Services | 16.01.2010

Certified translation – a veritable quagmire

The Translation People regularly receive requests for certified translation, but in the UK there is no official certifying body and often the end user themselves are not entirely sure what they mean by the term “certified translation”. Here, Gail Owen, Branch Manager of The Translation People’s Manchester office investigates the various options available.

Sworn translation

In many overseas countries qualified translators can achieve sworn status, they are authorised by their country’s government to undertake the translation of official documents. A sworn translation is an official, legally bound document authorised by the government of the country in question. Sworn translations are provided with the sworn translator’s stamp, along with written declarations that the translation is true and accurate, in both the foreign language in question and in English. The British Government does not offer this scheme and as such there are no UK based sworn translators translating into English. However, if you are moving to Europe and need to obtain residency or official documents in that country, quite often the governing body will require a sworn translation completed by a translator sworn in, in that particular county. The Translation People have excellent links with a network of sworn translators across the globe, if you do require a sworn translation, we’ll be happy to help.

There are, however, a number of other options which may be suitable for your individual requirements:

Translations certified by a translation agency

The Translation People are corporate members of the ITI and ATC; the ATC (Association of Translation Companies) provide us with a stamp, which we can use on your documents to verify that the translation was completed by a professional translator and is of the highest quality possible. Often this will suffice for the majority of UK based government departments.

Affidavits and Notarised Translations

If your end user requires an official legal translation, you will probably require a notarised translation or affidavit. This is often the case if the document is to be used in a court of law. In order to notarise a translation, the translator must go in front of a notary public and obtain a notary stamp. An affidavit is a declaration that is made on oath in front of a solicitor. These are expensive options, as the costs of the notary/solicitor need to be paid on top of the usual translation charge. If you require a notarised translation the notary will need to see the original document and post out the final translation, which makes the translation process more lengthy than usual.


Finally there is the option to legalise your document. The text goes through exactly the same process as a notarised translation, only in this instance the signature of the notary is checked or Apostilled by the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth office). An Apostille is placed on the document, which becomes legally binding and will then be accepted by the foreign country in question.

Should you have a document in mind for translation and are still unsure of the certification required, we suggest you firstly check with your end user. Our account management team are also on hand to discuss your specific requirement and to guide you through the jungle that is certified translation. Please feel free to contact us at any time.

Need help with a translation?
Get in touch with us

Whether you have a specific project you want to discuss, need a translation quote or simply want to discuss your requirements, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

Get in Touch