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What is a Certified Translation?

Translations can be divided following different criteria. For example, as explained in our previous article (“Who is who in a translation company?”), sometimes our clients are told that they need to get a certain document translated by a certified translator. That translation is called “certified”. But what does it actually imply?

What is considered to be a certified translation varies according to where the client needs to submit the translation. In the United States, a certified translation consists of three parts:

  1. The original text (also called source text)
  2. The translation, and
  3. A statement signed by the translator or translation company representative, with their signature notarized by a Notary Public, attesting that the translator or translation company representative believes that the translation is complete and accurate.

It should be noted that any translator or translation company representative may “certify” a translation in this sense, regardless of their credentials. A translator does not need to be “certified” in order to provide a “certified translation.” Furthermore, the Notary Public will not attest to the accuracy of the translation; he or she will only assure that the signature is that of the person that appeared before the Notary.

What is a Certified Translation

What is a “certified translator”? In many countries, including Argentina, only certified translators (in Spanish, traductores públicos) are permitted by law to provide translations that are later certified or authenticated (known as a “traducción pública”), for instance, by the Buenos Aires Translators Association (Colegio de Traductores Públicos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires). In the United States, on the contrary, there is no federal or state certification or licensing for translators (there are, however, certain credentials available to translators working in some language pairs, like those issued by the American Translators Association, but these do not carry the same weight as the certification available in other countries.)

Some countries (for example, Canada and the UK) also differentiate between a “notarized translation” and a “certified translation”. In Canada, a “certified translation” is similar to a “traducción pública” in that the translator has a professional seal and has been certified by an official governing body, whereas the “notarized translation” only has a statement signed by the translator and his or her signature is notarized. In the UK, “certified translations” are signed by the translator, who does not need to be a member of any professional association, and in the case of “notarized translations”, a notary confirms the signature of the translator. This distinction does not exist in the United States.

In Argentina, certified translators are governed by Argentine Law 20.305. There are several translators associations that license translators. In order to be accredited as a sworn translator, you need to earn your traductor público diploma after at least 5 years in college. Only then may a translator register with the relevant association and get your signature duly registered in order to be able to sign and seal sworn/certified translations. Certified translations are a requirement in certain cases, such as when documentary evidence is to be submitted in court, or for citizenship procedures where birth or marriage certificates or other documents must be translated into Spanish.

In Argentina, a certified translation also consists of the original text and the translation, but there are differences. First of all, there are specific formatting guidelines the translation must follow, and both the original text and the translation must bear the translator’s seal and signature at the end of the translation. There need not be a statement regarding the accuracy of the translation, although some may choose to include it in a mandatory “closing formula” that must state the languages from and into which the document was translated, and the place and time of signing. When a translation is submitted to the association for certification, they will only certify that the translation meets all their formal requirements and the translator is duly registered with them, but will not attest to the accuracy of the translation.

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