In virtually all cases, official documents drawn up in a language other than Dutch will have to be translated by a certified translator before they can be used for formal purposes in the Netherlands – and vice versa. The idea behind a certified translation is well established: if, and only if, a translation was produced by an accredited translator can the applicant rely on the assumption that the translation faithfully reflects the content of the source document and than nothing has been added, deleted or misrepresented. For this reason, certified translations have a formal status and are recognised all over the world, provided that they bear the official stamp and signature of the certified translator.
Having said that, a certified translation alone is not always enough to convince official bodies. Sometimes additional requirements are imposed as regards the source document or its translation. For example, if the translation is attached to a copy of the source document (which is usually the case), some countries stipulate that the copy be authenticated by the issuing body or a civil-law notary. Sometimes the signature on the source document itself has to be legalised. In the case of diplomas, moreover, the authority may request a statement by an external organisation such as DUO certifying the official status of the degree programme or education institution concerned, or that the diploma be accompanied by an official description or evaluation of its status. In the Netherlands, such descriptions or evaluations are issued by Nuffic.
Sometimes there is a formal requirement that the translation be accompanied by a legalised signature of the translator.
The manner of legalisation (of the source document or the translation) depends on whether the country where the certified translation is to be used has signed the Apostille Convention. If it has, the short-track legalisation procedure applies. The issuing body (usually a court of law) can legalise the signature by issuing an apostille. If the requesting country is not a party to the Apostille Convention, the extensive legalisation procedure applies, which involves authentication by the court, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the consulate of the country concerned.
For us as a translation agency it is usually quite difficult to determine whether a certified translation will suffice, or whether additional steps (authentication, legalisation) are required. Your safest bet is to make inquiries at the authority that is to receive your certified translation or at the consulate of the country concerned. This is because countries and institutions themselves decide whether official documents and certified translations thereof are to meet any additional requirements and, if so, what those requirements are.
Metamorfose Vertalingen is a translation agency in Utrecht, the Netherlands, that provides certified translations on a daily basis for businesses, public authorities, institutions and private individuals. For further details or to request a certified translation or legalisation, visit our website. Use the quotation request form to submit your request quickly and easily: you will receive a response within two hours. If you have any questions after reading our website, please do not hesitate to contact us or send us an email.