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.
Finding a certifying official
JPs are the usual but not the only option for obtaining certified copies. Australian authorities regard a goodly number of professions as reliable enough for certifying that one document is a true copy of another. There are the ‘usual suspects’ such as court officers, lawyers, accountants, police officers, consular officials, notaries and justices of the peace. If you clicked the links in the last instalment, you’ll know there can be many more besides, including teachers, chiropractors, marriage celebrants, dentists, nurses, bank officers, vets, chartered secretaries and so on.
Certified professional translators are not among them. This is interesting because since a) our translations are accepted as reliable in courts of law, it might be reasoned that b) a comparison we make between a document and purported copy in our language of competence should be equally acceptable. But not so – curious, isn’t it?
Obtain certified copies and keep your documents safe
Curiosities aside, giving your ‘original’ documents to a translator offers no advantage concerning the legal validity of any copies s/he takes (unless perhaps said translator also happens to be a lawyer, JP, chiropractor, nurse, vet, etc). Furthermore, attending in person can be inconvenient, while sending valuables by post risks their loss or damage. And many translators are understandably nervous about handling and keeping such items anyway.
So, avoid sending your passports, police clearances, personal certificates or ID cards in the mail. Check whether the relevant authority or institution wants assurances about the source material. If so, take your valuable documents personally to a JP or other qualified person, obtain certified copies, and send those to the translator instead.
Talk it over
Be aware too, that while most application procedures share the same basic features, individual departments or institutions can apply their own rules to some extent. So always ask them, or your immigration agent or lawyer, about any special conditions you might have to satisfy.
And it’s often worthwhile to discuss your needs personally with translators as well. Although they cannot give legal advice, their input might help you to raise important questions with the professionals or authorities who can give you such advice. It could mean the difference between translating exactly the right documents for your purpose, and doing the wrong ones, or too many, or not enough.
Is it all sounding complicated? Relax. Next instalment we’ll check out a short ‘real world’ case study about obtaining official translations and certified copies. It will illustrate the way a typical process works, and also how particular organisations can have some little rules of their own that you need to read, know and follow.