Answering Your Frequently Asked Questions about Certified Translation Services


Certification of Translated Documents

Certified translations are a key requirement in many processes involving government entities.  Be it applying for citizenship, claiming public benefits, or entering a legal proceeding like adoption or divorce, you’ll be required to submit documentation proving your eligibility.  If these include non-English documentation, a complete certified translation into English will be necessary for acceptance by USCIS, universities, courts, or different government bodies. 

If you’ve been asked to submit a certified translation, you’ll likely have questions about the process of obtaining a certified translation services or just want an idea of what it is.  The more questions you ask- the better!  Getting a sure understanding of what you need to submit will help guarantee acceptance of your certified document translation, and move you forward in your application process.

Over our 15 years of experience providing professional translation services, our translation company has received our fair share of questions from our clients, covering a wide range of topics regarding certified translation.  We’ve put together a list of the most frequently asked questions which will hopefully serve as a guide for anyone who’s looking to have their personal or legal documents translated and certified.  

What is a certified translation?

A certified translation stands apart from other document translations, in that the translation is accompanied by a signed statement attesting to the accuracy and completeness of the translation, which has been done to the best of the translator’s knowledge and ability.  This statement is the “Certificate of Accuracy”, generally prepared by the translator or translation company that rendered the translation.

What’s included in a certified translation?

Once completed, the certified translation document will include 3 parts, bound together, and assembled often in the following order:

  1. The Certificate of Accuracy, signed and sealed and if necessary- notarized.
  2. A typed copy of the translation, completed word for word from a copy of the original (or source sent) document.
  3. The original or copy of the original document.

All three parts are necessary for a certified translation to be in compliance with the requirements.

Can you certify my document?

No.  The translator or translation company can only be authorized to sign off on the statement contained in the Certificate of Accuracy.  Language service providers will not and should not place their signature upon any other document for the purpose of submitting that document alone.  This is critical, as we’ve frequently received requests to ‘certify’ personal documents like a birth certificate- without a need for translation.  We cannot notarize a document that was issued by another organization, we can only notarize the certificate of translation after performing the translation of the document.

Note: Certified translations provided by JR Language include our raised corporate seal, affixed to the bottom corner of each page- including the copy of the original documents.  The seal serves as a ‘proof’ that all aspects of certified translation were done through our Translation Company.

I’ve translated my own document.  Can you certify it?

No.  We cannot attest to the accuracy or completeness of a translation performed by any individual or party outside of our translation company.  Neither can we attest to the linguistic knowledge and ability of an external party.

This question often comes from a place of reasonable concern regarding confidentiality of a client’s personal documents.  It can be tempting particularly if you are a native speaker of the language your document happens to be in.  But to assure compliance with the strict guidelines outlined by government agencies like USCIS, it is in your best interest not to take that chance.  You can count on JR Language’s extensive pool of experienced, qualified translators who’ve been well vetted for their skills and ability to produce accurate, professional translations.

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

Both terms are frequently used interchangeably.  However, the term “notarized translation” is actually a misleading one, since a translation itself cannot be notarized.  Rather, a notarization is used as an ‘additional layer’ of certification authenticating the signature on the Certificate of Accuracy.

The notary public who provides the notarization verifies the identity of the person signing the certification statement by adding their own signature and notary seal on the certification page after witnessing the signing.  The notary public has no involvement in reviewing or performing the translation.

The decision of whether or not to get a certified translation notarized, lies in the requirements provided for your specific application.  For most purposes, a certified translation will do, but it will be well worth your time to make sure you know exactly what types of certifications you need- prior to making a formal request.

What’s an apostille, and when would I need it?

If you have a document that will be used in another country, it may be necessary to have it apostilled.  This requirement is established by the organization receiving the foreign documents.

As defined by the NYS DoS, an apostille is an authentication of a public document issued pursuant to the 1961 Hague Convention. Public documents issued by a signatory country can be recognized by other signatory countries if such documents are authenticated by an Apostille.  Here’s a link to the list of signatory countries who are current members of the Hague Convention.

If you need an apostille for your certified translation, you’ll need to have it notarized prior to forwarding it to the Department of State.  Be mindful that the full process from notarization to apostille has to be done within the same state where the notarization took place.

How soon can you get it done?

Turnaround times will generally depend on size of the source document, linguist availability, and the level(s) of certification you need.  Since the apostille process can take anywhere from one to two weeks, you can probably expect to receive the fully certified translation in at least 2 weeks from the date we start working on your translation. But the time can vary depending on the workload of the Department of State. So, plan your apostilled translation as soon as you know you need one.

The languages you need, and document type you have will determine which translator we select.  We have more translators available for certain languages than others, and not all of them are qualified to translate specialized content such as financial documents and medical records.  A Spanish to English translation of a birth certificate or diploma can be assigned almost immediately and completed within our standard 3 business day turnaround- or sooner as a rush service.  On the other hand, a Persian to English translation of medical records will likely require more time before the right linguist is assigned.

No matter what language or document you need translated, it is always best to plan ahead!

How do you price a certified translation?

Pricing depends on languages required, subject matter, your desired turnaround time, and delivery format.  Languages that are less common will be priced at a higher rate than the more common languages such as Spanish and French.  Subject matter complexity of your document will also determine our rates.  Producing a professionally translated medical or financial document demands specific skill sets and knowledge that not every translator has.

Our translation company commits to a standard completion time of 3 business days for translation of documents that are up to 2,500 words long.    Faster turnaround times are possible and would be considered a rush translation service which is subject to an expedited fee.

Be aware that longer documents that would normally take more than 3 business days of translation time could still be subject to a rush fee depending on when you need the completed translation.  In order for us to give you an idea of how soon we can finish translating a longer document at our standard rates, we’ll need to review a copy of it which you can send securely through our free quote request in our website.

You may receive certified translations electronically in a PDF format, or have it shipped directly to your desired address.  Electronic delivery via email is free.  Shipment costs apply and vary depending on how soon you must receive it.  Read our translation rates, you’ll have our list of delivery options we offer.

Feeling Confident about your Certified Translation!

If you have additional questions pertaining to certified translations, we want to answer them!  Our goal is to help you understand what you need, and ultimately deliver top quality certified translations to help you move ahead in your application process.

Whether you need a simple birth certificate translation, translation of vaccination records or more complex translations of legal documents such as adoption decrees, our translation company is prepared to deliver certified translation services you can count on.

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