Certified Translation – Getting It Right
When members of public, businesses and public authorities need a certified translation of a document that is not in English, it is important to choose a qualified, registered translator or translation company.
This expectation is clearly set out by the UK Government at https://www.gov.uk/certifying-a-document or by clicking the gov.uk logo below.
Use a qualified, registered translator or translation company
All parties, and especially public authorities can reduce the risk of error or omission by only using a translator or translation company with a clear affiliation to a recognised professional body or association such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and the Association of Translation Companies (ATC).
Find the right professional for your translation
CIOL, ITI and ATC maintain easily accessed public registers of accredited translators and companies:
Get a Certificate
As per government guidance the translation document is best annotated or accompanied by a certificate with at least the following information:
- The translation is ‘a true and accurate translation of the original document’
- The date of the translation
- The name and contact details of the translator or a representative of the translation company
Take Confidence in Quality
Businesses, public service and UK Government agencies can take confidence in the accreditation processes for experienced professional translator members of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (MCIL and FCIL) and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (MITI, FITI and Corporate LSP members) and also in the quality assurance processes of ATC member companies (Accredited).
More About Certified Translations for CIOL Translators
As a translator, you may be asked to supply a certified translation. Unlike many other European countries, the UK does not have a system of ‘sworn’ or ‘certified’ translators accredited by a particular body. Translations required for official purposes, such as birth, death and marriage certificates, legal documents, academic transcripts etc can, however, be ‘self-certified’ by any practising translator, including CIOL members and Chartered Linguists. See the UK government's guidelines on certifying a document here. However, guidelines frequently stipulate that a "certified translation" should be done by a member of a professional body, such as CIOL.
Whilst certification doesn’t in itself guarantee the quality of a translation, it does serve to identify you, the translator, and your credentials and makes you accountable for your work. In addition, the reference to qualified membership of a professional body indicates a certain level of professionalism. Where possible, you should check with the organisation requesting a certified translation exactly what its requirements are.
How to self-certify translations
We have provided a self-certified translation statement template and suggest here how you can provide a self-certified translation as a CIOL member and/or Chartered Linguist:
- Download the self-certified translation statement template and adapt as necessary – the light text in italics is where you enter your own details;
- Member logo: download your member logo via My CIOL if you would like to add this to your statement, along with your unique CIOL link, which is ciol.org.uk/[your 5-digit membership number]. If you are a Chartered Linguist, you may also wish to commission a stamp or seal, (CIOL is unable to assist you with this).
A self-certified translation should ideally only ever be sent by hard copy. The reason for this is to avoid the possibility of the translation being used on its own, or being affixed to a different source text for fraudulent purposes. A self-certified translation should, therefore, be affixed firmly to the source text - either by using rivets, or by folding the top left hand corner over, stapling it and stamping the back. Either variant will ensure that it is not possible to remove and/or replace individual pages of the translation or the source text. Obviously a copy may be sent by electronic means, but that will not normally qualify as a certified translation in its own right.
Source and target text should be affixed to each other and the self-certification statement.