Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between translation and interpreting?

A translator takes a written document in one language and provides a written document in another language. An interpreter listens to somebody speaking in one language and orally repeats what they’ve said in another language.

Can you do a live or in-person interpreting job?

No, I only do freelance written translations. To find a certified court interpreter, use the CFI Referral Directory.

Do you accept credit card or check?

You can mail a check, use Paypal/credit card (3% surcharge for insured transaction), or pay cash in person. 

Will your translation be formatted like my document?

I recreate only enough formatting for the reader to easily match the translation with the original. Basic formatting such as bold and underline will usually be included, and enough tables/spacing to find the translation in the original.

Can you correct errors in my document?

If there are errors in the original, my translation must include those errors to the extent possible.

What is a legal translation?

My translations provide an accurate representation of all content, including seals and signatures. The meaning is translated in context, not the exact words. If there are errors in the original, my translation must include those errors to the extent possible.

How do I get an apostille for the translation?

I will have my translator certification notarized. You then mail it to the California Secretary of State in Sacramento or take it in person to the SOS office in Sacramento or LA. See details on the SOS website »

Pay special attention to the instructions you are given! You may have to get an apostille for the original document instead of the translation.

What is a notarized translation?

A notary public authenticates the identity of the person signing a document.

If I sign my translator certification in front of a notary, they affix their signature and seal stating that I have proven my identity. The notarization has absolutely nothing to do with the translation or the contents of the certification that I sign.

Some authorities require the translator certification be notarized, for example to file a translated document with the county recorder or in superior court.

While a notarization is sufficient for use within the United States, an apostille is an international authentication that may be necessary for use in other countries.

See the California Secretary of State website for more information about notaries, including a listing of notaries with a current commission.

Note that in Spanish-speaking countries, a notario público is not the same thing is a notary public.

Will the Spanish consulate in San Francisco accept your translations?

Yes. I have done translations for many people applying for visas to Spain, and nobody has ever had any problems with my translations—nor has anyone ever had to pay the consulate any extra fees. See testimonials from those clients.

What’s the difference between a certified translator and a certified translation?

A certified translator is a translator that holds an official license of some kind. For example, for a translation to be filed in California with the county recorder or in court, the translator must be a California Certified Court Interpreter or a translator certified by the American Translators Association. I have both of these certifications, see my qualifications for details.

A certified translation is a translation that has a sworn statement (called a certification, declaration, or affidavit) signed by the translator stating their qualifications and that the document was translated to the best of their ability.

Can you tell me if I need a certification or notarization?

In many cases I can tell you what my clients usually request, but I cannot tell you what you need to do. If I give a suggestion, it is still your responsibility to find out what you need and instruct me accordingly.

In my experience, the county clerk/recorder and superior court require notarization, but USCIS does not. The Spanish consulate requires an apostille for some original documents, but not for the translations, so my certification need not be notarized. School transcripts usually do not require notarization. For other situations, I probably will not know.

Please remember that I am not responsible for what you need, and nothing on my website or in my communications is legal advice.

I don’t have a scanner, how can I send you my document?

Do not send me photos, they are usually blurry and difficult to work with. Use a scanning app for your phone, for example TurboScan works great.

You can also photocopy the document and mail it or drop off at my house:
    Curtis Draves, 1227 Russell St., Berkeley CA 94702

How fast can I get the translation?

Turnaround depends on several factors: how big and complicated the document is, how busy I am, and how much you’re willing to pay.

Usually I can turn short documents like birth certificates around within a day or two at my normal rate. If you need your translation guaranteed within 24 hours, I will usually charge a bit more.

I will do my best to accommodate your needs! Just send me your document and provide the information listed under 1. Inquiry on the quote page. Please include detailed information about your deadline, for example: "I need to mail it next Wednesday, so I’d like to get it back Monday or Tuesday morning."

What do you charge?

In the translation business, we charge by the word. My normal rate is $0.18 per word of translation, minimum 500 words.

Short documents like birth certificates usually come out close to my minimum of 500 words, which is $90 at normal rate. However, I must see your document to give you a quote.

Usually I can give an estimate by counting or guessing the number of words in your original document. Note that the estimate is just an approximation, and the final cost may be different.

Spanish is more wordy than English. So if your document is in English, the Spanish translation will have about 15-20% more words. If your original is Spanish, the English translation will have about 15-20% less.

Does notarization cost extra?

I provide a signed translator certification at no additional cost, but to notarize that signature I charge $20 + 15 per signature. That's $35 for 1 notarization, $50 for 2, etc.

Notaries in California charge a fixed $15 fee per signature, and I add a $20 fee for myself because I have to physically go to the notary.

Can you ship next day?

I will mail originals via USPS at no additional cost, but for any special delivery like UPS or Fedex, you pay the shipping fee plus $20 for me to physically go to the shipping store.