Obtaining a passport or other government documents in the US can be stressful. Sending and processing official documents outside the US is sometimes downright dreadful. The United States process tens of millions of official documents every year, with an average wait time of 2-8 months, the information must be 100% accurate the first time. Mistakes made on official government documents can take months to resolve and may cost hundreds of dollars.  Most of these mistakes are a result in cutting corners with machine or non-native translation. In this article, we’ll go over several documents that are frequently mistranslated.

Passports and Citizenship: Passports normally take more than a month to process and deliver, but this applies only to US citizens. What about persons with dual citizenship or applying for US Citizenship? While applying for US citizenship, the USCIS processing of the Naturalization form alone is a 6-month minimum process. Its common to have errors while submitting the application, whether it be titles or cities are mistranslated, or misspelled, especially when using a computer-generated translator. An already long 6-month process can quickly become a year or longer.

Birth and Marriage Certificates: Whether attending a foreign school or immigrating to another country, translation of official paperwork, is normally required. Similar to Passports and Visas, the documents need to be translated by a professional linguist and notarized by a public notary. Usually, the Marriage and Birth Certificates look like easy enough documents, that someone with a rudimentary understanding of English might feel confident to translate it on their own. It’s important to remember that the translation needs to be exactly word for word, without any deletion or addition of terms. Any sign that the translation is not exactly like the original copy will result in the rejection of that translation and you will need to start again.

Diplomas and Transcripts: Another surprisingly common request for translation is diplomas or other official school documents. The standard of translation is generally the same as a government document, although the documents are under a strict timeline. While applying to a foreign University or College, the admissions department will normally require the translation of a birth certificate, visa, and even class transcripts. Just as with the other documents, mistranslation results in rejection of translated document, and additional time lost. It can sometimes lead the student to miss an entire semester altogether.

At International Translating Company, we have many clients that choose to have their important documents translated through us, because of previous translation errors from other companies. Sometimes our clients come to us after having failed while trying several other methods such as machine or self-translation. Our refined processes and systems deliver the highest level of quality every time. All our professional linguists are certified and native in the language they translate. All official documents receive the required Certification of Accuracy and are notarized by a public notary.   In a situation where nothing less than a perfect translation is accepted, every word matters!