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What Is a “Certified” Legal Translation?

by Jackson B
What Is a “Certified” Legal Translation?

If you seek certified translations of legal documents, you must know what to look for in your translation provider and understand what “Certified Translation” actually means. Lawyers often submit translated documents on behalf of their clients, and there is nothing worse than a translation error impacting a client’s immigration status or legal proceedings.

Translation is defined as the process of translating text from one language to another. When a translated document is to be submitted as part of legal proceedings, an extra layer of care, accuracy, and certification is required. Online certified translation services are the easiest and most cost-efficient way to get your legal documents translated.

In 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received approximately 7.7 applications and petitions. However, due to COVID-19 and the subsequent disruptions and closure of US Consulates and Embassies, USCIS processed 38% fewer applications. With such a backlog, translated legal documents must be certified by trusted translation services providers experienced in USCIS certified legal translations. This will mitigate any risk of a processing delay due to queries about the submitted documents.

Certified legal translation

Translated legal documents must be certified before they are submitted as an artifact to support formal procedures or legal cases. A certification should include a statement of accuracy from the translator or agency stating that the document was an accurate rendering of the original text. The certification should also include the translator’s contact information as this person or agency is responsible and will be the point of call if there are any questions about the translation.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations (8 CFR 103.2 (b)(3) pertaining to legal documents submitted to USCIS,

Any document containing foreign language submitted to USCIS shall be accompanied by a full English language translation which the translator has certified as complete and accurate, and by the translator’s certification that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English.

If you need more information about the certification of legal documents, read the article USCIS Certified Translations – All You Need to Know.

Use a translation agency instead of a sole translator

A translation agency experienced in translating legal documents will be more accurate, cost-effective, and timely. In addition, an agency that has a history of certifying legal documents for USCIS will be an expert on formatting, terminology, and the specific requirements of different visa types. An agency will also be able to handle large or recurring projects and will usually offer loyalty discounts to repeat customers.

Legal document translation that is not related to immigration must also be certified. When translating these types of documents, your translation provider must have specific expertise in the practice area and be familiar with its formatting and terminology, whether it is litigation, family law, or corporate, etc.

Translation agencies vet and train their translators to ensure the highest quality certified legal translations. Don’t risk your translation being rejected or questioned. Use an agency with a proven track record in the translation and certification of legal documents.

What to look for in your translation service provider

Lawyers require accuracy, assurance, and speed. When searching for a translation provider, look for the following:

  • Translators fluent in the spoken language and native in the source language
  • Experienced in Legal Translation
  • USCIS certified
  • 24-hour turnaround on all translations
  • Built on human translation
  • 24/7 chat support
  • Data Security and vetted translators who have signed non-disclosure agreements
  • Offers Certification in over 50 languages
  • No minimum fee. Sometimes, you might just need a sentence translated

MotaWord is the world’s fastest, lowest cost, cloud-based translation service. Built on collaborative human translation, MotaWord offers USCIS certified legal translations in 95 languages at no extra cost. MotaWord provides a 15% discount to AILA members and has been selected by AILA as its translation program provider.


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