Officially Certified Translations: What it actually means and why they’re important

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By JohnBarnes

Certified translations are an absolutely crucial service within a number of different sectors, not only legal, but also the general business, government and private.

In 2022, a very rapidly growing number of businesses and organisations as well as private clients look for officially accredited and certified translation services into multiple languages in order to meet their clients’ needs and make their documents formally recognisable within the professional environments. In addition, oral (or spoken) language interpreting also plays an essential role in the day-to-day life of lawyers and legal professionals, allowing them to communicate with their multilingual clients with ease.

However, due to the complexity of most official documents, translating them requires a much higher level of accuracy and reliability.

In reality, this means that any documented paperwork must be converted directly by a native translator or a translation agency, which specialises in this type of work. If the documents are not translated reliably, they may directly affect the outcome of a legal case and have serious consequences when dealing with laws and formal procedures globally.

What documents are covered by certified translations?

Professional certified translations cover a great number of documents, files, papers and other materials. Actually, both private as well as corporate (or business) clients generally acquire accredited translations on regular basis.

Nonetheless, the type of documents they need to translate varies.

Generally speaking, private customers tend to legally translate documents such as:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Passports
  • Statements and applications

Corporate clients and legal professionals, on the other hand, translate documents which include:

  • Case summaries
  • Court depositions
  • Legal briefs
  • Witness statements

Often, translating and certifying documents require the translator to be not only a native speaker of the target language with a perfect understanding of the grammar, linguistic rules and syntax, but also have a good understanding of the legal systems and their particular differences in both – the target as well as well as home country. Unfortunately, poor or inaccurate translations can often cause expensive costs for you in the long run, causing on-going disputes and further expenses as your case or application goes on.

Who uses certified translation services?

As mentioned above, accredited translations are very frequently obtained by private clients as well as legal professionals. In 2022, they are also becoming a lot more popular with business owners and organisations.

Individual clients often need to translate their legal documents for personal reasons, for example, applying for a visa, passport or simply, even a job abroad. The array of documents translated by private clients is extremely widespread – from passports, bank statements or certificates to official papers from courts or the Home Office.

Legal professional work on behalf of their clients, and as a results, they need to translate a mix of documents, depending on who their client is. They also have to regularly convert official legal documents, for example, legal briefs, court orders, witness statements or case summaries in order to present the findings to whoever they represent.

Lastly, business owners and organisations predominantly require the expert certified translation services during their internationalization process or when approaching multilingual/global audiences. Contracts, legal papers, warranties or licence papers are amongst some of the most frequently translated legal documents within the corporate sector.

Who can provide a certified translation service?

As you now know, the accuracy and reliability of a certified translation is absolutely key. There is simply no way around it, as any mistranslation in your or your company’s official documents can directly affect the outcome of the case or application.

In fact, in the United Kingdom, documents must follow a very strict guidelines set by the Government. You can find more details about this by visiting the UK’s government official website.

As a result, authorised translation services should only be provided by an accredited translator or agency, which specialises in converting this type of papers/documents.

If you’re based in the UK and require your documents translated from or into English, you’re in luck as the number of expert translation agencies offering translations, interpreting, transcreation and other linguistic services is extremely long. Companies such as Lionbridge, Language Line Solutions or Translation Services 24 are amongst world’s leading translation agencies, working across different sectors and covering majority of languages and documents.

If you’re actively looking for an expert company or a registered translator that will be able to professionally convert your papers or documents into another language, you should visit websites such as the ATC (Association of Translation Agencies) or CIOL (Chartered Institute of Linguists). These are official UK organisations, which associate expert linguists and language companies. In order to become a member the above organizations, the company or translator must meet very rigorous standards and prove that their processes and quality levels are amongst the best in the country.

How much does certified document translation services usually cost?

As a rule of thumb, translation companies and professional linguists charge on the per word basis. This means, that the more words are in your document, the more expensive the translation will be.

For example, a document with 1,000 words should generally cost around £100 ($140), as most agencies/translators should charge around £0.10 (or $0.14) per word.

Interestingly, the price for your translation might also actually depend on the languages that you require. For example, some of the more popular languages, such as French, German, Spanish, Polish or English tend to be charged at a cheaper rate. If you need to convert your documents from or into some of the rarer languages or dialects on the other hand, like Japanese or Arabic, you can expect the price to be slightly higher.

It’s also important to note, that some translation companies have minimum charges. What this means in practice, is that if your document falls below a certain word-count limits, it will be charged the same price, whether it’s 10 or 100 words. You can look at this as the agency’s ‘admin’ type of charge.

So, let’s wrap things up…

In 2022, the importance of certified translations is still growing continuously. Private customers, business owners or legal professionals translate their documents for a wide variety of reasons. Nonetheless, regardless of the reasons behind converting your papers into another language, one aspect is essential across the board, and that’s accuracy.

A document which was translated inaccurately can be damaging to your legal case or application. It may, in fact, also prove to be a very expensive and time-consuming mistake in the long run, as you may not only be required to translate the paper again in its entirety, but your application may be rejected as a whole, and so you will have to start the process from beginning.

So, in order to avoid any mishaps, it’s a good idea to stick to professionals from the start. If your legal documents needs translating into another language, find a professional translation firm or a registered linguist that specialises in similar projects.