Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

If you believe that hiring a specialist is pricey, just wait until you witness the expenses that come with the subpar work of an incompetent

by Michela de Julio
Legal Consultant and Official translator,
expert in recognition of academic and professional qualifications

In the fast-paced world we live in today, where the allure of cost-cutting and budget-friendly solutions often takes precedence, it is crucial to reexamine and contemplate upon a timeless insight: “You get what you pay for.” This wise advice holds particularly true when it comes to choosing between professional services and their amateur or automated alternatives. A prime example of this can be found in the field of professional translation, especially when dealing with official and certified translations.



The Real Price of Preferring Incompetence Over Expertise: A Warning Story for Professional Translations

High Cost of Low Expertise: The Price of Not Hiring Specialists

The contrast between assigning your crucial documents to a certified, recognised professional translator and an unskilled person or an AI system is glaring. It’s not merely about cost, but about the intrinsic worth that comes with accuracy, cultural understanding, and the legal validity that only an experienced professional can assure.

In the specific context of official translations, the need for this professional expertise becomes increasingly apparent. These are not merely texts, but essential documents that often significantly influence legal proceedings, international business deals, and personal life events that span across borders.

Therefore, this context emphasises a vital point: when it involves professional competencies in fields that require absolute precision and profound cultural and legal comprehension, such as in creating certified translations, the commitment to quality is not a luxury, but a necessity. It’s a prudent decision that not only provides peace of mind but also protects against the hidden, potentially steep costs of mistakes that could emerge from less competent sources.

In the context of formal translations, it’s essential to comprehend that the impact goes well beyond simple text conversion from one language to another. These legal translations serve as key conduits in a globalised world, opening doors and enabling vital cross-border interactions. Whether it’s for implementing international business agreements, managing intricate legal procedures, or commemorating important personal milestones like weddings or immigration, each document – like marriage licenses, birth certificates, academic degrees – plays a central role in these crucial processes.

The job of a professional translator in this scenario is complex and subtly detailed. They do more than just convert words from one language to another. Their responsibility includes a thorough exploration of the cultural and contextual core of the text, guaranteeing that every fine detail, subtlety, and hidden implication is precisely communicated in the desired language. This goes beyond mere language skills; it’s about cultural sensitivity and legal insight.

Furthermore, the legal authenticity of the original document must be scrupulously preserved. In formal translations, each term, phrase, and legal notion must be translated with accuracy and strict compliance to the involved legal systems.

The translator serves as a bridge, connecting not just languages, but also aligning different legal and cultural environments, ensuring that the translated document retains the same legal significance and pertinence as its source version. These documents are more than just pieces of paper; they are instruments that unlock international possibilities – whether for business contracts, legal proceedings, or personal milestones like marriage or immigration.

This complex procedure highlights the enormous duty borne by expert translators. Their proficiency guarantees that these vital documents maintain their originality and effectiveness, thereby enabling smooth international exchanges and preserving the integrity of transnational legal and personal matters.


AI’s Limitations: Incapable of Providing Legally Certified Official Translations

Consider the situation where an individual decides to use a cheaper translation service, possibly AI-driven, for a legal document. Despite their advancements, AI and automated systems lack the nuanced understanding of cultural contexts, legal terminologies, and the subtle art of language that only a human professional possesses. Legally certified translations cannot be provided by AI, most crucially. Translations done by officially recognised translators are the only ones accepted for legal purposes in many jurisdictions. These professionals have the qualifications and authorisation to declare the conformity of documents with the original – a legal requirement that AI cannot fulfill.

In this scenario, picture an individual, maybe a foreign national applying for British or Italian citizenship, who decides to use a budget-friendly, possibly AI-driven service to translate their legal documents. Using an automated translation tool for crucial documents required in the citizenship application process can lead to significant challenges, and ultimately result in the rejection of their citizenship application due to formal irregularities in the translations provided.

From legal disputes to rejected applications, the consequences of an inaccurate translation can be dire, resulting in not only financial losses but also significant delays. In contrast, investing in a professional translator’s fee ensures accuracy, legal validity, and peace of mind.


The inadequacy of translation agency certifications without an official translator’s signature is a concerning issue.

Beyond the competency of individual freelancers or non-professional translators, the challenge in the translation sector is much more complex. Translation agencies that fall short in their capacity to confer an official status to their certified translations are also significantly involved. Not only is this inadequacy deeply entrenched in the legal principles that are common across numerous jurisdictions, but it also goes against basic common sense.

