Certified translation is the translation of administrative documents (birth certificates, notarised deeds, driving licences, transcripts, etc.) carried out by a ‘specialist translator’, (traducteur expert in French). In certain countries, certified translators have the legal authority to attest, via their signature and seal, that the translation issued accurately represents the original document. This means that their translations can be shown to government entities in the country in which the document was certified and that the certification is valid before court. Confidentiality is a crucial aspect of such services that ‘specialist translators’ must adhere to.
CERTIFICATION AS A LEGAL PROCEDURE IN FRANCE
In France, specialist translators appear on a list of the court of appeals of their district after being approved by a specialised committee and are considered legal professionals. These experts provide their service not only to courts but also to lawyers, businesses, companies and private parties. It should be noted that certification is a French legal procedure, meaning the language pairs concerned must include French (English <-> French, German <-> French, Spanish <-> French, etc.).
USES OF CERTIFIED TRANSLATIONS
Certified translations may be required in a number of cases involving the French government or French institutions. French citizens may need them when they move, get a job or go to university in a foreign country, for example. The same is true for foreigners who come to France. Businesses may also need to have their documents translated and certified as part of their legal and financial operations (partnership contracts, setting up subsidiaries abroad etc.).
Please note: If the document is intended for governments other than the French government, sometimes certification alone is not sufficient. In such cases an apostille certification (which is generally carried out by the town hall) or a certification by the ministry of foreign affairs is generally required, depending on the country for which the document is intended. ‘Specialist translators’ generally also include this among the services they provide.
FINDING A CERTIFIED TRANSLATOR
You can find certified translators via translation agencies which have a large network of certified translators or directly through your local court of appeals. Online directories also exist but these are not always reliable.
HOW TO GET A CERTIFIED TRANSLATION
1. Get the correct information from the institution which requires the certified translation and find out what exactly is requested (certification, legalisation or apostille).
2. Contact the agency or the certified translator specialising in the desired language combination to get a quote.
3. Submit the original documents to the selected translator by post (using a secure service including mail tracking). Some certified translations can be made on photocopies (diplomas, transcripts, etc.) or on certified true copies.
4. Depending on the translator, you can ask for digital proofreading before the certified translation is delivered in a paper format.
5. Carry out additional procedures (apostille, legalisation) as necessary.
6. Pick up your certified translation, which will be delivered by post or in person, since – contrary to regular translation – only original documents with the translator’s seal and handwritten signature are valid.
Certified translation is thus a process which takes some time, especially considering postal delivery. We highly recommend advance preparation if you need this service!
In general, certified translations are priced by the page. This may seem expensive, however, the price can be explained by a number of factors. Certified translations involve the liability of the translator to a large extent, regarding both civil and criminal law. In addition, they involve printing and shipping costs not charged by other translators. Last but not least, certified translators are required to take various continuing education courses each year to keep their knowledge up-to-date.
Whether you are a business or an individual, you now know where to turn when you need a certified translation.