Revealing your personal information to a stranger, whether it is a birth certificate or even your school grades, may be overwhelming. Sometimes however, especially when dealing with business or study purposes abroad, it becomes necessary to translate your personal documents. Independently of your personal requirement, knowing that your documents are in good hands, is crucial when you need to hire a translation service provider. Trustworthiness and confidence in your translator is a main factor when picking one out from an extensive range of options.

These are some of the elements to consider when choosing the best option for you:

1. DEFINE THE SPECIFIC SERVICE YOU NEED BEFORE YOU LOOK FOR YOUR TRANSLATION PROVIDER

As an individual or a Corporate entity, the specificity of your requirement will determine the most competitive service.

If your boss requires you to look for a translation provider for your contracts, you should be looking for lawyers or companies with legal translation services in their portfolios.  Nobody wants a translation mistake in an international negotiation to halt a multi-national agreement from going through.

As an individual, you should probably check the specific requirement for your translation. If you need documents for immigration or study purposes, please enquire with the entity that is demanding them, if they have specific protocols in place such as Apostilles, legalizations or notarizations.  Every institution has their own procedures, therefore requesting different elements in the presentation of your translations. Some translation service providers will help you with the entire document management process, while others will only provide the document in the target language. Make sure you know what you need before you hire a translator. You may not want to be surprised by a rejected document due to a missing stamp when you get overseas.

2. TRANSLATION COMPANY VS INDIVIDUAL TRANSLATOR

Again, when you are looking for a translation service provider, one of the main elements you want to consider is the guarantee that your translation job will be well done. Usually translation companies would be the correct answer here, since they are considered to be more reliable than individuals. Companies have a name to look after, and a poor review may affect their business negatively, so you would think that they would certify or guarantee your end product as much as possible.

On the other hand, an individual who is a professional in the specific topic which you are requiring to be translated, may actually fit your needs better.  While a translation company may shoot a lead to a database of translators, who they may not even know or screen, it is easy for you to request references from an individual and do a quick reference check on the translator’s previous yield through his or her own clients.

3. PAY YOUR WORTH

When communicating in a multi-language environment, there are many options.  Being bilingual is not the same as being fluent or even remotely similar as to being able to connect ideas in writing. Therefore, Prices range from basic level communication skills and google translation or CAT- translations, to highly specific language terminology.

The difference between translating the short notes of the Spanish book you didn’t read for class, and translating a medical article for publication in a scientific magazine lies in the specificity of the language used, the target audience, the purpose of the translation, the technical difficulty and the writing style.  Another factor that may affect the cost of the translation, related to your specific need, is the requirement for a certified and notarized translation.

Always consider that a cheap translation quote will probably result in a poor translation job.

4. TIME IS MONEY

Although you may be dazed by all the things you need to do, that are crucial before you move to another country, while you’re applying for a change in your immigration status, or if you are planning to study abroad, having your documents translated in time is usually not in the priority list.  However, when you leave translation of your documents for the last minute, you may incur in express charges for expedited turn around times. Even though the monetary factor may not be a priority either, the person who actually translates your documents may experience the stress of rushing your request, and is more prone to making mistakes.

This is also true when undertaking corporate document translations, where deadlines are close and the documents are not ready yet, or may have been ready in the source language but may have not been translated.

Make sure the translation company or individual translator that you have hired, is accurate in the turnaround time needed for your document. Although translations may be returned quickly, it is always best to allow the translator to take his or her time in translating and reviewing the job.

5. CONFIDENCIALITY

The latest trend for translators and translation companies is the use of CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools to ease translation processes.  These include translation memories and other software which, in theory, should improve turnaround time and yield in a translator’s performance.  What most clients, (and probably translators) don’t even know is that most CAT tools are open source software which include cloud-collaborative strategies to improve their own performance.  While this may increase the rate in which the software “learns” and experiences language, the confidentiality of a document may be easily sacrificed by using the same.

It is important to let your translation service provider know if your document is confidential or sensitive before you hire them. Ask about the translation methodology, request signing a confidentiality agreement, and make sure your documents are handled as they should.

6. CORRECT YOUR MISTAKES

Receiving a translated document is not the same as being able to communicate effectively in the target language.  Some companies will not take responsibility for mistakes (whether unintentional, or due to lack of knowledge or negligence from the translator). Other companies, and even individual translators will offer corrections and changes at no charge for errors. Verify that the person or company chosen for your translation offers this option before you hire them.

This short list should help you chose a translation service provider that fits your needs.