What should I charge for notarizing and mailing agency translations?
Thread poster: Andrew Tierney

Andrew Tierney  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:40
Member (Mar 2018)
Spanish to English
Jul 13

I've received an assignment from an agency for which I do freelance translation work, but it is not for a translation. Instead, they have asked me the following:

"We are contacting you as we have a notarization of a translation that needs to be done in ___. No translating is required, as we would need you to act in the capacity of a Company Representative and print, notarize and mail a set of translations (mailing label provided). Please advise if you can assist us with this as well as your rate for this."

They have all of my info on file and must know that I am not a Notary Public, so are they asking me to bring these translations to a Notary Public, sign them in the capacity mentioned and have the Notary Public notarize them, and then mail them? Is this a typical request that agencies make to their translators who are based in certain areas? And if so, what should I charge for this? My original thought was the cost of what the Notary Public charges, plus a flat fee for my time (maybe $35 USD, shouldn't take more than hour or so of my time).

Any thoughts?


 
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Vladimir Morozov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 06:40
Member
English to Russian
+ ...
You should not forget about the full liablity Jul 13

you will incur by signing and having someone else's translations notarized. I'd refuse. Good luck!

writeaway
Natalia Pedrosa
Teresa Borges
 

Paweł Hamerski
Local time: 06:40
English to Polish
+ ...
If you know them ask them: 'why me'? and why the translator did not do it. If not ask the same Jul 13

questions. The answer (if any) can be very funny.

 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:40
French to English
Refuse Jul 13

As I undertand this, the agency is asking you to sign translations in front of a notary. This would mean paying the notary and charging for your time.

However, basing my reasoning on how things work in France, where I am a "traducteur/interprète assermentée" (official court translator/interpreter) we must not sign translations done by someone else. We must only ever must certify our own translations. It seems perfectly logical to me: I stand by my translations, including any mistakes I may have made. I will never take credit for someone else's work and would never ever accept liability for someone else's mistakes.

What the agency is asking you to do is quite surprising, to say the least. Let's call a spade a spade: it looks downright fishy to me. Don't touch it with a bargepole. No thank you.


Teresa Borges
Francesca Bova
Trevino Translations
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:40
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
At least charge for proofreading Jul 13

I agree with Nikki that it isn't something the agency should be asking you to do. Presumably they made a mistake and had the translation done by someone who couldn't or wouldn't get it notarised. Now they want a cheap solution. But you would take entire legal responsibility for work you haven't done. Not a great idea.

So the very least you must do is charge for a thorough review of the target against the source. Make any changes you see fit, get it notarised, and send it by registered post. Your travelling and waiting time in Notary office and post office both need to be taken into account. Personally, I've had to wait over an hour at least twice in the Notary's office and once when I went for a simple document notorisation (rather than a house sale or a will, etc) I was told to come back later. So don't undercharge this agency. It sounds as though if you agree you'll be digging them out of a hole so you don't have to quote your "best rate" this time icon_smile.gif .


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:40
French to English
One or two further thoughts Jul 13

A notary can only confirm your signature on a document. The notary is not qualified to certify the translation. Likewise, you are not qualified to notarize the translation. It's obvious, but worth noting.

If you are a certified or official translator of some sort, and/or if you belong to a professional association, you may be breaking some code of conduct if you go ahead and certify someone else's work.

Like Sheila, my BIG question here is why can the original translator not do the same thing? Distance is obviously no problem as you are being asked to mail the documents afterwards. So why?

Another point, the agency is responsible for the work it supplies to a client. In the case of a certified translation, then the translator becomes individually responsible for the translation. The agent is only acting as a post-box. This means you have none of the normal protection you (theoretically) have via an agent. You become the translator who is directly responsible for the work with regard to the end client.

If you decide to go ahead, then you obviously need to see the original text and revise, if required, the translation you are certifying, because although the notary notarizes your signature, in signing, you are assuming responsibility for the translation. You also need to be paid for that time, that work and for the responsibility. They day you find yourself in court defending someone else's work, if you have signed it, then it will be too late to have regrets.

You need to ask some straight answers and get some straight questions. I mean, what is this "company representative" thing?

If I were in your shoes, "Thanks, but no thanks" and end of story would be my reaction.
Smells of trouble.


 

Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 00:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
You need a longer bargepole Jul 14

If the agency wants you to “act in the capacity of a Company Representative” they must first deliver to you a power of attorney (PoA) to that effect.

If the agency cannot or will not provide you with that PoA, go find youself a longer bargepole!

RL


Nikki Scott-Despaigne
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:40
French to English
PoA Jul 15

The power of attorney would need to be obtained from an official representative of the company. Also, what about objectivity? Is is even possible for someone acting in the name of the company to be involved in "officialising" the translation in some way? Isn't the whole purpose of having official translators, certified, whatever, all about independence? The whole thing seems fishy from start to finish.

Robin Levey
 

Andrew Tierney  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:40
Member (Mar 2018)
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Appreciate it! Jul 16

Thank you all for your insight and advice. The situation ended up avoiding me anyway, since by the time I replied to the agency asking for more details, they had already passed the assignment to someone else. Based on the responses I've received, I think I'll probably reject any similar offers in the future, and stick to translating. Just not worth the hassle—and potential liability.

Once again, thanks a lot!

All the best.


 


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