There are numerous government documents that may require translation from Spanish into English. In fact, it’s safe to say that virtually any document required by the U.S. government must be translated into English. A few examples are immigration paperwork, birth certificates, police records, bank statements, and marriage and divorce documents, to mention just a few.

The government requires that all documents be “certified.” In their definition, “certified” means that the translator is required to write a letter stating that he or she is competent in English and the originating language (in this case, Spanish), and that the document has been translated to the best of their ability. While it’s true that almost anyone who is fluent and English and Spanish might be able to produce some form of translation, it’s vital – particularly for government documentation – that the translation be as accurate as possible. That’s why it’s important that U.S. government documents be translated by a trained, experienced linguist. Preferably, the translator should be certified by an accredited certification organization — such as the ATA (American Translators Association), for example – since most government documents require certified translations.

The first step in finding a certified translator is to locate a reputable translation company. There are several to choose from online, but you should be careful to choose one that offers the services of certified translators, as well as experience in dealing with government documentation and one that provides a list of current clients.  Also, make sure that the translation company lists Spanish as one of its list of translated languages. Fortunately, Spanish translations are some of the most commonly needed, so virtually any good translation company will offer translation services from Spanish to English. If time is a concern, you should also check with the agency beforehand to make sure they can provide the translation within the timeframe needed. Although the government does require that a certification letter be submitted with the translation, most translated documents don’t require notarization – although you should double-check this with a government representative to be sure this is true for your documents. If your documents need to be notarized, many translation companies offer notary services as well.

Once you’ve chosen a translation company, the process is relatively simple.

  • Inform the company exactly what type of translation you’ll need, and that it’s intended for submission to the U.S. government. Tell them that you’ll need the document(s) to be translated by a certified translator and that you’ll require a signed statement attesting to that certification as well. Based on the number of pages needed, the company should be able to provide you with a price quote for their services.
  • Once you agree to a fee for the translation services, you’ll be able to submit the documents to be translated to the translation company. If you use an online agency, it’s usually acceptable to submit a scan of the document or even a photograph, as long as it’s clearly readable. Although many online companies provide you with the ability to communicate online, it’s usually better if you speak to someone over the phone who can walk you through the process. This is especially important if you haven’t had a document translated before and may need some explanation or assistance.
  • After submitting the documents to the translation company, you should receive the translation back within the timeframe you requested. Most companies will give you the choice of receiving the translation through regular mail or via email. The translation should be typed and accompanied by the letter of certification signed by the translator.

Having U.S. government documents translated from Spanish into English is relatively easy. It’s simply a matter of finding the right translation company to assist you in the process.