Literalis Blog


Posted by: Nick Bennett On: November 7, 2016

Navigating Translation Requirements in Canada

No matter the purpose of your document translation, chances are you will have to deal with at least one official governmental, academic, financial or legal institution along the way. Understanding the translation requirements of the institution(s) to which you are submitting your documents can help make your entire process more efficient. Unfortunately, that isn’t always easy.

The information supplied by governmental departments, educational institutions and professional associations can be scarce, inconsistent and filled with legal jargon. As a result, even when translation requirements are presented, the terminology used may leave you feeling unsure if you have actually met all the requirements. Learning to decode this terminology can help you feel confident that you have chosen the correct translation service to meet your needs.

Here is a list of some commonly used translation terminology to help get you on your way.


Official vs. Certified Translation

The term “official translation” is often seen in institutional requirements; but it is actually an empty term that is not recognized legally or institutionally. What the term “official” might be referring to is a certified translation. A Certified Translation is a translation performed by a certified translator who is recognized as a member of at least one provincial regulatory body of translators. In Ontario, for example, that is the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO). All certified translations are accompanied by a Translator’s Declaration, complete with a stamp or seal that bears the translator’s name and membership number.

For more information regarding other provincial regulatory bodies of translators, please visit the Canadian Translators, Terminologist and Interpreters Council (CTTIC) website.


Professional vs. Certified Translators

All Certified Translators are professional translators; but, not all professional translators are certified. A Certified Translator is recognized as a member of one or more provincial regulatory associations (for example, ATIO, ATIA, OTTIAQ, STIBC, etc.). Certified translators are required to have completed the provincially-mandated training and education, to have written and passed both an entrance and certification exam and to have sworn an oath to provide true and faithful translations. Upon completion of these requirements, each translator is issued an official stamp or seal that bears their name and membership number and that certifies the accuracy and legality of the translation. Given these assurances, certified translations are recognized and accepted by most educational institutions and governmental agencies, including the CIC.


 Notarized Affidavit

Some institutions and programs request a notarized translation. A notarized translation is a translation that includes a sworn affidavit signed and stamped by a lawyer or legal commissioner of oaths. The affidavit is used to verify that the translation of a document accurately reflects what is stated in the document’s original language.

It is important to note that a notarized translation only validates the signature of the translator, not the accuracy of the translation itself. As a result, not all notarized translations are accepted by all institutions.

Furthermore, a notarization is often not required if the translation is done by a Certified Translator. Choosing a Certified Translator will not only guarantee the accuracy of your translated documents, but will end up saving you money (See the CIC website for more information).



Requirements for provincially issued documents, such as drivers’ licences, are specific to each ministry and can usually be found on ministry websites. The Ontario Ministry of Transport requires Drivers’ Licenses to be translated by a “ministry-approved” translator, which can include translators from “non-Canadian embassies, consulates and high commissioner’s offices” but does not include other “translators from the country where the licence was issued.” ATIO certified translations are accepted by the Ministry of Transportation Ontario.

It is very important that the translation of your documents meet the requirements of the institution to which it is being submitted. Failing to do so will require you to re-translate and re-submit your documents, resulting in an additional loss of time and money. If you are unsure of the institutional requirements or are submitting documents to more than one institution, it is highly recommended that you enlist the services of a Certified Translator.

Have some questions or in search of translation services. We can help! Visit our website or send us an email at

© 2016. Kaila Simoneau for Loretta Murphy Translations. All Rights Reserved.

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