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What is a Certified Translation?

One of the most common questions we receive here at ImmiTranslate is, "what is a certified translation?".

In short, a certified translation is similar to a standard translation, but includes a signed & stamped attestation by the translator that the translation is complete and accurate to the best of their knowledge, and that the translator is competent in both the source language and the target language.

Technically, any translator can produce a certified translation, as there is no governing body behind certified translations. As a result, most organizations also require that the translator or translation company is an accredited member of a trade group, such as the American Translators Association.

One challenge faced by those that have a translation that has not been certified is that a translator should only certify a translation that they themselves have completed. For example, having a friend certify a translation that they had not in fact translated would be a false statement. Among the potential impacts of a rejected certified translation is a complete denial of a USCIS application, a rejection from a college admission, or another form of refusal based on the invalid translation.

How do I translate a Birth Certificate?

Although translating a vital document such as a birth certificate may seem easy, in order to truly reflect the nature of the document, close attention must be paid to the details.

Name Order
The world of various languages, it is important to remember that some languages place the individual family name before the 'given' name. Other languages have a different order when it comes to the placement of the maiden name. The proper placement of surnames in the target language is the key to proper naming order.

Phonetic Transcription
The same name can (and often is) pronounced differently among different dialects of the same language. Most prominently, Catonese vs. Mandarin Chinese.

Date Order
The United States adopts a different order for dates in the number format. It is common to see dates in the format "MM/DD/YYYY" in the United States. The rest of the world prefers the format "DD/MM/YYYY". This can create a conflict when translating from documents where the date is either not specified, or likely uses a different format than the target language.

Our policy at ImmiTranslate is to "convert" the date to a universal format, such as "3 November 2000" instead of "11/03/2000" or "03/11/2000". This change prevents ambiguity in the finished...


What are the USCIS Translation Guidelines?

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has set a few basic guidelines translators must follow when translating a document. They are straightforward rules that help prevent mistranslations from interfering with any documents they receive.

When translating a document, a translator must verify they have the appropriate knowledge and experience to perform the task. They fill out a simple form that tells the USCIS they are in fact experienced and fluent in the language and the information provided is accurate to the best of their knowledge.

A translation certification looks like this:
“I, John Doe, hereby certify that I am fluent (conversant) in the English and Spanish languages, and that the above/attached document is an accurate translation of the document attached entitled Jane Doe's Birth Certificate.”
The translator then signs the document. The USCIS prefers an address as well as the date the document was translated.

This way, the translator takes personal responsibility for the translation. In the case of a major error, the client, who requires and requested the translation, doesn’t want to be held responsible; being in that position could cause major problems! By filling out the form and signing it, the translator can be contacted in...