How to Translate Your Birth Certificate for USCIS

Created: Jul 24, 2023 | Updated: Apr 3, 2024

Life is full of adventures, and sometimes those adventures lead us across borders. From jet-setting expats to cross-cultural love stories, the international journey often comes with its fair share of paperwork. One document that stands as the quintessential passport to your personal history is your birth certificate. But what happens when your birth certificate isn't in English, and you need to submit it for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes? That's where the thrilling world of certified translation comes into play!

When you're immigrating to the United States, or applying for a visa or naturalization, the USCIS requires translated copies of certain key documents, one of which is your birth certificate. This paper serves as an official record of your identity, proving details like your date and place of birth to the authorities. That's when the heroes of our story, the professional translators, step in. They act as linguistic wizards, transforming your birth certificate from its original language into a USCIS-approved English version.

Before you jump the gun and say, "I know a bit of my native language, and I have Google Translate to help me out; I can translate it myself", hold your horses. While it’s great that you're feeling confident, it's crucial to know that you can't translate a birth certificate on your own. USCIS has strict rules, and, unfortunately, your skills or Google Translate just don’t cut it. So let's dive into the fascinating process of translating a birth certificate for USCIS, guiding you through each twist and turn to make your journey as smooth as possible!


Table of Contents

What is a Birth Certificate?

A birth certificate is an official document that shows the details of a person’s birth. Your birth certificate can also be used as an identity document in a number of official situations. Although the content of a birth certificate may differ, depending on the country that it was issued in, the standard content of a birth certificate includes details like; your name, the date you were born, where you were born & the names and signatures of your parents.

 A birth certificate is typically issued by the relevant records office or an equivalent in the city, county, or state where you were born, through the hospital where you were born. Depending on the country, the issuing authority could be called the National Population Commission (NPC), the Department of Vital Statistics, the General Register Office (GRO), the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics, or something similar.
 

The exact process on how to obtain a birth certificate may vary, but it generally requires submitting an application and paying a fee.

A birth certificate

 

When to Translate a Birth Certificate

You may be reading this article because you have been asked to translate your birth certificate, and you are unsure about where to begin. If this is you, we can assure you that this is a good point to begin at.

There are lots of legal and official situations that may require you to translate your birth certificate, ranging from visa/passport application, driver's license application, marriage registration, academic application to bank applications. Whatever your reason may be, we’ve got you!

Here are some more reasons why the USCIS may ask you to translate your non-English birth certificate:

  1. Child adoption application
  2. Death certificate application
  3. Baptism ceremony
  4. Legal applications
  5. Employment application


Official authorities ask for birth certificates because they can be very good identification documents. Birth certificates aid the documentation process of the application you are submitting. 

Finally, requesting the birth certificate in English (The official language in the USA) ensures that USCIS officials are able to understand the content of the document correctly and use it appropriately. This requirement stems from section 11.3 of the USCIS Policy Manual which says the following regarding Foreign Language Documents and Translations:

“All documents submitted in support of an application or petition must include complete translation into English. In addition, there must be a certification from the translator indicating that the translation is complete and accurate and attesting to his or her competence as a translator.” 
   

How to Translate a Birth Certificate

Now that you understand and must have identified with one of the various scenarios that may require you to translate your birth certificate, the next natural step is the ‘How?’. Translating a document is a job that requires the utmost precision and attention, which is why it cannot be done by just anyone. You may not be the one translating your birth certificate, but it will help you to understand how it is done, to avoid any issues during the application you need it for. 

To translate your birth certificate, please keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Organize your birth certificate and other accompanying documents. Ensure that there are no errors on it; spelling or grammatical errors.
     
  • Hire a certified/professional translator who is trusted and has a 100% acceptance rate with the USCIS. There are lots of translation services online to choose from.
     
  • Verify the translator’s competence, experience and track record, to make sure that they will be able to deliver a quality translation of your birth certificate. Using a translation company means there should be enough material for you to run a background check on them.
     
  • Request a quote from the translation company and upload your documents. There should be an assurance of the complete security of your documents before you go ahead and upload them. You can send your document in a range of formats (PDF, JPEG, Doc.x etc.).
     
  • In as little as 48 hours or less, your translation should be ready. Cross-check this with your original birth certificate & the USCIS requirements you will learn more about below, in case you need to request some changes. If the translation is correct, go ahead and approve the order and download it or in the case of print, have it mailed to your address.

See! It’s quite an easy process to follow. 

 

What is a Certified Translation?

In the world of foreign exchange, the phrase “Certified translation” is thrown around a lot. If you are new to the world of international travel, you may be curious about what it means. A certified translation is a translation that is done by a translator who is a member of an accredited association. The certified translation is accompanied by the stamp and the seal of the certified translator. Their stamp or seal displays their membership number, allowing them to be recognized easily. Alongside the translator's stamp/seal, the translator also attaches a certification statement. This statement simply attests that the translation is a true and accurate copy of the original document and is closed with the translator's signature, the date of the translation and the venue of the translation.

 

Certificate of translation accuracy

 

What are the USCIS Translation Requirements?

Asides from the USCIS translation requirement that was mentioned above, there are other things that immigration officials expect when they are receiving a translated document. If you are a foreigner who will be interfacing with USCIS officials soon or later, you should know what these expectations are:

  1. As we mentioned before, all foreign documents that are not written in English must be translated to English by a professional translator.
  2. The translation must be typed out on paper, not hand-written or on a digital device.
  3. The translation must be an exact match with the original document.
  4. The translation must be certified (accompanied by a certification statement) and typed out on the translator’s official letterhead.

If you stick to these requirements, you should be good!    

 

Must-have Tips for Translating a Birth Certificate for USCIS

During our time translating documents that are meant to be submitted to the USCIS, we have gathered some vital tips, in addition to the general requirements the USCIS has, and we are happy to share them with you.

  1. If the document is meant to be submitted to the USCIS, it cannot be translated by you, your relative, your friend or Google Translate, it must be translated by a certified translator. In some circumstances, it can also be translated by a competent and experienced notary who is fluent in both the source language and English.
     
  2. You cannot correct grammatical errors, names or spelling mistakes on the original document on the translated document, you should do this on the original document before it is translated. This is because the translation must be a true and accurate copy of the original document. The translation must also include every stamp and signature on the original document.
     
  3. The translator cannot add anything to the translation that was not in the original translation, even if it was in the original document and not clear, he cannot assume what is meant to be there. He should report it as “illegible” in the translation.
     
  4. A certified translation cannot expire, it is valid for as long as possible unless the receiving authority says otherwise.

 

Conclusion 

Translating documents (birth certificates) can be a stressful process, but it does not have to be at all! Like we said, it could be as easy as taking a ride at the park, if only you know what to do, how to do it, and who to do it for you. 

We hope this article has answered the prevailing questions you have had about translating a birth certificate.

Thanks for reading!                                                                                          

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