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Translation in the USA - Things to Consider

Nov 25 2015
Canada Legalization Services makes recommendations about translation of public documents in Canada and the USA U.S. Department of Labor classification lists several translator occupations but the following two examples work most often with public documents in the USA:
  • Health or medical translators
  • Legal or judiciary translators
The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics states: "There is currently no universal form of certification required of interpreters and translators in the United States, but there are a variety of different tests that workers can take to demonstrate proficiency."
More information can be found via this link.
What is a certified translation in the USA?
In contrast to many other countries, there is no federal or state licensing or certification for translators. Thus, in the USA there is no such thing as a sworn/certified translator. The various examples of certifications granted are as follows:
  • The American Translators Association
  • The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators
  • The International Medical Interpreters Association
  • Government agencies, for the specific purposes of those agencies (e.g., the Department of Social & Health Services Certified Translators in Washington State)
  • Company-specific certification
However, the above credentials do not carry the same weight as federal licensing or certification in some other countries. The end result is that, with or without one of the above credentials, one can act as the equivalent of a sworn/certified translator and certify official translations of documents to be admitted for example in court. Any translator and any translation company representatives, regardless of credentials, may certify a translation in this way. Nevertheless, there is nothing at all official about the above, and anyone?s work could be challenged in a court regardless of credentials. Furthermore, please note that there are many languages for which there is not any type of certification or screening available at all. There are many excellent, experienced translators who are not accredited or certified.
Thus, in the United States it is not necessary to be certified or licensed in order to provide a certified translation for official use.
Certified Translation for Apostille and Legalization of Public Documents
For the purposes of international public document use in other countries, in the USA just like in many other countries, the signature of the official translator or translation company representative has to be notarized (that is the translator has to sign the Certificate of Accuracy or statement that two documents have the same meaning in the presence of a Notary Public). The Notary Public seal assures only that the signature is that of the person who presented him or herself to the notary. The Notary Public is not attesting to the accuracy of the translation.
Furthermore, most foreign Embassies/Consulates do offer certified translation services as well. In most cases, originals of documents must be presented with additional verification/authentication often necessary in the actual country of origin. For example, to apostille/legalize a translated foreign diploma or police certificate from one country in the USA to be used in a third country one might need to attain prior authentication/verification in the original country of issuance by the agency responsible (e.g., Ministry of Education or Police Headquarters) before the document can be translated and certified by the foreign Embassy/Consulate in the USA for subsequent apostille/authentication by the US Department of State and final legalization by another foreign Embassy/Consulate.
Thus, the above practices of certified (notarized) translations or translations by foreign Embassies/Consulates are usually a pre-requisite step before any apostille or legalization efforts.
How to Find a Translator
To find a suitable translator, you can also use this link from the American Translators Association.
Alternatively, you can try online, Yellow Pages or the above certification agencies. When you order translation and notarization, please do not forget about special binding/sealing requirements that many foreign countries may have to prevent/minimise document frauds (sheet replacement or insertion).
Our Services
Canada Legalization Services© via USA branch called "WDC Apostille & Legalization Services" can arrange translation for your documents within the package of our other document services (apostille and legalization). We have established long-term relationships with the companies and individuals offering certified translator services for many world languages. We can also arrange translation by the foreign Embassy/Consulate. Please Request a Quote or contact us for more information.
We hope to hear from you soon!
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