Six Legal Documents that Require Translation

Legal Documents

Contrary to the belief of many in the western world, not everybody speaks English. Even if they did, when living in, studying in, or doing business in other countries, documents need to be written in the language of the country…regardless of whether or not the people speak English.

Think about it from the opposite point of view. When Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, or others whose languages are not familiar to most in the western world, present their documents in the United States, Britain, Australia, or other English speaking nations, there is an expectation that the documents are written in, or at least translated into, English.

Not every document in your possession needs to be translated, and not all documents require the same standard of translation. There are a few legal documents that must be translated, however, and the translation of these documents must be performed in an exacting manner. Consider the following:

Certificates: A birth certificate is an official government record that proves you are you. A translated birth certificate is necessary when getting married or adopting a child overseas, applying for dual citizenship, or receiving an inheritance.

Most work and student visas require a birth certificate as well. International certificates of immunization are also required in many countries. These are necessary not only for humans, but also for any animals you may be traveling with.

Licenses: Licenses are legal documents which state that a certain standard has been met and certified by a governing body. A marriage license may seem trivial, but in a world concerned with human trafficking you want to ensure your marriage is recognized.

Further, there are countries (especially those in the Middle East) that will not allow men and women to share lodgings if they are not married. Professional licenses state your qualification to perform a task or service. If you want to teach overseas, you need to provide a teaching certification. The same would be true for a dentist, doctor, lawyer, or other professional. Business licenses, drivers licenses, and import/export licenses are a few others that you will want to have translated.

Transcripts: Educational documents are important for many reasons while traveling, and the transcripts and diplomas must be translated to be accepted in most foreign lands. Governments want to verify that you have the education to support your certification if you will be working in their country. If you are applying to study in their schools, they need to know what study you have already done.

Financial Records: While it may not seem important to have financials translated, a simple look at the bottom line may be misleading. Besides, just like English is not the only language in the world, the US dollar is not the only currency.

Financial documents verify that the facts and figures surrounding your finances and the handling of your transactions are accurately understood. Countries want to know that you have the means to support yourself if you will be living in their country, and that you have the proven business savvy to run a company before opening a branch in their land. Financial records are also very important if a marriage or adoption is to take place overseas.

Patents: When patenting products, ideas, and information, it is essential that patent applications are translated into all applicable languages. These legal documents typically require a very specialized translator in order to ensure the patents meet the legal requirements of all the countries involved.

Patent applications are notorious for their stringent translation requirements. Even an errant punctuation mark or faulty line spacing could be enough to invalidate the document.

Immigration Documents: If you have emigrated from one country to another, it is imperative that a full and complete set of immigration documents are translated into any other country into which you may move or study. Immigration documentation is a very complex system and the documentation is often confusing since it varies too greatly from country to country. Be certain to speak with a representative of the receiving country to verify which documents are required.

Translation of legal documents is a very specialized field. The documents listed above are not only the most common documents that require translating, but they are documents which often require a specific type of translation service. Based on the country to which you are traveling, your documents may need to be certified or apostilled. Due to the timelines and requirements for these services, be certain that you have done your due diligence.

This post is written by Robert Stitt, a content writer with Ulatus.


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