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Certified translations vs. uncertified translations
Published by Jutta Kreienbaum in certified translations · Thursday 07 Apr 2022
Tags: certifiedtranslationsfromandintoEnglish
What's the difference between certified translations and uncertified translations
In contrast to non-certified translations of texts from a source language into a target language, certified translations may only be made by sworn translators. These translators have furnished evidence of their professional qualification and personal aptitude, as well as of profound knowledge of the judicial system and in the field of legal language and legal translations before the competent court. Sworn translators are entitled to use a round seal identifying them as such by a corresponding registration number. At regular intervals, the translator's authorisation must be renewed by the court. A database containing all court translators and interpreters with a business address in Germany is available online under https://www.gerichts-dolmetscher.de/Recherche/de/Suchen
In certified translations, ALL particular features of the document to be translated should mentioned, such as retroactive deletions or insertions of text, hand-written modifications, illegible figures or words, seals, coat of arms, any stamps affixed, signatures etc. The colour and shape of such seals have to be specified (e.g. oval, round seal, rectangular seal). Furthermore, the translator should indicate the state, country or the German Land that uses the coat of arms. The translator should also translate the motto, slogan or other wording included in coat of arms, seals etc.

If possible, all abbreviations used in the source text should be explained in plain text by adding the equivalent in the target language. Unless a translation in extracts is expressly ordered, ALL parts of the document have to be translated (such as the grading scale of school-leaving certificates or the marginal notes of certificates or the like).

How do you recognize a certified translation?

1.    A certified or "official" translation should be identified as such in the heading (by the title "Certified Translation from the ... Languagee")
2.    If the document is made up of several pages, all pages of the translation should be numbered and inseparably connected (e.g. by staples and by affixing the translator's round seal on the back of the last page)
3.    The so-called translator's attestation is added below the translation as such. The purpose of this attestation is to certify the completeness and accuracy of the translation.
4.    The translator's attestation should be completed by the date of issue and the translator's signature and round seal.

In what cases would a certified translation by extracts be sufficient?

The question whether a certified translation by extracts would possibly be sufficient or accepted by the recipient should in any case be clarified before entrusting the translator with the translation.

A translation by extracts might be plausible e.g. in case of divorce proceedings, if the authority receiving the translation only needs it for establishing that the decree is absolute. In such a case, translation of the first part of the divorce decree will in most cases be sufficient, as the grounds and the decision as to costs are irrelevant and can thus be excepted from the translation.

What costs are charged for certified translations?

The costs charged for certified translations are stipulated on the basis of the JVEG (Justizvergütungs- und Entschädigungsgesetz [German Act on the Remuneration by Judicial Authorities) . According to this German Act, a differentiation is made e.g. between editable documents and non-editable documents. The term "editiable documents" means files that can be electronically processed (like text files,  MS-Word or RichText files). Non-editable documents are documents which cannot be processed by electronic means, such as scans of originals, hand-written documents and texts, which are not available in electronic form. Non-editable files thus require considerably more effort and work. This is why a higher rate per standard line applies as against editable files.
Furthermore, a distinction is made according to the German JVEG between simple texts (documents without particular difficulty), to which the so-called basic rate applies, and texts involving a higher degree of difficulty (e.g. due to the increased use of technical and legal terms, different judicial systems etc.), to which a higher fee is applicable.
In addition, expenses will be charged for copies, handing-over of electronic copies, postage and other fees, if any.

When is a certified translation required?

Certified translations will often be required e.g.
1.  by the registry office for recognition of marriages celebrated in foreign countries
2.  for recognition of school-leaving certificates or university degrees
3.  for prenuptial agreements
4.  for certificates of inheritance
5.  for last wills
6.  in the scope of public tenders (e.g. extracts from the Commercial Register, information from the Central Trade Register, certificates of non-objection etc.)
7.  for police reports
8.  for recognition of foreign driving licences in Germany or of German driving licences abroad
9.  for testimonials
10. in the scope of adoption procedures (e.g. payroll statements, income tax certifications, psychological expert opinions)
11. for trade registrations
Why must these translations be certified?
Simply because otherwise everybody fluent in both languages could make them at discretion. Thus, manipulations in ones own favour and misuse could not be excluded. To avoid this, such translations of public documents may only be performed by court translators. The reason is that a certified translation is as legally valid as the original document!

Contact: jk@uebersetzungen-kreienbaum.de               LLegal Notice
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The BDÜ is the German professional association of interpreters and translators
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