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Harmonising best practices
The ATC is collaborating with the Institute for Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) to harmonise best practices around the certification of translations in the UK.
As of today, all three leading associations recognise and endorse each other’s certification guidelines and practices, and present a unified front towards the authorities and users of certified translations.
If you translate official documents for use by the UK’s public sector, Government agencies or for businesses in the UK, you will know that there are differences in the expectations and requirements for certified translations.
There are also differences in how certified translations are produced, laid out, and certified by translators and translation companies in the UK. In Europe and around the world practice varies greatly with most countries having clearer standards and more requirements than in the UK. The UK is unusually deregulated by international standards.
These variations can cause confusion and delays in translation and certification processes, and can make it challenging for translators and translation companies to confidently provide a service that they know will be accepted by the receiving organisation.
What can we do?
Three leading UK associations are now coming together to work on harmonising expectations for certified translations.
The Association of Translation Companies (ATC), the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) have come together to promote the use of ATC member companies and the accredited experienced professional translator members of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (MITI, FITI and Corporate LSP Members) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists (MCIL and FCIL). All three organisations will endorse each other’s members and each other’s guidance for certifying a translation.
CIOL Chief Executive John Worne comments, “The diverging practices stem from the fact that, unlike in many other countries, no sworn or state-authorised system for certifying translations exist in the UK – and this landscape is unlikely to change. Working together with the ITI and the ATC, we will promote the use of properly qualified and accredited professional translators and quality assured translation companies, for the benefit of both the users and producers of these translations.”
ITI Chief Executive Paul Wilson adds, “Our members regularly report on issues with authorities whose requirements on producing certified translations can vary greatly. Through this initiative, we will guide public authorities towards qualified and accredited members and partners who can provide a true, complete and accurate certified translation.”
ATC CEO Raisa McNab welcomes the collaboration, “Uncertainty serves no one. No one benefits from translations carried out by a next door neighbour who has an A level in French. Our aim is to ensure that certified translations in the UK are produced by suitably qualified, registered translators and reputable translation companies, and we look forward to working with the ITI and the CIOL on this initiative.”
What can you do?
Your help in promoting the use of qualified, accredited translators and translation companies in the UK is hugely important. In your dealings with clients, public sector authorities, UK Government agencies, and businesses, keep an eye out for divergent practices.
Refer people to this joint position from the ATC, ITI and CIOL and advise them of the benefit and reduced risk in using people and organisations with proven translation credentials.
This statement will be posted on all three organisations’ websites.
Certified translations – getting it right
When public authorities need a certified translation of a document that is not in English, it is important to choose a qualified, registered translator or translation company. This expectation is clearly set out in https://www.gov.uk/certifying-a-document.
Public authorities can reduce the risk of error or omission by only using a translator or translation company with a clear affiliation to a recognised professional body or association such as the Association of Translation Companies (ATC), the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL).
ATC, ITI and CIOL maintain easily accessed public registers of accredited companies and translators:
As per government guidance, the translation document is best annotated or accompanied by a certificate with at least the following information:
- The translation is ‘a true and accurate translation of the original document’
- The date of the translation
- The name and contact details of the translator or a representative of the translation company
Businesses, public service and UK Government agencies can take confidence in the quality assurance processes of ATC member companies (Accredited), and in the accreditation processes for experienced professional translator members of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (MCIL and FCIL) and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (MITI, FITI and Corporate LSP Members). All three organisations endorse each other’s guidance for certifying a translation.
ATC Certification Stamp & Guidelines
The ATC’s Certification Stamp is awarded to Accredited ATC Member companies. The stamp may be used to certify translations, typically those submitted to public sector or other authorities.
The ATC Certification Stamp usage and client guides have been updated to reflect the newly-agreed harmonisation practices. The ATC’s pro forma certification templates have not changed, but will be reviewed by the end of 2023 in connection with a review on the potential digitalisation of the Certification Stamp.