Educational institutions may require a certified transcript translation of a foreign student's academic records.

Universities may want to see a certified transcript translation before admitting a foreign student.

Certified transcript translation services are in high demand in the U.S.

Foreign students may need a certified transcript translation for admission to an American college or university.

But in the U.S. there’s no official definition of the term certified. Still, you can hire a certified translator to work on your transcript or other official records.

Confused? See the FAQ section on this page.

If you’re not sure if you need a certified document, give us a call at 616.855.4044 or fill out the form on this page.

To learn more, read about notarized translation or translation services in general.

In a lot of countries, a certified translation has legal weight. Translators who offer certified translation take an oath before a court of law and are called “sworn translators.”

Note, though, that the translator—not the translation—is sworn. But a sworn translation is admissible in court as an official document.

In the U.S., though, there is no state-level process by which a translator becomes certified.

At RedLine, we consider a “certified” translation to be one that has been handled by an ATA-certified translator. In addition, the translator (or translation agency) can add a statement of accuracy. The translator or agency drafts this document and a notary public can notarize it.

But this means only that 1) the translator says the work is accurate and 2) a notary public has checked the identity (signature) of the translator. Nothing more.

So should you hire only ATA-certified translators? Well, that depends. For most “general” documents such as transcripts and immigration paperwork, the answer is “you don’t have to.” For peace of mind, of course, you can hire a translator who has passed the ATA’s certification exam.

The USCIS website, for example, instructs applicants to “[…] submit certified translations for all foreign language documents. The translator must certify that s/he is competent to translate and that the translation is accurate.”

Note: While USCIS uses the word certified (see link above), no third party checks the translation for accuracy.

FAQ: Certified Transcript Translation and More

Is a certified translation better?

In the eyes of the requesting party, sure. But in terms of translation quality, there’s no easy answer. A certified translation may contain errors, while an uncertified one could be error-free.

A translation agency that includes a statement of accuracy stands behind its work. (It’s as if the agency is saying, “The translation is accurate, and we’re willing to say so in a separate document, put our credentials on it, and sign it.”)

In other words, the “certification” (as USCIC defines it) is a statement of confidence from the translator or agency. But it’s not an assurance from any third party that the translation is accurate.

Can translators in the U.S. be certified?

Yes. The American Translators Association (ATA) is the only body in the U.S. that certifies translators. Translators who want to become certified must pass a translation exam and meet certain other requirements.

So you may see the phrase “ATA-certified” behind a translator’s name. But the translator is certified, not a particular translation.

The translation industry is unregulated, which makes it different from law or medicine. You wouldn’t hire a lawyer who hadn’t passed the bar, for example. But many excellent translators are not certified.

What are the costs?

We don’t charge an extra fee if you ask for a certified translator to handle your document. But if you need to have your translation notarized, then we charge $25 for that service. In addition, we charge for any extra costs such as overnight mailing.

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