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Bureaucracy requires many procedures that can become a hassle. When dealing with more than one government, such protocols are multiplied. This can make choosing official document translation services confusing. What are official document translation services? How “official” is official enough? How can you make the translation official?

Translation services are needed when moving, working, and studying abroad. Thus, it is imperative that any document translations are recognized by international governments. Keep reading to learn how one can get official certified document translations quickly and easily.

When Do You Need Official Document Translation Services?

A government will ask for official translations of documents such as, but not limited to, the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Police record
  • Driver’s license
  • Patent
  • Adoption paperwork
  • Certificate of Foreign Government
official document translation services

Any personal document that needs to be translated for official use needs to have a certified or notarized translation.

Translating a driver’s license is often one of the first translation needs a traveler has as they seek another driver’s license in their new country of residence. Immigration is a commonplace reason for acquiring document translations

Other situations like a court trial or a corporation opening an office abroad will need translations for certain records. These could be anything from bank deposits to deposition records to confidentiality agreements.


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What Makes a Document Translation “Official”?

Every office has its own requirements about what kinds of translations it will accept. Further, many offices require special forms to be filled out and turned in together with the translation, so we can’t give a single definition of what an official document translation is.

However, what we can do is explain what some common requirements are so that you know what kind of document translation services to order.

We’ll explain:


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What Are Certified Translations?

Simply put, a certified translation is a translation that comes with a signed letter from the translator or a translation company swearing that the translation is true and accurate.

That’s it.

Sometimes the certification letter might be on a separate sheet of paper from the translation, and sometimes the translation and certification statement may be delivered on the same sheet of paper.

A basic certification letter might read something like this:

“COMPANYNAME hereby certifies that the translation and review of the DOCUMENTLANGUAGE document into TARGETLANGUAGE was performed by professional linguists whose native language is the target language of the document and, to the best of our knowledge and belief, is a true, accurate and complete rendering of the original document that was provided to us.”


Various offices might have different requirements for the certification. They might require:

  • Both the certification letter and the translation to be on the company letterhead.
  • The certification letter to say, “I, SIGNER’SNAME, hereby certify that . . .”
  • The certification letter to say something like, “The translator is not a family member, friend, or business associate of the owner of the translated document.”

So a certified translation is basically a translation accompanied by a certification letter as described above. If the office requesting a translation has any special requirements about the certification letter, be sure to take special note of them.

IVANNOVATION provides document translation and certification. You can get a quote for certified translations here.

personal document translation and notarization

Although it may be tempting asking a nephew or other family member to translate your official documents for you, such informal translations will not be accepted.


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What Are Notarized Translations?

A notarized translation goes further in assuring the accuracy of an official translation. The translator or project manager must swear under oath before a notary public the translation is true and accurate. Additionally, a notary stamp and notary seal is placed on the translated document.

Notarized translation services

A notary applies her notary seal to a document. Notarization is an additional way to formalize a document translation. Notarized translations are required by some offices.

The most common type of paperwork that requires a notarized translation is education-related. Contracts and loan agreements are other examples that require this process as well.

IVANNOVATION provides document translation and notarization for official use. You can get a translation here.

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Getting An Apostille

An apostille is a form of authentication issued by a national government for paperwork intended to be sent overseas. Only countries participating in the Hague Convention accept apostilles, with the list found here.

Apostilles assure foreign governments that the signature on any certified document is true and valid. Typically before seeking an apostille from a government office, customers will need to have their translations notarized.

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Do I Need a Certified ATA Translator?

The short answer is: probably not, unless you have been given a requirement that says you do.

ATA stands for the American Translator Association. It offers a certification program for individual translators. It is a well respected certification program, but as the name suggests, it is a certification program for translators in the United States of America; other official certification programs exist for translators and interpreters in other countries and regions around the world.

So regarding whether you need a certified ATA translator to do your translation for you, if the official requirements outlined for your translation say that the translator must be an ATA certified translator, then, yes, it’s required, but that’s rare.

