Certified translations and apostilles

Thu, 02/22/2018 - 13:12 Erika Baker

Certified Translations

I recently had another request for and English-German  certified translation of a birth certificate and a No Impediment to Marriage certificate for a couple who was planning to get married abroad. They also asked me to provide the apostille stamp that the registrar had told them he needed.

Unfortunately, they did not actually mention the word “apostille” in their email but only a “stamp”. By the time they clarified that they needed an apostille, it was almost too late for them to obtain one.

Certified translations

Certified translations are translations of any document needed for official purposes, such as marriage, divorce, immigration, visa applications, birth registrations etc. The rules for certifying translations vary from country to country. In Germany, for example, translators have to be affiliated to their local court, and certified translations from translators in other countries are not accepted.

In the UK, qualified translators who are a member of a professional association, can certify and stamp their own translations. These are accepted by official authorities including the Home Office.


An apostille is an official certificate issued by the UK Government to ensure that documents are recognised in member states without the need of any further legalisation. Members are countries that signed up to the Hague Apostille Convention of 6th October 1961.  A list of member states can be found here.

Apostilles can only be issued by Governments or Government authorised legislation centres and notaries.

If you have left it really late, you can obtain a next day apostille from the Apostille Service.

More information can be found on the UK Government website, where you can also order apostilles. The standard service takes 2 working days and costs £35 per document.

Apostille first, then translation

If you need a certified translation of a document that also requires an apostille, please make sure that you obtain the apostille before you order the translation. Apostilles become part of the original document and have to be included in the translation.

Very often, you can place your translation with the same service that issues your apostille. But you might want to compare prices and obtain quotes for the translation separately.