Tips For Choosing Good Legal Translation Services

Last Updated On: September 6, 2023

inTranslation Tips

Divorce certificate translation

There are many things a person needs to know before sending a document to a legal translator. One of the most important is that the legal translator is experienced with translating the sort of legal documents you wish to be translated. For example, a legal document translation that’s required for immigration to another country, such as birth and marriage certificates, aren’t always straightforward translations as every detail on the document needs translating including text embedded in seals and watermarks.

If there are any inaccuracies in the translation the immigration agency for the particular country will ask for a repeat translation which will delay the process of immigrating to the new country. Similarly, if the legal translations are contracts or supply agreements between businesses in two countries that don’t share the same language it’s important to find a translator who has experience translating these types of important legal documents.

Translation tips and tricks

1. Get your legal translation proofread

One of the often overlooked features of a legal document translation is ensuring that the final translation is carefully proofread by a similarly experienced second translator. It’s worth checking with the translator or translation services whether this service is offered.


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    2. Ask the translator for proof of legal translation experience

    No legal translator will be offended if you ask for proof of his or her experience in translating legal documents similar to yours. In order to gain some insight into your chosen legal translator’s knowledge and experience one trick is to ask them what legal dictionary they use to get reliable information about the meanings of legal terms in both the source and targeted language. For example a reputable dictionary is Black’s Law Dictionary. This sort of question should be posed when your translator is required to provide an immediate response. For example, by email allows the translator to reply with any reference they like while using your cell phone will require an instant response from the translator.

    3. Ask your chosen translator for translation examples

    It’s vital in most cases that legal translations are accurate otherwise opportunities could be lost by those requiring the translations. You can ask your translator to send some examples by email and any testimonials provided by happy clients.

    4. Check to see if your translator understands the laws of the targeted country

    Every good legal translator will be familiar with the legal system of both the source language country and the targeted language country. This in particular is to do with the legal terminology used by the respective countries. The translator has to be able to translate legal terms precisely between the two languages if the correct meaning is to be revealed in the translation. This requires an in depth knowledge of the two languages. No translator will be able to successfully translate a legal document if he or she only possesses a sketchy understanding of the legal systems of the two countries. You certainly don’t want a translator to undertake a word for word legal terms translation in a legal document, as this most certainly won’t be accurate. Legal terms don’t necessarily have precise meanings when translated between languages. The translator will need to know this before even starting the translation.

    5. Do you need a certified legal translation?

    Some agencies, like the United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS), require all legal documents that have been translated for immigration purposes are accompanied by a certificate stating the translation is accurate. The translator has to be competent enough to provide this certification as it’s a signed statement claiming the translation is accurate. You should check with your translator that he or she is prepared to undertake this task. If you are getting legal documents translated for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for a work permit for Australia, it is a requirement that you use a National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters qualified translator (NAATI). You can find a list on the NAATI website.

    6. Getting a legal translation online

    It is commonplace these days for many people seeking translations to use online means only. If you do this you can ask for the same proof of the competency of your translator in translating the type of documents you require in your requested language than you might if you visit a physical office. Ask the translator to provide you with contact details of satisfied clients so you can check yourself. You can send all your documents quite securely by email or upload them through the translator’s website. If you are concerned about the confidentiality of your legal documents check with your translation provider. Most are concerned about confidentiality and have software to ensure your documents are only shared with your translator.


    Legal translations are undoubtedly the most difficult to undertake because of the complexity of legal language and the fact that not all legal systems around the world share the same terminology. This means you have to take care to select the best legal translator who has the translation experience you are seeking whether it’s a legal translation service or an important legal document that needs translating. First and foremost don’t forget to get those newly translated legal documents thoroughly proofread before you forward them to the person or organisation requesting them. You don’t want to end up in court all due to a misleading legal translation that’s upset the recipient.

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