My Correspondence with a UK-based Translation Company

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This short exchange of emails comes to show that translation companies abroad are not much different from the Bulgarian ones. Profit-obsessed and legally incompetent, their managers would go out of their ways to win a possible customer. They feel at home with advertising strategies. However, when asked some questions outside their routine, they find it really hard to explain. Much to my disappointment, I discovered that they would readily offer unnecessary, extra services and even sign a translation 'on behalf of the translator', totally unaware of basic principles in certifying translations.  

 

The first email came as a surprise to me. I had just browsed on the website of a big, big UK company, or so it seemed to me on the Internet. While clicking here and there, I was asked to give my email address and so I did. Their prices for Bulgarian-English translations varied from 50-something pounds per page (250 words) to over 80, depending on what kind of text you needed to get translated, and whether you wanted your translation to be revised by another translator or by an expert in a given field, too. In addition to translation services from and to a huge number of languages, they also offered certification, notarization, legalization and all that jazz.

 

 

21 Oct 2013, 13:08

 

Dear Rennie,

 

Thank you for your enquiry with regard to our translation services.

 

Please find attached a written quotation and our standard terms and conditions.

 

As the quotation is based on the word count you have supplied to us, we would recommend, if possible, that you reply to this email with a copy of the document. This will allow for us to double check the word count and apply any possible discounts such as repetition discounts and supply you with a precise quotation.

 

Our unique quotation allows for choice between four different levels of translation. As an ISO 9001:2008 registered company, no matter which option you require, all our translations are certified to this quality management system.

 

As a UK leading translation company, we strongly believe in being transparent with our customers from the beginning and offering them as much choice in how their translation will be completed.

 

Should you need assistance in selecting the best option for your documents, please do not hesitate to ask us.

 

Certification of documents:

Our experience has shown that having your documents translated correctly authenticated can sometimes be confusing. At (the company name) we have a dedicated team organising translated documents for Certification, Sworn translation, Notarisation and Legalisation/ Apostille on a daily basis. We would be happy to advise and help you with any questions or queries you may have in regards to this.

 

Most translations required for use in the UK only require a 'Standard Company Certification', this we provide on the same day as the translation at the cost of £15.00 plus VAT. Certification can also be selected as an additional option when ordering translations via our website.

 

Please find herewith different options and information including cost for each of the certification options.

 

Options for Certified translations for the UK and abroad

 

1. Standard Certification £15.00+ VAT

Document certified and presented in a security fastened folder. This type of document is normally accepted in the UK by most authorities.

 


2. Affidavit £65.00 +VAT

 

The affidavit is a written declaration of the translator made under oath before a notary public or commissioner of oaths. This means that only the person who translated your document has the right to produce an affidavit. Like notarisation, this service is offered to both individuals and business customers and is normally carried out on the same day, however this may vary depending on the number of documents and their complexity.


3. Notary Translation Services £99.99 +VAT

For the purposes of translation authentication, most countries will require commercial or personal documents which have been translated, originate from or are signed in another country to be notarised before they can be used or officially recognised and accepted for legal purposes. A Notary Public will affix a notarial certificate which attests to the execution of the document, usually by the person who appears before the notary. This service is normally carried out on the same day, however this may vary depending on the number of documents and their complexity. We offer a full range of notary translation services both to individuals and business customers. A high quality, fast and efficient service.


4. Apostille/ Legalisation of Translations £75.00+ VAT (Standard service and already includes the legalisation office fee)

 

British documents that will be used for business or personal use overseas may need to be legalised or contain an Apostille before they can be officially recognised or accepted. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office's legalisation/ Apostille (stamp of authenticity), gives the authority that you are dealing with the guarantee that it is the genuine article. The term 'Apostille' is also commonly used in English to refer to the legalisation of a document for international use. Currently, most documents from the United Kingdom can be legalised/ contain an Apostille, provided they bare the original signature, stamp or seal of an official UK public organisation. Photocopies of certain documents are accepted. Please ask us for more information. (Please note that the translated documents will first need to be stamped by our Notary/Solicitor, as explained above, before they may have the Apostille/ Legalisation authentication stamp.)


If you have any other questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you know the number of words in your document you can visit our instant quotation system on our website at (web address) and obtain an instant quote 24 hours a day. If you are satisfied with the quote you may place the order online and receive a 5% discount! Just enter promotion code "DISCOUNT05".

