How establish who can certify a translation (for legal use)?


I'm looking for a professional translator who can translate a formal legal document to English (or certify a translation) so that the English version is considered legally accurate (good enough that it could even be legally admissible in court as evidence). My problem is I do not know what questions to ask or what to check (what credentials, for instance) in order to establish that the English version is legally accurate? Is there some professional organization that they should belong to, that certifies them?  Or do I ask what other documents they translate, or ?  I could imagine someone saying that what they do is appropriate and it not being the case, for a variety of reasons....

I'd be grateful for any advice anyone has. Thank you.

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I'm not sure this answers your question exactly, but there are translation services that specialize in translating documents for use in legal proceedings. You would likely need to consult a lawyer if you want to know what exactly is required for the document to be admitted in any particular court/proceeding, but using a legal translator who has experience doing this might help. I think transperfect used to do this type of work and might still. You could try searching google results for legal translator. It will cost you more I'm sure. If your question is who can tell me what I need to do have an admissible translation, I would try a lawyer. A lawyer who knows this would also likely know a good translation service and could refer you. 

I'm a professional translator, happy to help. California courts require translations be done by someone certified by the American Translators Association, which has a rigorous certification process. You can find them using the directory on their website at You can filter the directory for certified translators in specific language pairs. If you prefer someone local, try the local chapter of the ATA here

In most cases the court provides a form that the translator fills out (including their certification number) and signs before a notary. This form accompanies the translation and original documents. If you have no such form, the ATA certified translator usually has a standard "certificate of translation" with their certification number that they sign and attach to the translation.

It is hard to comment without more information but I definitely recommend you speak with an attorney who can advise you on any enforceability issues and also make translation service referrals (many law firms who deal with international clients have references for these services). Keep in mind that many agreements translated into second languages include a language provision. This provision is usually only a sentence towards the end of the agreement and states which version (i.e., language) of the document is actually binding. It also may specifically state that translations into other languages (perhaps English, in your case) are just for ease of reference (i.e., not binding). This isn't to say you couldn't try to use the English version as evidence in court for something like fraud, or even to show the parties' intent, but you really need to discuss the specifics of your case with an attorney because there are many tangential issues to consider. Also, note that depending on the language and the country you are dealing with, some translators need to have official licenses/credentials (this is true in many places outside of the US). Again, a reputable attorney should be able to advise (or point you in the right direction).

What language do you need it translated from? You will likely need the document translated and notarized. Your embassy / consulate should be able to help you identify legit translators, some who offer this service as a bundle. 

What language?

Some consulates and refugee organizations  have a list of translators they accept for legal documents. cross check with more than one. Show your document and translation to a couple of NATIVE bilingual people. Good luck. 

The professional association for translators is the American Translators Association - you should find the answers to your questions there as well as a searchable directory of translators: You can look for translators there by language and specialization.