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These days there is a growing tendency to seek and transact translation services purely by email. There are lots of translator databases out there, so it’s easy to send a 20-word enquiry to a bunch of likely candidates, sift through the replies, and pick the cheapest price. That’s okay to a point, because we all buy generics when we can get away with it. But the impersonal ‘e-Bay translation’ procurement method is not always ideal.

Working with Professional Translators
Returning to the UNSW case study, we find something interesting: the University itself specifies the wording of the translator’s ‘statement’ (or what we would usually call our declaration):

“Each translation must be accompanied by a statement which states ‘The translated text in this document is an accurate and complete translation of the original document’”

Now, most translators have their own declaration formula, and would use it automatically unless told otherwise. In a way, the presence of that precisely worded ‘statement’ is like a little test to ensure that you (and the translator) have followed the process properly. And note the expression ‘accurate and complete’: this makes full translation the safest approach, preferably formatted as closely to the source document as possible. Opting for attention to detail and high quality presentation shows that you want your application to be taken seriously.

Evidently, this is not a situation where a bulk, bargain-bazaar approach to sourcing translation services will do. The translator needs to know that the application is especially for UNSW – s/he may even want to contact the University for more details about meeting its requirements. For example, does the ‘accompanying’ statement go on the last page of the translation, at the foot of each page, on the back of each page, or in a separate document?

So, in this instance you’d need to find a capable professional, and communicate effectively with him or her so that together you can present all documentation in the appropriate way, right down to the translator’s statement. The databases of professional translator institutes are a good place to start looking (in Australia, AUSIT). Check the specialisations that each translator offers, narrow it down to three or so, and maybe give them a call instead of just emailing. Help them understand what you need so they can work with you to achieve it.

It’s worth repeating that official applications are pivotal times, when supposedly convenient short cuts can end up as big detours in life. It’s no saving if a non-compliant translation means missing a deadline date and waiting another semester to enrol, or postponing your overseas working holiday until next year.

Coming up
Obviously, it is possible to faithfully make certified copies and perform accurate and complete translations of purportedly ‘original’ documents that have been cleverly forged or tampered with. The fact remains that translators (or certifying JPs) can never truly know if the source document they have been given is genuine or not. The only people equipped to determine the authenticity of such items are forensic experts and, of course, the authorities who issued them in the first place. That brings up the subject of legalisations and apostilles, to be explored in subsequent posts.



After all the explaining up to now, a practical example helps to visualise one way of submitting documents and translations where a high standard of compliance is expected. Case Study… To illustrate a typical process, and how each official body or institution can apply its own standards, let’s look briefly at enrolments for the UniversityContinue Reading


We’ve seen that there are occasions when you will need a certified copy of a document. If it’s for a translation, you might assume that you could simply carry your ‘original’ directly to the translator, who would make a copy for you and stamp it right there. Not so unfortunately, as we’ll discover below. FindingContinue Reading


Last time we saw that the presence of a translator’s official stamp and signature on a translation says nothing about the veracity of the source document. There can be occasions where provenance is not entirely certain, and this might be an issue. Now let’s see what that entails. Certified copies of source documents The digitisedContinue Reading


This series follows on from our previous article about Civil Registries and their records (‘Birth, Death and Marriage’). Back then we looked at the kind of information that registries can hold, and what the documents issued by them – e.g, birth certificates – mean and contain. Naturally, not every registry has to be ‘civil’: manyContinue Reading


This is a pretty serious sounding title, but don’t panic: we’re not going to wade into any deep philosophical meditations on life, the universe and everything. In reality, the above just happens to be the name (more or less) of an Australian government department whose equivalents in other countries around the world are often knownContinue Reading

Real Translation

It’s been a busy few weeks at Mine Your Language, with not much spare time for posts or news. But things have settled as they always do, and that leaves time for some housekeeping and a few thoughts. This is a somewhat different post to what you might normally expect to find on a translatorContinue Reading

Extending your Business reach with Tailored Translation Services

These days, no matter what business you are in, competition is guaranteed to be tough. Aggressive new entrants, volatile prices, constantly evolving ways of selling and differentiating products and services: it’s hard to retain a comfort zone. Rational diversification is one solution, and exploring foreign markets can be a surprisingly convenient and rewarding way toContinue Reading


They say that the amount of written stuff out there is increasing exponentially. In the translation business, a good chunk of that stuff seems to concern translation pricing. Pricing translation services is difficult because there are so many potential language combinations, and even more different economics that go with them. With English and Spanish forContinue Reading

Finding translation services

Most people don’t encounter a need for translation services in their normal daily lives. In fact, the average person will likely require more major surgery, and buy more cars or overseas holidays – possibly even houses or antique clocks – in his or her lifetime than translations. So the experience of what to look for,Continue Reading