 

In the meantime should you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Kind regards,

 

(personal name)

Project Coordinator

 

(the company name, address, phone, fax)


 

   

21 Oct 2013, 18:10     

   

Dear Ms (name),

 

Thank you very much for your extensive explanations. They, however, don't seem to perfectly match these ones:

http://ec.europa.eu/translation/LID/index.cfm?fuseaction=main.PublicationContent&PBL_ID=363

 

Quote:

"Great Britain:

Members of the ATC and the Institute of Translating and Interpreting are recognised by the Home Office,the government bodies and the courts. This means that members have a stamp with a unique number which we can use to stamp the translations. This is accepted as evidence of an official translation.
(But there is no checking process on the suitability of that particular member to carry out a legal translation.)


The UK does not have notarisation (a translator takes their translation and personal identification to a notary public who states that the person who has presented the translation is the person on the identification, but does not offer any 'guarantee' about the translation.) Also an 'apostille' exists as described by other members of the EUATC."

 

You write: "Most translations required for use in the UK only require a 'Standard Company Certification' 

 

Question 1: What do you mean by "company certification"? You mention some kind of "security fastened folder" but how is certification itself done? Who signs and who stamps the translation? Who bears the legal responsibility? Do you send the document to be translated by courier to an authorized translator? Does s/he fasten, sign and stamp their work? Or does the company manager place their own signature and their company stamp? The latter would appear quite similar to current Bulgarian practices.

 

My second question refers to

4. Apostille/ Legalisation of Translations £75.00+ VAT (Standard service and already includes the legalisation office fee)

 

Here it is not quite clear whether you mean a document or its translation. The whole paragraph, for example, is dedicated to legalisation / apostille procedures of documents while the heading says "of translations". Then, in parentheses, you add a note saying that translated documents will first need to be stamped by your Notary/Solicitor, as explained above, before they may have the Apostille/ Legalisation authentication stamp. The price stated in 4. is only £75.00+ VAT (Standard service and already includes the legalisation office fee). Does that price also include notarisation and apostile on the translated documents or only covers the legalisation office fee for the original documents? I can see above the price for Notary Translation Service. It's higher than the price you have displayed in 4. Please, specify what 75 pounds + VAT would cover.

 

I hope you don't mind me asking too many questions (two main actually). My interest in these matters is motivated by some forthcoming changes in similar procedures in Bulgaria.  Will that justify my questioning you?

 

In short, again:

 

Question 1:  What is a company certification of a translation?

Question 2:  How much is apostille / legalization of translations?

 

While I'm fully aware of your disclaimer in Customer Terms & Conditions:

"While (company name) endeavours to ensure that the information on our website and other printed materials is correct, (company name) does not warrant its accuracy and completeness" I do hope you will help clarify the issues brought up herein.

 

I'm looking forward to your kind reply.

 

Best regards,

Rennie, Bulgaria 

 

 

21 Oct 19:00

 

Hi Rennie,

 

thank you for your e-mail.

 

I will try to answer your questions in bullet points.

 

1.  Our company certification is carried out by us in the office. We receive the translation from the translator and then we sign and stamp it.

 

2.  £75 + VAT is the price for legalisation. Documents that require to be legalised must be notarised first.

 

Notarisation costs £99.99 +VAT. When we notarise a translated document, we are notarising that the translation says the same thing in one language as it does in the other.

 

If you need your document to be legalised in Bulgaria, you will need notarisation and legalisation that will cost you £209.98 in total.

 

I hope I have clarified your issues.

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

In the meantime should you have any further questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Kind regards,

 

(name)

Project Coordinator

(the company name, address, phone, fax)

 

 

21 Oct 2013, 21:17

 

Dear Ms (name),

 

Thank you vey much for your prompt reply.

 

You write "1. Our company certification is carried out by us in the office. We receive the translation from the translator and then we sign and stamp it."

 

Who are "we"?  It must be one of you all, mustn't it? Suppose the translation is from a rare language that nobody in the office can understand. In such case, by signing it, you take the risk of being accused of perjury. Please, have a look at some discussions at ProZ.com on this topic:

http://www.proz.com/forum/being_independent/44872-penalty_of_perjury_what_does_that_exactly_mean.html

 

Quote:

"US Law on Unsworn Declarations under Penalty of Perjury

Apr 11, 2006


A cheaper and faster procedure, acceptable under US laws, is to use an "unsworn declaration under penalty of perjury". I am copying below the applicable law (28 USC 1746).

Both procedures are equivalent and place on the translator/reviewer the same burden: to attest (under oath or penalty of perjury, same difference,) that the translation is true, correct and complete to the best of that person's understanding. Penalties for perjury or for lying under oath (committed when the translated document is submitted to the corresponding authorities) are serious and may involve a jail term (ask Martha Stewart). And, yes, it would be enforceable against you. And, no, you can't omit the statement "declare under penalty of perjury" if it is required because the translation is going to be used in legal proceedings."

