What is a Legal Translation?
A legal translation is any translation that falls under the purview of the judicial system.
There are many types of documents that are required by the civil and criminal justice systems. In addition, there are documents that are not legal in nature, but are to be used as evidence. Translations of such documents are not usually considered “legal translation,” but need to be treated as such.
Examples of Legal Translation
The number of examples is virtually endless for the various types of documents that would normally not be a legal translation but under certain circumstances can become one by necessity.
A few examples of the more common documents that fall under legal translation are passports, immigration documents, marriage certificates, death certificates, birth certificates, last wills and testaments, powers of attorney, evidentiary recordings of phone calls, police interviews, court documents, contracts, complaints, judgments, summons, legal proceedings, trusts, partnership deeds, Real estate titles or leases papers, permits, insurance policies, affidavits, judgments, adoption papers, sales contracts, trademarks and copyrights, service agreements, escrow instructions, distribution agreements or arbitration documents.
There are far more but these are just a few examples.
When is Legal Translation Necessary?
Legal translation should be performed whenever needed for any given document or recording that is to be used by the courts or potentially may be used for legal matters. If, for instance, you have adopted a child from another country or given birth to a child while in another country, you will need to have the birth certificate, adoption papers, and other documents translated. There will be times throughout your child’s life in which his birth certificate will be required and if it is in another language it will have to be accompanied by a notarized translation.
You do not have to be embroiled in legal papers to your ears to get a translation done. It is always best to have all of your paperwork in the language of the local judicial system. Basically, having them done ahead of time reduces the stress of having it done on the fly should an issue arise, and can also clear up such matters far more quickly.
Who Can Perform Legal Translation?
Legal translation is not something that you can trust to just anyone. However, in the United States there are no required certifications or licensure for translators. There are however, voluntary certifications offered by organizations like the American Translators Association and the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters & Translators. These organizations require the translator to pass rigorous exams and to keep current by earning continuing education credits. Some translators haven’t taken the steps to be certified but have a relevant degree such as law or legal studies. Others may also have experience working as paralegals or other relevant careers. When choosing a legal transcription provider you may ask what kind of background they require of their translators before you make a decision.
Making Legal Translation Official
Professional translation agencies will also have the ability to certify and/or notarize their translations to give them full legal enforcement. Some companies will make a distinction between what they considered certified and notarized while other agencies will not. Those that do will define a certified translation as one that has a document accompanying it attesting to its accuracy or validity, but is not notarized. Other agencies notarize all certificates of accuracy.