What Is a Certified Translation?

What Is a Certified Translation?

The term “certified translation” applies to official documents that need certification in terms of completeness and accuracy to meet the needs of a government agency or a company. Documents that require certified translation may include legal business forms, submissions to U.S. government agencies connected with immigration, and government records.

Translations that are certified need to be direct translations, without any additions, omissions, or bias. Formatting that matches the original document is particularly crucial in documents that include a considerable amount of text. The receivers of the certified, translated form must be sure that the text they’re reading mirrors the original precisely.

The certificate of translation states that the translator who worked on the text is proficient in the set of languages used. The necessary paperwork for that certification statement includes:

  1. A statement of the translator’s qualifications
  2. Affirmation of quality and accuracy
  3. Identification of the translated language
  4. The translator’s name, signature, and date [1] 

Main Types of Translation

Many people assume a fairly straightforward process when they think of translation. This usually includes taking words from one language and rendering them into another. Modern translation, however, has become more complex than this. Translation needs subjective judgment since no two languages have perfect corresponding equivalencies, word for word.

HT (Human Translation)

Human translation, known as HT, relies 100% on human translator intelligence and skill. It’s also the most reputable form of translation service for its accuracy and reliability. No matter how much technology has advanced, AI cannot capture the broad picture of language nuances, subtlety, and cultural influence.

Traditionally, a translator operates alone or in a small group. In a large translation agency, however, HT will often work with many other translators for the translation, editing, and proofreading. Agencies use specialized processes to recruit, test, and assign translation teams along with providing technology such as computer aided translation tools to improve accuracy and increase speed. This  allows the translation agency to scale up and service many clients without taking up an excessive amount of time.

MT (Machine Translation)

Everyone is familiar with Google Translate: you type a sentence in the source language and get the translation in the target language within seconds. However, many times this process results in inaccurate, incomplete, or unintelligible translations, in particular with words that have more than one meaning or appear in different contexts. This method could be a disaster if used in certified translations. Some uses of Google Translate have also resulted in privacy and data breaches.

Translation software exists that performs much better than Google Translate, but relying on AI would be highly problematic in complying with requirements for legal document translation, which is why certified translations will never be automated.

PEMT (Post-Edited Machine Translation)

PEMT is an attempt to combine the speed of AI and the accuracy of a human translator. In the PEMT process, texts are machine-translated, after which translators review and edit them as necessary.

PEMT is more expensive than machine translation but less costly than human translation. Since most of the translation work has already been done through AI, a post-editor is usually not required to be fully bilingual. Decent proficiency in the source language as well as full fluency and high proofreading skills in the target language is considered sufficient. 

Indisputably, nothing can beat the quality of a human interpreter. That’s why certified forms never use a machine translation. Certified translations are too essential to use AI with its possible shortcomings.

What is a Certified Translator? 

Certified translation requirements are comparatively flexible in the United States. The term “certification” may be confusing, but a certified translation doesn’t necessarily need to be done by a certified translator. Essentially, any skilled professional translator can provide certified translation.  

A certified translator in the U.S. refers to someone certified by the American Translators Association (ATA) for written translation. Certified translators aren’t usually required for certified translation. On the rare occasion that they are, LUNA can provide an ATA certified translator for the project where the certification exists for the language combination requested.

The ATA, the leading certification organization for American translators, provides certification in many languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and German. To be eligible for the ATA examination, a translator would need to have relevant education, experience, or both.

Official Document Certification

An official or public form is a document issued by a body connected with public affairs, such as a county or state Vital Records Office. Official documents may include birth, marriage, or death certificates, as well as divorce decrees.

Legal authorities usually require for translations to be accompanied by a signed certificate of accuracy. Depending on the particular case, a person may also be required to have a  notarized translation. In this case, a notary public marks any translated documents with a government-authorized legal stamp. Notarizing is less about quality and more about official authority.

In the majority of cases, notarized documents are not necessary, and regulations will merely request a certified translation of documents. For example, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements for document translations ask for a specific certified format that includes the date, translator’s name, official signature, place of residence, and a fluency-and-accuracy statement for verifiable certification. 

Reliable Certified Translations with LUNA

At LUNA, we hold ourselves to the highest standard of business, powered by real, proficient translators. Always putting our clients first, we provide certified translation services, document translation services, website translation, interpretation, transcription, and other language services. We work with a talented team of translators from English to Spanish, Spanish to English, and also in over 200 other languages. Our translation company guarantees professional services, 100%-reputable certified translations, and a fast turnaround.

Are you looking for a translator or interpreter? LUNA’s customer service center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a team that is always ready to help our clients. Call us at 1.317.268.5139 or contact us through our website to learn more about our language translation and interpreter services and to request a free quote.


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 [1] What is a certified translation? https://www.atanet.org/clients/client_certified_translation.php