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What is a certified translation?
Reyhan Balikci
November 5, 2019

What is a certified translation?

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 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. If a certified translator is certified in that specific language combination, then they can use their seal or stamp to certify and guarantee the quality of the work. However, in the case that the translator is not certified by a provincial association or certified in that specific language combination, then they must provide an affidavit along with the translation of the document. An affidavit is a 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. A notarized translation is produced when the notary public provides his/her seal on the affidavit of translation.


If you find this confusing, like many people (including myself), here is a much more simplified explanation:


Certified Translations 

  • 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 the seal of a notary public to notarize their documents. 
  • Certified translators have a personal stamp which makes the documents that they translate a legal record. 


Translations requiring an 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). 



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. 


Although many individuals prefer using a certified translator regardless of the document type to ensure the accuracy of the translation and to support the authentication and legalization process, it is important to note that not all certified translators automatically produce certified translations. Translation exams are one-directional, meaning that if you are certified in translating from English to French, you are not certified in translation from French to English. Therefore, certified translators do not take the role of a notary or any other legal authority in that manner. They are only able to provide certified translations for the specific combination of languages that they have been authenticated for. 


Keep in mind that it is the responsibility of the customer who requires a document to be translated to speak with his/her lawyer or the institution in which they need the document, to clarify the type of document that is needed for, and 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. 



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