What is a certified translation?
A certified translation is a translation signed by the translator to endorse that the translation is correct and complete. The translator’s endorsement typically includes date, signature, stamp and a brief description of the translator’s qualifications (e.g. that (s)he is a certified translator). In many cases the translator’s declaration is written on stationery with a letterhead so that the foreign or Danish recipient can contact the translator and confirm his or her existence and qualifications.
ad Astra Translatører supply certified translations in PDF format, and in hardcopy with an original stamp and signature. The physical copy consists of a cover, translation, endorsement and source text. The copy is stapled together and bound with document tape, so that the translation, endorsement and source text now comprise one assembled document. In many cases a PDF version will suffice – e.g. for electronic visa applications – but we always offer a hardcopy. The physical document is necessary, for example, when the certified translation has to be legalized (authenticated) or presented directly to an authority.
The physical version of certified translations with an original stamp is posted or can be picked up from our offices. We are also happy to deliver via DHL at a cost of DKK 150 in Denmark and DKK 500 to most of the rest of the world (both prices excl. VAT).
What is a legalized translation?
A certified translation can be legalized by the authorities. The point of legalization is to certify signatures. Translations into Danish need not be legalized, but certified translations into a foreign language must often be legalized; it may be a requirement on the part of the recipient party. In South America, for instance, the preference is typically to have all original signatures legalized in order to document their authenticity.
In practice, the procedure is for the translator’s signature to be legalized by Dansk Erhverv, which acts as the Danish Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce signs as an endorsement that it knows the translator. The Chamber’s endorsement must then be legalized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with an apostille certificate. The Ministry signs to endorse that it knows and acknowledges the Chamber’s function as a chamber of commerce.
In this way the translator’s signature is certified by the Chamber of Commerce, and the Chamber’s signature is certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
What do I myself need to do in order to have my documents legalized?
You can handle the entire legalization process yourself in most cases. It is a bureaucratic process, but we try to describe the stages involved to our clients to make it manageable for anyone.
Often, however, we help our clients with legalization when it is urgent, when they don’t have the time to do it themselves, if they live far away from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen or if they are just unsure about anything.
Guidance on legalization is always included in our services. If asked to help with the actual legalization, we charge a small handling fee, and we use a messenger to go between the various bodies. On the other hand, we do have a rebate agreement with the Danish Chamber of Commerce, from which our clients benefit. That’s why our clients get their endorsement from the Chamber of Commerce at half-price when we oversee the legalization.
Whenever legalization is needed at foreign embassies, typically those in Berlin or Stockholm, we use a specialized legalization firm to help with the process. All documents must be in order, and time is often of the essence.
When must a translation be legalized?
Legalization is a bureaucratic procedure that is necessary in a number of contexts. In many cases, however, it is a question of how sure one wishes to be that the translation will be accepted abroad. This may depend on the individual official who receives the translation, and it can therefore be a good idea to have the translation legalized if it is an important document and the client wishes to play it safe. If an important application risks being rejected because it should have been legalized, the cost of legalization is relatively small compared with the hassle otherwise risked. If an executive finds himself in Peru with a translated power of attorney that is not considered valid because the translation has not been legalized, the wasted journey and delay to the project will represent a disproportionately large expense in relation to the price of legalization.
Contact us for further guidance about your situation. Legalization is your own choice, but we have great experience in the field and can help you make the right decision.
Denmark is a so-called apostille country, which means that we have acceded to the Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (the Hague Apostille Convention). In Denmark it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that oversees ’apostillization’. The apostille is a form in Danish and English. The English text is stipulated by the convention and can be recognized and understood by the recipient authority – even in countries outside of the English language area. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs completes the form with particulars about itself and the official whose signature it is certifying. The apostille is dated, signed and allocated a unique serial number, which the foreign authorities can look up in a digital register. Many countries are a member of the Hague Apostille Convention and recognize the apostille. Some countries are not members, but it may still be a good idea to have the translation legalized with an apostille in this case, as the translation is thereby given an endorsement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark.
Embassy and consulate legalization
If the translation is to be used in a country that has not acceded to the Hague Apostille Convention, legalization at the relevant country’s embassy may be required. The United Arab Emirates may be a case in point, for example. However, other countries also offer legalization at their embassy or consulate which can act as a substitute for the apostille. This is the case with e.g. Italy, where the preferred method of legalization is the consulate. Here the translator’s endorsement can be legalized directly at the consulate, thus making it one of the least expensive countries to do legalized translations for.
Another example is China, where translations first have to go through the normal apostille procedure, and then be legalized at the embassy. China’s embassy has to have a copy of the translation for its files, and the person attending at the embassy must present a power of attorney on behalf of the client. The process at the embassy takes 2-4 days. It is an example of a procedure with which we typically help our clients in order to ensure that everything is in order with the Chinese authorities.