In the recent years, obtaining an officially certified translation has become a necessity for a growing number of people and businesses in the United Kingdom alike. With a relative ease in international travelling (putting aside the recent restrictions related to the outbreak of covid19 pandemic), growth in technology and multinational, global markets without practically any boarders, documents and other materials now need to be translated more than ever before. Unfortunately however, obtaining an officially certified translation is often easier said than done, especially if you have not yet found a trusted provider and haven’t got the experience of finding one in the past.
Today, we’ll take a closer look at what the different types of certified translations are, how to go about obtaining them and where to find a reliable provider. The article will also aim to explain in more details the key differences between professional translation agencies and freelance linguists, as these are the two most popular options when it comes to choosing a translations provider.
What does ‘certified translation’ actually mean?
Generally speaking, in the United Kingdom, the term certified translation stands for a formal translation of documents or files from one language into another, which then makes the documents fully authorised for official use. In order for the translation to be certified, it must however meet a number of strict criteria. One of the most important aspects of ensuring that the translation is lawfully recognised, is to confirm that the language provider responsible for converting the documents is an officially accredited agency or linguists, legally able to provide such service.
Unfortunately however, certified translation isn’t a strictly unified term as it can in fact vary from country to country. As a result, a number of people who require their documents officially translated and certified for legal purposes, may be somewhat puzzled as to what actually constitutes as such. In the UK, nonetheless, we can recognise official translation organisations, members of which are legally allowed to translate and certify documents from one language into another. Authorities such as the ‘Association of Translation Companies’ or the ‘Chartered Institute of Linguists’, associate professional linguists and agencies, which must meet rigours criteria before becoming an official member.
What are the different types of a certified translation?
Generally, when it comes to translating your documents, there are three core certification types widely recognised in the United Kingdom. Each of the certifications might be required based on your particular situation and documents, and these include:
- A standard certified translation
- A notarized translation
- An Apostilled translation
A standard certified translation
A vast majority of professional translation agencies offers a standard certification, which is, generally speaking, perfectly sufficient for majority of purposes. In order to be able to offer this type of certified translation service, the language provider must be authorised to do so by an official translation body, for example, the Association of Translation Agencies (ATC).
In order to officially translate and certify your documents, the company will have to provide a cover letter, indicating that the translation had been conducted by a professional and the conversion truthfully represents the original documents.
In general, the cover letter will confirm the following in regard to your translation:
- That it is a ‘true and accurate translation of the document’
- The date of the translation
- The full name and contact details of the translator or a representative of the translation company
A notarized translation
In some cases, a standard certification may not be sufficient for the purpose of your translation and so a further accreditation may be required. For example, for documents which are intended for international use or for use within foreign organisations, a notarised translation may often be necessary. This form of certified translation allows overseas authorities to confirm full details of the linguist, who converted your documents, proving their liability.
Generally, in order to have your translation officially notarised, the translated documents must be either signed by a Notary Public or carry a statement from the Notary concerning the original document and its translation into the target language.
It’s essential to note however, that the Notary’s signature does not directly endorse the quality and accuracy of a translation as it simply demonstrates that the linguist provided their correct details and that they take a full responsibility for the truthfulness of their work.
An Apostilled translation
In many situations, documents that had been issued with an official apostille certificate may also be required to be officially translated into another language. The Institute of Translation & Interpreting, which is an official UK body for linguists and translators, states that: “The competent authority for issuing Apostilles in the UK is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). An Apostille verifies the authenticity of the signature and ensures that the document is recognised in all States that signed the Hague Convention of 1961; it does not endorse the content of the document.”
Finding the right provider
When looking for a trustworthy provider who can translate and certify your documents, you must bear in mind a number of aspects, which can directly influence the provider’s accuracy and credibility. As you can imagine, finding an appropriate agency or a freelance linguist to professionally translate your content can sometimes be a challenging task, especially if you do not have any previous experience in doing so. Fortunately however, we’ll take a closer look at the different ways and resources, which can help you in obtaining a certified translation service from a reliable source.
- Working with a professional translation agency
In 2020, working with a professional translation agency is by far the most popular choice amongst UK consumers when it comes to obtaining a certified tarnation.
To be able to provide this service, a translation agency must be a registered and recognised member of an official language authority, such as, for example, the ATC UK (Association of Translation Agencies UK). Membership of such association can only be possible after successfully passing several rigours tests and meeting the highest industry standards in both customer service and linguistic accuracy. Another standard, which indicates a high quality of work and professionalism of the translation agency is an ISO.
In order to find a reliable translation agency, you can use a simple online search, as only in the United Kingdom, there are numerous expert agencies offering certified translation service, some of them include Language Reach, The London Language Agency or Translation Services UK. Once you discover the company which meets all of the above criteria, it might be a good idea to spend a while learning more about them by, for example, reading reviews from past customers or asking for a sample translation.
- Working with a certified freelance linguist
The convenience and ease of working directly with a professional translation agency, regrettably, comes at a price. Consequently, this option may be somewhat more reasonable for businesses rather than individual or private clients, who often only wish to translate simple documents such as birth, marriage or school certificates. This is also particularly true, as businesses frequently require translations into a number of different languages at once.
Fortunately however, thanks to the developments in technology, private customers now have the opportunity to approach freelance translators and linguists directly. Although this option may not be an ideal solution if you need to translate the documents or materials into several different languages at once, or if have a tight deadline for doing so, nonetheless, if you only require a translation of relatively straightforward documents into one target language, freelance linguists may be the best and most affordable option for you.
Freelance translators, similarly to professional agencies, also have several different ways of proving their quality and linguistic accuracy, which consequently allows them to provide officially certified translation services, which are legally recognised. One of the most popular – Chartered Institute of Linguists, also known as the CIOL, associates the most talented and professional linguists and translators in the United Kingdom.
Whether you decide to work with a translation company or a freelance linguist, there are several different aspects you must bear in mind. From ensuring that the provider is registered within an official language association, and consequently legally allowed to provide certified translation services, to confirming the quality of their work and customer service by reading reviews from past clients or simply asking for a translation sample.
Your budget, deadline, type of documents as well as the total number languages required might also substantially influence whether it’s best for you to partner directly with a translation company or look for a freelance linguist. Therefore, it’s usually best to think about these aspects carefully before actually going ahead with the translation of your documents, as it may save you time and money in the long run.