Certified Translation: Who Should You Commission?

Dealing with paperwork and bureaucracy can be a headache. Add translation and foreign authorities to the mix and stress kicks in. But, while it is important to commission the right person for the job, the process is much simpler than you might think.

So who can provide a certified translation? Well, it depends from country to country as each has its own system in place. In the UK, translations must be carried out and certified by full members of either the CIOL or the ITI (so you are looking for the designatory letters MCIL, FCIL or MITI). These professionals have had their credentials and references checked, have several years of experience and abide by their institute’s code of conduct. (See also the Home Office’s website.) Many other countries (France and Spain, for example) request that such translations be done by “sworn translators”, that is, linguists who have gone through a legal procedure for the purpose, including swearing to abide by a code of conduct in front of a tribunal.

Things are less straightforward if you need to submit an official document to some organisation abroad. But fear not! Those big and scary bureaucrats are not as inflexible as you might dread. While the administrative staff will inform you of their requirements according to their local system, many countries will understand and accept that you provide translations according your country of residence. As an MCIL, I have helped many people to move to Australia or the USA, get married in France or obtain a place in a university.

Having said that, do check before you commission a translator. France and the UK are happy with each other’s systems, but not all European countries accept British certifications. A translator working into the language required will usually know whether their certifications are accepted in the country of destination, but you may wish to explain the situation to the requesting organisation and check that they will accept what is locally available to you.

Once you have ascertained what you must provide, you simply need to find a translator to do the work, scan and email the document to them with the date you need it by, pay, then wait for the work to come through the door!


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