Notarized Translation, Legalized Translation, & More

Created: Apr 20, 2020 | Updated: Mar 20, 2024

Most people understand the concept of a translation service, taking a document and faithfully and accurately reproducing it in another language. But not so many are familiar with the terms ‘notarization’ and ‘legalization’ in this context and what they mean.  

This guide will explain all you need to know about these two processes and how they correlate with language translations, specifically:-

  • What is a Notary Public?
    • How to find a Notary?
    • How do you know if you need to engage the services of a Notary Public?
    • What is the process of Notarization?
  • What will you see on the notarized document?
    • Why might you have to have a document notarized?
    • What type of documents may need to be notarized?
  • What is Legalization?
    • What does Apostille mean?
  • How does a notarized translation and a legalized translation fit into this process?
    • How can I obtain a certified translation with subsequent notarization and legalization?
  • Sworn translation alternatives

What is a Notarized Translation?

Notarized translation is a process where a notary public verifies the authenticity of a translated document. It's important to note that notarization does not certify the quality or accuracy of the translation; it only certifies the identity of the person who claims to have translated the document. Essentially, to get a translation notarized, a notary public must swear that the translator’s identity is true. 

If a high-quality and accurate translation is needed, especially for legal or governmental purposes, it is advisable to use a certified translator or a reputable translation agency.


When is Notarized Translation Necessary?

Notarization is most commonly used for a document that needs acceptance in a foreign country as part of a due process for personal or corporate purposes.


What Types of Documents Need to be Notarized?

  • Affidavits and Oaths
  • Statutory Declarations
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Written statements
  • Mortgage documents
  • Property purchases
  • Copy passports
  • Copy driving licences
  • Academic certificates
  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Company documents including Certificates of Incorporation
  • Bills of Sale


How do You Notarize a Translation?

Notarizing a translation involves a specific process, ensuring that the translated document is officially recognized and authenticated for legal purposes. Here's how it's typically done, who is involved, and some important aspects of the process:

Who Issues Notarized Translations?

  • Professional Translators or Translation Agencies: Notarized translations are usually prepared by certified translators who are competent in both the source and target languages and knowledgeable about the subject matter of the document.
  • Notary Public Involvement: After the translator completes the translation, a Notary Public is involved to notarize the translation. The Notary Public does not verify the accuracy of the translation but authenticates the identity of the person who signs the document – usually the translator or a representative of the translation agency.

When Is the Translation Certificate Signed?

  • After Translation Completion: The translator or an authorized signatory of the translation agency signs a statement (usually referred to as a "Certificate of Accuracy") asserting that the translation is accurate and complete. This statement is then presented to a Notary Public.
  • In the Presence of a Notary Public: The signing of the certificate typically takes place in the presence of the Notary Public. This ensures that the signature is genuine and the person signing is who they claim to be.

Do Notaries Keep a Record of the Translations?

  • Record Keeping: Notaries Public do not keep a copy of the translations themselves. However, they maintain a record or a journal of the notarial acts they have performed.
  • Details Recorded: This record includes details of the notarization process, such as the date of notarization, the type of document notarized, and the identity of the person who presented the document for notarization.


Digital vs. Physical Notarization

When it comes to notarizing translations, there are two primary methods: digital and physical. Each has its own characteristics and acceptance levels.

  1. Digital Notarization: This modern method uses electronic signatures and digital seals. It's efficient and convenient, especially in a world increasingly reliant on digital documentation. However, its acceptance varies by jurisdiction and the specific requirements of the entity requesting the notarized document.
  2. Physical Notarization: The traditional approach involves a physical stamp or seal by a Notary Public on paper documents. It is widely recognized and accepted in most legal systems and institutions.

Not all institutions or countries accept digital notarization. It's crucial to check the specific requirements of the jurisdiction or the organization requesting the notarized translation. Some situations might strictly require physical notarization due to legal standards or for reasons of security and authenticity.


Do Immigration Translations Need to be Notarized?

Yes, immigration translations often need to be notarized. When submitting translated documents for immigration purposes, especially in the United States and many other countries, there is a common requirement that these translations be notarized. This requirement is in place to ensure the authenticity and accuracy of the translated documents.


