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Getting a Certified Translation

Whether you're an international student applying for American schools, a new immigrant going through the process with USCIS, or a prospective parent adopting from abroad, you'll need to have your official document translated and submit what's known as a "certified translation." What exactly does this mean, and how do you go about acquiring such services? Read on to find out!


What is a certified translation?


A certified translation means the translation comes with a certificate of accuracy. The translator must attach a signed certificate to state their qualifications and contact details, identify the document and language pair, and vouch for the accuracy and completeness of the translation.


Who can certify the translation?


In a legal sense, anyone can certify a translation in the United States, since we do not have a federal institution that screens and authorizes translators for the purpose of official document translation. However, in practice, you should think twice before trusting your neighbor who took Chinese in high school with this important task.


Certified translator vs. certified translation


When researching certified translation services, you might have encountered the term "certified translator." In the United States, a certified translator is someone who has passed the certification exam of the American Translators Association. The pass rate, according to the ATA, is less than 20%, and the translator must do at least 20 hours of continuing education every three years to maintain the certification.


As previously stated, a translator does not need to be certified to produce a certified translation, but earning the certification does speak to their translation skills and commitment as a professional. My recommendation is to go for a certified translator if you can, but the ATA only offers certification exams between English and a dozen languages or so. If your desired language pair is not certifiable, my suggestion would be to find a professional translator or translation agency. (For language service providers, you may search in the ATA directory.)


Certified translation vs. notarized translation


Another concept that adds to the confusion around certified translation is notarization. The job of the notary is not to evaluate the accuracy of the translation, but rather to confirm that it is indeed the translator who claims to have translated the document that is signing the certificate and affidavit.


Looking to have your official documents translated from Chinese into English or from English to Chinese?


Hi, I'm Sijin, and I'm an English-Chinese translator certified by the American Translators Association with seven years of professional experience. Whether it's your diploma, academic record, birth certificate, marriage certificate, or other official documents, I make sure every little detail is done right, down to the formatting itself. Get in touch today, and I look forward to playing a small part as you take a big step in your life.

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