In this article, we’ll explain what a notarized translation is, when you might need one, and some other common questions that arise regarding this topic. We’ll also explain the difference between a notarized translation and a certified translation, as these two are sometimes mixed up.
- What is a notarized translation?
- How do you notarize a translation?
- What is a Notary Public?
- When do you need notarized translation services?
- What is the difference between notarized and certified translations?
- Requirements in other countries
- Final thoughts
What is a notarized translation?
A notarized translation is a certified translation that has been signed and sealed by a Notary Public. We’ll look into what a certified translation entails in a different section of this article and just focus on what a notarized translation entails for now.
It’s important to know that the Notary’s signature and stamp on a notarized translation are meant to confirm the identity of the person who's signature has certified the translation. It does not authenticate the original source document nor does it imply anything in regards to the quality of the translation itself. A notarized translation is simply an additional authentication for the certified translation.
How do you notarize a translation?
Notarized translations are issued by Notaries Public. Notaries can be independent or work for a company.
As we’ve mentioned, notarization is issued for a certified translation. The translation certificate is first signed in the presence of the Notary, who then signs and stamps the same translation certificate.
The Notary also keeps a record of each notarial act they perform in case any questions arise in the future.
Digital vs. physical notarization
A notarized translation can be digital or physical. Both kinds are valid across the United States but some institutions ask for the original hard copy. You should check the specific requirements to make sure you get the version you need.
What is a Notary Public?
In the United States, a Notary Public is an individual who has been authorized by a government body - usually the Office of the Secretary of State - to notarize documents. Notarization is meant to prevent fraud when it comes to signing important documents.
Notaries make sure the person signing a document is who they say they are and that they are signing the document of their own free will.
Outside of translation, notarization is commonly required for documents such as wills, powers of attorney and property deeds.
Although requirements vary between states, to become a Notary, one has to fill out an application, pay the application fee, take a training course (if applicable), pass an exam (if applicable), file the bond and oath of office, and buy the proper notary supplies.
When do you need notarized translation services?
Notarized translation requirements vary and will depend on the institution to which you are submitting your documents. In the United States, you may need notarized translations services for the following documents:
- US passport applications
- DMV documents (in some states)
- Court documents (in some states)
- School transcripts- Foreign diplomas
- Employment contracts
- Loan agreements
- Articles of incorporation
- Bank statements
- Vital records (such as birth, marriage and divorce certificates)
You may also need notarized translation services if you are sending documents issued in the United States to another country.
Do immigration translations need to be notarized?
In the United States, immigration documents do not require a notarized translation. However, USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) does require documents in a foreign language to be submitted with a certified translation. You can take a look at the USCIS translation requirements here.
Why is notarization important?
The importance of notarization lies in the fact it helps detect and prevent document fraud. In this way, notarization helps protect the personal rights and property of American citizens.
For this reason, 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.
What is the difference between notarized and certified translations?
As we’ve mentioned, a Notary Public notarizes a certified translation. So, what’s the difference between notarized and certified translations? The short answer is the involvement of a Notary Public.
When you get a certified translation the translator or translation agency adds a signed statement that attests to having provided a complete and accurate translation of the original document. This statement is also known as a “Certificate of Translation Accuracy.” This means a certified translation attests to the quality of the translation.
In contrast, notarized translation entails a Notary Public confirming the identity of the person who signs the Certificate of Translation Accuracy and witnesses their signing of the document. After this, the Notary signs and stamps the Certificate of Translation Accuracy with their official seal.
Moreover, 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. Meanwhile, a Notary Public does need to be authorized by a government body to notarize a document.
Depending on the institution that requests the documents, you might need just a certified translation or both a certified and a notarized translation.
Moreover, if you are submitting 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 and signature and is issued by the Office of the Secretary of State of the state that has commissioned the Notary Public.
If you want to know more about certified translations, you can find extra information in this article. Also, if you are in need of certified translation services, you can find information about our qualifications, rates and working languages here.
How do I know which one I need?
Again, whether you require just a certified translation or need it to be notarized as well, will depend on the institution to which you are submitting your documents. You should always check the specific requirements before proceeding with your translation.
Moreover, you should also ask if the end-user for your documents has any specific requirements regarding formatting and submission of your notarized or certified translation.
Can I translate my own documents?
You can technically translate and even certify your own documents (and those of family members) if you are fluent in both languages. However, this is generally frowned upon and may cause your translation to be rejected.
Professional translators are the best way to go if you need a certified translation as they specialize in this line of work and are aware of any specific procedures and requirements. Therefore, we advise you to always turn to a professional translator or translation agency.
Can a Notary Public both certify and notarize a translation?
If they have the relevant qualifications, Notaries can of course issue a translation and certify it. However, they cannot notarize their own translation.
Therefore, either they choose to issue a certified translation of the document and have someone else carry out the notarization or they ask someone else to take care of the certified translation and issue the notarization themselves.
However, a translation company may offer both certified and notarized translation services, which can make your life easier when you need both services.
What is an official translation?
“Official translation” is another term that you may hear in the context of certified or notarized translations. An official translation is basically one that has been stamped by an authority.
The term is more general than “certified translation” or “notarized translation” and, depending on the country, it can be used to mean these two types of translations or sworn or apostilled translations. Within the United States, however, you only need to worry about notarized and certified translations.
Requirements in other countries
It is important to note that different countries have different requirements when it comes to submitting translations of official documents.
For example, when it comes to certified translations, in the United Kingdom the system is similar to that of the United States. However, some countries—such as Spain or France—require sworn translations instead of certified ones. These 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.
When it comes to notarized translations in the UK, they also only certify the identity of the translator but British Notaries are not just authorized by the government. They are actually qualified lawyers who are appointed by the Court of Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This works similarly in a large number of countries, such as Mexico, Portugal and Turkey.
You should also consider that some countries accept certified and notarized translations issued in the country of origin, while others will require documents to be translated and/or notarized locally.
If you ever need to submit translated documentation in another country, be sure to check the specific requirements.
Notarized translation services are quite important when it comes to submitting certain official documents. We hope you now understand what a notarized translation is and that this article has answered any other questions you may have had on this topic.
If you are currently looking for notarized translation services, you can find information about our notarization process here.
Updated July 11, 2022 in Translation