Typically when an office requests a certified translation, they are requesting what we outlined above in the section explaining certified translations.

Here we keep using the word “certified” but the word has a different meaning depending on the context. So next let’s clear up some misunderstandings about what “certified” means.

A translator translates a on the computer

Many people confuse the ideas of “certified translator” and “certified translation.” A “certified translator” is a person who has achieved professional certification. A “certified translation” is a translation accompanied by a certification document.

“Are Your Translations ATA Certified?”

We often hear this question: “Are Your Translations ATA Certified?” To answer this question we’ll need to clear up a couple common misconceptions.

As for the first misconception: the ATA certifies translators, not translations.

The ATA Certifies Translators, Not Translations

Don’t get “ATA certified translator” and “certified translation” confused. “ATA certification” is for individual translators and it helps them improve their translation careers by proving their linguistic qualifications. “Certified translation,” as explained above, is a translation that is accompanied by a letter that attests to the accuracy of the translation.

The first term refers to people. The second term refers to documents.

As for the second misconception: the ATA has certifications and memberships, and those are not the same thing.

ATA Certifications and Memberships Are Not the Same Thing

Don’t get “ATA certified translator” confused with the statement that “our company is a member of the ATA.” In the case of ATA certification, an individual translator goes through the process ATA has outlined to demonstrate his or her qualifications. In the case of company membership in ATA, just about any company can pay the fee and become a member of the ATA.

The first term refers to proving one’s qualifications. The second term refers to paying a membership fee to get on a list.

So to sum up:

If an office requires a translation by an ATA certified translator, then make sure you find an ATA certified translator. However, it’s rare that offices will require ATA certification since so many qualified translators around the world hold certifications from other international professional associations.


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Do I Need a Special Form to Verify the Translation?

Some offices require a special form to be filled out in addition to or instead of the certification letter.

For example, the South Carolina DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) requires an SC 4030 form to be filled out. So when going into the DMV, customers must bring the translation, the certification letter that names the translator, and an SC 4030 form that is filled and signed by the translator.

Likewise, the Massachusetts RMV (Registry of Motor Vehicles) requires the form LIC114 to be turned in with the translation.

Translating driver's licenses require official certified translations.

Some offices require a special form to accompany official document translations. For example, the SC DMV requires the SC 4030 form for all driver’s license translations.

So in the United States, at least, there’s no one single form that is used to certify translations for all official uses, but some departments in some states and countries may have their own special forms that they require in order for a translation to pass their requirements.

When you request official document translation services, be sure to tell about any special form requirements at the outset.

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Where To Find Official Document Translation Services

The Internet is a great place to start when searching for an official document translator. Different websites cater to specific languages, with the most popular one to find being Spanish. Even so, there is no reason why anyone should have trouble with obtaining their preferred service.


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Wondering how to choose document translation services? The features of a great translation company include industry experts, consulting services, native or fluent speakers, and an eye for textual accuracy. Prices can be depend on the language needed, number of words, and whether other services, such as notarization or shipping, are required. Therefore, since translation costs can vary depending on the situation, companies will give a document translation quote upon request.

A website like IVANNOVATION offers a three-step quality assurance process, human translators, and certified translations, and much more.

When looking for a company to translate immigration documents, for example, the aforementioned features are extremely important to consider. Since skimping on translations of official documents can cost you time and money and even cause legal problems down the road, it’s important to be sure to get quality document translations the first time.

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Conclusion

Certified and notarized translations are of high importance when sending documents between multiple countries. For an affordable price, anyone should be able to obtain a textually accurate copy of their paperwork in any language.

Certified and notarized are two categories that must be distinguished from one another. One or both will be needed depending on the official requirements.

This article is a great resource for how to embark on finding a certified or notarized translation for essential documents. The experience should be smooth and easy, considering the plethora of services available online.


About the Author: Althea holds a Bachelors in Economics, Cum Laude, from Iona College. She writes on a regular basis, interested in issues relating to society, global culture, the economy, and more. Althea also enjoys teaching herself languages and is aiming to become a polyglot. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

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