When I worked for the Translating and Interpreting Section (TIS) in Australian, we used to receive numerous requests for translating certificates (from various languages into English), such as birth, death, marriage, baptismal, and divorce certificates as well as driver’s licences on daily basis. These certificates were required by different authorities in Australia and for different purposes. So for example, translation of overseas driver’s licences were required by the Roads and Traffic Authority, for obtaining a valid driver’s licence in Australia; birth certificates were for school enrolments e.g.; others such as birth, identity, marriage, divorce certificates were for immigration applications processing and so on.
By liaising with the different requesting authorities we found that they required only certain information from those certificates, and nothing else. We also found that some certificates issued by some parts of the world contained far more details than what were usually required by the majority of these requesting authorities.
TIS, therefore, came up with what we called ‘Translation Proformas’. In general, these ‘Proformas’ contained only the details which were relevant for the use of a particular requesting authority. Each one of these Proformas was designed in box formatting and table cells. Each Proforma contained 3 sections: Administrative (internal) section, a section pertaining to the issuing authority of the country of origin, and a section containing details about the bearer of the certificate in question.
Let’s take for example the ‘Proforma’ designed for Birth Certificates:
- The administrative section contains 3 cells with the headings: Translated from, Registration number and Year (of translation). This section would make it easy to retrieve the original certificate internally from our data base in the section.
- The second section refers to the issuing authority in the country where the certificate originated with cells headed by: Number of Issue, Issuing Authority, Country of Issue, Place of Issue, and Date of Issue.
- And the third section contained information about the bearer. It contained cells headed by: Bearer’s Name, Father’s Name, Mother’s Name, Place of Birth, Date of Birth and Sex.
In each Proforma there was an additional box which carried the heading of: Additional Essential Information. This was designed to cater for any additional information the translator may deem important and may not be covered by the sections mentioned above. For example: the date of registering the birth if that was different from the date of issue. It may also include the vaccination details of the new-born child. Moreover, it may include translator’s notes about the transliterations of names for languages such as Arabic, Urdu or Farsi where Latin script is not used.
Each translator would have a ‘Proforma Shell’ of each certificate. These shells contain blank cells. You could move from one cell to another by a simple push of the tab key, and then you could fill the appropriate cell with the relevant details shown on the original/source certificate.
These ‘Proformas’ proved very successful. They were easy to use, contained concise details that can be viewed at a glance; they also looked neat and tidy. Best of all you could finish translating about 20 certificates in about half an hour or less; no exaggeration!
I have participated in the development of these ‘Proformas’ to suite PC vs. Mac users, and I have continued using these ‘Proformas’ after leaving TIS. I have made some minor adjustments to suite my personal needs which make them unique for my purposes.
I use these ‘Proformas’ all the time and will not be without them. I have tailored each and every ‘Proforma’ shell to suite every country of origin for every type of certificate. So, for example, I have ‘Proforma’ for Egyptian driver’s licences; Lebanese Marriage Certificates; Syrian Identity Documents and so on. The combinations are endless. Each would cater for the unique nature of each particular original certificate and would satisfy the requirements of the local Australian authorities and private clients.
As I mentioned at the onset of this article, this method is suitable for all languages, and can be adapted for all types of the above-mentioned certificates. The design of the ‘Proformas’ is flexible and may easily be varied to suite the needs of the translator and the client.
It is only through illustration that you will start to understand the adaptability and easiness of use of the ‘Translation Proformas’.
I may add here that this method of translating certificates is sufficient only for the general use and processing of the administrative machine. However, should the client specifically ask for a ‘Full Translation’ (for court purposes e.g.), I don’t use these ‘Proformas’. Naturally, and as the requirement suggests the translation should reflect every word, every line and every duty stamp appearing on the original certificate.
The translation of ‘Educational Certificates’ is a different matter.
I usually stick to the original format of the source document; adhering to the headings, tables of subjects studied, marks obtained and so on. There is one point which I consistently pay attention to however, and that is to transliterate the title of the degree, diploma, or certificate obtained and shown on the source document (and put this transliteration between square brackets). I would put the translation of this title of degree, diploma or certificate after this (between round brackets). This method would enable the local authorities to refer to the documented titles and degrees etc which are usually made available in the agreements between the two countries involved; the country of origin and the country involved in the process of the equalisation of the bearer’s qualification.
English Arabic translator