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When do you need a certified translation?

A certified translation is something that our customers frequently need to seek out, and when it comes to translating official documents, having these legal papers certified by the appropriate authorities is essential. Yet there remains some confusion over certified translations, particularly in terms of when they are needed. This is potentially dangerous, especially as there could be serious legal ramifications for those who have neglected to translate any official documents.

In this article, we will explain what certified translation is, cover the broader situations in which a certified translation would be necessary, as well as provide some specific examples.

What is a certified translation and when do you need one?

Certified translations are documents which have been signed off by the translator themselves as a guarantee that the contents are reliable and accurate. In most cases, not only the translation, but the original document itself, is submitted to the relevant official body, along with a signed note of certification. This note must give the date of translation, a statement that the document is a “true and accurate translation of the original”, and the name of the translator and their agency.

Unlike other countries, the United Kingdom does not require official documentation to be translated by a specifically sworn translator. Sworn translators are used in continental Europe, in accordance with the civil law in those countries. For a translation to be certified in the UK, the translator must be recognised by a national translation body such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists, and work for an Association of Translation Companies-accredited agency. To be the UK-equivalent of a sworn translation, both documents need to be taken to a notary public.

Certification is required for the translation of official documents which need to be submitted to official bodies, particularly in the case of legal paperwork across all sectors.

Specific situations that require a certified translation

Certified translations are most often needed for any documentation which is going to be seen in court, educational establishments, or other government bodies outside of one’s home country. The most common purpose for a certified translation is for immigration documents, whether they are for a temporary or permanent stay. As these documents amount to a great deal of paperwork—including health, police, and government records—it is possible for an abridged version to be submitted for certified translation instead.

Many countries will insist that any commercial certificates and licenses—from driving licenses to health and safety training certificates—gained abroad be submitted in the native language of both the person submitting the document and of the professional body itself. For the purposes of recruitment and employment, it is also important to have certified translations of documents such as criminal record checks. Likewise, for those who have gotten married abroad, the marriage certificate and license will need to be certified when the couple returns to their home country.

International businesses may need certified translations for any global legal disputes they face, which is particularly prevalent in the internet age. Whilst major cases such as the antitrust suit filed by European public affairs agencies against Google will be able to afford interpreters throughout the entire trial, smaller international suits may simply require a basic certified translation of any evidential documents. Finally, anyone applying to international educational establishments will need to have any relevant transcripts, diplomas, and even application essays translated and certified.

Whilst it may be an area that spawns a great deal of confusion over when it is needed and what it entails, certified translation is a crucial part of the field. To discuss having London Translation complete a certified translation of your documents, contact us today.

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