When Your Documents May Need Extra Validation 

On occasion, you may be asked to provide written proof of the authenticity and quality of a translation. In these cases, you have the option to present either a certified copy, or a notarized certification.

As the client, you determine which one to use. Are you confident that you would choose the best type for your needs? Here’s how to decide.

A certified translation must have a signed document by the translation organization validating that the translation presented is true and accurate. In essence, it is a translated document with a signed letter by the translator or translating organization. They must attest to the accuracy of the translation.

A translator can be certified too. Organizations like the American Translator Association offer exams to translators to test and certify their language abilities. However, a certified translator does not always equal a certified translation. You must have the needed signed affidavit from the translator or translation service provider for it to qualify.

A notarized translation is the same as a certified translation, but with an extra step. To notarize a translation, an official government representative or notary of the public must be present to sign off on the document. 

In situations involving some government documents, a notary may act  as a representative to authenticate a document’s translation. When an important document must be verified, like a contract or will, a notary stands in as an official witness commissioned by the government to attest to the validation of the translator’s work.

“Certification is needed for a variety of corporate situations including: mergers and acquisitions, translation of financial statements, and testimonies from corporate officers.”

It is important to know when you may need a certified translation or a notary. Legal and governmental situations require certified translations, and occasionally a notarized translation.

Certification is needed for a variety of corporate situations including: mergers and acquisitions, translation of financial statements, and testimonies from corporate officers.

Personal examples include: Court documents, birth certificates, university transcripts, wills, and documents pertaining to immigration. These translations will additionally need a notary.

Chances are that the notary cannot translate the document at hand. Therefore, they are not validating the translation but standing as a witness to the completion of the translator’s work. Also, a notary’s authority is limited.  They cannot give legal advice, or make any edits or corrections to a translation.

In some Spanish speaking countries, “public notaries” may refer to a professional with similar authority as a lawyer.

It is important to beware of legal professionals who advertise as public notaries in the U.S. They may be trying to fraudulently attract business in immigration situations from people who knew “public notaries” to be lawyers in their home country .

If you would like to certify your translated document, here’s what to include:

  • a copy of the document in its original language,
  • a translated copy,
  • a signed affidavit attesting to the accuracy of the document and the competency of the translator or translating service.

Be sure to contact an official notary of the public to properly conduct the appropriate document process if you would like to have your document notarized.

With the right certifications and the right translator, you can be more confident that your translated documents will be accepted and understood. Work with your translation service provider to ensure you have all the right tools in place to verify the accuracy of your translation and to create tighter understanding between you and your intended audience.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Linguistic Systems has delivered high-quality legal translations in 120+ languages for 50 years. We’ve served most of the AmLaw 100 and Fortune 100 legal teams. Trust us with your next translation project.