To be considered officially valid, a translation must be accompanied by a certification of accuracy and conformity with the original document. This crucial certification is not just a procedural formality; it is a binding statement signed by the translator who performed the work, confirming the fidelity of the translation to the original text. The professional standing of the translator providing this certification is the critical aspect here.

Many translation agencies offer a wide range of services, but not all of them are equipped or accredited to perform official translations that require legal ratification. When translations are rejected by legal, governmental, or corporate entities due to the lack of a valid certification from a professionally accredited translator, this inadequacy becomes acutely problematic.

In the process of legally valid translation, the crux lies not just in the linguistic conversion but also in the authenticity of the certification. Devoid of an official translator’s in-person signature, a translation agency’s certification lacks the necessary legal teeth and professional credibility. This shortfall is critical for several reasons:

  1. Legal Recognition and Accountability: a translation’s legal acceptance hinges on the endorsement of an officially accredited translator. This professional accreditation is a seal of authority, legitimising the translator’s capacity to vouch for the translation’s accuracy. Absent this, the document’s legal standing is questionable.
  2. Liability and Professional Responsibility: with their signature, accredited translators assume legal responsibility for the translation’s fidelity. This accountability extends to potential legal consequences in case of inaccuracies, a level of responsibility an agency without such professionals cannot guarantee.
  3. Quality and precision are ensured by accredited translators who bring more than language skills; they offer expertise in cultural and legal nuances pertinent to different jurisdictions. Their involvement is essential to ensure translations are not just linguistically accurate but also contextually appropriate and precise.
  4. The endorsement of a certified professional is paramount for trust and credibility, especially in contexts where trust is non-negotiable, like legal and official domains. For courts, immigration authorities, and similar entities, their signature is an essential factor that non-professional translations severely lack in terms of trustworthiness.

To meet the stringent standards required for formal and legal use, a translation certification must include the accredited translator’s signature. This not Not only does this risk rejection in legal procedures, but it also opens up liabilities due to potential translation inaccuracies.


Understanding the Legal and Linguistic Significance of Certified Translations.

The ability to confer official status on translations requires not only linguistic expertise but also a comprehensive understanding of legal protocols and standards. Choosing translation agencies or professionals who are not only skilled in language translation but also duly authorized to certify translations for official use is crucial in meeting this requirement.

To carry weight and legal validity, it’s not enough for any translator to simply sign off on it, however. To ensure the credibility and legal standing of the document, it is crucial that the translator is a professional and accredited in a recognised registry of translators. In such cases, the receiving entity – be it a government department, legal body, or international organization – will only accept the translated document as valid and binding.

Specific regulations in both Italy and the United Kingdom uphold the validity of a conformity declaration for a translation. These rules ensure that the translation is a faithful and accurate reproduction of the original document, and the translator’s signature provides a legal guarantee of this fidelity.


The Italian Regulation on Official translations [1]

In Italy, specific regulations govern the process of certifying a translation (known as asseveration). A recognised professional translator is often enrolled with a professional register such as the Registry of Experts and Consultants at the Chamber of Commerce or a list of sworn translators at a Court. In front of a court registrar or a notary, the translator declares under oath the accuracy of the translation during the asseveration. This process ensures that the translation has legal validity, allowing it to be used in legal and official contexts where notarized translations are required.


The British Regulation on Official Translations

In the United Kingdom, there is no centralised system for certifying translations. Translations that require a form of official certification, such as for legal, academic, or immigration documents, must be conducted by professional translators. Members of professional bodies like the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI[2] or the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL)[3] are typically the translators in question. A written statement attesting to the accuracy of the translation is provided by them, signed and, if necessary, accompanied by the stamp of their professional organisation.

The relevant regulation for the certification of translations in Italy is indeed found in the “Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica” (DPR) 445/2000. This decree consolidates and updates various administrative provisions, including those related to official documents and certifications. This decree brings together and modernizes various administrative provisions, including those concerning official documents and certifications. The text specifically addresses the procedures for certifying the conformity of translations from one language to another. Under this decree, it is possible for a translator to officially certify that a translation is a true and faithful rendition of the original document.

Unlike the Italian DPR 445/2000, there is no specific legislation in the United Kingdom that governs the certification of translations. The UK, instead, depends on the standards established by professional translation bodies like the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) [3]. Guidelines and professional standards are provided by these organisations for their members, who are often sought for certified translations. To ensure acceptance in formal and legal situations, UK solicitors or notary publics often handle the certification of translations in legal contexts.

