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If you are preparing an application for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), you might be wondering what language your documents have to be in.

IRCC requires that all supporting documents for all immigration applications are submitted in either English or French, as these are Canada’s two official languages. This is true whether you’re submitting an application for permanent residence through Express Entry, an application for a work permit through International Experience Canada (IEC), or any other type of immigration application.

In certain circumstances, IRCC may allow you to include documents in a language other than English or French without a translation, but in this case IRCC will clearly indicate it in your application. If nothing is indicated in your application, you must provide translations for any documents that are not in English or French.

On this page, we’ll review all the details you need to know about translations of documents required for your Canadian immigration application. Read the full page for a comprehensive understanding, or skip ahead if you have a specific question.

What documents do I need to include with the translation?

IRCC is very strict about which documents you need to include with your immigration application. If you fail to include a document or if you include the wrong type of document, there is a strong possibility that your application will be rejected as incomplete. For this reason, it is crucial to understand your document requirements.

As far as translations are concerned, you must include translations for any supporting documents you submit that are not in either English or French, unless IRCC indicates otherwise.

To be considered complete, any documents that require translations must include the following:

  1. the English or French translation from a certified translator; and
  2. an affidavit from the person who completed the translations; and
  3. a certified photocopy of the original document.

All three of these requirements must be met in order for your application to be considered complete. But, what exactly is each of these documents? Let’s break it down.

What is a certified translation / certified translator for Canadian immigration applications?

An English or French translation from a certified translator refers to the official translation of your document into either English or French. The translation must have been performed by a certified translator. The certification process for translators varies from country to country. If you are applying from inside Canada, you must make sure that your translator is in good standing with their provincial or territorial organization. If you are applying from outside Canada, you should ask your translator if they are eligible to provide certified translations. A certified translator should have undergone some kind of formal training in translation.

Who is a certified translator for Canadian immigration?

Generally speaking, this process can more simply be done by a certified translator. A certified translator will be a member of and hold good standing with a professional translation association either in Canada or abroad. If they are based in Canada, they will belong to a provincial or territorial organization. These members will have either a stamp or seal that is placed on their translations to indicate this professional designation as a certified translator. It is important to remember that translations cannot be completed by an applicant’s family member or representative even if they are a certified translator as this would be considered self-serving by IRCC and will not be accepted.

What is an affidavit for translations for Canadian immigration applications?

An affidavit from the person who completed the translations refers to a document signed by the translator in the presence of an authorized person attesting to the truth of the translations. Different countries have different rules regarding who has the authority to issue an affidavit. Examples of such individuals include notaries public, commissioners of oaths, and commissioners of taking affidavits.

Certified translators should be aware of the rules that govern affidavits and should have the ability to swear affidavits quickly and easily. Often, translators will have a stamp with their certification that will allow them to easily communicate their credentials to the immigration authorities. Note that the affidavit may actually be included in the same document as the translation.

What is a certified photocopy for translations for Canadian immigration?

A certified photocopy of the original document refers to a photocopy of the original document (the document that was translated) which has been certified by an authorized person. The photocopy must be readable. The person compares the documents and marks on the photocopy:

  • their name and signature;
  • their position or title;
  • the name of the original document;
  • the date they certified the document; and
  • the phrase “I certify that this is a true copy of the original document.”

The same individuals who are authorized to proceed over an affidavit are also authorized to certify photocopies.

Again, certified translators should be aware of how to provide certified photocopies quickly and easily, often using a stamp to do so.

If you require translations as a part of your application, be sure that you meet all requirements. Start your application early to ensure that you have the time you need to find a certified translator.

How do you get documents ‘certified translated’ for Canadian immigration?

Like most things these days, you can often find the translation provider you require by referring to any major search engine online such as Google. Some translators or language service providers will only require electronic scans of the documentation that you need translated while others may request that you provide them with the original document. Be sure that you confirm with your translator that they are either certified translators or can issue certified translations. The cost and time it will take to receive your translations will depend on the provider that you choose so it is wise to do some research before committing to one provider over another. If you are working with an authorized representative for your immigration application, it is always a good idea to ask if they have any certified translators that they can recommend.

My family member speaks English or French. Can they translate the document for me?

No. Translations by family members are not accepted by IRCC. Even if your family member has a PhD in English Literature, you still have to find a certified translator to complete your translations.

It’s just one page, do I really have to provide a translation?

Yes. IRCC requires translations for all supporting documents unless otherwise indicated. Of course, we cannot guarantee that your application will be rejected if you fail to include one page. It is possible that the immigration officer assigned to your file may let it slide, but with immigration applications, you’re always better safe than sorry.

Are you completing and application and you want to make sure you get it right the first time? Book a consultation with one of our recommended Canadian immigration consultants and get your questions answered by an expert. Book a consultation today!

About the author

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Rebecca Major

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Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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