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Official Document Translation

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Definition: Official Translation

The term "official translation" is termed differently depending on which of its three classifications are applied to public or private documents: certified official, official use, and private official. Each is unique and yet often a translation may hold dual classification.

Certified Official

Applying the act of certification authenticates a public or private document.

Official Use

An inherently official public document or a document intended for official use.

Private Official

A certified private document intended for official purposes.

Certified Document Translations

Certified translations are usually considered "official" not because of the source file itself but because of who will use/read the translation who demands the translation be certified. You can have the official translation of a government-issued document, such as a birth certificate, but you can also have an official, certified translation of a chat screenshot that is used as proof in a legal process. Here's what makes it official, in both cases: the result is an official document. One is official by nature, the other is made for official use.

Certified Documents for Official Use

Perhaps the person who will read it has asked for a "certified" or an "official" translation. This doesn't mean that every official, certified (or certified and official) translation is always going to be in English; we can provide translations of documents from other languages into Spanish as well.

Certified Official Document Translation

For instance, if a person needs an official translation of their birth certificate filed with the US Department of State but they are not a citizen and don't have legal status to work or live in America then that is considered a private document. If you're looking for certified translations from English to Spanish, we can help.

What is the difference between a certified translation and an official translation?

In some cases, both are considered official documents but in others, they're not necessarily so. For example, if you only need it for personal use then it's a private document but if your life depends on getting a copy of your birth certificate because you are facing jail time then that is considered an official document.

What about an Official Translation of a birth certificate?

When it comes to birth certificates, the United States Department of State has separate standards for how these should be handled based on whether or not they're being used for personal use (i.e., for the person whose birth certificate it is) or if they are being used for official use (i.e., getting a copy of your own birth certificate).

As far as private documents go, all you need to do in most cases is provide an official translation that's either certified by someone who can certify translations or one that was done by a certified translator.

What is Official Use?

The documents that fall under "official use" are those issued by government entities and recognized institutions in the United States or abroad. If you have a green card, for example, then an OFFICIAL TRANSLATION OF YOUR GREEN CARD IS ONLY REQUIRED IF YOU'RE USING IT TO OBTAIN OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS OR SERVICES FROM A GOVERNMENT AGENCY.

Private Official Translation

An OFFICIAL translation of a private document is not only official but also certified, which means it will be signed and sealed by the translator who performed your language services so you can use it for official purposes.

It's your choice which OFFICIAL TRANSLATION you want to have, but keep in mind that the type of document will influence what needs to be translated and how much effort should go into making sure it is as accurate as possible. When accuracy matters most, we're here to help with our OFFICIAL translation services.


People may misunderstand if they need an official document translated or if they need official document translation. No matter the document or form of application required, Cal Interpreting & Translations services are expertly staffed to provide you with official document translation.

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