Translation of official documents – what does it really mean?
Written by Dr Aga Gordon Find me on Twitter @acgtranslation
I have recently received several enquiries about the meaning of ‘sworn’ translation in the UK. Therefore, I thought it would be useful to clarify a common misapprehension among Polish people regarding the translation of the official documents in the UK. Sworn translators do not exist in the UK, as the country does not accredit translators with seals subsequently used to confirm the translation’s authenticity. You can still find sworn translators from Poland, Germany or France, but their stamp is not required by local authorities. In the UK translations needed for official purposes are certified or notarised.
There are three main levels of the official translations:
Certified translation – this is when the professional translator performs the translation, and then certifies it by putting a clause at the end that they are a qualified translator, and that the translation of the official document is accurate and true to the best of translator’s knowledge and ability. A certified translation is usually sufficient for most governmental bodies, universities, schools, insurance providers or employers for documents such as birth, divorce and marriage certificates, study transcripts, diplomas, medical reports, contracts, power of attorneys, household bills etc. Translators do not have to be members of professional translators’ organizations.
Notarised translation – this type of translation might be required for certain governmental or legal bodies. In this case, a qualified translator will perform their translation as in the case of certified translation, but will have to collaborate with a notary public, in whose presence the affidavit is sworn to declare true and accurate translation of the official documents. This will be confirmed by the notary public with their official stamp and signature.
You should always check with the body concerned whether you need a notarised translation. Such a translation carries an additional cost of about £70 for notary public fees.
Apostille – this certification might be required for documents needed overseas, especially concerning countries complying with the Hague Convention. Examples might include when you plan to marry overseas, adopt a foreign child, or obtain a job abroad.
The process follows the same procedure as for a notarised translation, after which the notarised document is sent to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). They will confirm that the signing notary public was authorised to do so. Similarly to an affidavit, the apostille will incur an additional cost on a top of the cost of the translation.