Certified translation for the US?
Thread poster: Kim Metzger

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
German to English
Dec 19, 2003

I've just been asked to provide a certified translation of a German divorce decree for a client living in the US. The client explains:
"In order for the document to be recognized for immigration matters it has to be a certified translation. In other words the person translating has to certify that it is a true translation and have that notarized or stamped. I attach the document for your viewing."
Here are the issues:
1. I am an ATA-certified translator but have never before looked into what a 'certified translation" is and whether I'm authorized to certify anything.
2. I live in Mexico, so the notary would be Mexican - or maybe the US Consulate.

Does anybody know anything about this? Thanks in advance for any assistance.


Lucinda Hollenberg  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:59
Dutch to English
+ ...
I provide a certification Dec 19, 2003


I am not sure that this is valid for all states, but for the California Courts, I have prepared a certification statement that I fill out and sign and then send to the client by regular mail. In the meantime that the snail mail goes, I fax it so that they have something to start working with - it is not official but the client/client's lawyer adds a note that the original is forthcoming.

Send me an email and I will be happy to mail you the standard form that I use.

Good luck!


Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
German to English
Thank you, Lucinda. Dec 19, 2003

Thank you very much, Lucinda. And it turns out that the client is in California. Now that I think of it, the fact that I'm ATA-certified (accredited until the title certifed goes into effect in January) has nothing to do with the issue. I suppose any tranlator can certify that the translation is true, etc. The notary simply witnesses the signature. I just called the US Consulate here in Guadalajara and they do indeed provide notarial services. They'll notarize a statement I place on a government form.

I'll get in touch with you about sending me that standard form that you use.

Thanks again, Kim


Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:59
German to English
+ ...
Certification/notarization Dec 19, 2003


I do the same as Lucinda, but notarization is NOT A LEGAL REQUIREMENT, since it says nothing about the quality/accuracy of the translation.

When the translation is on my co. letterhead, I simply say, "I hereby certify that the above [if it's short]/document on the back of this page, etc. is a true and accurate of the ..... to the best of my knowledge and belief."

If you're not using a co. letterhead, you can say, "I hereby certify that I am well-versed [or fluent] in the German and English languages and that the above is ....."

And it doesn't hurt to put ATA-certified below your name.icon_smile.gif

I have done dozens of these and have never had anything returned for lack of notarization. I only have my signature notarized if the client is adamant about it.
You could also have a seal made (the kind that "crinkles" the paper, rather than an ink stamp) with your name and your certification and language direction. These seals autheticate the front and back of the page at the same time. And people LOVE seeing a seal! icon_smile.gif

Ohio, USA

[Edited at 2003-12-19 21:27]


Esperanza Gallegos
Local time: 12:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Certification and Notarization Dec 19, 2003

I'm in the border between Mexico and the U.S. (El Paso, Texas), and I have translated from Spanish to English a number of such documents for immigration purposes. What I do is at the bottom of the translated document, I include the following statement:


I, YOUR NAME, being duly sworn, hereby certify that I am fluent in the Spanish and English languages, and that the foregoing translation is an accurate English rendition, made by the undersigned from the original Spanish copy, and contains no corrections, erasures or alterations thereon."


(Please note: Don't sign until you are before a Notary Public who can witness your signature.
Right below this, another statement, but this time by a Notary Public, before whom you have to sign)

Sworn and subscribed before me in CITY, STATE, COUNTRY, on December XXX, 2003."

Before signing and stamping the document himself/herself, the Notary will witness your signature, ask for your identification, and it will be ready for submission to INS (or CIS, or whatever their name is now).
The key words immigration is looking for are CERTIFICATION, and NO CORRECTIONS, ERASURES, OR ALTERATIONS. This I learned from an Immigration Official. So far I haven't had any of my translations returned or disputed.

And as you rightly stated, the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in your city will provide Notary services.
I hope this helps.

Esperanza Gallegos


Maureen Holm, J.D., LL.M.
United States
Local time: 14:59
German to English
+ ...
asked me for this favor Dec 20, 2003

but until now you claim not to be able to receive emails from me. I will say make sure your statement is in affidavit form.


Luis Arri Cibils  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
Member (2003)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Certified translation in the US Dec 20, 2003


In the US there are two ways to certify a statement. The safest and more general way is an affidavit, i.e., a declaration under oath. This statement must be signed in front of a person authorized to take oath, for example a notary in the US, or a consular official abroad. Alternatively, the person issuing the certificate may prepare a declaration, stating that it is given under penalty of perjury. There is no need that this declaration be witnessed by a notary.