On these two websites, it is possible to verify the presence of translators and their qualifications. These organisations offer various membership options, and the most qualified translators have passed a translation exam in their practiced language combination. Therefore, clients can rest assured that the document will have official value since the registries are public and easily accessible, allowing them to verify the competence of the translator.

The certification of translations in Italy is governed by a specific legal framework, whereas in the UK, it relies more on professional standards and the acceptance of certified translations from recognized professionals by the legal system.

The translator’s signature in both cases ensures the accuracy and reliability of the translation, giving it legal authority and credibility that would not be possible without this professional verification. To ensure that translations are accepted in legal and official settings, where precision is of paramount importance, this practice is crucial.


Linguistic skill and legal accreditation play a vital role in the translation process.

Not just linguistic expertise, but also the legal standing and professional credentials of the translator, underscore the importance of this requirement. When a translation agency and/or a freelance professional does not have this accreditation, their ability to provide legally sound and officially recognized translations becomes questionable. The implications are significant, particularly in legal and official contexts where the authenticity and accuracy of a translation can have far-reaching consequences.


The Hidden Costs of Compromising on Translation Expertise

Saving money upfront by opting for an automated translation or an unqualified individual might be tempting, but the long-term costs of such a decision – both tangible and intangible – can be far greater. This is a reminder that expertise is not an area to compromise on, especially in the sector of professional services, such as translation or legal services. Compared to the risks of entrusting your vital documents to inexperienced individuals or automated uncertainty, choosing an expert is a cost-effective option.

Legal complications, errors, and rework can become evident in the form of tangible costs when choosing an automated translation or an unqualified translator, first and foremost. Legal and official documents often require precision and accuracy, and any mistakes in translation can result in serious consequences. Among the possible consequences are legal disputes, rejected documents, delays in official processes, and even financial penalties. The initial savings can quickly turn into hefty expenses to rectify these errors when choosing a cheaper option.

Furthermore, inadequate translation can have equally damaging intangible costs. Trust and credibility are vital in various professional contexts, especially in fields like law and official documentation. Your reputation and trustworthiness are at risk when you compromise on the expertise of your translator. Questioning the reliability of your translated documents can lead to doubt and erode your standing within your industry or field, which may cause concern among clients, partners, and governing bodies.



Thus, I hope this insight serves as a crucial reminder that expertise is non-negotiable when it comes to professional services, including translation. While the initial expense of selecting a professional translator or agency may seem greater, it is significantly outweighed by the potential risks linked to relying on inexperienced or automated solutions with your crucial documents. The value of accurate and legally sound translations cannot be overstated, particularly in legal, official, or business contexts where the authenticity and precision of translated materials are paramount.

Choosing a qualified and accredited translator or translation agency not only ensures that your documents are error-free and legally valid, but also contributes to your peace of mind and professional reputation. It’s an investment in the integrity and success of your endeavours, safeguarding against the potential pitfalls of subpar translation.


[1] For the regulatory references regarding official translations in the Italian legal system, please refer to:

Law of January 4, 1968, No. 15:

– Article 17: This article addresses the legalisation of signatures on documents formed in Italy for use abroad and vice versa. It specifies that for documents written in a foreign language and to be valid in Italy, a translation into Italian must be attached. This translation must be certified as conform to the foreign text by a diplomatic or consular representation, or by an official translator.

– Presidential Decree (DPR) of November 3, 2000, No. 396, Art. 22, paragraph 1:

This article establishes that documents written in a foreign language must be accompanied by a translation into Italian. The translation must be certified as conform to the foreign text by a diplomatic or consular authority or by an official translator or interpreter, who swears to the conformity to the foreign text in front of a civil status officer.

Presidential Decree (DPR) of December 28, 2000, No. 445, Art. 33, paragraph 3:

This article reiterates that documents written in a foreign language and to be valid abroad must include a translation into Italian, certified as conform to the foreign text. The certification can be carried out by the competent diplomatic or consular representation, or by an official translator.

These regulations emphasise the importance and necessity of official certified translations for documents that must have legal validity both in Italy and abroad. Certification by official translators ensures the conformity and accuracy of translations in relation to the original texts.

[2] ITI (Institute of Translation and Interpreting): Website:

[3] CIOL (Chartered Institute of Linguists):Website: