A country by country survey of requirements for the translation of documents.
Translation requirements for immigration agencies of Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK & US.
Certified vs sworn: The Anglo French divide
In countries inspired by France, the type of translation most often required by authorities or public administrations is a ‘traduction assermentée’, known in English as a ‘sworn translation’.
Elsewhere, ‘certified translations’ are accepted by more and more English speaking countries, specifically for visa & immigration purposes, but standards vary considerably.
Different standards across the English speaking world.
In New Zealand & Canada, documents must be ‘certified’ by a formally recognised translators, which are similar to ‘sworn’ translator, whereas the more relaxed Australian, Irish & UK government are happy with an ‘endorsed’ translation.
What does it mean for the applicant
Generally speaking, commercial translators invoice by word, whereas sworn translators invoice by document. As some official documents have very few words, using a commercial translator is very often cheaper, by up to 60% in some cases.
It also means that documents can be translated before the applicant arrives, again normally cheaper, as well as easier.
What is a ‘sworn translation’?
In the words of the French lawyers organisation, it is “prepared by an Expert translator associated with a Court of Appeal [..] who certifies that it is a true translation of the original.”
What is a ‘certified translation’?
In the words of the Australian government: A translator outside Australia does not need to be accredited, but they must endorse the translation with their full name, address, telephone number, and details of their qualifications and experience in the language being translated.
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Who can translate my documents into English for me?
A translator outside Australia does not need to be accredited, but they must endorse the translation with their full name, address, telephone number, and details of their qualifications and experience in the language being translated.
As of 14 June 2016
Any document that is not in English or French must be accompanied by
the English or French translation; and
an affidavit from the person who completed the translation, if required.
Note: An affidavit is a document on which the translator has sworn, in the presence of a commissioner authorized to administer oaths in the place where the affidavit is sworn, that the contents of the translation are a true translation and representation of the contents of the original document.
If you submit a document that is not in English/Irish, it must be accompanied by a full translation. Each translated document must contain:
confirmation from the translator that it is an accurate translation of the original document,
the date of the translation,
the translator’s full name and signature, and
the translator’s contact details.
All letters submitted from a business, company or other organisation should be on official headed paper and give full contact details so that they can be verified. These must include a full postal address, name of contact, position in the organisation, telephone number (landline), website, and email address (email addresses such as Yahoo or Hotmail are not accepted).
Translation of documents
If your international qualification documents are not in English, you must provide a translation of them.
All translations must comply with the following requirements:
Translations must be prepared by a recognised official translation service. The translation must not be prepared by you, or any member of your family, or any person interested in the outcome of your application.
Translations must be on official letterhead and have the stamp or signature of the translator or translation service.
All translation costs are your responsibility.
All translations of original language documents, including notarised documents, must be certified as correct by an official of the translation service.
Certifying a translation
If you need to certify a translation of a document that’s not written in English or Welsh, ask the translation company to confirm in writing on the translation:
that it’s a ‘true and accurate translation of the original document’
the date of the translation
the full name and contact details of the translator or a representative of the translation company
Last updated: 27 August 2015
US Department of State
Information about Translating Foreign Documents
The certification format should include the certifier’s name, signature, address, and date of certification. A suggested format is:
“Certification by Translator
I [typed name], certify that I am fluent (conversant) in the English and ________ languages, and that the above/attached document is an accurate translation of the document attached entitled ______________________________.
Date Typed Name
[the N-400 application instructions] do not specifically state that translations must be notarized; however, [the] certification of the translator’s credentials is usually notarized.
Translations. Any document containing foreign language submitted to the Service shall be accompanied by a full English language translation which the translator has certified as complete and accurate, and by the translator’s certification that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English.”
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
Can I submit foreign documents or do they need to be translated?
Any document containing foreign language submitted to USCIS must be accompanied by a full English language translation which the translator has certified as complete and accurate, and by the translator’s certification that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English.
Foreign Language Documents and Translations, Document Translations
All documents submitted in support of an application or petition must include complete translation into English. In addition, there must be a certification from the translator indicating that the translation is complete and accurate and attesting to his or her competence as a translator. See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(3) .
Notes on Extracts (such as Extrait d’Acte de Naissance)
Sometimes the keeper of a record will issue an “extract” version of the document. This often happens in countries where the complete document is lengthy and filled with extraneous information. Such official extracts are acceptable, but only if they contain all the information necessary to make a decision on a case. For example, an official extract of a birth certificate which fully identifies the child’s parents may be used in support of a visa petition; one which only lists the child’s name and date and place of birth may not. Furthermore, only extracts prepared by an authorized official (the “keeper of record”) are acceptable. A summary of a document prepared by a translator is unacceptable.
General Tips on Assembling Applications for Mailing (USCIS)
Please submit certified translations for all foreign language documents. The translator must certify that s/he is competent to translate and that the translation is accurate. The certification format should include the certifier’s name, signature, address, and date of certification. A suggested format is:
Certification by Translator
I [typed name], certify that I am fluent (conversant) in the English and [enter appropriate language] languages, and that the above/attached document is an accurate translation of the document attached entitled [enter title of document].
Submitting Supporting Documentation for e-Filed Applications Only (USCIS)
Translations. Any foreign language document must be accompanied by a full English translation that the translator has certified as complete and correct, and by the translator’s certification that he or she is competent to translate the foreign language into English.