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What is the difference between Certified, Sworn and Notarized Translation? I HI-COM

In recent months, the debate between machine vs. human translation has focused on the importance of obtaining official, legally valid, and accurate, professionally translated documents. While machine translation algorithms have steadily improved in recent years, they are, however, not yet in every case a comparably accurate substitute for traditional human-based translation services. 

In fact, machine translation is attractive and thus popular mostly because of the low cost and fast speed at which results are delivered, offering brands a quick way to translate their documents at scale, reducing operational expenses.

While this method certainly works, it can be profoundly inaccurate and often misses the finer points of the target language’s lexical choices and syntactic structures.  Consequently, human translation remains the most suitable and viable choice for the individual, business, or corporate projects that require duly diligent professional care, nuanced attention to small detail and/or are needed for publication, legal or other official documentation purposes.


Certified Translation

difference between certified and notarized translation

A “certified translation”, such as that made by a registered translation company like Hi-COM, means that the translator or the language service provider (LSP) has issued a signed statement declaring that the translation that has been done is an accurate and true representation of the original document.

A translation company offers a specialized translation service and is officially recognized as doing so.  An official Translation Seal on any company translated document in addition contains company information and signifies the translation as valid.   Legalized translation, by contrast again, is usually not done by one company but is an official translation that is taken to the Embassy, Consulate, or other governmental, institutional office to be “legalized” through addition of a supplementary seal affixed by the public servant on top of the translated (and certified) file, confirming the original file’s validity.  A sworn translator, on the other hand, is one who is registered under a country’s Ministry of Justice and has taken a personal oath regarding their truthfulness.  With greater concern for accuracy thus than notary translation, a sworn translation is asked for when penal pursuits are undertaken, or for divorce cases and is the most expensive kind of translation.

When to get the certified translation:

  •     Birth certificates
  •     Death certificates
  •     Marriage certificates
  •     Business contracts
  •     Immigration papers
  •     Court transcripts

Read more about certified translation in China in our Certified Translation in China: 9 Cases When You Need It guide.

Sworn Translation

what is the difference between sworn and certified translation

Sworn translation has recently become particularly important due to international trade, the creation of political-economic blocks, changing immigration procedures, and Covid-19 affected tourism.  Sworn translation is recognized as an officially accepted translation of a legal document, or any document that needs to be accepted in a legal situation, such as birth certificates, academic certificates, or declarations.

Sworn translations are always needed when a translation is to be used for administration purposes or governmental requirements.  There are no fixed regulations regarding sworn translations, as the requirements are dependent upon the country in which it will be used, and therefore regulations can change based on the location.

When to get the sworn translation:

  •     Patent certificates
  •     Documents to incorporate a company

Looking for translation services? Contact us today to get a free quote!

Notarized Translation

what is the difference between sworn and notarized translation

A certified translation in China thus consists of a translated document accompanied by a signed statement from the sworn translator attesting to the translation’s completeness and accuracy.  This signed statement is also notarized by a notary public.  Once a translation is so certified it becomes an officially recognized legal record.

A notary translation is unusual as notary offices usually do not have the recognized competence for such official translation; but in China, for example, Notary Offices do have the power to legalize a translation made at their discretion. This is required in only a few cases, however, but as the customer or client must be in person at the notary office to present the file to translate, this may be problematic.

This documentation is required if a document needs a “certified translation,” or that a translation requires a “Certificate of Accuracy.”    There are several situations where a certified translation may be required.

When to get the notarized translation:

  •     Diplomas
  •     Degree certificates
  •     Professional qualifications
  •     Other administrative documents

Learn more about notarized translation in our How to Get Your Chinese Documents Notarized guide!


Certified Translation

Certified translations are always necessary for legal paperwork, such as documentation used in trials or hearings.  For example, a trial transcript or any evidence in another language would need to be translated and certified. When it comes to any item that must be submitted to a legal or government body, it is likely that certified translations will be required.


Immigration is also a key area that always requires certified translation.  When applying for a residency (or even a temporary visitor’s permit) in a foreign country, the process will likely require that all documents be submitted in the country’s official language — and that translations of these documents be certified.

These documents can include birth certificates, marriage certificates, driver’s licenses, College Applications.  Applications to universities and colleges also often require certified translations of documents like diplomas and transcripts. Depending on the school’s document policies, applicants may be required to submit the original grade report along with a certified translation.

It is always a clever idea to confirm what documents are needed before submitting them and consult with the translation service provider or company.

Business and Corporate Dealings

For corporations with international offices, or for businesses looking to increase their international visibility, certified translations can be necessary.  Documents that may require certified translation include: financial reports, contracts, patent filings. So too, Businesses hiring internationally might also need certified translations of such specific forms as medical records, bank statements, passports & visas.

Sworn Translation

For any certification, the translator or translation company:

1) confirms that the document is a true and accurate translation of the original document.

2) prints the date of the translation, and 3) provides a full name and contact details of the translator or a representative of the translation company.

To expedite this process, The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 drafted the Apostille Convention, which is a stamp or printed form containing ten numbered standard fields. It guarantees that all the documents from the administration or judicial organisms in each of the 51 countries that signed the Convention are correspondingly valid in all signatory countries.

Every sworn translation should be accompanied by this guarantee to be effective.  This apostille certifies that the person who sends the translation acts as attester of the document and certifies the documentation’s accuracy, completeness, and official value.

With the apostille, the documents can be legalized without third parties taking part and thereby making the process faster and simpler.   Following the proper human-based professional translation certification process and Apostille conventions is thus the best way to obtain legally valid translations as required by individual and business enterprise context.

HI-COM is a multilingual translation agency dedicated to providing professional translation and interpreting services to companies all over the world. Working in over 40 languages, HI-COM is the localization partner for hundreds of companies and brands. Contact us today for your free consultation!

If you would like more information regarding the translation of your documents, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Aslandziya AnnaWhat is the difference between Certified, Sworn and Notarized Translation? I HI-COM

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