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The Certified Translation Process

02 May 2019 - by Helene Walters-Steinberg

Following my previous article on the translation process for French nationality applications, today’s article will focus on the general process for certified translations, from obtaining the original documents to receiving the translation.


The first step is to apply for a certified copy of the document you need to have translated. You may be able to use certified copies you already have to hand, but make sure to check whether there is an age-limit for the documents (for example, the French authorities require that all certified copies of French documents be less than 3 months old). It is also important to check whether the document needs to be legalised by the issuing authorities, which should generally be done before you send it to be translated.


The next step is to find an accredited translator for your certified translation. If you are translating into English, certified translations may be provided by full members of the Chartered Institute of Linguists or the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (you can click on the hyperlinks to go to the list of members for each Institute, and then refine based on the language required). If you need a translation into French for the Belgian authorities, you may also use one of the translators on the lists above. For translations into French for the French authorities, the translator must be registered with the French Consulate in London and appear on this list. For other countries, I recommend contacting your local Consulate or Embassy to check their requirements. If you find yourself with a long list of potential translators, I would recommend contacting the translator closest to you so that you can provide them with the physical documents if needed.


Once you have received your documents and found a translator, you can provide them with the documents to be translated. Certified translations can often be produced from clear scanned copies, but the translator may need to see the physical document if the scan is poor quality or difficult to decipher.


The translator will then translate your document into the desired language, respecting the original formatting. Although the certified translation process may seem simple, deciphering handwritten documents and reproducing the formatting can take longer than the translation itself! In addition, there is often very little context so finding the exact translation of a profession listed on a marriage certificate for example can be quite time-consuming.


Once the translator has produced the translation, they will generally send you a PDF proof so that you can confirm that they have correctly spelled all the proper nouns. After receiving your confirmation, the translator will print the final translation, which will then be stamped and signed. All certified translations are accompanied by a certificate of translation that presents the translator’s credentials and contact details, should the receiving authorities have any queries. This certificate of translation will bear the seal of the professional organisation to which the translator belongs and will also be stamped and signed by the translator to ensure its authenticity. After this, all that is left is for you to collect your certified translation and certificate of translation or to wait for them to arrive in the post.

Example of ITI certification seal

Image: Example of a certified translation seal


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