving as proof of your age), along with your name and where you were born. This document is issued by the government of the country in which you were born. The format and issuing entity of a birth certificate vary from country to country.
This document is often used as proof of identity for various types of paperwork like applying for a passport or a driver’s license.
When to translate a birth certificate
You will need to translate your birth certificate if it’s in a foreign language and are required to submit it before an official authority.
Birth certificate translations are often required for immigration purposes in the United States, such as when applying for a resident visa. Your education provider might also ask for a translation of your birth certificate when studying abroad.
Here are some of the events and paperwork that require you to translate your birth certificate:
- Passport application
- Driver’s license application
- Social security benefits
- School enrolment
Do you have to translate your birth certificate for USCIS?
As we’ve mentioned above, yes, you do. If you are applying for permanent residence, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires your birth certificate and its relevant translation if the original is not in English. USCIS needs this as proof of your identity and also to check the kind of visa you require and if there are any causes for rejection.
USCIS doesn’t just ask for a birth certificate translation, it has some strict specifications. The translation must be typed, not written; it should follow the same format as the original; and be certified. The certified translation should be printed with the translation provider’s letterhead and include a certification statement, as we’ll see below.
The main information the US Citizenship and Immigration Services needs from your birth certificate are your full name, place and date of birth, your parents' full names, and a seal that verifies it’s an official record from the issuing office.
It’s essential to follow all requirements to make sure your translation is accepted by the USCIS and avoid delays in the immigration process.
You’ll find the section from the Code of Federal Regulations that discusses USCIS translation requirements here.
What is a certified translation?
A certified translation is a literal (word-for-word) translation of all visible text in a document used for official purposes. The receiver (USCIS, in this case) requires certification to verify that the translation is complete and accurate.
The translator or translation company will also add a signed statement that says the translation is a complete and accurate rendition of the original document. This statement is also known as a “Certificate of Translation Accuracy.”
It is worth noting that, in the United States, a translator does not need to be certified at a federal or state level to provide a certified translation service. Anyone with sufficient skills in the relevant languages can issue the translation.
You can learn more about certified translations here.
Can I translate my birth certificate on my own?
USCIS particularly bans you from translating your own birth certificate. The translation shouldn’t be done by friends or family either, even if they are professional translators, as this is seen as a conflict of interest and a cause for rejection.
Does a translated birth certificate need to be notarized for USCIS?
No, USCIS requires translations to be certified, but not notarized. Notarized translation entails a Notary confirming the identity of the person signing the Certificate of Translation Accuracy.
Some cases where you might need a notarized translation include US passport applications, employment contracts, and school transcripts.
You can find more information about notarized translations in this article.
Can notaries translate birth certificates?
If they have the relevant knowledge and experience, Notaries can certainly issue a translation for a birth certificate and certify it. However, they cannot notarize their own translation.
They have to choose between issuing a certified translation of the document and having someone else carry out the notarization or asking someone else to take care of the certified translation and issuing the notarization themselves.
How much does it cost to get a birth certificate translated?
The price for translation services varies depending on different factors. It will definitely depend on the length of the document to be translated but price variations can also be due to the specific language combination and whether it needs to be certified. There may also be a rush charge if you need your birth certificate translated urgently.
For this article, we’ll consider certified translation as that’s what you are most likely to need for your birth certificate. Translators or translation companies tend to charge per word or page (one "page" is about 250 words). When it comes to cost per word, prices range from $0.08 to $0.50/word. The cost per page may range from $20 to $130 per page.
RushTranslate provides certified birth certificate translation services for 65 languages, at $24.95 per page, with 24-hour delivery and 100% guaranteed approval by USCIS.
How to translate a birth certificate
Now that we’ve covered any questions you may have about birth certificate translations, we’ll move on to the translation process. We’ll break it down in steps below.
1. Find an appropriate translator or translation company to translate your birth certificate.
If you need your document for immigration purposes, you should ensure they offer immigration translation and have a 100% acceptance rate with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
2. Ask for a quote and delivery time for your translation.
Both of these may vary according to the length of the document, the format, the specific language combination, whether it needs to be certified, and if you need the translation urgently. However, birth certificate translations usually have a 24-72h turnaround.
3. Submit an electronic copy of your birth certificate to the translation provider of your choice.
You should include your details (such as your name, phone number and email address), the language of the original language document (source language) and the language you need the translation in (target language).
4. When the translation is complete, it will be reviewed for accuracy.
You will then receive an electronic copy and hard copies by post as needed.
As you can see, the process is fairly simple and shouldn’t take long.
Other things you should know
There are some details we weren’t able to cover above that we thought you might find useful.
- A certified translation does not expire. It is valid forever unless the requesting agency says otherwise, which is rare.
- We’ve already mentioned you cannot translate your own birth certificate. Google translate is not a valid option either. In addition to potential accuracy issues, Google translate certainly does not meet USCIS requirements.
- You cannot carry out name changes or spelling corrections in the translation of your birth certificate. A certified translation must be an accurate representation of the original and will reflect any errors found in it. If you want the errors fixed, you should contact the office that issued the birth certificate to get a corrected document.
- The translation needs to be comprehensive and include any seals or stamps found in the original birth certificate. If something is not clear enough to read, the translator should state it as “illegible” in the translation.
Although birth certificates are most commonly translated for submission before USCIS, there are many other times you might use this service. You should always check the specific requirements from the institution or agency that asks for the translation, including whether it needs to be certified and/or notarized.
We hope this article has given you a clear overview of how to translate a birth certificate and answered your questions related to this topic.
Updated August 31, 2022 in Translation