A Legal translation, when is this required?

January 11, 2021
by Nicole van Gerven MA, LLM
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When do you need a certified translation and not just a standard one?


The Legal Purposes

Firstly, In this article I will explain the different reasons and situations that determine when you need a certified or as some call it, a sworn translation instead of  a regular translation that may be done by a native speaker and not a qualified legal linguist.

Secondly, I will explain its importance, simply put, Certified translations are usually a necessity for all kinds of legal purposes so let’s explore that in a little more depth.

Importantly,  when it comes to documentation used in court hearings and proceedings. For example, evidence and litigation documents written in a foreign language, it is a requirement that this must be translated and certified by a professional translator.

Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that when you are asked to file documents with a government entity or legal authority, they often need to include certified translations as well.

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Immigration

When it comes to the legal starter in any country, immigration is a specific sector that usually requires certified translations of personal documents for verification purposes.

A court or legal entity will not recognise a translation that may have been done by the applicants own family for example, it must be translated by a lawyer specialising in translations to be taken seriously.

Furthermore, the translations must be in the official language of the country who receives them, the end user if you will.

Studying abroad

When it comes to foreign students who wish to continue studying in other countries, they are often required to provide certified translations of their academic documents such as their diplomas, grade lists and other supporting documents, along with statements and recommendations from their school. 

Moreover, some colleges and universities require that applicants submit the original copy of the curriculum of their studies along with the certified translation. 

It’s important to always confirm the list of documents that the institution requires so that you don’t lose time; as this with this it may delay the processing of your study application.

Doing business abroad

Now we move into a very important sector when it comes to sworn/certified documents.

Globalisation has opened a multitude of new doors to companies around the world who are now able to compete in the international business world. 

Importantly, to facilitate the processing of business inquiries abroad, for example, financing a project via a foreign bank or verifying a business plan ect, it’s often necessary to provide certified translations of corporate and business documents. 

This may include contracts, financial reports, articles of association, patent applications and other business-related documents.

You can imagine the mess the business world would be in if these kinds of documents were not certified, it would mean anyone could submit any old pieces of paper they come up with to push a project through.

Employees from abroad

Along these same lines, companies employing international staff, as well as partners and agents, may require that certified translations of certain documents are produced, including passports, visas, bank statements and medical records.

Companies need to know that people are who they say they are before employing a person who may not have the best intentions for that said company.

Government agencies

This is where you can pretty much guaranty you will need a professional legal translation service if you want your documents accepted as genuine.

Certified translations are a normal requirement for legal transactions with government agencies abroad. 

You need to make sure you get high-quality certified translations by choosing a reliable translation agency with professional translators who are experts in certified translations. 

The accuracy of the certified translation is one of the factors for smooth processing of your specific request.


Documents that require a certified translation

Interestingly, different countries have their own rules and regulations for the translation of official documents. 

Certified translations, often required by various government departments, are often used in the United States for immigration purposes. The USCIS requires that all documents written in other languages have certified translations in English.

A certified translation comes with a certificate stating that the translator has translated the document accurately to the best of his or her knowledge and the document has been stamped, signed and certified by the translator.

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Some of the documents for which a this kind of translation is usually required abroad or from abroad:

  • Medical certificates
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce certificates
  • Academic certificates
  • Educational Certificates
  • School reports and diplomas
  • Driving licenses
  • Death certificates
  • Documents of acceptance
  • Memorandum of incorporation
  • Articles of Association
  • Litigation
  • Other legal documents
  • Powers of attorney

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line →

Nicole van Gerven MA, LLM

Won an umbrella in kindergarten for the first to know all the colours, loved pens and paint and would give walls and pillow cases a colourful display of all my thoughts. This set the basis for studies in linguistics and law. All this resulted in a career in legal translations, which I still practice with much joy today.

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