What is a certified translation?
Thread poster: Steven Swapp

Steven Swapp
German to English
+ ...
Jun 5, 2002


When someone needs a certified translation (such as my current client needing immigration papers in a certified translation), who does the certification? Is it something I can do myself? Do I need to visit a notary public or other officer? Do I need to be certified by some translator association or other organization first?

I would appreciate any quick answers, even if they are short.



THANKS TO EVERYONE for the useful help. If anyone would like to e-mail me a copy of the text of a certification, that would be great.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-06-05 21:03 ]


Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:33
English to German
+ ...
Check out this thread... Jun 5, 2002


I found this using the search function which was introduced recently (bottom left of your screen) - there may be more in the forums.


Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:33
German to Romanian
+ ...
not an answer, but I I wanted to start the same thread Jun 5, 2002

I don\'t know what these terms are used for (certified and sworn translation) and whether there is a difference between them. Can anyone please bring ome light into that issue?


Aurora Humarán (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hi! Jun 5, 2002

I have sent you a mail with information about certified translators in Argentina and Colombia.

But, I know the situation varies depending on the country in question.

In Argentina a Certified Translator is a university degree (five years). Half of the career is devoted to language (literature, linguistics, theory of translation etc) and the other half deals with law (Argentine Law, UK Law and US Law). The career is given at the Law School and legal courses are taken together with Law students, same level of knowledge. Translators study all the same subjects as law students do.

Regarding the profession: In Argentina you can enter into a contract in any language but, if for any reason the contract is to be submitted before a public authority, for instance, it has to be translated by a CT.

The translation duly signed and sealed by the CT is a certified translation, which at the end has the following formula:


However, certain documents need to be taken to the Colegio de Traductores Públicos (Professional Association that regulates the profession, organizes postgraduate courses, \"suggests\" fees) for example University Degrees that will inevitably be certified by the Foreign Office.

The Colegio adds an additional page CERTIFYING that the CT in question is registered with that entity. It does not make any judgement about the content/quality of the translation.

It is important to know that in Argentina you cannot exercise the profession if you are not registered with the Colegio. Our profession is called \"de colegiatura obligatoria\" as lawyer´s, accountants, etc.

The CT profession is regulated by a National Law (Act No 20.305).

Signed and sealed in Buenos Aires, on this fifth day of June of 2002. =) Aurora

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-06-05 21:37 ]


Lydia Molea  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:33
English to German
+ ...
Germany Jun 5, 2002

In Germany, the court authorizes you to certify translations. You have to have a degree in translation (and/or interpreting), you apply in writing at your district court (depends on your residence), you have to submit some paperwork they request (your degree, a police report, etc.). If the court deems you qualified, you receive a summons and you are sworn in by the judge and receive a certificate. With this, you have the right to have a stamp made (Name, address, \"certified translator for English\"). You can then certify your translations with the stamp, your signature and a little standard formula (you receive that from the court too).

P.S. When the court summons you to interpret or sends you a translation, and you refuse several times, they can relieve you of your status.

I hope this helps, at least for Germany


Johanna Timm, PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:33
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
certification process Jun 5, 2002

Hi Steven,

In the US and Canada, a certified translator is a person who has passed the certification exam of the ATA, or, in Canada, of one of the provincial translator\'s associations. The first step in this process is to become a member of , in your case, the ATA. You are then eligible to write an admission exam, and once you passed this, the certification exam. If successful, you will receive a seal including your name and membership number, and are then allowed to translate \"official\", i.e. immigration and other legal documents. You write a little note at the bottom of your translation, stating your professional status and affixing the seal. Volia. The best: you can now charge a decent price!


Martine Etienne  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:33
English to French
+ ...
Situation in Belgium Jun 5, 2002

The same as in Germany.


Russell Gillis  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:33
Spanish to English
Certified Translations in Canada Jun 5, 2002

Re: Johanna\'s comments

Hello Johanna,

So far in Canada there is not one standard across the country. I am a certified member of ATIA (Alberta), and we do not yet have seals. In almost all cases, I still need to take my legal translations for notarization, with a statutory declaration.

In the application for Citizenship, the Canadian government requires (for languages other than French) a notarized translation, with no mention of certification.

I look forward to the day when I can stamp my own translations - it will certainly save me a lot of time and gas money!


Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:33
German to English
+ ...
I must take issue with Johanna Jun 5, 2002

Your information about translators who passed the ATA-exam is news to me. First of all, they are not \"certified\" translators, but \"accredited\" translators, although this may change in the near future.

I never heard of an \"admission exam.\" I only know of the test to become an accredited translator. And I also never heard of a \"stamp\" they give you.

I don\'t know if an individual translator in the US can certify a translation. Since I own a translation co., I put the translation on my letterhead and certify it, a method that is accepted by all authorities such as the INS, etc. Some authorities \"may\" accept translations certified by accredited translators. Maybe somebody else in the US knows more about that.


ATA-accredited Ge-En


Margaret Schroeder  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:33
Spanish to English
+ ...
In the US Jun 6, 2002

See the discussion at http://www.proz.com/?sp=bb/viewtopic&eid_c=15969&topic=1236&forum=19&8 for a clear and interesting explanation of the situation in the US.


Local time: 08:33
German to English
+ ...
This is not true as far as I know.... Jun 6, 2002

In the US and Canada, a certified translator is a person who has passed the certification exam of the ATA, or, in Canada, of one of the provincial translator\'s associations. The first step in this process is to become a member of , in your case, the ATA. You are then eligible to write an admission exam, and once you passed this, the certification exam.

I have been living and working in the States for 15 years and this is news to me. You do not have to be an ATA member to be able to certify a translation (in the States). You just write a \"Certificate of Accuracy\" and have it notarized. In addition, as far as I know there are practice exams that you can take before taking the actual ATA exam. I never heard of admission exams at the ATA. I am not sure, if I can just post the text of the CofA here, but I will try.

No, I will send it to you - it does not work.


BelkisDV  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:33
Spanish to English
+ ...
My experience Jun 6, 2002

I was the former Director of Translation of a large language school in the U.S. with branches all over the world. We certified translations for clients who had legal documents which needed certification and for INS purposes. The process was very simple and if you nowadays get any document from Immigration it will tell you that it needs to be certified and it even gives you the wording to do so. They do not ask for any other credentials.

Therefore in the U.S. the process is as follows (by the way, this is called \"the chain of authentication\"): the translator attaches the following sworn statement to the translation: The undersigned does hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and accurate translation of the (example) Birth Certificate issued on behalf of (name of the person) in (country) and that I am duly qualified to perform this duty.

That is called The Certificate of Accuracy. It is followed by the Jurat, which is just a notarization of your signature by a Notary Public WHO IS REGISTERED WITH THE STATE OF FL, many aren\'t.

Once you have the Jurat, if the translation is going outside the country, you take that document to the Federal Building, where the Federal Notary certifies it again and attaches a small certificate and affixes the embossed seal of the state of FL. Here once more, they are certifying the translator\'s signature, not the accuracy of the translation.

For private clients who wish to have their documents certified (just for their own peace of mind) the Certificate of Accuracy is the only thing they need.

I hope this helps.



Carola Vernet
Local time: 09:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Certified Translator Jun 6, 2002

Dear Johanna:

I\'m an Argentine Certified Translator. And as such I\'ve got a University Degree and I\'m registered with the \"Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Bs.As. With these two requirements you can translate any document to be submitted before governmental authorities. Otherwise, documents are not valid in Argentina.


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