If you’re looking for certified translation services, you may be surprised by what that actually entails. Some translators are certified by bodies such as the American Translators’ Association (ATA), but that doesn’t mean that every translation they produce is considered certified. Additionally, you don’t need to be a certified translator to produce a certified translation.
So how do you get a certified translation? In order for a translation to truly be certified, it must be accompanied by a document that includes the following:
- Details about the original document
- What is it, and what language is it in? This is referred to as the “source” in translation.
- The language into which it has been translated
- This is referred to as the “target.”
- Affirmation that the translation is accurate and complete
- Affirmation of the translator’s qualifications
- A signature
This document can be one of the following:
- A translator affidavit
- A certificate of translation accuracy
The first is a statement written and signed by the translator. Their signature must be notarized, which means that a notary public has verified the identity of the signer and witnessed the signature.
A certificate of translation accuracy (COT) is written and signed by someone other than the translator. It may or may not include a long-form list of the translator’s qualifications, but will list the certifier’s credentials to show why they are competent to validate the work done by the translator.
Language Solutions is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, which means that our processes are in accordance with the international standard for Quality Management Systems as written by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization). One of these is our translator selection process. It involves strict and consistent requirements for our teams that ensure each translation we deliver is complete, correct, and appropriately adapted for the intended audience. Each individual requirement, such as being a native speaker of the target language, is based on a quality-oriented outcome. Being an excellent translator involves more than meets the eye, and we rely on ISO 9001:2015-based processes to partner with highly qualified professionals whose work we can count on. Our certification of translation accuracy is also always notarized, which may be required in certain situations.
Getting a certified translation can be important for various reasons. The first, of course, is that it provides written verification that the translation is complete and accurate. You have not only the word of the translator, but also the assurance of another qualified language services professional. This leads us to another important reason: transfer of liability. If you are having translations done for someone else, such as a client or an employer, and the end result is unsatisfactory for any reason, without a certification you are liable for any negative consequences. When Language Solutions certifies a translation, we assume that liability.
Certain entities are more likely to require certified translation services. These include:
- Pharmaceutical promotional review committees (PRCs)
- Health plans
- Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs)
- Government entities, including courts of law
- Educational institutions
Pharmaceutical PRCs have a particularly complex goal: to determine the best way to promote a product while adhering to all the laws and regulations around pharmaceutical marketing. If you’re not familiar with pharma PRCs, they are made up of professionals from various sectors (marketing, medical, legal, regulatory) who ensure that pharmaceutical marketing materials are viable from a promotional standpoint and also take into account medical accuracy and legal and regulatory compliance. Professional service firm Manatt has written an excellent overview of the responsibilities and challenges faced by pharma PRCs. Because there are so many considerations at play on a pharma PRC, they require an additional step before translation certification. This step is called back translation, and it involves translating the translations back (hence the name) into the source language.
Here’s an example: a US-based pharmaceutical company has released a new drug and they have spent months creating a compliant informational brochure in English. They’d like to circulate the brochure in Spanish as well. First the brochure gets translated into Spanish. Then, the Spanish brochure gets translated (back) into English. Now there are 3 versions of the brochure’s content: the original (source) English, the Spanish translation, and the English “back translation.” While, as we’ve mentioned, certification is a powerful tool to verify quality and shift liability, the back translation process provides the PRC a bit more involvement in and ownership of the translation. If they do not speak the target language, they can approximate the experience of reading the translation by reading how it has been rendered in English. That way, if they see anything that might be considered noncompliant, they can share their concerns with the translation team.
It’s important to note that a translation being flagged as noncompliant when the source text is compliant does not mean that the translation is incorrect. That’s part of the challenge (and fun!) of translating: different languages may express the same idea in different ways. For instance, if the source copy uses a possessive article (your, for example), the target language may favor or even require a definite article (the). The challenge of PRC review is that small changes like this can trigger compliance-related flags. These flags then lead to a conversation about usage and communication in the target language. Sometimes it’s as easy as swapping a “your” for a “the.” Other times it’s not so simple. If you’d like to learn more about this, you can read our dedicated post about managing back translation or our post with tips for international pharmaceutical marketing translation.
If you are seeking certified translation services for the first time, it is important to know whether there are any requirements for the certification itself. Most language services professionals (LSPs) have a template that they use for certification, but depending on what you are translating and for whom, there may be stipulations about the appearance or wording of the certification. It’s important to find out what those are from the outset to avoid delays in getting the certified translation.
Have questions or need certified translation services? We’ll be happy to help with either – go ahead and get in touch with us!