What is certified translation?

By: Shahzad Bashir Posted on Tue, 17-04-2018

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It is said that if translations had not existed, the nations would have been living within borders of silence. Of course, that is not the case and translations in the world do exist. In this vast world of intermingling and diverse languages, it is often hard to make bonds that bind and remove barriers between people, society and businesses.

The translation is the only tool that the countries have that can be used to lower these barriers. In the quest to provide the best translation services to companies worldwide, translation agencies must ensure their translation is not only valid, but is also certified.

Let us first look at what is certified translation.

Certified Translation—Defined and Verified

Certified translation means that a translator or the language service provider (LSP) has issued a signed statement verifying that the translation has been done accurately and is a true representation of the original document. But how can that be verified?

This “verification” can be done in a few ways. The first one is “self-attestation”, where the professional translator provides verification of his skills at being completely conversant in both source and target language.

The second is based on the attestation by the project manager or coordinator, verifying that the translation was performed by translator conversant and proficient in both languages. Either type of certification is sufficient to be considered a certified translation.

But here is the catch—a certified translation may still be rejected if it is found that the translation has not done justice to the original document.

Documents for Certified Translations

Documents that require the certified translation are certificates, diplomas, civil status papers, and those documents that have been issued officially by the government.

This may be a serious concern since the documents that need to be translated are of an official nature and their inaccurate translation could lead to legal penalty. Examples of such documents include court documents, medical documents for pharmaceutical testing and biotechnology papers.

The most frequently certified translations for individuals are birth certificates, marriage certificates, school reports, diplomas, criminal record certificates and court documents.

On the other hand, the most frequent certified translations for companies are public tender documents, powers of attorney documents and legal contracts.

Is Certified Translator and Certified Translation the Same?

After defining what a certified translation is, let us look the similarities. Contrary to the popular belief, a certified translator and certified translation are not the same thing and it is important not to confuse the two, as these terms are different from each other.

A professional translator becomes a certified translator when he qualifies an exam and is certified by the American Translators Association or other organizations. On the other hand, a certified translation does not necessarily need to be translated by a certified translator.

It can be done by a language service provider who can provide a signed Certificate of Accuracy in the submission to the client.

The Certification Required for a Certified Translation:

For a translator to qualify as a certified translator, it is first of all important that he undertakes and passes a certification exam. The ATA certification is an established certification exam for the translators who possess the skills, abilities and knowledge needed to provide professional translation.

This certification exam is currently being offered in 29 languages. Although known as an international certification, ATA does not offer certification exams in all language combinations—only in some.

For example, there are certifications for English into Spanish and Spanish into English. A translator needs to ace both exams to be certified in both the language pairs. In recent years, however, ATA has been adding new certificates for language combinations that have remained untested before.

Are Translators Without the Ata Certification Not Qualified Enough?

Any document can attain the status of a certified translation with the support of proper attestation. The question arises—are translators who are without the ATA certification not qualified for the job?

The answer is no. A translator may have his reasons for not being certified. Firstly, there might be no certification exam available in the individual’s language combination. Secondly, it is possible that a well-established individual in the industry no longer feels the need to translate professionally.

Lastly, linguists in the countries outside U.S. may place less emphasis on ATA certification since being ATA-certified does not lend them any business advantage in their home countries.

After looking at what a certified translation is, in a nutshell, translation needs to be accurate, timely and valid.

Being certified translation only lends more credibility to the translation, ensuring that the translation is as accurate as the original document and retains the real essence of the latter.