There are a number of reasons why you might need to get a document translated, but in some cases, translation alone might not be enough. Particularly when it comes to legal documents, you may be required to prove that the translation service you used was qualified and trustworthy.
To do this, you will need one of two things: a certified translation or a notarised translation. While each of these provides proof that a document has been professionally translated, there are a few key differences between the two, and the type you need to use depends on the reason for the translation. Here, we’ll go through the differences in more detail, and tell you when to use each one.
Certified translation must be completed by a professional translator
Certified translation simply means that a document’s translator is a qualified professional, and has included a signed declaration confirming this. A translation can be certified if produced under one of three conditions: when the document has been translated by an “official translator”, when the document has been certified by the translator or translation company, or when the document was signed in front of a solicitor or notary. Certified translations should include the translator’s name, signature, contact information, and the date of the translation.
Outside the UK, each country tends to have its own list of official translators who should be called for certified translations. These translators will have been appointed by the government in order to control the quality of the translations. For example, in Spain, official translators are appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who must include their own unique seal with each translation submitted.
While there isn’t such a thing as a government-endorsed official translator available in the UK, there are professional institutions that regulate the translation industry instead, such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists, and the Association of Translation Companies. At London Translations, all of our translators are members of the Association of Translation Companies, so you can be sure that you’re getting a high-quality translation.
When to get a certified translation
Certified translations tend to be used most for translating legal documents. These include:
- Birth certificates
- Death certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Business contracts
- Immigration papers
- Court transcripts
Notarised translations have been certified by a notary
While certified translations must be completed by an official translator or equivalent, and have a focus on quality, notarised translations have more of a focus on following official procedures. Translations must therefore be overseen by a notary—who has simply been authorised by the government to oversee legal formalities. In these cases, anyone can provide the translation, as they simply need to declare that the translation is accurate to the best of their knowledge, and sign an affidavit to this end. The translator must sign a certificate statement with the notary as a witness, who will also provide the translation with their stamp and signature.
Since the notary may not themselves be multilingual, they will be unable to check that the translated document is in fact accurate. The signature and stamp is simply to certify that the translator swore the translation is accurate. It notarises the certificate alone, rather than the translation itself. The notary also charges a fee for their services, which is usually added onto the cost of the translation service.
Obtaining a notarised translation in the UK can include additional steps. For example, if you wish to use the document abroad, it may need approval from the Foreign Office. Other countries can also request a consular legislation as well as the notarised translation, however, notaries should be able to arrange this all for you.
Generally, a notarised translation is more accepted abroad, as it has been certified by a government appointee. However, if you want to use your translated document abroad, you should always check with the institution requesting the translation in order to get the right one.
When to get a notarised translation
Notarised translations are usually used for education-based documents. These include:
- Degree certificates
- Professional qualifications
- Other administrative documents
For expert help and advice on picking the right translation service, contact London Translations today.