Apostille Translations

Can a Notary Translate a Birth Certificate?

White Plains Apostille & Mobile Notary June 2023.


In today’s globalized world, the need for accurate translation of legal documents, such as birth certificates, is paramount. One common question that arises is whether a notary can provide a certified translation of a birth certificate from Spanish to English. This article aims to clarify the role of a notary in translation services and differentiate between notarized translation and certified translation.

Can a Notary Translate a New York Birth Certificate?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. A New York State commissioned notary public can translate a document, including a birth certificate, if they possess professional translation skills. However, if the notary wishes to provide an official translation, they cannot use their own notary stamp on the translation. Instead, a notarized translation follows a two-step process: a certified translator translates the document, and then a third-party notary notarizes the translator’s signature.

Notarized Translation vs. Certified Translation

What is a Certified Translation?

A certified translation in New York involves an official translator stamping and signing each page of both the source document and the translated version. This certification is accompanied by a sworn affidavit, also known as a translator’s certification or translator’s affidavit. The affidavit should include necessary credentials and contact information, using government-mandated wording. For instance, when dealing with federal agencies like USCIS, the certification letter must include:

  1. An official statement attesting to the accuracy of the translation.
  2. Specific wording regarding the translator’s qualifications.
  3. Reference to the original document or source material.
  4. Name, address, and phone number of the translation company.
  5. Name, signature, and date of the translator.

It is important to note that certification by the American Translators Association (ATA) is not a requirement mandated by the United States federal government or any state or local agency.

What is a Notarized Translation?

A notarized translation, also referred to as a notary public translation, is similar to a certified translation. However, in the case of a notarized translation, the translator signs the certification letter (translator’s affidavit) in the presence of a duly commissioned third-party notary. The notary then provides an additional stamp on the certification letter. It is crucial to understand that simply notarizing a document or translation does not automatically make it an official certified translation.

Can a Translation Company or Translator Certify a Translation Completed by Someone Else?

Generally, if a translation has already been completed by another translator and has their seal on it, it cannot be certified or notarized by another party. However, if the translator makes substantial edits and effectively takes ownership of the translation, it can be certified and notarized if necessary.

Use Cases for Certified and Notarized Translations

Certified Translations

Certified translations are required in various situations, including:

  1. USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)
  2. DOD (Department of Defense) – Enlistment, background checks, Spouse Card, Uniformed Services Card, CAC, and USID cards.
  3. DOE (Department of Energy) – Employment or background purposes.
  4. NVC (National Visa Center) – Standard Certified Translation required in 2MB PDF Electronic Form.
  5. Federal and State Courts – Acceptable for most courts, but requirements may vary.
  6. College and Graduate School Applications – Most colleges accept official translations.
  7. Transcript Evaluation Companies – Notarization is generally not required anymore.

Notarized Translations

Notarized translations are required in the following cases:

  1. US Passport Applications (Department of State or US Post Office)
  2. DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) – Some states, such as Georgia, Tennessee, New Mexico, etc.
  3. Some Local New York Courts – Local Supreme Court requirements may vary. We have seen Courts in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess and New York City accept all translations because in New York the Courts generally have qualified interpreters to proofread them.
  4. International Submissions – It is advisable to notarize certification letters when sending documents to another country.
  5. Visa Applications to Spain – Study abroad, residency, long-term travel, or other applications may require both notary public translation and certified translation.
  6. Apostille and Authentication Applications – Authentication may be necessary for Ecuador and Colombia, requiring a state-specific notarized translation.


In summary, the role of a notary in translation services is limited. While a notary can translate a document if they possess professional translation skills, notaries cannot use their notary stamp on their own translations. Instead, a notarized translation requires a certified translator and a third-party notary. Understanding the distinction between notarized translation and certified translation is essential for ensuring the acceptance of translated documents in various legal and official contexts. If you require both certified and notarized translation services for your birth certificate or other documents, we offer comprehensive solutions that guarantee accuracy, reliability, and timely delivery. Contact Harry Otto at White Plains Apostille today for swift and hassle-free translations you can trust.