To notarize or not to notarize? Nobody wants to miss an important deadline or have to pay to redo paperwork because they didn’t get it notarized, and many people are told that they need to get their translation notarized when they don’t. To complicate matters even further, many official documents must go through a notaire to be accepted in the French system, but it is important to understand that the American system is very different from the French system, and an American Notary Public does not serve the same function as a French notaire.
A Certified Translation does not have to be notarized to be “certified”
In the United States, a “certified translation” does not mean “notarized.” When a certified translation is required, the translator will attach his or her certification to the translated document. This certification will declare the accuracy of the translation as well as the translator’s qualifications for making this declaration (fluency in the languages, educational degrees, etc.). Needing the translation to be certified does not tell you whether or not the translation also needs to be notarized.
Notarization does not certify the translation
The primary purpose of notarization in the United States is to witness and verify the signature on a document. Notarization does not verify the contents of the document itself, and notarization cannot stand in the place of certification.
Only the requesting organization can tell you if you need your translation notarized
Most certified translations in the United States do not require notarization, however notarization is sometimes required. Your translator cannot know whether notarization is required for your specific document and will simply deliver your translation—notarized or not—as you requested it. The only way to be certain whether you need to get your translation notarized is to go directly to the source—read the translation requirements from the organization requiring the translation (USCIS, the bank, the university, etc.), or contact them directly without going through an intermediary. For example, USCIS does not usually require that translations be notarized, but many HR managers tell employees to get their USCIS translations notarized. Of course, if your HR manager insists on having the translation notarized, it might not matter if USCIS doesn’t require this step.
Since many certified translations don’t need to be notarized, double checking the requirements can save you time and money.
At AEG Translations we regularly provide certified translations for USCIS, American banks, American universities, and other organizations. We can provide notarized translations when this service is required. If you need a French text translated into English, we can help.