How to find a translator approved by the courts?
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I am a Federal Court certified interpreter and editor-in-chief of Legal Translations, Inc.. I can answer the question as it relates to the United States, since we specialize in the United States court system. Other countries will have very different requirements.
There is no central database for translation companies or translators that are authorized to translate for the court system or for federal agencies. While many other countries do have a list of “Sworn” translators and interpreters (here we call them “Certified” interpreters or translators), and require that you use one of them; the United States has a different approach.
The United States does have a registry of Federal Court Certified Interpreters, many U.S. Attorneys, U.S. Public Defenders and the translation departments for the Federal Court System itself ONLY use these interpreters for their document translations. Others use translators certified by the American Translators Association.
I happen to be among the few (less than 1000) federally certified court interpreters in this list. And I routinely translate documentation for the Federal (and State) Courts.
Your state court system may likewise have such a registry, but of STATE certified interpreters.
Most judges will accept these translations done by certified “interpreters”. It is understandable, since most certified court interpreters have a very good working knowledge of legal jargon that not even ATA Certified translators may have. But nevertheless a translator is not the same as an interpreter. For additional information regarding this difference, please see my answer to another post.
If you want to find individual translators, I will provide a link for the American Translator’s Association’s (ATA’s) website. But I suggest you use our specialized legal document translation service instead.
The ATA database also has a list of some translation companies, but not that many.
A reputable translation company will not only have your document translated by one single translator, but will use AT LEAST another qualified translator to check the translation. It will ensure the format is appropriate for use in US Courts (some foreign translators use a very different format) and should provide you with a certificate that can be filed with the courts.
This system of 2 translators and the qualifications of each one is the so called ISO 17100 standard. This ISO Standard, though a great tool, is not as common in the United States as it is in Europe, and many courts are completely unfamiliar with it, hence you may be able to get an exhibit admitted into evidence with a certificate issued by a Certified Court Interpreter (since courts are very familiar with Court Interpreters) and not one with a certificate that merely mentions ISO 17100 Certification.
The International Organization For Standardization clearly states that a company CANNOT be ISO Certified, only a product or system can be certified:
“This [the certification of the SYSTEM] is performed by external certification bodies, thus a company or organization cannot be certified by ISO.”
We are ISO 17100 compliant and at your request will provide a certificate of accuracy with the name of a Federal Court or State Court Certified Interpreter.
Alternatively, you can search a list of individual translators at the American Translator’s Association’s website. ATA is a private, non-profit organization of which we are proudly members.