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When SHOULD I get a Certified Translation?

In Australia, public bodies are generally very aware of what the NAATI Credential is, and will specify when they want a Certified Translation. The same is true for private sector organisations that routinely deal with immigrants and foreign trade. However, there can be times where the person or organisation that wants a translated document from you has little knowledge of the translation market themselves.

  • the first thing to do is insist on a specification; if the person is unsure, ask them to consult a superior or direct them to the AUSIT or NAATI website so they can decide what they want.
  • if you have a lawyer or immigration agent helping you, be especially sure to ask them.
  • if it concerns one of the main documents listed above, you should consider getting an Australian Certified Translation (NAATI stamp); if not needed immediately, it will almost certainly be useful at some point.
  • if it concerns one of the supporting documents and you already have a non-certified translation (or a certified one from overseas), ask first if that will be acceptable;
  • remember that translators cannot give legal advice; if nothing is specified, then it is perhaps best to be cautious and obtain a Certified Translation since it will be most widely accepted.

As a general rule, if you think that your documents will be used for some kind of ‘official’ purpose, or might be needed again in future, then you should seriously consider getting a Certified Translation, even if the person or office who wants the translation is unsure or doesn’t care. For example, if you want to study in Australia and your chosen university wants to see your foreign academic record, then a Certified Translation is a good idea for job applications later on. With travel insurance claims on the other hand, the insurance company might not have any preferences while you personally are unlikely to need the translation in future. If you obtained a translation overseas, that might be enough.
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