In the world of translations, several different types of services are available to accommodate the needs of every client. So, it is no surprise that individuals new to the industry can get overwhelmed or simply confused by the sheer volume of the specific types of services that exist. Oftentimes, they can mistake certain terminologies and services for another. A common misconception that individuals often make, is using the terms: certified copy and certified translation interchangeably. Most individuals are unaware of and unable to distinguish the difference between the two. Though it is a common mistake to make, these terms often describe two very different processes, and in some cases, one service will be required over the other.

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What is a certified copy?

Firstly, let’s clear up any misconceptions and take a closer look at what a certified copy is and what it is intended to fulfill. A certified copy can be described as a certified photocopy of an original document. The copy will have an accompanying certificate which will attest to the true nature of the source document. However, this does not certify the contents of the original document to be true, but rather that the copy is an accurate representation of the source material. Certified copies are mainly used in many English-speaking parts of the world such as the USA and UK. They serve to help individuals submit a certified copy without risking their original documents from getting damaged or lost during transaction.

What is a certified translation?

Unlike a certified translation, a certified translation describes the process of adapting an official piece of documentation from one language to another, while fulfilling all country-specific requirements. Only when the requirements are met will the individual’s document be acceptable for use by the officials of the respective country. In most instances, the ways in which a certified translation is carried out can vary from country to country. European countries will only accept a certified translation performed by a qualified translator who can take responsibility, and certify that the contents of the translation are an accurate portrayal of the source document. Whereas, English-speaking countries will accept certified translations from any professional translator, as long as they can provide a statement or a declaration to attest to the accuracy of the translation.

In what instance do you need one over the other?

It is clear that a certified copy and a certified translation describe two very different processes. But when is it appropriate to use one over the other? Generally, a certified copy is used towards various official, governmental, and commercial processes, in instances where the individual does not want to risk the loss of their original document. Unlike a certified translation service, a certified copy is a rather inexpensive procedure. In comparison, a certified translation is required for all official processes such as obtaining one’s visa or for the purposes of immigration. The price for the service can vary greatly from country to country, but will generally range from between 20-30 dollars.

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