For quite a long time now, Australia has had in place a different structure for verifying translated documents. When we mention documents, we are not talking about personal documents, marketing documents or even documents that are used between businesses. These don’t generally go through any sort of verification process. It is documents that are required for visa applications, citizenship and permanent residency applications, college and university placements and applications for many jobs that need to be verified if they have been translated into English.

Translation Verification Process

Generally, any documents in the categories just mentioned must be either in English already (e.g. if they were issued in somewhere like the U.K., Canada, the U.S., or New Zealand) or translated into English by an approved translator. Any translated documents must be officially verified as it is asking too much for government agencies, educational authorities and employers to know whether the piece of paper they are looking at is a genuine thing.

In Australia, all official documents must be translated by a translator who is accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI). This is probably the most important part of the translation verification process. A NAATI accredited translator must also sign the translated version of the document he or she has translated to confirm its authenticity i.e. that it is a genuine accurate translation of the original document.

The system is basically more rigorous than some other countries have, e.g. the United States, where the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), for instance, only asks the translator to sign a translation to confirm its authenticity. There is no equivalent of NAATI, or at least there is no requirement for a translator of an official document to belong to the American near equivalent.

So, what exactly is NAATI? The organisation is technically a private, not for profit company, but in reality, it is jointly owned by the federal (Commonwealth) government and the state and territory governments. The board of directors of NAATI is effectively the 10 ministers of the various governments who are responsible for immigration, citizenship or multicultural affairs within their own governments (the actual designation of each minister varies a little from state to state). That means that any policy dictated by NAATI as it applies to accredited translators in Australia and any updates or changes in the translation verification process is controlled by the governments of Australia.

Translators and interpreters can obtain accreditation and recognition by NAATI in a number of ways, including passing exams and demonstrating professional experience. There are several tiers of accreditation and generally, NAATI accredited translators must renew their accreditation every three years. The assumption is that if a professional translator has NAATI accreditation they are trusted to translate official documents accurately.