There are many circumstances in which a person might need a certified translation, but they often don’t know what this entails.
- What is a certified translation?
- How does certification work?
- How do I know if a translation is certified or not?
- What is included in a certification statement?
- When do you need a certified translation service?
- What kinds of translations are commonly certified?
- How much does a certified translation cost?
- What is the difference between a certified translation and a notarized translation?
- Requirements in other countries
- Final thoughts
What is a certified translation?
A certified translation is a literal (word-for-word) translation of all visible text used for official uses where the receiver requires certification to verify that the translation is complete and accurate. This type of translation is commonly required for submission to U.S. Immigration (USCIS), universities, courts, and governments.
When you need to submit a document written in a foreign language before a government or educational institution in the United States, it generally requires a certified translation. This means the translator or translation company in charge of the translation adds 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. However, the translation must follow certain quality control protocols. This is why translators sometimes turn to a third party to issue the Certificate of Translation Accuracy and why, if you need a certified translation, you should make sure that the person or company who completes it is qualified to do the work.
How does certification work?
We’ll explain how certification works by comparing it to a regular or non-certified translation.
When it comes to a certified translation, the document must be translated in its entirety, remaining as faithful as possible to the original text, even when it comes to formatting. The translation must include all visible text - including symbols, stamps, and signatures found in the original - and the translator must add a “not legible” note if any section of the document is not clear.
When it comes to regular translations, however, translations may be partial. This means that the client will decide how much of the original text gets translated. Additionally, translators may paraphrase the text to provide a better understanding of the content. Finally, the format of the original content may be changed to meet the client's requirements.
While non-certified translations may need to meet various client requirements that lead the translator to adapt content or formatting, the purpose of certified translations is to reflect exactly what is in the original document for legal and official purposes.
Moreover, unlike a regular translation that generally includes only the translated text, a certified translation requires the inclusion of a signed Certificate of Translation Accuracy.
How do I know if a translation is certified or not?
You should be able to tell if a translation is certified rather easily as it must contain a signed Certificate of Translation Accuracy. In addition to this certificate, a certified translation will be quite literal and direct.
Moreover, while in regular translations you may need just a section of the document to be translated, a certified translation needs to include the entirety of the original text.
What is included in a certification statement?
The certification statement or "Certificate of Translation Accuracy" includes the following:
- A statement that confirms the translation is complete and accurate
- A reference to the source document
- A listing of the source and target languages
- The full name and signature of the person that is attesting to the document
Keep in mind that certain government or educational institutions may have additional requirements. You should check the requirements of your end-user and ask about them before requesting your certified translation service.
When do you need a certified translation service?
Translations are generally certified for legal purposes. This includes procedures with government entities, applying to educational institutions, and 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.
For example, if you are applying for a visa, you’ll need a certified translation service before submitting your documents to the relevant immigration service agency. Any documentation in another language to be submitted as evidence in a trial must also have a certified translation. Furthermore, if you are applying to university, you’ll often need a certified translation of your diploma and transcript.
Some of the institutions that require certified translations are the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), and the LLM Credential Assembly Service (CAS).
As we’ve mentioned above, government bodies or educational institutions may have additional requirements when it comes to the certification statement for the documents you are submitting. They may also ask for your translation certification to be notarized. We’ll take a look at what a notarized translation entails later on in this article.
What kinds of translations 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
If you’re wondering what kind of documents do not require a certified translation service, these include texts or documents that won’t be submitted for official purposes. Web content and marketing materials are a couple of examples. However, you should always make sure to find a translator qualified for the specific task if you wish to obtain an accurate and adequate translation.
How much does a certified translation cost?
The price for a certified translation 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 type of document and the specific language combination. There may also be a rush charge if you need the documents urgently.
Translators or translation companies usually charge per word or page (the industry defines one "page" as 250 words). When it comes to cost per word, you’ll find prices ranging from $0.08 to $0.50/word. The cost per page usually ranges from $20 to $130 per page.
RushTranslate provides certified translation services starting at $24.95 per page, with 24-hour delivery and 100% guaranteed approval by USCIS.
What is the difference between a certified translation and a notarized translation?
As we’ve mentioned, the institution or organization to which you’ll submit your documents may ask you for a notarized translation.
Given that a Notary is not a language specialist, they don’t certify the quality of the translation. A notarized translation entails a Notary confirming the identity of the person signing the Certificate of Translation Accuracy. After this, the Notary stamps and signs the Certificate of Translation Accuracy with their official seal.
Therefore, 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 adds an additional layer of authentication.
It is also worth noting that, if you submit your translation outside of the United States, you might need to have it apostilled. An apostille is a document that authenticates the Notary’s seal outside of the US to the 116 countries that are members of the Hague Convention.
You can find more information about notarized translations here.
Requirements in other countries
It is important to note that different countries have varying requirements when it comes to certified translations.
For example, while in the United Kingdom the system is similar to that of the United States, some countries—such as Spain or France—require sworn translations. This can only be issued 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.
When you need to submit translated documentation in another country, be sure to check the specific requirements.
As you can see, there are many circumstances in which certified translation services are required. The process is quite straightforward, but you should make sure to find the right professional or company for the job. Also, be sure to inquire about all the requirements in advance to avoid any issues when submitting your documentation.
Updated July 11, 2022 in Translation