In immigration matters, manuals for immigration attorneys (e.g., Fragomen, Austin T. et al., Immigration Procedures, 2001 Edition, West Group) propose the following certificate (notice that it is called a certificate of accuracy, and the person signing it need not be a certified translator, only a person familiar with both the source and the target languages)


STATE OF __________________)
) SS:
COUNTY OF ________________)

I, ____________________________, being duly sworn, deposes and say:

That I am familiar with both the English and the ________________ languages;

That I have made the attached translation from the annexed document in the ______________ language and hereby certify that the same is a true and complete translation to the best of my knowledge, ability, and belief.


Sworn to before me this
_______________ day of ____________, 200_.

[Notary’s signature and seal]

An example of a declaration under penalty of perjury (but not technically under oath) is also given below. I prepared it. Last week, a NY law firm asked me to translate the claims of an issued patent. They wanted the translation to be certified, but it needed not be notarized. I sent to them the document I copied below. They did not object to it. (In patent practice, declarations rather than affidavits are commonly used). Notice that the document below was prepared by a US lawyer (and translator) for a US law firm.


I, Luis E. Arri, under penalty of perjury, DECLARE:

1. That I am an attorney duly licensed to practice law in the States of Texas and South Carolina and a USPTO-Registered Patent Attorney;

2. That I am fluent in both the English and Spanish languages and an English-to-Spanish Translator certified by the American Translators Association (ATA);

3. That I translated to the Spanish language the Claims section of U.S. Patent No. X,XXX,XXX, a two-page English-language document attached hereto as Exhibit A;

4. That said translation is the three-page Spanish-language document attached hereto as Exhibit B;

5. That Exhibit B is a true and complete translation of Exhibit A to the best of my knowledge, ability and belief.

Having nothing further to declare, I sign this declaration in the City of Greenville, State of South Carolina, on the 12th day of December, 2003.

Luis E. Arri





Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:29
English to Tamil
+ ...
It is really touching to see people's faith in seals and stamps Dec 20, 2003

This question of notary public has gone to ridiculous proportions. A weekly in India prepared an affidavit and included the following lines at the end:"It is hereby sworn that the notary affixing his seal to this affidavit is a moron and is just interested in his fees." I am just paraphrasing as I do not remember the exact wording. And the notary signed and affixed his seal. The xerox of this affidavit was produced by the weekly.


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:59
German to English
Consulate Notarization costs a lot Dec 20, 2003

I once had to have a document notarized at a US Consulate and if I recall correctly, it cost quite a bit (about 10 dollars in 1991). I hope you built that into your price.


Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:59
Member (2001)
English to Russian
+ ...
Trudy is right Dec 20, 2003

notarization is NOT A LEGAL REQUIREMENT, since it says nothing about the quality/accuracy of the translation.

I am in Canada and I do not think there is any big difference between immigration approach...
Several days ago I was asked to provide certified translation of the marriage certificate (spouse and wife have diferent citizenship), and a birth certificate issued in the non-English speaking country. And first th requirement was "do it in a manner Immigration Canada would accept it". I simply explained to the guy what I CAN do (Trudy's way, without a letterhead but with a stamp of my formal registration as a language professional), and advise them to discuss the suggested "layout" with Immigration (whether they accpet it or not). It took time, but then the answer was "yes". I mean no notarization was required.


Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
German to English
Thanks again Dec 23, 2003

I'd like to thank everyone for your quick responses and great suggestions on how to handle this situation. In the end, the US Consulate furnished the following statement, attached it to my translation and notarized it (for $30):

United Mexican States
State of Jalisco
City of Guadalajara
Consulate General of the United States of America

Before me, Ms. X, Vice Consul of the United States of America Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, duly commissioned and qualified, personally appeared:
Kim Martin Metzger
who, being duly sworn deposes and says as follows:
(1) My name is Kim Martin Metzger and I reside at ...
(2) I have been familiar with the English and German language for the past 47 years, I made the annexed translation from German to English. The said translation is to the best of my knowledge and belief a true and exact translation of the original document.

And further deponent saith not.

Subscribed and sworn to before me this (date).
For the contents of the annexed document I assume no responsibilty.
Ms. X
Vice Consul of the United States

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