It is fairly common for families immigrating or that have already immigrated to the United States to need their documents translated. From visa requirements to registering children in school, translation services for families cover a wide variety of documents.

In this article, we’ll cover the different instances in which you might need translation services for families and the most common documents translated in these cases.

  1. When do you need translation services for families?
    1. Translating immigration documents
  2. Common documents that are translated
    1. Birth certificates
    2. Marriage certificates
    3. Annulment and divorce certificates
    4. Academic degrees and diplomas
    5. Police records
    6. Passports
    7. Driver’s licenses
    8. Medical records
  3. Final thoughts

When do you need translation services for families?

The most common reason to use translation services for families is when immigrating. If your documents are in a foreign language, you will need to translate them. And, in the U.S., have that translation certified.

However, that’s not the only time translation services for families are needed. You and your family might be applying for a temporary visa to visit or study in another country with a different official language. You and your family may be undergoing a naturalization process in the country you immigrated to.

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There are also day-to-day events that can require translation services for families. You might need documentation regarding custody arrangements translated. It can also happen that a bank or housing agency asks for documents such as your marriage certificate or divorce papers to be translated. Or you might need documents translated to enroll your children in school after immigrating.

We’ve mentioned quite a few examples of translation services for families. One of the most complex of all is immigration given how sensitive and complex this process is. Below, we’ll go into more detail on family translation services for immigration purposes.

Translating immigration documents

If you are planning on submitting an application before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with your family, you will need to translate any document not written in English. USCIS also requires the translations to be certified. This is a literal (word-for-word) translation of all visible text in a document that includes a signed statement or “Certificate of Translation Accuracy”. You can learn more about certified translations here.

Some of the documents U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may require are birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, criminal records, and passports.

You can learn more about translating immigration documents in this article.

In addition to the translation of documents, families that don’t speak English or are not proficient in the language may need help completing application forms. This is another instance in which translation services can be used to make the process easier.

Common documents that are translated

We’ve covered quite a few examples of when you might need translation services for families. In this section, we’ll give you an overview of the types of documents that are more commonly translated for families.

Birth certificates

A birth certificate is a legal document that summarizes your birth record. It includes information such as your date of birth (serving as proof of your age), your name, and where you were born. This document is issued by the government of the country in which you were born. It is worth mentioning that the format and issuing entity of a birth certificate change from country to country.

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This document is often used as proof of identity for various types of paperwork like applying for a passport or a driver’s license. Some of the events and paperwork that require you to translate your birth certificate are immigration, baptisms, marriage, custody proceedings, death, passport applications, and school enrollment.

You can find more information about how to translate birth certificates specifically for USCIS in this article. You can also find information about birth certificate translation services here.

Marriage certificates

A marriage certificate is an official document that proves any two people are married.

It is important to note that this is different from a marriage license. In the United States, a marriage license is a document you obtain before your wedding ceremony which authorizes you to get married.

Marriage certificates typically include the date and place of marriage, the name, date of birth, place of birth, marital status, and occupation of both spouses, the name and birthplace of the spouses’ parents, and the names of the witnesses.

You might need your marriage certificate translated for immigration purposes, to get your passport, or to register your marriage in the US if you married overseas.

You can read more about the translation of marriage certificates in this article and find information on translation services for them here.

Annulment and divorce certificates

Just as you might need your marriage certificate translated, you would also need to translate your annulment or divorce documents. These are proof of your marital status. Whereas an annulment cancels a marriage, a divorce certificate establishes the dissolution of a marriage.

When it comes to divorce, there are two main documents: a divorce decree and a divorce certificate. A divorce decree is a court document issued by a divorce court. It is a final judgment that includes information regarding spousal and child support, custody, and property division, among other items. A divorce certificate is usually issued by the office of vital statistics. The document shows that you are divorced as well as the names of the former spouses and the date and place of the divorce.

You should note that these documents vary greatly depending on the country. For example, some countries issue a divorce decree but not a divorce certificate. Here, vital records officers make a note on the marriage certificate with a reference to the divorce decree.

Annulment and divorce certificates might need to be translated as proof of divorce for immigration purposes, to obtain a visa or a passport, for inheritance purposes, or to get remarried.

You can find more information about divorce document translation services here.

Academic degrees and diplomas

If you are planning on studying overseas and taking your family along, you’ll likely need to translate your academic documents. These include diplomas, academic transcripts, recommendation letters, and course guides.

Take a look at this page to find info on university application translation services.

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Get your documents translated and certified by a professional translator in 60+ languages for just $24.95 per page with 24 hour delivery.

Police records

Other documents that families may need to get translated are criminal records. These show any criminal or traffic conviction you or your family members may have and often serves as proof that you have not committed any crime.

Police records might be required for immigration purposes, by potential employers, or to adopt a child.

You can find information about translation services for criminal records here.


Moving or traveling abroad might require you to translate your and your family members’ passports. You might also need to translate your passport if you are getting married abroad, to adopt a child or if traveling for medical purposes.

You can look at this page for more details on passport translation services.

Driver’s licenses

Just like with your passport, it is good to have your driver’s license translated when traveling or moving to another country. You can take a look at this article for more information about translating your driver’s license for the DMV in particular.

Take a look here for driver’s license translation services.

Medical records

If you or a family member suffer from a specific condition or have relevant family history, it is advisable to have your medical records translated before traveling or immigrating. Not to mention if you are traveling specifically for medical purposes.

These translations are extremely important to make sure your physician has all the relevant information to provide proper medical care. Moreover, immigration officers may ask for translations of these documents as well.

Some of the medical records that require translation are vaccination records, allergies, reports on medical conditions, medications you are taking, treatment plans, test results, and surgical procedures.

You can find more details about medical record translation services on this page.

Although these are the main documents that require translation services for families, others include death certificates, adoption documents, name changes, and bank statements.

Moreover, a family may need help in the various processes we mentioned if they do not speak English. In some cases, you might need interpretation services. You can find more information on interpretation and how it differs from translation in this article.

Final thoughts

Moving to another country can be stressful, especially when it involves the whole family. When dealing with documents in a foreign language, finding the right professional translation service can take a lot of the stress out of this process.

Keep in mind that you should always check the translation requirements before requesting a translation. This might include notarized or certified translations.

We hope this article gave you a good overview of why you might need translation services for families and what kind of documents are translated. If you want more information about translation services for families, including cost and turnaround, you can find it here.

Updated November 22, 2022 in Translation