If you need your documents translated for official purposes, you will probably be asked for a certified translation. But what exactly is that? And what does a certificate of translation accuracy entail?
Well, just like official documents themselves, their translation requires special measures to ensure their accuracy and validity.
In a past article, we covered everything you need to know about certified translations. In this article, we’ll give you some background but focus more closely on the Certificate of Accuracy. We’ll also cover notarized translations and give you an overview of translation requirements in other countries.
- What is a Certificate of Accuracy?
- What is included in a certificate of translation accuracy?
- Why do you need a Certificate of Accuracy?
- What is a certified translation?
- What documents are commonly certified?
- What is a certified translator?
- What is a notarized certificate of translation accuracy?
- Why is notarization important?
- Requirements in other countries
- Final thoughts
What is a Certificate of Accuracy?
A Certificate of Accuracy—also called “certification statement”—is a statement through which the translator verifies the translation issued is complete and accurate. This certificate is a requirement for certified translations.
We’ll go over what a certified translation is in the next section but, first, let’s look into what makes up a Certificate of Accuracy and when you might need one.
What is included in a certificate of translation accuracy?
This certificate includes:
- A statement of the translator’s qualifications
- A statement that confirms the translation is complete and accurate
- A reference to the translated document and the language it is in
- The date of issue
- The translator’s full name and signature
Other information you may find in certificates of accuracy includes the name of the document, the number assigned to the translation project, and some contact information for the translator or translation company.
You should note that some government or educational institutions have additional requirements. They may ask for your certification of accuracy to be notarized. We’ll take a look at what a notarized translation entails later on in this article, but it’s important to note that you should always check the specific requirements before requesting your translation.
Some government entities may have a set certification statement ready for the translator or translation company to fill out. This is the case for the Alaska DMV, for example. You can take a look at their required certificate here. You can also check out this sample from Translated if you are wondering what one looks like.
Why do you need a Certificate of Accuracy?
A certificate of translation accuracy is a way to verify the translator working on your documents has the necessary qualifications. It is also a way to ensure the translation you are receiving is accurate. Moreover, a certification statement is a legal record that holds the translation provider to a high standard.
Beyond these assurances, a Certificate of Accuracy is often a requirement when submitting your documents before governmental or educational institutions.
Translations are usually certified for legal purposes. This may be when submitting them to government entities, applying to educational institutions, and for civil or criminal proceedings. If you are submitting documentation in a foreign language in any of these cases, you’ll need to get a certified translation and, therefore, a certification statement.
Here are some real-life examples that require certification:
- If you are applying for a visa, you’ll need certified translations of your documents before submitting them to the relevant immigration service agency. You can find more information about translating immigration documents in this article.
- Any documentation in another language to be submitted as evidence in a trial must also contain a certification statement.
- If you are applying to university, you’ll often need certified translations of your diploma and transcript.
In the United States, the institutions that require certified translations include the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), and the LLM Credential Assembly Service (CAS).
What is a certified translation?
A certified translation means the translator or translation company in charge of the translation adds a signed statement saying the translation is a complete and accurate rendition of the original document. This statement is the Certificate of Accuracy we’ve been discussing.
It is worth noting that, in the US, translators do not need to be certified at a federal or state level to provide a certified translation. Anyone with sufficient skills in the relevant languages can issue the translation. However, a certified translation must follow certain quality control protocols. This is why you should make sure that the person or company who works on your documents is a qualified translator or translation company.
What documents are commonly certified?
Here are some examples of documents that often require a certified translation service:
- Documentation for visa applications
- Legal documents for court cases
- Birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates
- Passports and driver’s licenses
- Patent filings
- Medical records
- Diplomas and transcripts
- Criminal record checks
- Adoption records
- Bank statements
What is a certified translator?
As we’ve mentioned above, translators don’t need to be certified themselves to issue a certification statement. However, we thought you might want to know what being a certified translator entails.
In broad terms, certified translators are those who have proven the quality of their work in some way. In the United States, they need to be satisfactorily tested by the government or a professional institution to earn their certification. The main institution providing translator certification in the US is the American Translators Association (ATA).
There are no specific educational or professional requirements to sit the ATA certification exam. However, translators need to be American Translators Association members and the exam requires certain training and preparation to be able to pass.
What is a notarized certificate of translation accuracy?
As we’ve mentioned, the institution or organization to which you’ll submit your documents may ask you to get your certification statement notarized.
A notarized translation is simply a certified translation that has been signed and sealed by a Notary Public. Given that notaries are not language specialists, they don’t certify the quality of the translation. What they do is confirm the translator’s identity.
Both the translator and the notary need to be present for the notarization. The notary witnesses the translator sign the Certificate of Accuracy. Once this is done, the notary stamps and signs the translation with their official seal.
As you can see, the main difference between a certified translation and a notarized translation is that the former certifies the quality and accuracy of the translation while the latter certifies the identity of the translator.
Documents that are often notarized include US passport applications, DMV documents (in some states), school transcripts, employment contracts, and vital records (such as birth, marriage and divorce certificates)
Depending on the institution that requests the documents, you might only need to have your translation certified, or both certified and notarized.
Why is notarization important?
Notarization helps detect and prevent document fraud. Therefore, it helps protect the personal rights and property of American citizens. This is why many documents are not valid unless notarized. Therefore, you should take care to ask for the exact requirements before submitting your documents and find a duly commissioned Notary Public.
You can find more information about notarized translations here.
Requirements in other countries
Different countries have different requirements when it comes to certificates of translation accuracy. For example, while in the United Kingdom the system is similar to that of the United States, some countries—like Spain or France—require sworn translations. These are issued specifically by sworn or public translators. These translators are certified by a translator’s association, or authorized or appointed by a government body—such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Justice.
Moreover, some countries accept translations issued in the country of origin, while others will require documents to be translated locally.
Another thing to note is that notarized translations submitted outside the United States might also need to be apostilled. An apostille is a document that authenticates the Notary’s seal and signature. This is issued by the Office of the Secretary of State of the state that has commissioned the Notary Public.
When you need to submit translated documentation in another country, be sure to check the local requirements.
Certificates of accuracy are a vital part of certified translations. They are an extra level of security to ensure your documents are translated accurately.
We hope this article has provided you with a comprehensive overview of this topic.
Remember that if you are requested to submit a certification statement for your documents, you should review all requirements before looking for a suitable translation provider.
Updated November 15, 2022 in Translation