Why is there a need for certified translations?
Even the document is question is one that, given your sound command of the language involved, you could probably translate yourself, this does not mean that your translation can be used for official purposes. What you need is a so-called 'Court-accredited Translator', i.e. a professional translator, whose academic background and the excellent results achieved as part of his or her studies make that translator eligible in the eyes of the Court to prepare certified translations. In other words, there are official swearing-in or accreditation procedures involved.
It is a requirement that the translation of the source text be complete, i.e. it must include the contents of any incidental remarks, stamps, seals and fee stamps. The wording of the certification which the Court-accredited translator adds to the translation of the text serves to confirm just this. Along with the name and signature (of the translator), together with the date and the translator’s seal, the certification also provides the details of the Court before which the translator has been appointed and authorised.
The Guidelines of the Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators dictate harmonisation in terms of the formal layout of a translation. Translations are required to be produced in certified form when it comes to matters of an official nature. Certification is likewise a requirement when it comes to applications for a place to study abroad or for work permits in a foreign jurisdiction, etc.
The situation in Germany is such that qualified translators who have either completed a course of third-level / university study in a foreign language or who have taken a State-recognised examination (such as, for example, through the Chamber of Industry and Commerce) seek the authorisation of the Courts of the Federal Republic of Germany to confirm the correctness and completeness of translations involving specific languages.
Once obtained, the authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany are then required to recognise and accept that confirmation.
Please note: there are some languages for which there are still no sworn / authorised translators available.
So, what if the translation is intended for use outside of Germany?
Generally speaking, translations that originate from Germany and are "certified" will be recognised in all of the Member States of the European Union without having to undergo any further official authorisation procedure.
Having said that, however, it cannot do any harm to place an appropriate enquiry with the authority for whom the translation is intended!
If the translation is to go, for example, to such countries as the U.S.A., Brazil or Australia, it is highly probable that it will be necessary to arrange for supplementary authentication through the body representing the foreign state in Germany (consulate, embassy or suchlike). In most cases, our translators are registered with these agencies with the result that supplementary authentication ("legalisation") can be obtained without any bother. The procedure does, however, attract an administrative fee. We will be pleased, in exceptional cases, to arrange to have authentication carried out on behalf of the client.
Please bear in mind that, normally speaking, the source texts / certificates, which will have been issued by any of a variety of possible authorities or government agencies, will also be required to have undergone supplementary authentication by the President of the particular District Court that is dealing with it, the purpose of which is to provide the foreign authority in question with the assurance that it requires that the issuing body was authorised to issue it in the first place.
It is our policy to make a point of recommending to our CUSTOMERS that they clarify with the authorities that will ultimately be using them whether or not supplementary authentications / legalisations will be required. For, if, at the end of the day, the documents are not recognised, the costs incurred and the time lost can be considerable!
Please note! We are translators and not legal experts! It is not our job to provide legal advice! What's more, we are not authorised to recommend what the customer should, or should not, have translated. The decision as to how we are to be of service is the customer's, and the customer's alone. There are hard-and-fast rules in place as to how exactly a translation is to be prepared and structured. Hence, there are limits to the extent to which translations can be prepared in abridged form and nonetheless certified!
1. You have the authority responsible affix its supplementary certification / legalisation to the document to be translated.
2. You come to us with the document, which is now showing that supplementary certification / legalisation, and you instruct us to translate it for you.
3. We prepare the translation and certify the entire document.
4. You then have the higher-level authority in question (District Court [Landgericht] or, as the case may be [Higher Regional Court], affix its supplementary certification to our translation. They, by the way, will have a sample of our translator's signature on file for identification purposes. Or, alternatively:
4.a. We will look after obtaining the supplementary certification / legalisation on your behalf. This service, however, will attract a fee.