What is a certified translation and why are they needed for legal documents?

Whether you’re an individual or a business providing translated documents in a legal proceeding, it’s likely that you will be asked to provide certified translations of those legal documents. If you’ve already translated these documents, this request for “certified” documents may be alarming, since it seems to suggest there’s a more official, externally validated process your translations need to go through before they’re submitted for a legal proceeding.

In reality, certified translations can be easily acquired through a professional translator. Even if you’ve already had your legal documents translated by a professional, it’s easy to take the extra step to get these translations certified and meet the demands of whatever legal process you’re facing

Understanding certified translations for legal documents

When it comes to requesting and delivering certified translations, the use of the word “certified” can lead to confusion. In some cases, certification involves a verification and authentication process involving a third party. For legal document translations, though, certified translations are simply translations that are validated with a statement from the translator that highlights their credentials in translating the document.

Translators themselves may be certified by an outside organization, but a certified translator doesn’t automatically produce certified translations. Regardless of whether a translator holds any certifications of their own, translations are certified simply through written documentation that attests to the accuracy of the translated legal document.

Required information for a certified translation

The specific information provided in a translation certification can vary based on the organization requesting this information. In general, though, all certified translations should come with a statement covering the following information:

  • A summary of the translator’s qualifications
  • A declaration that the translator’s work has been performed to the best of their abilities, and to the greatest accuracy possible
  • Information that clearly identifies the document being translated, as well as the source and translation languages
  • The translator’s name, signed and dated

Before you provide a certification, ask the requesting organization if they have any specific requirements—either in terms of the content of the statement, or the format of delivery—before you create and deliver these materials.

Types of legal documents that may require certified translations

There’s no hard-set rule for when certified translations are required for legal documents, but many government offices, legal firms and other authorities will likely demand certification of any translated documents to validate their accuracy. Common legal scenarios where certified translations are requested can range from immigration and citizenship case to corporate litigation and contract law.

Whenever you’re presenting translated documents in a legal scenario, you should contact your lawyers and/or the relevant authorities ahead of time to find out if certification is required for any translated documents. Keep in mind that in some cases, lawyers may prefer certification even when it isn’t required, as this extra step can strengthen the credibility of those translations.

Certified translations you can trust

Accuracy is paramount for legal document translations. While a certified translation provides a stamp of quality assurance from the translator themselves, this doesn’t equate to an iron-clad translation on its own. Protranslating uses professional translators and rigorous translation workflows to ensure that our certified translations offer the accuracy and consistency our clients need when faced with legal proceedings.

Looking for professional, reliable translations for your legal documents? Contact us today to find out how our certified translation services can help.

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