What is Notarized Translation: Notarized vs Certified?

What is Notarized Translation: Notarized vs Certified?

When looking for translation services, some of the terminologies can be confusing. Sometimes companies use the words ‘notarized’ and ‘certified’ interchangeably, but any credible translation agency knows these terms are not the same thing.

In order to make sure your document is translated correctly and within its specified regulations, it’s crucial to understand the difference between notarized and certified translation.

A document translation can require one or the other, and some translations may even need both. Recognizing the differences ensures you are asking for the right service and helps avoid incurring costs and time that can come from mistaking one over the other.

What is Notarized Translation?

Simply put, a notarized translation is a translation accompanied by a notarized signature verifying the identity of the translator. Since it does not attest to or affirm the quality of the work, it isn’t a measure of quality control. Instead, it’s a way of ensuring all parties involved in the translation followed the appropriate procedures. 

To get a translation notarized, a notary public must swear that the translator’s identity is true. The notary public then signs and puts their official seal on the affidavit.  

At no point in this process does the notary public verify the professional translators’ work. Instead, they verify the translator’s identity. As long as the translator believes the work is accurate and complete, the oath they sign is considered enough evidence to the fact.

When is Notarized Translation Necessary?

Most organizations have realized that notarized translations don’t provide quality assurances. Many have moved back to using a certified translation system, but there are still some who prefer notarized translations or might ask for both. 

Some countries require different types of documents to be notarized. A few examples of legal documents that may require notarized translation include birth certificates, marriage certificates, court orders, high school transcripts, or diplomas. Organizations, companies, and governments can all have different regulations and may expect notarized translations for formal or governmental documents. Some might even require documents to be certified and notarized to be accepted. 

What is Certified Translation?

A certified translation requires that the translator or translation company sign a statement saying the translation is accurate and provides a true representation of the original document. What differs this from a notarized translation is that the certified translation does not require a signed statement from a notary public.  

Sample of a Certificate of Translation: 

Does a Certified Translation Need a Certified Translator?

No. Currently, anyone can certify a translation, and the translator doesn’t need to be certified. Anyone who is comfortably fluent in both languages can do their own translation of any formal document, though this can have several drawbacks. Hiring a reputable translation company to provide a certificate of accuracy ensures high quality and acceptance of your translation documents.

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.

When is Certified Translation Necessary?

Many formal documents require certified translations. These include government documents, legal documents, regulatory documents, and even financial documents.

A common job for translators in the United States is dealing with immigration documents. The US immigration protocol requires that all necessary documents are in English, which means that immigrants with documents in another language need certified translations. Using a professional translation agency is the easiest way to ensure your document translations are following the right requirements. 

In general, you only need a certified translation of formal documents. Informal translations such as letters between family members or other documents generally don’t need to be certified. 

For business purposes, certified translations are generally not needed unless they are financial or legal documents. For example, you can hire a professional translator to translate your business website without the need for a certificate of accuracy.

If you’re unsure whether a document needs a certified translation, speak directly to the person you’re submitting the document to beforehand. Different institutions and organizations have various requirements, and it’s better to know what they are ahead of time.

What Do You Need for a Certified Translation?

The necessary paperwork for that certification statement includes: 

  • A statement of the translator’s qualifications
  • A statement confirming the accuracy and completeness of the translation
  • The type of document and the language it’s translated from
  • The translator’s name, date, and signature
  • Whether the signer has translated or reviewed the translation [1]

While there aren’t any rules prohibiting the same person from translating and certifying a translation, most organizations generally frown upon it. Many translation companies use a proofreader to certify the translation distinctly for this purpose.

Some organizations may have more requirements for a certification statement. The translation could be rejected based on small issues. For instance, maybe the translator and client have the same last name, or the certification statement didn’t appear on a formal letterhead, or the signatures were in the wrong color ink.

This is why it’s always best to contact the end-user for any certified translation requirements. Most professional translation services will know many of the major clients and their specifications. At LUNA, we go beyond this and confirm any requirements before sending over the translations.

The Difference Between Certified and Notarized Translation

The main difference between the two forms of translation is the presence of a notary public. Having a translation notarized isn’t a guarantee of quality or accuracy. It only confirms that the relevant parties went through the correct procedure.

Since notarization isn’t a good indicator of quality, most governmental institutions have dropped the need for notarized translations. However, private institutions may have their  processes; so it’s crucial to find out which type of translation they want.

How Do I Know Which One I Need?

Regulations differ from country to country and from organization to organization. The best way to know if you need a notarized translation, certified translation, or both, is to get in touch with the person you’re submitting the documents to.

Many end-users also have specific requirements on how documents need to be formatted and submitted, and clarifying these requirements early on can save a lot of trouble in the long run.

It’s a good idea to check recent posts on agency websites to find out what the latest requirements are. If you’re applying for a driver’s license, ID, or birth certificate, the government website will have all the information you need. These websites get updated regularly with the latest information on the various documentation requirements.

Can I Translate My Own Documents?

Yes, you can translate and even certify your own documents if you’re fluent in both languages. However, there’s a reason why professional translators are in high demand, and that’s due to the quality of work they produce without any conflict of interest. Official, certified translations need to be as accurate as possible to prevent confusion down the line. 

You may think that you’re saving money by doing your own translations, but that’s often not the case. Professional translators utilize tools to aid in the process of providing high-quality and efficient translations. Their daily work is in translation, and they balance the art and science of the written word. Working with an agency like LUNA also provides the peace of mind that comes with ISO 9001:2015 and 17100 certified processes.

How Does the Translation Process Work?

We certainly can’t share the process that every company uses, but at LUNA, we follow a rigorous translation process on every document we receive. All our services start by assigning a project manager to every client to determine their needs and ensure all requirements are met. We aim to bring a new level of accuracy and customer service to the world of translation services.

Your project manager will first help you determine whether the end-user wants notarized translations, certified translations, or both. They’ll also help identify any other requirements that need to be met, such as the formatting of the certification statement or submission deadlines.

The project manager will also oversee the timeline and scope of the project. They’ll assign the best fit translator for the job and ensure that they complete the work on time. Our pool of highly-trained, professional translators are subject matter experts. If you have a difficult translation project, we’ll assign you to the translator that can do your documents justice.

Once the translation is complete, an editor will go over the document to ensure both accuracy and quality. A final proofreading step is also completed along with a final project management quality check to ensure your translation document is received in the format expected.

Choose LUNA 

When you first start looking at translating documents, the process can be intimidating. There are so many terms that seem interchangeable, and getting it wrong can cause significant delays and even incur late fees or penalties.

While anyone can certify a translation, it’s better to go with a professional translation service you trust. We offer the reliability, turnaround times that fit your timeline, and the same level of professionalism we bring to our business and international clients. When you choose LUNA, not only will you get a high-quality translation, but you’ll also have peace of mind. Let us handle your translation needs for you, no matter where in the world you are.


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