Certified Translation Services Online

Among the many kinds of translation services, certified translation services are one of the few types of translation that government institutions regularly use to validate documents for travel and immigration. But what exactly is a certified translation, and how do you know if you need certified translation services for a document? Check out our ultimate guide to learn more: 

 

What are Certified Translation Services?

Certified translations are a type of translation primarily used in bureaucracy in the United States. Unlike traditional translations, certified translations feature an additional document alongside the completed translation: an affidavit signed by the translator called a “certificate of authenticity.” Certificates of authenticity confirm that the translator is a professional, completed the project with as much accuracy to the source material as possible, and is a neutral third party in the translation process. Your typical certificate will contain: 

  • The current date. 
  • A stamp or seal of authenticity. 
  • Information about the translator, including contact details. 
  • A statement that the translation is accurate and that the translator was a neutral third party involved in the translation process. 
  • The translator’s signature. 

Certified translation services aren’t necessary for every kind of translation. You’ll only need to get a certified translation of a document for legal purposes, especially if you plan to travel or move to another country. In the United States, certified translation services are most often used for: 

  • Driver’s licenses or ID cards 
  • Passports 
  • Birth certificates 
  • Criminal records 
  • Academic transcripts 

The best way to tell if you need a certified translation is to ask—not every country uses certified translations for their bureaucratic processes, so asking around is a great way to ensure you get the right service for your needs. When emigrating, consider asking the immigration office of the country you’re looking to move to. If you plan on studying abroad, ask the institution sponsoring your time overseas for help getting the right translation services. 

Certified vs. Official Translations 

While certified translations are the norm in the U.S., other countries with well-established language departments within their government often use official translations instead. While any professional translator can complete certified translations, official translations must be done by a translator working for the government. Government translators (sometimes called sworn translators) take an oath to always remain impartial during the translation process. Countries like Italy, Germany, and Spain all use official translations instead of certified translations. 

How do I get an Official Translation of a Document?

To get an official translation of a document, you’ll need to contact a translation agency or government department that handles official translations. International translation companies and language service providers are always great places to look for official document translation services, as they have connections to official translation service providers. 

Notarized vs. Certified Translations 

Another type of translation often used in bureaucracy is notarized translation. Like certified translations, notarized translations include a certificate of authenticity, but unlike certified translations, they also feature the stamp of a notary. When a translator signs the certificate in a notarized translation, a notary is also present to confirm the translator’s identity. 

 

Can I do my Own Certified Translation?

While any translator can create a certified translation, you might wonder: “Can I do a certified translation myself?” Unfortunately, the answer is no. Unlike traditional translations, a certified translation must be completed by a translator who is unrelated to the person needing services. So, while the answer to “Can I translate a document by myself?” may be yes, it’s conditional—you cannot translate your own documents if they need a notarized, certified, or official translation. 

 

What is the Rate for a Certified Translator?

Unlike most translations, certified translations typically charge per page instead of per word. Since most certified translations may only be single-page projects and require specific formatting to complete, the translation fees will be calculated per page to compensate for the work appropriately.  

Is There a Free Translation Service?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way for anyone to get a well-crafted, certified translation for free. Certified translations require human translators to ensure quality and accuracy, and they need to be able to confirm their identity via affidavit at the end of the process. However, plenty of affordable certified translation services are available, and organizations that are willing to help people get certified document translations. In the United States, check with your local or state government to see if they have a fund for translation services in your area. 

 

USCIS Certified Translations

In the U.S., the most common place to utilize certified translations is USCIS—a government department that handles immigration. But what makes USCIS translations different from other certified translations? 

What is USCIS?

To start, let’s talk about USCIS. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (shortened to USCIS) is the country’s department that handles immigration proceedings and applications for citizenship in the United States. The department handles hundreds of cases daily and is usually the first place to go if you want to emigrate to the United States or become a registered citizen.  

How do I get USCIS Certified Translations?

As of 2024, you only need certified translation services for USCIS documents. USCIS has a strict set of requirements for these certified translations, but within the United States, getting your hands on a USCIS certified translation is a bit easier. The basic USCIS translation requirements are the same as the requirements for a certified translation, but with a few extra caveats: 

  • The translator must be fluent in both English and the source language. 
  • They must confirm their fluency in the affidavit attached to the translation. 
  • Each document needing translation services gets its own separate certification. 
  • Copies of the source document are included with the translation. 

One of the best ways to get a certified translation for the USCIS is to look for certified translation services through an accredited organization or translator. For example, Traduality requires all translators to undergo a strict vetting process to ensure that they’re fluent and experienced in the languages they specialize in.  

 

Certified Translations Through the ATA 

The primary organization translators in the U.S. use to get vetted and become certified to translate government documents is the American Translators Association. While not all translations require ATA-certified translators, certification is still highly encouraged, especially when working with certified or notarized translations. 

What is the ATA? 

So, what is the ATA? In short, the American Translators Association is a nonprofit group that aims to connect translators and interpreters to job opportunities, educational resources, and mentorship programs. Like a trade union, the ATA uses dues from members to fund events and advocates for language service providers’ fair treatment in the workplace. The ATA also has certification exams available for translators and interpreters to prove their skills and become certified within the organization. 

ATA Certified Translators 

An ATA certification isn’t necessary to become a translator, but it does give translators and interpreters a leg up against the competition regarding bureaucracy. To get certified as a translator or interpreter within the American Translators Association, translators must take a certification exam for the languages they aim to specialize in. The exams aren’t easy either—only 20% of test takers pass. Fortunately, the ATA has all the resources you’ll need to get a passing grade, which are available directly on their website.  

We’d also like to note that an ATA-certified translator isn’t necessarily the defining factor that a translator is good; ATA certification exams come in a limited number of language combinations, so a translator’s specialized languages may be unavailable for testing. What really matters is a translator’s skillset and experience. 

 

Can Certified Translations be Done Online? 

Now for the big question: let’s say that you need a certified translation, but a search for “certified translation services near me” doesn’t come up with the language combination you need. What do you do? 

Fortunately, anyone can get certified translation services online in various language pairs and document types at different price points. Finding the perfect service for your needs is easier with the internet. There are just a few things you’ll need handy to get an accurate price estimate for your services: 

  • The type of document you need translated, and how many pages it is. Remember, most certified translations are priced per page instead of per word! 
  • The language pair you need for the translation. Some language pairs are more in demand than others and might cost you less. 
  • What you need the translation for. While you don’t have to go into extreme detail, it’s always helpful for the translator to know which institution needs the translation. 

 

Certified Translation Services with Traduality 

If you’ve got documents you need to translate to English, Spanish, Chinese, or any other widely spoken language, why not check out Traduality’s certified translation services? Our team of expert translators undergo a rigorous vetting process specifically to ensure that your documents are translated with the utmost care and precision. To learn more, contact us today! 

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