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Updated: Jun 3, 2023

A common question we get asked is "What is a Certified Translation". The purpose of this post is to clarify the different types of certifications for translations and in which case each one is necessary. Feel free to contact us if you need any further clarification. Our contact details are at the end of the post.

What is a certified translation?

In Malaysia a certified translation is a document that has been translated by a certified translator from the Institut Penterjemahan dan Buku Malaysia (ITBM - or the Malaysian Translator’s Association (PPM/MTA - For translations of documents from English to Bahasa Malaysia of vice versa, you may also use the services of a court translator.

An independent translator is not authorized to issue a certified translation. Since the translation requires a seal from the ITBM, MTA or Court appointed translator to be made official.

What is the difference between a notarized translation and a certified translation?

A Notarized Translation is translation that has been carried out by a translator and notarized by a Notary Public. The translator is required to sign a simple declaration (affidavit) to the effect that the translation is a true representation of the original document.

A Certified Translation however must be carried out by a professional certified translator. Certification involves translating the document and rubber stamping or embossing each page of the document with an official seal (In Malaysia, the seal will be from the ITBM or the MTA). A certified translation comes with a guarantee of quality because the official governing body of the relevant country has certified the translator.

Therefore any translator can provide an individual or an institution with a notarized translation, however there is not necessarily an assurance on the quality, as the translator does not necessarily need to be certified.

"“Writers make national literature, while translators make universal literature.”" – José Saramago, author

Why do I need a certified translation?

Certified translations are required for a large number of reasons. Below are just some examples.

Almost all legal paperwork will require certified translation. For example court transcripts or evidence in another language will need to be translated and certified before being submitted. Also documents like services agreements and birth or marriage certificates.

All documents that are not in English or Bahasa Malaysia that need to be submitted to a government body will have to be translated.

Documents that are needed for immigration purposes are almost always required to be translated. For example if you are applying for residency in a foreign country, it is highly likely that the embassy of that country will require

all your documentation to be translated into the country’s official language. All these documents will have to be certified as well.

Very often, applications to universities and colleges abroad require certified translation of diplomas and transcripts.

How do I obtain a certified translation?

This will depend on the language that you wish to translate and the objective of the translation.

If you are translating a document from a foreign language to English/Bahasa Malaysia for submission to a Malaysian government or legal body, you will need a certified translation from the ITBM or the MTA.

If you are translating a document from English/Bahasa Malaysia to a foreign language for submission to an Embassy or to the governing body of a foreign country, it would be best to check the requirements of the said country with the relevant Embassy. Some Embassies such as the French Embassy in Malaysia have their own panel of certified translators. However most embassies recognize translations certified by the ITBM or MTA.

For more information on obtaining certified translations in Malaysia, please contact us at or call us at +60193155072

Determining the correct certification is important in order to avoid any unnecessary costs and use of time. If you are still unsure about the type of certification you need for your documents, do not hesitate to Email Us or Call Us at +60193155072 today.

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