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Certified, Notarized, and Legalized Translation – What Are They & Which One Do I Need?

Certified, Notarized, and Legalized Translation – What Are They & Which One Do I Need?

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Puzzled by the differences between a certified, notarized, and legalized translation? Despite the fact these terms get frequently mixed up, each one of them entails a whole different process altogether.

So, if you’ve got a contract, birth certificate, university application, or bank statement on your hands that needs translation, knowing the exact certification/s you require for your documents is a must.

In this quick article, we’ll clarify what these terms mean and what their processes encompass, so that you know exactly what to do with your specific documents moving forward.

What’s a certified translation?

A certified translation involves the translation of a document by a certified translator or translation agency with the aim of verifying the accuracy of the translated text against the original.

This type of translation is accompanied by the following:

● A signed certification statement, where the translator declares that the translation was completed to the best of their knowledge and ability.
● An official stamp or seal, which acts as proof of the translator’s qualifications and credentials.

The types of documents that need a certified translation

A certified translation is the bare requirement for any document that’s intended for use in a foreign country. For personal documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, as well as academic documents, including transcripts and diplomas, a certified translation will usually suffice.

However, legally-binding documents, such as contracts and legal agreements, will almost always have to go through additional processes: that is notarization and potentially legalization.

What’s a notarized translation?

Notarized translations go a step beyond certified translations, as they involve a Notary Public in the verification process. This is often a requirement for legal, official, or immigration-related documents.

So, what’s a notary public? A notary public is a legally authorized professional, often a solicitor or barrister, tasked with specific legal responsibilities involving the verification and certification of documents and signatures.

In this case, the notary is entrusted with verifying the accuracy and faithfulness of the translation. After the notary has confirmed that the translation is an accurate reflection of the original, the translator will swear an oath and then sign the certification statement in their presence.

The purpose of this is to ensure that the translator will be held responsible for any potential inconsistencies that appeared in the translation. Additionally, the document is signed in front of the notary as proof that the signature was provided willingly and without any form of coercion. Once all is said and done, the Notary Public will seal the document with a stamp, signifying it’s been properly notarized.

Instead of searching for a translator and local notary separately, you always have the option of partnering with a certified translation agency. These companies usually have pre-made arrangements with notaries to ensure a smoother and faster notarization process.

The types of documents that need a notarized translation

Some of the documents that almost always have to be notarized include:

● Legal/corporate documents: Contracts, agreements, affidavits, court orders, powers of attorney.
● Immigration documents: Visa applications, residency applications, supporting documents
for immigration purposes.
● Legal correspondence: Legal letters, statements, documents for court cases.
● Business documents: Business contracts, agreements, financial statements for
international business transactions.
● Medical records: When seeking medical treatment or insurance coverage in another country,
medical records sometimes need to be notarized.

The translator’s affidavit

An additional component that might sometimes be included in a certified translation is the translator’s affidavit.

A translator’s affidavit, also known as a translator’s statement or a certification of translation, is a formal written declaration made by a translator attesting to the accuracy and completeness of their translation work. This statement also includes the Notary Public’s signature.

What’s a Legalized translation?

A legalized translation is a translated document that’s been authenticated to confirm its authenticity and validity in a different country.

Legalization is a process that comes right after notarization (in this fixed order). It isn’t meant to confirm the accuracy of the actual translation – rather, it’s to validate the authenticity of the stamp that the Notary Public attached to the document at the notarization stage. This is where the term “Apostille” becomes relevant (more on that below).

When is a legalized translation needed?

Legalization is required for documents that need to be approved for use in a foreign country, typically in situations involving cross-border legal proceedings, business transactions, or immigration matters.

Apostille of the Hague or the Hague Convention

An Apostille, also known as the Apostille of the Hague or the Hague Convention, is a stamp that’s attached to the document following the legalization process. This certification allows for the document to be officially recognized in the destination country.

This stamp only holds weight when both the issuing and destination country are part of the Hague Convention. When this isn’t the case, the document might need to undergo an additional and completely separate authentication process.

This might involve consular legalization, which entails submitting the document to the consulate or embassy of the destination country. The consulate will verify the document’s authenticity and may affix their own seal to validate it for use in the country.

Countries that don’t belong to the Hague Convention include:

● Canada
● China
● India
● Brazil
● UAE (United Arab Emirates)
● Qatar
● Kuwait
● Egypt
● Algeria
● Vietnam

How do I know which certification I need?

Each country and institution have different certification requirements depending on the particular document and context for its use.

For example, if a corporation is entering into a contract or agreement with a German entity, these documents might need to be translated, notarized, and potentially legalized so that they will be legally enforceable in the German legal system.

To guarantee compliance with the requirements of your target country, you should explore further resources from official local government, embassy, and consulate websites. When in doubt, you can always get in touch with local legal experts who can provide you with their professional advice and assistance.

A certified translation agency can also assist you in making the right certification choice.

Some certified translation services even provide the full coverage for all the above certifications. This can save you a significant amount of time and effort, as it eliminates the need for having to certify, notarize, and legalize your documents separately.

The importance of working with subject-matter experts when certifying your documents

Given the complex nature of certifying, legalizing, or notarizing certain documents, as well as the potential negative legal implications that they carry when done improperly, hiring translators with legal expertise would be your wisest course of action.

These professionals know both the source and target language, as well as the legal systems of the countries that they’re working with. This can give you a higher degree of certainty in knowing that your documents will be valid in your destination country.

Similarly, financial and medical documents will require the expertise of certified financial and medical translators, respectively.

Our team at Pangea Global is comprised of native-speaking lawyer linguists and subject-matter experts in over 13 fields, including legal, financial, and medical.

Covering every certification type mentioned in this article, from certified and notarized to legalized translation, we guarantee your documents will be accurately translated, legally validated, and ready to meet the requirements of your international endeavours!

Still in doubt about the type of translation that you need? Whether you’re immigrating to the UK or considering doing business overseas, we’ll here to assess your situation and guide you on your next steps.

Get in touch!

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