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When our clients enquire about the translation of certain kinds of documents, we often ask: “Do you need a court certified translation?” This is a crucial piece of information as it can mean the difference between your document being accepted or rejected by a competent institution. Our experience has taught us to recognise our clients’ needs when it comes to certified translations and to answer their most frequent questions. This is the aim of a new series of two articles on certified translations. We will start by covering the basics and then address common challenges in this type of translation.
What are certified translations and when do you need them?
Certified translations (also commonly known as sworn translations) are official documents that can be submitted to legal authorities at home or abroad. Simply put, a certified translation of (for instance) a birth certificate or diploma is legally equivalent to the original document. Certified translations are indispensable when you are required to submit any kind of official documentation to a foreign institution, for example when moving abroad, studying at a foreign university, applying for tenders, or expanding your business to foreign markets.
How do they differ from regular translations and who can prepare them?
The legal nature of these translations means that they cannot be prepared by any translator; instead, only properly trained professionals are certified to do them. In Slovenia, these sworn court interpreters are appointed by the Ministry of Justice and the full list of appointees can be found in the Register of Court Interpreters. At Alamma, we work with a dedicated team of court interpreters, who prepare top-notch certified translations for our clients. Apart from being considered official documents and only being done by court-appointed translators, the process of court certified translation is unique. The translation has to be bound with the original document using a string (typically sporting the national colours of the issuing country), equipped with a statement that the translation fully corresponds to the original, signed, and stamped by the interpreter. A certified translation may not be freely copied or reproduced due to its status as an official document.
Which document translations have to be certified?
Since certified translations are legally equivalent to their respective source documents, they are most frequently needed for certificates, authorisation letters, contracts, and other legal documents. Any document to be submitted to a (foreign) institution will most likely need to be translated by a court interpreter. Translations of the following documents are most frequently certified: birth and marriage certificates, diplomas, certificates of good conduct, or criminal records, court judgements, official records, authorisation letters, passports, contracts, regulatory documentation (for example marketing authorisations in the pharmaceutical sector), inspection records etc. An exhaustive list of documents that require certified translation does not exist, as any kind of document can be translated and certified, if needed. The simplest answer to the question when you need a certified translation would thus be: whenever the competent authority demands it.
How can I order a certified translation?
The short instructions below give you all the necessary information on how to order a high-quality certified translation with us.
Send or deliver the original document: the original physical document must be bound together with the translation. This means that you will have to deliver it to our office by hand or send it by post. If the document itself is unique (e.g., a passport or diploma), the translation can also be bound with a certified copy, which can be obtained from a notary public. To speed up the translation of your document, you may send us a scan of the original document ahead of time by e-mail, which will allow our translators to start working on it. In this case it is crucial that the scanned document and delivered original are absolutely identical.
Provide all information necessary for translation: the language you want it translated into, desired deadline, and any other specifics which may be relevant (e.g. the country you will submit the certified translation to, any terminology specifics, if you need just one version of the certified translation or several copies). See our exhaustive list on how to place translation orders.
Ask if you are unsure if you need a certified translation: based on our experience, we are sometimes able to tell if your document is likely to require a certified translation or not. However, you must always double-check with the institution to which you will submit the translated document. The best course of action is to inquire with the competent authority in advance whether they require the translation to be certified.
How long does it take and how much does it cost?
Owing to the fact that certified translations are legal documents for which the court interpreter is held liable, the prices are slightly higher than for standard translations. As always, the cost will depend on the language combination and scope of the text. Certified translations demand a little more time, as the process includes delivery of the document to us and to the translator, printing the translation and binding with the original, and finally delivering everything to you. All certified translations entrusted to our agency are proofread by a native speaker of the target language and carefully checked for quality by our project managers before delivery.
We will be happy to send you a price quote and timeline for a certified translation of your documents. Send us your enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In our second article we will answer some more questions about certified translations, such as: what to do if no court interpreters have been appointed for a specific language combination and how to order multiple copies.
Do you have any other questions that were not addressed here that you would like us to tackle in our next article? Submit them in the comments below or write to us at email@example.com. We are always here to help!