Do I need a certified translation?

on
Jan 10, 2020
by
Reyhan Balikci
Full-length

While it is possible for professional translators to translate a variety of documents, including legal ones, it does not replace a certified translation that can be produced only by a certified translator.

Do I need a certified translation?

What is a certified translation?

Certified translations are a tricky concept to undertake, as the meaning has been widely misinterpreted. Misconceptions arise when translations completed by regular translators who provide an affidavit along with the document or a notarized seal are also considered, by many agencies, as certified translations. However, the truth of the matter is that a certified translation can only be provided by a certified translator.

A certified translator is a unique and reserved title for members of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO) or similar provincial associations, who have passed the certification examination and subscribed to ATIO’s code of professional ethics. While it is possible for professional translators to translate a variety of documents, including legal ones, it does not replace a certified translation that can be produced only by a certified translator.

When will a certified translation be required?

Institutions such as DriveTest, Medical Council of Canada, or Ontario College of Teachers only accept certified translations, meaning translations completed by members of ATIO or similar associations. They do not accept translations that have been “certified” by an affidavit or the seal of a notary public. Keep in mind that certified translators for all language combinations cannot always be found, as many individuals who work as translators are not certified by ATIO or similar associations. In this case, the individual requiring a translation must contact the institution in which they need the document for, and determine whether an affidavit or a notarized document will suffice instead of a certified one. This will not only speed up the process of finding a translator and having it translated but will also save the customer money. 

1 - Certified Translation

―  Can ONLY be produced by certified translators (reserved title for individuals who have qualified and registered with the provincial association of translators in their province, such as ATIO.

―  Certified translators do NOT need to have their work authenticated by a lawyer or notary public, meaning that unlike other translators, they do not require an affidavit or to notarize their documents.

―  Certified translators have a personal stamp which makes the documents that they translate a legal record.

2 - Affidavit of Translation OR Notarized Translation

―  Can be produced by professional translators AND certified translators (reserved title for individuals who have qualified and registered with the provincial association of translators in their province, such as ATIO.

―  Professional translators either need to provide:
    - an affidavit of translation (document where the translator swears in the presence of a lawyer or other legal authority with the power to administer oaths that the translation is a true representation of the contents of the original document)
    - OR a notarized translation (the notary public provides his/her seal on the affidavit of translation).

3 - Regular Translations

―  Can be produced by professional translators AND certified translators (reserved title for individuals who have qualified and registered with the provincial association of translators in their province, such as ATIO.

―  Regular translations, including documents such as blogs, essays, or similar records that are not required for legal purposes can be translated by all translators.

Certified translation diagram

There are several situations where a regular translation may be required to be declared as a true and correct copy of the original document. In this case, an affidavit or a notarized seal may be enough for immigration documents, such as a birth or marriage certificate, or documents that are needed for a trial or a hearing. However, many accredited universities and colleges often ask that diplomas and transcripts have a certified translation. Finally, corporations with international offices or businesses that are looking to expand their visibility on an international scale may also require certified translation documents for financial reports, contracts, or patents. The term "certified translation" is vaguely used by many institutions and companies, so it is crucial to know what exactly is required by the institution you are looking to provide a translation for.  

Documents that do not need a certified translation, affidavit of translation, or the seal of a notary public may include articles, essays, or letters, so long as it is not a legal document. However, just because you do not need a certified translation, does not mean you cannot use a certified translator. If you choose to exercise due diligence when having your documents translated, the smarter option would be to work with a certified translator who is an expert in the required languages and experienced in their field.

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