The difference between certified and notarized translations

Prospective clients often ask me whether I offer a notarized translation service. The answer is “Yes,” and it’s not a particularly complicated or expensive process. Once I’ve finished a translation, I simply print out the source text and the translated document, and book a short appointment with a notary in town to sign a simple declaration (affidavit) to the effect that my translation is a true representation of the original document. The notary charges me a nominal fee for the service, which I simply add to my invoice for the client, without seeking any markup.

How does a certified translation differ from a notarized translation?
Simply put, only a professional certified translator can provide a certified translation of a document. Certification involves preparing an official signed translator’s declaration and rubber-stamping or embossing each page of the document with my professional seal (from the BC professional association or Quebec professional order, depending on the client’s preference). In other words, a certified translation comes with a guarantee of quality, because my skills and experience as a translator have been certified by an official governing body. As a professional certified translator, I attest to the quality of my translation.
In contrast, any translator can provide a notarized translation. There is not necessarily any guarantee of quality, because the translator does not have to be certified. The only official aspect in the process is I swear an oath and sign an affidavit before a notary. The notary simply affirms that I have given my word that the translation is a true representation of the original, but does not assess the quality of my work per se.

Who needs certified or notarized translations?
In a nutshell, translations for legal, contractual or immigration purposes (for instance, court transcripts, service agreements, or birth or marriage certificates) often need to be certified, whereas translations for administrative purposes (such as college and university admissions) might only need to be notarized. In some cases, a client may ask for a translation to be certified and notarized. As far as I can see, the notarization simply adds an extra layer of “officialness” to the certified translation, which can either stand alone in its own right or be accompanied by the affidavit of notarization, depending on the client’s needs.

Which service is more expensive?
For the act of translation, I usually charge the same rate per word/page/hour regardless of whether I am providing a certified, notarized or standard translation service. For the act of notarization, I simply pass on the fee I am charged by the notary. And for the act of certification, I usually charge my hourly rate (with a half-hour minimum) to cover the time I spend preparing the translator’s declaration and signing and sealing the documents. Practically speaking, the difference in cost between notarization and certification is often negligible.

Please visit the W Translation web page on certified, notarized and ICBC translations for more information.

8 comments on “The difference between certified and notarized translations”

  1. […] help you differentiate certified translation from notarized translation according to an article in A notarized translation is a translation that includes a notarization of a lawyer or a notary […]

  2. An officially certified translator is required in many instances in Australia.A certified translation company is a proven resource for people who require accurate entries to their official records,

    • I couldn’t agree more! This extra level of service—and stamp of quality–is something that only certified translators can offer. Thank you for your comment.

  3. Good day,

    Why is the nominal fee for Notary $28?

    • Thank you for your question. $28 just happens to be the fee this particular notary charges for the service. Other notaries may well charge more or less. The point of this part of the article is that notarization is an extra step I am happy to take for my clients if they request it and that I pass on the fee I pay directly to them, rather than inflating it for my benefit.

      • I’m a Notary Public myself. A friend brought this site to my attention as I didn’t have any need to search this topic. The set rate of an acknowledgement is $2.00, I’m afraid there may be some trouble there. If I am not mistaken.

      • Wait…I’m sorry… Is this in New York?

      • Thank you for challenging me on this, Theresa. I’m actually in British Columbia. Not being a notary myself, I’m not sure whether there are any set rates for notarial acts here as there seem to be in New York. It’s also unclear to me whether we’re talking about the same process, or what indeed the difference may be if we’re not.

        From my perspective as a professional in a different domain, the rate I mention in the article seems reasonable given the time I spend with the notary. You raise an interesting point though, and I may well enquire about other notaries’ rates in the area the next time I’m asked to certify my translation AND have it notarized, in case I can find a better rate for my clients—without compromising on service.

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