Certified Translations – A Subject of Some Confusion

If you’ve ever found yourself confused by the idea of certified translations, you’re certainly not in the minority. In fact, pound for pound they’re just about the single most misunderstood concept in the entire industry. Suffice to say, it doesn’t help that they have a habit of differing hugely from one country to the next…assuming they even exist in the territory you’re talking about!

Across much of Europe, there’s a relatively standard process whereby a translator must take an exam to demonstrate they’re competent and skilled enough to carry out certified translations. It’s the same in the UK, France, Germany and Poland for example, along with a fair few others. A certified translation means that the person carrying out (or checking the translation) is legally entitled to give it an official ‘stamp’ of approval, stating that it is accurate, complete and translated with flawless quality. This differs from a notarised translation in that anyone can swear in front of a notary that a translation is accurate, even if 99% of it makes no sense at all.

Over in the United States however, certified translations don’t exist. Instead, the only comparable service available is indeed that of a notarised translation, when the translator swears under oath and “under penalty of perjury” that the translation is accurate and legit. Or at least, accurate to the best of their knowledge and ability. Which again, it might or might not be. You don’t even need to be officially registered with the American Translators Association or have any formal qualifications to carry out the job. All of which in turn means that if you do find yourself in need of a certified translation in the US, you need to be very careful who you work with.

For more information on high-quality certified translations for important, sensitive and time-critical documents, get in touch with the Semiotic Transfer team today.

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