Apostille, certified, sworn? An easy guide on official translations (part 1)

Have you ever needed an official translation? A college certificate or a license? It probably felt like going through a maze. Certification, legalization, apostilling—the bumbledom language never ceases to confuse and irritate.

Let’s cut this red tape short, shall we? 

Official translations: what are they?

An official translation is an umbrella term for many types of document translation. The name seems quite simple, but there’s a catch. There isn’t one single way of officializing a translation. It depends on:

  • The nature od the document
  • Its final purpose
  • The receiving country

Certified translation: official, but not legal

A certified translation happens when the translator or a translation agency attests that the translation is faithful, accurate, and complete. This is usually done by signing and stamping each page of the translation and accompanied by a translator’s affidavit.

Any translator or translation agency can self-certify the translation. Want to give more weight to the stamp? Choose a provider who’s a member of an association like the American Translators Association (ATA). Like yours truly.

A certified translation does not have legal value, though. To do so, it has to pass through notarization.

Notarization: legalizing a translation in the US

A notarized translation is when the translator swears an oath before the Notary Public that he or she has translated the document faithfully and accurately.

Does this mean a notary public is also a language specialist? Not by a mile. Notaries public don’t attest to the quality of the translation. Instead, they verify the translator’s identity so that the language expert can be held accountable for the translation produced.

By notarizing, your translation finally gets legal value in your country, as well.

How to make your translation legal in another country?

In this article, we shed some light on what it means to certify your translation and make your translated text have legal value in the US. What happens when you need to have your translations legally valid in another country?

Make sure you hover over next week to find out.