Official Document Translations for International Business Activities

Last Updated On: July 16, 2019

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Today, it is not just the usual wealthy countries that engage in international trade, but all sorts of businesses from many different countries want to break the language barriers by marketing their products overseas in a language that is understood by the targeted customer. All the different types of documents related to a business may need a translation at some point in time. These may include the following:

  • insurance document
  • consular invoice
  • packing weight list
  • inspection certificate
  • certificate of origin of goods
  • letter of credit
  • bill of lading
  • bill of exchange

When any of these documents end up in a country which speaks a different language these documents will need to be translated and kept in the business’s records so that if required they can be referred to and understood without delay.

Language barriers that occur in business communication

It is not unusual for misunderstandings and misinterpretations to occur when there are language barriers between businesses and their overseas clients. The sorts of common problems are failing to get the right message across and complete misunderstanding of the message. These could take place if no translation had taken place or a poor translation had been created.


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    Sometimes, it is a question of not understanding a dialect or accent that leads to a misunderstanding. This should not take place for a business keen to win markets from overseas. All business decisions including submitting proposals, understanding and putting across any business decisions should be accurately translated to avoid hold-ups and lost opportunities.

    Language barriers in an overseas workforce

    Any business setting up an arm of its business abroad which involves hiring employees will find communication hard even to the point that tasks set for employees will not be understood. Common ways of reacting when there is no translation present are failing to understand when a task needs to be completed urgently, which in the end did not actually take place because what needs to be done is not understood.

    What sort of translator should be used?

    For simple word for word translations it is possible to get online translators to help out, but for all key information translated by an online translator is not of a lot of use as they are not necessarily accurate. As language is typically socially constructed, it becomes embedded in the local culture.  This is when it is essential to get an experienced translator who understands the peculiarities of the language.

    A poor translation could lead to:

    • problems with customer relations  because of a communication  gap which could lead to the end of that customer;
    • the triggering of a failed conversation with a lucrative business partner could mean make or break for the business with its overseas market;
    • miscommunication with a key supplier that could end a good financial relationship.

    The communication cycle of a business relationship

    These could be any of the following:

    • knowledge transferral within different geographically scattered units;
    • the sharing of knowledge between different groups, departments and divisions of the business’s subsidiary.

    Management in business may involve any of the following:

    • strategic making of decisions;
    • autonomy and control processes;
    • strategies for global integration.

    Management and knowledge sharing  

    The way some businesses get around the communication problem is by allocating a common corporate language for all the branches of their business to use wherever they are in the world. The only drawback is that those involved may not be competent in that core language so translations of business documents may always be necessary.

    How to minimise misunderstandings in your targeted markets

    One of the ways often used is not to be too greedy when accessing overseas markets but just choose a few where you think the customers will use your products more often and set aside a reasonable amount of cash to do so.  This will give you more time to spend on a smaller number of markets so that you can make a start at understanding the nuances of the local cultures, learn the local languages, plan marketing campaigns in local languages and train employees who are to be sent to meet the new markets.

    If you know the main local languages in the targeted markets, this will speed up grabbing new customers and any local potential business partners who will help you to increase your revenue. You will certainly gain respect quickly from the locals because you have made the effort to learn local languages and understand local customs.

    Translate all official documents

    Translating all of the official documents into the native languages of your overseas employees will enable them to understand any instructions and messages clearly while lessening the chance of ambiguity. You should always use experienced business translators who have good knowledge of different fields like finance, economics and marketing.

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