seal, stamp, authorize-36967.jpg

Certified translations or certified translators? An age-old question

I often receive requests from potential customers asking whether I am a certified translator and the answer is not as straightforward as it seems. Unfortunately, in the UK and Italy, the translation profession is not regulated.

This means that unlike other professions -think about teachers, lawyers, and doctors- we still do not have a centralized and unified accreditation system or register for language professionals. There are of course many independent registers, such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists, the ITI, the National Register of Public Service Interpreters, and many more international ones, but enrolling in them is not compulsory to practice as a freelancer in the private market.

Some institutions, namely the Public Services bodies, the Home Office, and the Police will require interpreters and translators to be part of one of these registers and to pass certain accreditation tests, such as the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI). And even though there is an abundance of university courses for translators and interpreters. Generally speaking, it is possible to practice the translation profession without having received any formal training.

Does this mean that anyone can be a translator? Yes.. and no. Think about all the bilingual people who perform in-house translation tasks every day, for a very specialized topic that they completely master – again, some lawyers are bilingual and draft multilingual texts every day.

This could also be the case for “old school” translators, who have learned the profession by simply doing the job before formal training courses were even established.

In conclusion, yes, there are certified translators but no, there is not a unified accreditation body or central register for translators. A translator who is not enrolled in a register can translate a document or certificate in the private market, and issue a Certified translation statement, whereby they take full responsibility for the quality of their work.

Therefore, technically in this instance, we will say that the translation is certified – not (necessarily) the translator. But as with anything, it is always safer to choose a trained and vetted professional because:

a) the office receiving the translation might reject it, as generally speaking they want to be able to check a translator’s credentials;

b) if an issue or controversy arises, an accredited professional will be better qualified to help you

In both cases choosing a certified professional will save you time and money.

I hope this brief article helped you get some clarity. Finally, to answer the original question I am a certified translator, with a BA in language mediation, a PgDip in interpreting, and a DPSI, and I am an associate member of the CIoL and of the IAPTI.

If you would like to know more about Italian-certified translations, drop me a message at