Why is Notarization Important?

In simple terms, notarization is important for a few key reasons:

  1. Authentication: Notarization authenticates the identity of the person who translated the document. It's not about the accuracy of the translation but about confirming that a qualified person did the translation.
  2. Official Requirement: Many immigration authorities require documents to be notarized as a part of their official process. It adds a level of formality and legal recognition to the documents.
  3. Prevents Fraud: Notarization helps to prevent fraud. It ensures that the documents presented are legitimate and the translation is done by a responsible and identified individual.
  4. Legal Acceptance: Notarized translations are more likely to be accepted in legal proceedings or by government agencies, as the notary stamp and signature indicate that the document has been processed following legal protocols.


The Difference Between a Certified and Notarized Translation?

Certified TranslationNotarized Translation
Definition: A translation accompanied by a signed statement from the translator or translation company attesting to the accuracy and completeness of the translation.A translation that has been signed in the presence of a Notary Public. The notary certifies the identity of the person signing, not the accuracy of the translation.
Issued by: Typically issued by certified translators or translation agencies.The translation is prepared by a translator, but the notarization is done by a Notary Public.
Purpose: Often required for official purposes where accuracy is crucial, such as legal documents, immigration papers, and educational credentials.Usually needed when a formal verification of the signer's identity is required, often for legal documents used in court or certain administrative processes.
Focus on Accuracy: The certification focuses on the accuracy and completeness of the translation.The focus is on authenticating the identity of the person who signs the document, not on the content of the translation.



Notarization Requirements in Other Countries

  • Notaries in Spain: Notaries in Spain are highly qualified legal professionals who work with Deeds, contracts, and powers of attorney documents. They verify the identities of the parties involved and ensure they understand the document’s contents.
  • Notaries in Germany: In Germany, notaries are legal professionals who ensure the legality of documents such as property transactions, corporate documents, marriage contracts, and wills typically needing notarization.
  • Notaries in France: French notaries have a more extensive role, often involved in drafting and executing documents like real estate transactions, marriage contracts, and inheritance documents. The process involves verifying the document, ensuring all parties understand it, and recording it officially.
  • Notaries in the UK: When it comes to notarized translation in the UK, British Notaries are not just authorized by the government, they are also qualified lawyers who have been appointed by the Court of Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This works similarly in a large number of countries, such as Mexico, Portugal and Turkey.



What is a Notary Public?

A Notary Public is usually a Solicitor or Barrister who has undergone a further qualification to join the Roll of Notaries.  Notaries in the UK have their official society, called The Notaries Society.

Notaries usually specialize in one particular area which is the preparation, certification and legalization of specific documents so they can be used and accepted both in the UK and abroad.  Documents can be personal, corporate or to be used in a professional or broader context.

A Notary Public’s duty of care is to the document they are notarizing in terms of its authenticity and validity, not to the individual or organization presenting the document for validation and seal.


How to Find a Notary?

In the UK, most Notaries are either Solicitors or Barristers but don’t assume every Solicitor is also a Notary Public. Usually, the nameplate outside a Solicitor’s office or their official letterhead or website will indicate whether they are also a Notary Public and offer notarization services.  In addition to this, some organizations specialize purely in notarization services.  Many of them are located in London to make access to the FCO for legalization a quick procedure if required and offer a fast turnaround time on documents with an express service.  The main FCO centre where legalization takes place is actually in Milton Keynes.

If your Solicitor is not a Notary, we offer notarization services along with certified translation services, just select 'Notarization' or 'Apostille' before completing your order on our order page.


Notary public in the UK


What is the Process of Notarization?

In simple terms, notarization is the process which confirms that a particular document is authentic and genuine.  Also of importance is the confirmation that the signature on the document has been obtained without any form of coercion or intimidation, whether mental or physical. 

The notarization process consists of three parts – vetting, certifying, and record-keeping. The actual form of the notarial acts will depend on the type of document put forward and the country in which it is to be used.  The Notary certifies:-

  • That the document and the signature are genuine.
  • That the person who signed the document had mental capacity at the time of signature and signed of their own free will.
  • If the document is on behalf of a company or organization then the Notary is also verifying that the individual whose signature the document bears, is entitled to represent that organization.
  • Sometimes, the Notary may have to certify that the document has been correctly executed according to English law.
  • A Notary Public can also certify the truth and accuracy of translations against original documents even though he may not be fluent in the language.  In this situation, the Notary is verifying the authenticity of the person who has undertaken the translation rather than the content and meaning of the actual text.


