Certified Translation Does Not Exist…

July 22, 2014

By Sean Oliver

…in the USA.  We frequently get calls from prospective clients, who ask us for a “certified translation”. The expectation seems to be a notarized certificate essentially guaranteeing the accuracy of the translation, and moreover that the certified translation will be a better translation that what they would receive normally.  I also see advertisements online for “certified translation services,” when that’s not really what they’re advertising.  In the Language Services industry, the term “certified translation” should really only refer to translation done by a certified translator, who is licensed by a national board or other regulatory body in a given country.  However, not every country has one of these regulatory bodies, including the United States.  The US has government departments that employ full-time translators who are vetted, but once they leave their job there is no certificate to take with them (The United Nations notwithstanding). In countries without certified translators, the only “certification” that we as a company can provide to our clients, is a notarized statement from either the translator, or translation agency which states: “I state to the best of my knowledge that this is an accurate translation”.  Many court proceedings in the US, especially in immigration proceedings, require such a statement kept on file with any non-English original content (commonly non-US birth certificates and passports) and the associated translations.  There are also government agencies, most often federal, who may require a notarized statement with anything that’s been translated that’s going to remain in a permanent file.  Keep in mind that each state, and federal courts have different tests and qualifications required for both translators and interpreters.


Sometimes, court or immigration offices may require an “apostille”, which in the US is a special kind of certification/notarization of a signature performed by state officials, which is above the ability of a regular US notary.  In certain non-US locations, the term may sometimes just refer to a notary’s stamp, or other official’s physical certification on the document.  The actual verbiage printed on the notary/official’s stamp/seal may need to be translated as well, which is what someone often means when they tell us “I need the apostille translated as well as the content.” If you’re told you need an apostille on a document, and there is translation involved, make sure to ask whether the stamp/seal needs to be translated as well.


So there you have it.  There are no USA-certified translators, because there isn’t a governmental organization to certify them as in other countries, such as Spain (traductor jurado).  Now, the American Translators Association does certify translators (in a few language pairs not all); they have to take a test, and certain translation providers and buyers may restrict their talent pool to those who have passed the ATA’s exam… But still this is not a government certification and it is not recognized as such. We have found that while ATA-certification is never a bad thing, there are many skilled translators out there who do excellent work, and don’t have the certification, and might also have other, more prestigious certifications from their own countries.


Part 7 – Why Global Firms Need Cultural Competence

July 10, 2014

By Monica Marcel

This is the last in our 7-part blog series “Why Global Firms Need Cultural Competence”. You can find links to the older entries at the bottom of this post.


Building and leveraging intercultural competence is a journey—not a destination. Key to the process is shifting one’s thinking from equating culture with nationality to understanding cultures as groups or communities sharing common influences, values, norms, and behaviors.

Done well, a global organization and global diversity leaders in that organization can frame the many types of cultures that present bottom line implications for the company, and effectively answer the question, “What must we do to successfully navigate the cultures having the most impact on our business?” Companies with good answers will secure sustainable futures for themselves and their business.


SIDEBAR A: Ten essential questions before launching

Key Questions to ask before beginning to build and leverage intercultural competence in your organization:
1. Why would the company invest large amounts of time and money in this area?
2. What is intercultural competence for our organization, and how does it differ from any previous models or approaches to, for example, diversity, and how is it different from awareness building?
3. How do we link intercultural competence to business goals, role expectations, and other competencies envisioned for the workforce?
4. How does this integrate with other training and priorities?
5. What resources, subscriptions, and tools does the organization have that can be leveraged to support intercultural competence?
6. For each region or business unit, what is the local compelling business case for intercultural competence?
7. How do we identify champions and stakeholders to help navigate the local context and business landscape?
8. How do we make sure we are not imposing headquarters issues in an ethnocentric way?
9. How do we allow a global exchange regarding local experiences?
10. How do we sustain, refresh, and continue development of cross-cultural champions over time?

SIDEBAR B: Examples from organizations that have built intercultural competence into the DNA of their corporate infrastructure:

• Culturally Competent Commercial Systems: Salesforce mix, customer segmentations, market saturation rates, customer service surveys
• Culturally Competent Feedback Tools: Performance management reviews, 360 assessments, employee engagement surveys, exit interviews about cultural and diversity
• Culturally Competent Organizational Development: Competency models, change management, compliance and workforce relations, learning and development
• Culturally Competent Reward and Recognition Systems: Performance expectations for individual contributors, managers, and leaders
• Culturally Competent Workforce Planning: Recruiting, Career Pathing, Succession Planning, Global Sourcing, Leadership Development
• Culturally Competent Compliance and Ethics Programming: Audits of help lines and reporting systems, investigations, risk assessments, employee relations, code of conduct education

SIDEBAR C: Beyond training—on-the-job experiences that can build intercultural competence

• Special projects – for example, studying consumer behavior among a specific demographic or geography; joining a task force to revise a company’s code of conduct to reflect local dilemmas
• Rotational assignments – for example, taking a short-term assignment in a different country or in a different line of business
• Action learning in roles or teams – for example, reporting to a manager born in a different world region or of a different generation
• Communities of Practice – for example, joining the Project Management Institute’s “Global Diversity COP”
• Employee Resource Groups – for example, participating in educational events regarding what it is like to be a member of the LGBT community or working mother in your organization