Things to know about translations of school certificates from/into German

Things to know about translations of school certificates from/into German

Studying abroad, emigration, working in another country - to organize everything successfully in these cases, you need a translation of your school certificates and academic certificates. German and foreign authorities, offices as well as universities and colleges require a certain form: the certified translation. With this type of translation, a number of things need to be taken into account.

Certified translations – When do you need them and what should you bear in mind?

Foreign certificates and documents usually have to be translated with certification if they are to be recognized by or have to be presented to a German authority or public institution. The same applies to German documents that are required abroad.

There are strict regulations on how to prepare certified translations in Germany. They must meet certain requirements to be officially recognized. For example, not just anyone can certify a translation. Only publicly appointed and sworn translators are allowed to do so. In order to be sworn in as a translator, you must meet certain criteria (such as proof of successful completion of specialized academic training as a translator or completion of a relevant course of study) and also swear an oath before the competent regional or higher regional court. This oath obligates the translator to maintain confidentiality and to guarantee the completeness and accuracy of the translation. However, the translator of legal documents must not only ensure this, but also pay attention to formatting and layout. The translation must correspond as closely as possible to the original document in form and content. Thus, stamps, signatures, seals, and other notations by officials and authorities on the source document must be rendered in the certified translation in an appropriate way. Elaborately formatted certificates and documents with poorly legible handwritten annotations often pose a particular challenge in this regard. Accordingly, preparing a certified translation is often more time-consuming than it initially appears. At the end of each such translation, there is the authentication remark, the stamp and the signature of the translator.

For more information about certified translations, you are welcome to watch our short informative video. Here we have briefly summarized the main features for you.

Translation of school leaving certificates and more in Germany

High school certificates, A levels, General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs) or intermediate school certificates usually have to be translated with certification if the level of completed school education has to be proven abroad. This can be the case, for example, if you want to start a vocational training or a course of study in another country.

Universities and colleges in particular often have strict regulations regarding the admission of foreign students. Here, a certified translation of the high school diploma or A levels is essential as proof of completed school education. The same applies if you would like to start a vocational training or school education abroad.

The exact translation or transfer of a German or foreign school leaving certificate is often a great challenge, as the school systems are sometimes very different from country to country. Therefore, if the Abiturzeugnis (Higher Education Entrance Qualification) is to be translated from German into English with certification, it must first be clarified for which country the translation is needed. For example, the educational system in the USA is very different from the South African, British or Australian systems. Different terms and designations are used for degrees and subjects. In addition, there are different, sometimes confusing grading scales, the mistranslation of which can, in the worst case, lead to an unjustified non-recognition of a certificate. It is essential that the translator takes this into account in the certified translation of the respective certificate.

Diplomas, Bachelor's degrees and Master's degrees translated with certification

If you have already completed a course of study or training abroad, you will usually need a certified translation of your diploma, Bachelor's or Master's degree for recognition in Germany. This also applies to courses of study or training completed in Germany that are to be recognized or continued abroad.

In certain cases, the translation of a Bachelor's or Master's degree can be accompanied by a certified translation of the Bachelor's or Master's thesis. This is often the case, for example, when a student wishes to pursue graduate or postgraduate studies and needs to convince the relevant university of his or her academic abilities. Special care and caution is required when choosing a translator.

Since these papers are usually very technical and subject-specific and also contain highly specialized terminology and phrases, it is recommended to hire a translator or a translation agency with appropriate focus and experience in the respective field. Otherwise, there may be inaccuracies, misleading information or even misinterpretations in the translation, which can have a negative impact on your application. Ideally, you should entrust the translation of your Bachelor's degree, diploma or Master's degree to a specialist translator or specialist translation agency right from the start.

Grade overviews and transcripts – What do I need to bear in mind with a certified translation from/into German?

Academic transcripts and grade overviews often have to be submitted in addition to BA and MA degrees. If foreign transcripts are needed, or transcripts from German universities are required abroad, then these must also be translated with certification - just like the Bachelor's or Master's degree certificate.

Of course, there are certain challenges that the translator must navigate here as well. Transcripts in particular are often intricately formatted and one page often contains a lot of information, none of which must be overlooked or omitted. Thus, the certified translation of transcripts often involves a great deal of formatting work that should not be underestimated.

In addition, the translator must ensure that the grades are accurately and correctly transcribed. Since every country has its own school and educational system, different grading scales may be used. For example, in Russia a grading scale from 1 or 2 to 5 is used; 5 being the best grade. Such peculiarities must be pointed out in the certified translation in any case, unless the original document contains an overview of the grading system with corresponding explanations. Usually, such reference is inserted in the form of a footnote at the end of the certified translation of the transcript.

Since transcripts mainly consist of a list of all subjects taken and the corresponding grades and thus represent an overview of the material taught and the learning content, they must be translated with particular care. The titles of the subjects in degree programs are often very specialized and subject-specific. Therefore, only an experienced specialist translator or a translation agency specializing in the relevant subject area should be commissioned with the certified translation.

Finding the right translator for your school certificate in Germany

Certificates, transcripts and other academic and school documents should always be translated by court-appointed translators. The focus and experience of the respective translator of public documents is especially important. However, the necessary research can take a lot of time and effort. Therefore, it is often advisable to hire a specialist translation agency. At AP Fachübersetzungen in Nuremberg (Germany), we have been well established in the translation industry for over 10 years. With our expertise in the fields of medicine, pharmacy, law and technology, as well as our strict quality guidelines, we have been able to provide professional support to numerous corporations, companies, courts, law firms, specialist clinics as well as private individuals. We are particularly proud of the excellent ratings our clients have given us on numerous portals and would like to thank them for the trust they have placed in us.

The Nuremberg translation and interpreting agency AP Fachübersetzungen has the right translator for your certificate in any case. Contact us and we will be happy to help you!