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A guide to certified translations

This handy guide will help you to understand the different types of translation certification available in the UK.

Sometimes a translation is required to be stamped and signed in order for it to be deemed “official”. This service is known as certification. The guide below explains the various certification options available in the UK so that you are aware of the possible choices.

Do I need my translation certified?

A translation only needs to be certified if it to be used for legal purposes.

Here is an example: You are getting married in Mexico and the Mexican authorities ask for a Spanish translation of your birth certificate in order to complete the paperwork. This translation will need to be certified.

Are there different levels of certification?

Yes, there are three levels and the one you need will depend on the end use of the translation. The official body requesting the translation should let you know which level you require. We cannot advise you on this as every governmental department will have different requirements, but if you tell one of our Project Managers what you have been asked to provide, they will certainly do their best to help.

1. Certification

We can do this in-house. We stamp, sign and date all pages both of the original text and of the translation. We will also include a certificate on headed paper which attests that the translation is, to the best of our knowledge, true and accurate and this is also stamped, signed and dated. This is the most common form of certification. Please note that we use a copy of your text for this – we never stamp an original document.

The added time taken to certify your translation will be taken into account by the Project Manager when a timeframe is given.

2. Notarisation

This is performed by a local Notary Public. A Notary is a lawyer who has additional qualifications to enable them to perform notarial duties.

We will first certify the translation as above and take this to the Notary. The Notary then verifies our identity by signing, stamping and binding the document. The Notary is not attesting to the quality of the translation, they are simply verifying the identity of the Project Manager.

We may not be able to book an appointment with the Notary straight away so allow an extra couple of days for this stage.

3. Legalisation

A translation can only be legalised if it has been notarised first. We notarise the documents as outlined above and then the Notary sends them to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to issue a legalisation certificate, known as an Apostille.

Again, this process does not authenticate the contents of the document. Legalisation is simply official confirmation that the Notary who signed the document is a genuine UK public official. Legalisation is usually required by foreign authorities before they will allow a UK document to be used for official purposes in their country.

Please note that the legalisation process can take a couple of weeks so allow plenty of time.

Will you use a sworn translator?

Some countries have a system of authorised translators that are approved by the government and these are known as sworn translators. However, this concept does not exist in the UK so if you are asked to get your translation done by a sworn translator you will instead have to choose one of the certification options outlined above. The legal body asking for the translation will be able to help you decide which option you need.

How do I go about getting my document certified?

All we need is a good, clear copy of the document – we don’t need to see the original so just scan or photograph the text and e-mail it to us. Don’t forget to check if there is anything written on the back of your original document as we will need this too. If you cannot send us a copy electronically, you can drop into the office with the document and we will take a photocopy of it. A Project Manager will then confirm the price, deadline and level of certification with you and once this has all been agreed they will go ahead with the translation. It’s that simple!


If you are in need of a certified translation, please get in touch. We would be happy to provide a quotation and help you with this.

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Feel free to give us a call or send over an e-mail and one of our team will advise you on whatever it is you need.

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