Actually, the practice of someone in the office signing someone else's translation is very common in Bulgaria.  I'm really surprised to learn that you, translation companies in the UK, do so, too. 

 

 

You write: "2. Documents that require to be legalised must be notarised first."

If they are copies, yes. Originals needn't.

 

Also: "When we notarise a translated document, we are notarising that the translation says the same thing in one language as it does in the other. "

Well, a Notary Public can't certify the contents of a translation for the same reason you can't sign a translation from/into a language you don't understand.  All that a Notary Public can do is certify the identity of a person or witness their signature.  You, say, go to a Notary's office (or maybe you have a Notary in the office?) and present to them a translation from Chinese.  What does the Notary do? Does s/he read both texts (En & Chinese)? Does s/he sign a statement that the undersigned (the Notary Public's name), believes this translation is true and correct? I can't believe it!

 

 

Finally, you write: "If you need your document to be legalised in Bulgaria, you will need notarisation and legalisation that will cost you £209.98 in total."

What do you mean by legalised "in BG"? Accepted, legally recognised perhaps?  Suppose, I have a Birth Certificate issued in the UK, then what? For comparison, here's what we do in BG in a similar case. A BC is always an original document here (well, it's issued anew at your request and called duplicate). This duplicate doesn't need notarisation. It only needs an apostille. The apostille will be provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It costs 6.5 pounds, or up to 13 for urgent requests.  Add to this the courier fee and the fee of the translation company which has arranged this on behalf of a client and it becomes about 20 pounds altogether or maybe up to 30. Why is it nearly 10 times as much as that in the UK?

 

In short:

1. Would you sign a translation from/to a language you don't understand?

2. Would your Notary sign a translation from/to a language s/he doesn't understand?

3. Would you specify your calculations for the legalisation of a British BC intended for Bulgaria?

 

I'd really appreciate your kind reply.

 

Best wishes,

Rennie, Bulgaria

 

 

23 Oct 2013, 14:27

 

Hi Rennie,

 

Thank you for your e-mail.

 

We work with professionals that are registered in the translation industry. Our company certification is signed by our manager on behalf of the translators that work with us.

 

The Notary does not sign our translation, but our declaration.

 

Notarisation is £99.99+VAT = £119.98 and legalisation is 75.00 + VAT = £90

 

Please feel free to contact me for any further questions.

 

You can call at 0845 130 1640.

 

Kind regards,

 

(name)

Project Coordinator

(the company name, address, phone, fax)

 

 

 

23 Oct 2013, 21:43

 

Dear Ms (name),

 

Thank you very much for your reply.

 

You write: "Our company certification is signed by our manager on behalf of the translators that work with us."

Perhaps your manager is not fully aware that s/he doesn't have the right to sign a translation from or to a language s/he doesn't speak. 

 

Here's what Gov.uk explains:  

 

Certifying a translation

https://www.gov.uk/certifying-a-document

 

"If you need to certify a translation of a document that's not written in English or Welsh, ask the translation company to confirm in writing on the translation:

  • that it's a 'true and accurate translation of the original document'
  • the date of the translation
  • the full name and contact details of the translator or a representative of the translation company"

Indeed, they say either "the full name and contact details of the translator or a representative of the translation company", but they can't mean a representative who has little knowledge of the respective foreign language, can they? Would you declare 'true and accurate translation' from, say, Japanese into your native language? I wouldn't, because I don't speak Japanese.      

 

You write: "The Notary does not sign our translation, but our declaration."

Hopefully, you mean your Notary certifies (witnesses, confirms) the identity of the translator who has signed the declaration of true and accurate translation. A Notary can't sign a translator's  declaration on behalf of the translator for the same reasons as above.

 

You also write: "Notarisation is £99.99+VAT = £119.98 and legalisation is 75.00 + VAT = £90"

 Gov.uk says it's 30 per document + postage, look here:  https://www.gov.uk/legalisation-document-checker

 

I don't think I have any more questions. 

 

If you have some, please feel free to ask me.

 

Kind regards,

Rennie, Bulgaria

My mobile is +359 888 609072

 

 

 

24 Oct 2013, 17:44

 

Hi Rennie,

 

Thank you for your reply.

 

I will pass your helpful information to the management team.

 

Kind regards,

 

(name)

Project Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

Back to my blog at blog.bg: http://rennie.blog.bg/ (in Bulgarian)

 

 

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This page contains a single entry by Rennie Stoyanova published on October 30, 2013 11:33 PM.

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