Many visitors to the United Kingdom will need to obtain a visa. There could be any number of reasons that you’re applying for a visa in the UK. Whether you’re studying, visiting, marrying or investing, you’ll need to support your visa application with some key documents. If some of the documents that you’ll be submitting as part of your application are not issued in English, then chances are you will need to get a certified translation.
In this article we’re going to look at the following:
- General information about UK visa applications;
- The UK visa applications which may require translations;
- Visa documents and translation requirements;
- Getting your document translated for a UK visa application.
We’ll explain everything you need to know about getting a certified translation of crucial Visa documents. By the end of this article, you’ll know what to do with your supporting documentation and how to get it translated.
General Information for UK Visa Applications
First of all, you need to do some research in order to find out whether or not you need a Visa to enter the UK for any period of time. Many EU citizens do not require a visa (while the UK is still part of the EU), and therefore need not apply for one. We recommend checking on the official UK Immigration and Visa website to see if you need a visa.
For other nations, a visa is almost always required, regardless of the length of your stay. There are many different types of UK visa and the one you need will depend on where you come from, and why you want to visit the UK in the first place. Other factors such as the duration of your stay and your skillset will also determine which visa applies best to your circumstances.
UK visa applications that may require translations
There’s an astonishing amount of UK visas that you can apply for. It seems that every possible circumstance has an associated and specific visa application. Here are some of the most common UK visas:
- Standard visitor visa (travel, holidays, business, study up to 30 days and medical visit up to 6 months);
- Marriage visitor visa;
- Visa to pass through the UK in transit;
- Short-term study visa (up to 11 months maximum);
- General student visa;
- Child student visa;
- Short-term work visas;
- Long-term work visas;
- Family visas.
And there are even more types of visas on top of this. Investors and entrepreneurs may be interested in applying for investor, business development and talent visas. There’s a settlement visa which joins family members that are in the UK with humanitarian protection and there’s a UK Ancestry visa too.
You’ll be glad to know that we’re not going to discuss the details of every single visa you might be applying for. Instead, we’re going to focus on a few of the common documents you’ll need to present as part of an application for most visas.
Standard Visitor Visa
This visa is perhaps the most common visa since it’s essential for those looking to visit family and friends, study up to 30 days and holiday in the United Kingdom. You may also be applying as an academic, or for private medical treatment. The most important travel document you will need to present is your passport: this does not need to be translated.
You will need to provide details of your plans while in the UK and how you’re going to spend your time. It’s also likely that you will need to prove that you intend to leave at the end of your visit. Crucially, you will need to show that you can support yourself and any dependents financially during the duration of your visit. To do this, you may be required to provide a bank statement.
If you’re visiting for private medical treatment, then you will need to show evidence that your medical condition requires private treatment in the UK. A medical certificate will be required. Find out more about the documents you’ll need to present on the UK Visas and Immigration website.
Marriage Visitor Visa
If you plan to get married or register a civil partnership in the UK, you will need to apply for a Marriage Visitor visa. Again, you’ll be required to provide bank statements to show that you can support yourself financially when you arrive in the UK. If you have been married before, you will also need to present a divorce certificate or death certificate. Find out more about this visa on the official documentation website.
General Student Visa
You could also be planning to study long-term in the United Kingdom. You must have been offered a place on a course and speak, read, write and understand English to an acceptable level.
Again, there is a list of documents you may have to present as part of this visa application. As well as your passport and proof of funding, you will also have to provide proof of parental/guardian consent and proof of your relationship with them. This is easily achieved with a birth certificate, but only applies if you are under the age of 18. Degree certificates and transcripts are also common requirements, and will need to be translated.
Visa documents & translation requirements
Common documents that are required
As we’ve already mentioned, there are countless variations of UK visa categories. The documents you will be required to present depends on the visa you are applying for, and your personal circumstances.
However, while there are many different types of UK visa applications, there are some common documents that you will normally be required to translate. We’ve already mentioned some of these in Section 2.
The most common documents you’ll be required to submit certified translations of are bank statements, divorce certificates and birth certificates. Death certificates, medical certificates, degree certificates and degree transcripts are also some common documents that require a certified English translation.
Translation requirements for non-English documents
If you're presenting a non-English document as part of a UK Visa application, then you will be required to produce a UK Certified Translation.
Referring again to the information on the UK Visa and Immigration website, there is strict criteria on translated documents which are considered acceptable as part of any application that takes place within the UK:
Each translated document must contain:
- confirmation from the translator that it is an accurate translation of the original document
- the date of the translation
- the translator’s full name and signature
- the translator’s contact details.
If you submit any translated documents without the above information as part of your UK visa application, your whole application will be rejected.
How to have your documents translated
Your translation must be certified by a professional translation company or body with all of the required details visible on the document itself. As a professional translation company, we add our stamp on to certified documents in order to confirm its accuracy. Think of it as our seal of approval which is guaranteed to be accepted by UK Government bodies.
You can find an example of our certified documents with all of the legally required information here. If you submit a translation which doesn’t have the required information displayed on it, you’ll be adding a costly and unnecessary delay to your application.
What if you’re not based in the UK?
It is likely that you could be preparing your application and organising documents before you arrive in the UK. If you need to translate those documents, then you have two options:
- Translate them in your home country, using an official translator. In several countries there are specially designated official translators that have been approved by a government ministry or court to provide official translations. You may engage their services to translate your documents into UK English if they are qualified to do so.
- Use a UK based provider of Certified Translations. By doing this, you are rest assured that the translation will meet the high quality standards expected, and will be accepted by UK Visas and Immigration or the UK Home Office.
Can I translate my own documents?
Many people requesting translations of their documentation are multilingual. Translating your own document is likely to be straightforward for you, and will keep your costs low. However, if you’re not a certified translator then the document will not be acceptable.