Certified translation: what is it, when is it used, and where can you order one?

Whether you’re a personal customer, a legal client or you work in human resources, there are plenty of occasions when you might need a certified translation. But what exactly is it?

What is a certified translation?

A certified translation is a translation that’s signed, stamped and dated by the translator (or translation company) to state that it is a true representation of the original text. It can then be used by official and legal bodies.

When and where can it be used?

This all comes down to what you need the translation for. In most cases, certified translations will be required for documents presented to official bodies, such as HMRC, government offices and courts. Whether this is for a marriage certificate or a criminal record check, the authority will be looking to confirm that the translation has been carried out by a professional, working from the original document.

Examples of certified translations:

• Official documents for visa applications
• Legal documents for court cases
• Academic documents and records for schools, colleges and universities
• Marriage, birth and death certificates for official use
• Criminal record checks for visa applications, HR and recruitment purposes

How does certification work?

Certified translations should include: a certification letter (signed, stamped and dated), the translation, and the original document. The original document doesn’t actually need to be the original; it can be a scanned copy, as long as it’s clear and legible. 

There are no strict regulations on how the certification letter should be written, but here’s a handy 3-point checklist to make sure that it ticks all the boxes:

What should a certified translation letter include?
• State that the translation is a “true and accurate translation of the original”
• The date the translation was completed
• The name and contact details of the translator or translation company, and their credentials

Where can I order a certified translation?

Many translation companies can provide certified translations.

While the UK has no system of “sworn” translators like many countries, it’s still vital that you check the accreditation and qualifications of the company carrying out the work. Make sure that the company you’re working with is a member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), or a similar industry-recognised association.

What’s the difference between a certified and notarised translation?

If you’re in need of a notarised translation, you will need an extra level of certification on top of the standard certification. In this case a notary will be required to witness the signing of the letter and add their seal to the document.

Notarised translations are often needed for legal and court documents, but there are some other occasions you may need one. If in doubt, it’s best to check with the official or legal body that has asked you for the translation to find out what is required.

Do you need a certified translation? Order yours online from Sure Languages here!

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