What Will You see on the Notarized Document?

The document will bear the Notary’s signature and the official seal of office.  The seal is an inked and embossed stamp, most commonly in red or blue.


What is Legalization?

Legalization is an additional process which can follow notarization.  Notarized documents may have to be legalized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in the UK and sometimes also by the Embassy of the country for which the documents are intended, an extra step.  Legalization always has to follow notarization rather than the other way around.


What is the Meaning of an Apostille?

The legalization process produces the Apostille which is affixed to the document. The Apostille is a means to legally recognise a document issued in one country, in another country; it is a form of international certification for documents which are intended for use abroad.

The Apostille is a stamp on the document from the government of the issuing country.  In the UK, it is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who issue the Apostille.  It is sometimes also called the Apostille of the Hague or the Hague Convention.  Many countries form part of what is called the Apostille Convention and this includes all the European countries and the US, notable exceptions are North Korea and China.  The standard rule is that if the document is intended for use in a country that is a signatory to The Hague Convention of 1961, then it will require an Apostille, and if it is not part of the convention, it will require another form of legalization.


Notarized Translation & Legalized Translation

Most countries will require an official translation when you present a document issued in a foreign language.  For instance, that application for a job in Spain with your supporting academic certificates will require a certified translation attached to the application form which will need to be notarized so the documents which are written in English, are also translated into Spanish.  It may also need to be legalized.  

Certified translations are common in certain situations:-

  • Immigration matters
  • Legal issues
  • Professional scenarios surrounding employment or commercial organizations
  • Academic applications
  • Financial processes

Sworn Translation Alternative

Note: You do not always need legalized translations

The process explained above applies specifically to UK-certified translations, where you are having the translation done in the UK, then obtaining notarization or legalization within the UK for use at a UK-based embassy or in another country that has specifically requested "legalized or notarized translation from the UK".

You should always confirm the requirements with the requesting body before placing an order with any agency.

In certain scenarios, you may be able to use a sworn translator registered in the target country. For example, official translations to be used in Spain, France, Italy or Germany can be completed by a sworn translator registered in those countries. These translations will hold the same legal weight as legalized translations completed elsewhere.

Check below links for additional information:


We can Help!

Translayte can take care of all your needs from the point of instruction through the process of a certified translation with notarization following and legalization if required.  The whole process is seamless and stress-free and usually cheaper and quicker than if you undertook each stage individually.  Keeping your documents in one location is also more secure. If you are interested in ordering a notarized or legalized translation, you can do so directly and quickly on our website.



FAQs About Notarized Translation


Can I Translate my Documents?

Technically, you can translate your documents, but for official or legal purposes, it is not recommended or accepted. Official entities require a translation to be done by a certified translator, to ensure accuracy and impartiality.


How Does the Translation Process Work?

  1. Document Submission.
  2. Translation.
  3. Review and Certification.
  4. Notarization (If Required).


Can a Notary Public Both Certify and Notarize a Translation?

A Notary Public cannot certify a translation, but they can notarize the translator's signature. Certification is the translator's declaration of accuracy, while notarization is the authentication of the signature on the document.


Can I Notarize the Translations I Make Myself?

If you are a professional translator, you can sign your translation, but you cannot notarize your signature. The notarization must be done by an impartial Notary Public who verifies your identity during the signing.


Can You Notarize Another Translator’s Signature?

Yes, a Notary Public can notarize another translator's signature. The translator signs the document in the presence of the Notary, who then notarizes the signature to authenticate it.


How Much Does a Notarized Translation Cost?

The cost varies depending on several factors like the length and complexity of the document, some language pairs might be more expensive due to the rarity of qualified translators, Notaries also charge a fee for their services, which adds to the overall cost and rushed translations may incur additional charges.

It's best to get a quote from the translation service and the Notary Public for an accurate cost estimation. 


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