What would be a reasonable price for notarizing a translator's declaration?
Thread poster: Alexandra Goldburt
Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 18:38
English to Russian
+ ...
Oct 21, 2009

I received a call from a potential client, asking me to translate a document, to attach a a translator's declaration to my translation (i.e., "I certify that my translation is true and correct"), and get said declaration notarized. I quoted him a price in which I included, on top of my fee for translation, an additional fee for one hour worth of my time for having to physically go to the notary.

Given that this was a very small job, this additional fee significantly increased the price I quoted. We did not reach an agreement with the client, and I did not get this job.

I wonder if I was unreasonable, or if the potential client was? Looking forward to your thoughtful opinions.


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Maria Castro  Identity Verified
Portugal
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...

MODERATOR
Not unreasonable at all Oct 21, 2009

Hi Alexandra.

When a client wants a notarized translation it is reasonable to include the following in the price:
- translation or minimum fee (hour fee?) for small amount of words: you may consider a fixed rate for a one page/two pages doc;
- an additional fee for the time you spend at the notary;
- the notarization fee;
- printing + letter;
- shipping expenses.

Yes, it will increase the cost of the translation but it's fair. After all you did more than just translate a document.


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:38
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
My fee Oct 21, 2009

I am a Notary. I wouldn't charge more than $20 for notarizing a signature. That is about the average rate, at least down here in Florida. Of course, after adding the time to find a notary and carry on the process it can get disproportionately high. This happened to me only once and, on account of a future relationship, I only charged for the notarization.

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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 18:38
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for support, Maria. Oct 22, 2009

Maria Castro wrote:

Hi Alexandra.

When a client wants a notarized translation it is reasonable to include the following in the price:
- translation or minimum fee (hour fee?) for small amount of words: you may consider a fixed rate for a one page/two pages doc;
- an additional fee for the time you spend at the notary;
- the notarization fee;
- printing + letter;
- shipping expenses.

Yes, it will increase the cost of the translation but it's fair. After all you did more than just translate a document.



Sometimes it's not enough to have a gut feeling that you are right - you need another human to confirm it. Many thanks!


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 18:38
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A question to Luisa Oct 22, 2009

Luisa Ramos, CT wrote:

I am a Notary. I wouldn't charge more than $20 for notarizing a signature. That is about the average rate, at least down here in Florida. Of course, after adding the time to find a notary and carry on the process it can get disproportionately high. This happened to me only once and, on account of a future relationship, I only charged for the notarization.


If I understand it right, you could not notarize your own translation - that would be a conflict. So, did you charged for notarization + translation, but not the time spend finding a notary and going there? Just wondering: looking backwards, do you think it was worth it? Did it result in business relationship you were hoping it would?

In my case, the job was so small that going to the notary would take more than twice as much time as the job itself. And I don't think I would establish a long-term relationship with the client - he obviously needed a one-time thing. So now I feel good for sticking to my guns.


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
1.5 hours Oct 22, 2009

By the time I print the document, get in my car, drive to my bank (they will notarize my signature for free), have the document notarized, swing by the PO to mail it (I usually provide multiple copies copies), and return, I have invested 45 minutes to an hour, plus gas.

However, the disruption on my work flow is much greater, because getting back into "production mode" is not immediate, so I charge 1.5 hours at my current rate, plus the cost of the translation.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Bank Oct 22, 2009

I usually get mine at the bank free, so I do not charge for it. However, I do not spend any extra time on it either because I do it when I have to go to the bank for banking purposes, not as an extra trip.

For a while I was in California and the bank did not do notarization, so I had to pay. But it was also close by, and I would merely pass along the $10 fee they would charge to the client.

I actually never have charged a client for notarization except for the actual fee I have paid. Most are offices that have a notary anyway.

However, your situation may be different, so charge for your time, etc. as appropriate. Time is money.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:38
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Time plus costs Oct 22, 2009

Actual time plus costs (notary fee, allowable IRS mileage deduction if not a business vehicle) seems to be the most reasonable approach. In any case I'm not surprised that negotiations fell through since it would probably add 100% to the cost of your average short certificate translation.
Most most the time agencies have just told me to sign (often their standard form) and they'll have it notarized. It sounds that like that would be a bit dubious from their notary's standpoint, but that's their problem, not mine.

@ Luisa - it would seem that allowed notary fees vary by state. In IL, they cannot charge more than $1 for most standard notarial services.
@ David - since driving to the notary while listening to my favorite radio station at my hourly rate is likely to be much more pleasant than wrestling with a difficult translation , I'd find it difficult to charge more than my actual time.




[Edited at 2009-10-22 06:10 GMT]


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Driving in city traffic is never pleasant... Oct 22, 2009

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:
@ David - since driving to the notary while listening to my favorite radio station at my hourly rate is likely to be much more pleasant than wrestling with a difficult translation , I'd find it difficult to charge more than my actual time.


[Edited at 2009-10-22 06:10 GMT]


...whether I'm listening to my favorite music or NPR. Since I can listen to music in the comfort of my office while being productive, driving to get my signature notarized is more a disruption than anything else, and costs me time and concentration, and should be paid for accordingly.

I have also on occasion agreed to simply sign a statement saying that the translation was accurate and complete and let the agency deal with the notary signature, and yes, the legal ramifications of this are really not my responsibility.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:38
English to Spanish
+ ...
Often not needed Oct 22, 2009

I often do documents for people that are to be used for academic or immigration purposes such as transcripts, diplomas, marriage and birth certificates, etc. Such documents need not be notarized, so all I add is a simple signed statement of my own, no need to go to a notary. If anyone is notarizing those, please take note, it is a waste of time.

And Alexandra, I would guess that the $10 fee I have paid in California would be by law. But notaries will also charge for travel time when appropriate, and translators should too.


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:38
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Not my own, of course Oct 22, 2009

[quote]Alexandra Goldburt wrote:

If I understand it right, you could not notarize your own translation - that would be a conflict. So, did you charged for notarization + translation, but not the time spend finding a notary and going there?
-- Exactly

Just wondering: looking backwards, do you think it was worth it?
-- No.

Did it result in business relationship you were hoping it would?
-- No.

In my case, the job was so small that going to the notary would take more than twice as much time as the job itself. And I don't think I would establish a long-term relationship with the client - he obviously needed a one-time thing. So now I feel good for sticking to my guns.
--Just what I'd do next time if circumstances are identical.


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Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 18:38
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you again. Oct 25, 2009

Reading the new posts, I am even more convinced that I was not unreasonable at all. Of course, if, as Henry suggests, I could get it notarized while going somewhere where I would go anyway, then it would be an entirely different matter. But this is simply not the case. It would require me a special trip somewhere to get it notarized. And David correctly observed that it would take me at least 1.5 hours, so asking to pay for one hour was actually a compromise on my behalf. And, like David, I don't find driving pleasant. Not in Los Angeles!

Luisa: that old cliche "you learn by your mistakes" applies to freelancers like to nobody else. In my 10 years of freelancing, I made more than my fair share of mistakes (some of them too embarrassing to tell...)

Again, I would like to thank all colleagues who responded for their time.


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