What Is an Official Translation?

What Is an Official Translation?

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The term “official translation” refers to the translation of official or legal forms such as birth and death certificates, marriage and divorce licenses, wills and consent forms, and any other official document that requires certification.

The official translated document usually comes accompanied by a certificate of accuracy, stating that the translator is proficient in both languages. LUNA provides these professional certified translation services, as well as other professional translation services.

When Do You Need an Official Translation?

Translations may seem as simple as rendering words from one language into another, but there are strict guidelines when translating official documents. If you need quality translations with a certificate of translation accuracy, you should only hire a reputable certified translation company. Working with a professional translation company that provides official document translation services will improve your chances of having your legal documents accepted in a government office such as USCIS or a court of law.

For example, if you are looking to immigrate from Mexico to the United States, you should request quotes from language companies with a professional team of certified translators from English to Spanish and Spanish to English. Your translator should know all the legal requirements, supply you with certification, and operate following certified translation industry standards. Be sure to check out their credentials and website.

Usually, you are not allowed to provide your own certified translations even if you are fluent in both the source and target language.

Certified Translation vs. Notarized Translation

For most official institutions, a certified translation of the official document following the standard format will be enough for acceptance. The certificate of accuracy assures that the certified translation is correct and provides a true representation of the original document.

However, sometimes you will need the services of a notary. Public institutions that may require a notarized translation–not merely a certified translation–typically include schools and universities.

In a notarized translation process, the translation is 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.

The term “certification” may be confusing, but both certified and notarized translations don’t necessarily need to be done by a certified translator. Essentially, any skilled professional translator can provide these translation services.

If you are in doubt whether you need a certified or notarized translation, ask the authorized institution receiving the final documents.

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Can You Use AI for Official Translation?

Generally, translations fall into the following types:

  • Human translation (HT) is the most accurate and reliable way to translate documents. HT may be the more expensive option due to the work hours involved, but it is also the most effective. A real, live person will understand the context of the material much better than any piece of software. A human translator will also have an understanding of the culture where a certain language is spoken, allowing them to choose the best terms and expressions to better communicate ideas presented in their certified translation services.
  • Machine translation (MT) uses several kinds of software to provide machine translations, which are useful when you need extensive content repeated in many languages, such as instruction manuals and website interfaces. Machine translations are quick and inexpensive but come with drawbacks like frequent inaccuracies. AI, no matter how advanced, cannot replace a human in matters like word choice and cultural context in translations.
  • Post-editing machine translation (PEMT) strives to combine the best of both worlds. In this process, often used for website translations, text translated by machine will go to a post-editor who has some proficiency in the source language, full fluency in the target language, and high proofreading skills. The end result, ideally, is a text that reads more naturally but costs less to produce thanks to the initial time-saving step of machine translation.

For official certified translations, a reliable company will always use human-reliant professional translation service. Typically, nothing else is acceptable by official institutions.

Complying with USCIS Requirements for Official Translation

If you want to live, work, or study in the United States, you will need to follow the exact standards for official translation while applying for a green card, visa, or citizenship. You will need to submit fully complete English translations of all official documents, with no additions or omissions. You must also have the official translation certified with an accuracy statement by a competent translator.

Standard documents that will require certified translations for USCIS include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage licenses
  • Divorce certificates
  • Criminal records
  • Academic papers
  • Other official records

A reputable translation company understands the importance of submitting official, certified translations that comply with USCIS guidelines. At LUNA, we provide accurate translations of documents in over 200 languages, staying true to the content and formatting of the original document. A certified translation agency will also check your documents thoroughly for potential issues, such as inconsistent translations of proper names.

Speed and Cost of Official Translation

As you may expect, the duration and cost of translations will depend on the length of the project. What determines translation speed is not page count, but how many words are on a page. Usually, a page will contain around 250 words. In some cases, however, a page may contain as many as 500 words. (A number counts as a word, regardless of how many digits it contains.)

LUNA’s Official Translation Services

LUNA strives to maintain the highest standard among professional translation companies and is certified to ISO 9001:2015 and 17100:2015. Our team provides accurate and reliable professional translation services in over 200 languages. All document translations are precise and true to the original language. At LUNA, you can find a wide range of other language service options such as legal document translations or certified translations.

We are always available to provide a certified translation for your important documents. Call us at 1.317.341.4137 to request more information about our certified document translation services and get a free quote, or feel free to contact us through our website and send us your contact info, and we will get back to you shortly.


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