A quick guide to translating and certifying your documents

Today, the world is smaller than it has been ever before. Not physically, (although you’d have to double check with scientists about that!) but in terms of the ease of communicating with one another. Now, thanks to the fast developments in technology we could witness in the last decade or so, we can reach to friends and family who live across the world within seconds. These improvements are also extremely beneficial for companies and business owners, as selling products and services to foreign customers is easier than ever. In fact, many organizations trade internationally without even having a physical shop in the target market! We truly live without borders, well, at least digitally!

There is however an obstacle, which in some cases still stands in the way of communicating efficiently, in both – our personal as well as professional lives, and that obstacle is language. Often, we are not able to convey our message proficiently enough so that it truly represents what we had in mind, simply because we don’t speak the same language as our audience. As a result, a growing number of people and businesses turn to translation agencies and online tools, which allow them to accurately transform their message into the target language.

Nonetheless, translating is often easier said than done. Especially if the content you wish to translate is for corporate or professional use. There are, in fact, several aspects, which you must consider before actually going ahead. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most important of such factors and aim to explain, what to pay attention to when choosing your translations provider. Below, we will talk about:

  • Where and how to find a translations provider
  • What to pay attention to when choosing one
  • Explain what the term ‘certified translation services’ mean
  • Answer, how much should a certified translation cost
  • Explain, whether professional and personal translations are the same
  • Which factors can influence the quality of a translation

Where and how to find a translations provider?

Finding the right and accredited translations provider for your particular needs can be quite difficult. There are several different ways in which you can approach this task. One of the most popular would be to simply run a search through a search engine, such as Google. There, the most relevant and popular translations providers would be listed along with their reviews and contact details. Alternatively, you can search through websites of the official translation bodies, such as CIOL (Chartered Institute of Linguists) or the ATC (Association of Translation Companies), where all officially accredited members are listed.

What to pay attention to when choosing one?

When choosing a linguist or a translation agency to handle your documents, it’s important to pay a close attention to a number of factors, which can indicate whether you’re making the right choice. Firstly, make sure that the provider specializes in translations of documents or materials similar to yours. Translating legal documents is completely different to translating, for example, a marketing campaign, and both require a different set of skills. Additionally, take a good look at the company’s reviews on third party websites, such as Trustpilot. This can indicate what their levels of quality and customer service really are. It might also be a good practice to ask for a free sample translation, especially if you intend to convert a large number of documents. By doing this, you’ll be able to review the quality of their work first-hand, before actually going ahead with the translation.

What do ‘certified translation services’ mean?

In order for your documents to be legally recognized, for example in the courts of law, they must be translated by an officially accredited provider. Certified translation services refer to a translation supplied by an authorized agency or linguist. Generally speaking, in the United Kingdom, such translation would be accompanied by a cover letter, stating that it is a true and accurate representation of the original document, along with an official stamp and a signature of the linguist or a representative of the translation agency.

If you want to ensure that the translation of your documents is indeed officially certified, make sure that the provider is registered with one of the legal bodies mentioned above (ATC or CIOL).  Members of these organizations are legally allowed to provide certified translation services of documents, which are recognized legally.

In some cases, you might be asked to supply a further certification of your translated document, for example, a notarized translation. This simply means, that when the linguist provides their signature to certify the document, a solicitor or a lawyer must be present to confirm its authenticity. Luckily, most professional translation agencies are also able to provide this service.

How much should a certified translation cost?

As a rule of thumb, certified translations are charged based on the number of either pages or words within your document. Generally speaking, the price of a certified translation should oscillate around the £0.10 mark, depending on the language pair and type of your document. Some popular languages, such as German, Spanish or French could be ever cheaper, whilst dialects or languages that are rarer, for example Japanese or Finnish, could often be charged at a slightly higher rate.  

Are translations for professional and personal use are the same?

The way in which you should approach translating your content depends on the reason you need to translate it in the first place. If you need to convert documents for personal use, for example, to communicate with your friends or family or to understand lyrics from a song, using free online software such as Google translate might be just the ideal solution.

For professional or corporate use, for example during internationalization process, when approaching international customers or when you need to completely understand important legal documents, accuracy and reliability are fundamental and nothing short of essential. In such case, it’s imperative that your business partners directly with a professional translation agency, which specializes in translating content similar to yours. Within the competitive corporate world, even a small mistake in the translation can unfortunately lead to serious damages – not only in your budget, but also in your company’s reputation, which might be impossible to fix even in the long term.

In addition, when translating business materials, a number of factors different to language can directly influence how the target audience perceives your message…

Which factors can directly influence the effectiveness of a translation?

If you do not have any previous experience in professionally translating and certifying documents or materials for your business, you may naturally assume that the only thing that truly matters is language. There are, however, several different factors, which can directly influence the reliability of a translation and how the target audience will perceive your message. Cultural, economic or social factors as well as local beliefs are all significant when approaching a foreign market and all play an important role in converting materials into the target language. Colors, for example, represent different meanings amongst different cultures – whilst white represents cleanliness in the Western cultures, and so a number of brands use it for products such as soaps, shampoos etc. in China, it represents death and mourning. As a result, a professional linguist will be able to pick these differences up and localize your content so that it is suited specifically for the target market you wish to approach.

As you can see, professional certified translation services involve a number of different aspects, which must be fully understood prior to actually going ahead. From choosing the best way to go about the translation to then finding the right and authorized provider as well as understanding the type of certification you require. Fortunately, working and partnering with an experienced linguist, or better yet, with an officially registered translation agency can take all of these difficult aspects for you, well, perhaps apart from initially choosing the agency.