Official Translations for Citizenship: When It's Best to Have Them Done in Italy (And When It's Not)
So you're applying for Italian Dual Citizenship and you need your certificates officially translated. Should you choose a translator based in your country or is it best to have them done in Italy? Let's see the pros and cons of each option.
I recently got a ton of emails going like this:
I am interested in getting legal documents translated from English to Italian. What would be the estimate for about 10 documents to be translated?
1. My great grandfather's naturalization
2. My grandmother's birth certificate
3. My grandmother's death certificate
4. My grandparents marriage certificate
5. My father's birth certificate
6. My parent's marriage certificate
7. My birth certificate
8. My application and declarations that me and my ascendants never renounced Italian citizenship before any Italian authority.
9. My marriage certificate
10. Copy of my passport and driver's license.
To which I usually reply something like this:
Hi, so the total price for translation +certification of all files would be....(stamp duties included). Mailing costs depend on where I need to send the documents:€15 in Italy, from €50 to the USA. Ready in 1 week.
If you apply in Italy I'll need the original documents, so you can mail them to my address.
Let me know when you mail them so I know when to expect them.
If you apply through a consulate in the US, it's best to have them translated there so you avoid international mailing.
To which the client interestingly replied:
I would use the XXX City consulate. I see that the consulate’s web page suggests certain translators. So maybe I should use one of those. Do you think that the problem with international mailing is that they might get lost?
And I said:
If they suggest translators you can use one of them.
The problem with having this specific type of translations done in the US usually arises when you decide to apply in Italy (because the consulate rejects your application for any reason). Then, you'd have to do everything all over again (adding apostilles and their translation, reviewing the existing translations because usually they're too literal and/or inaccurate, and because Italian offices prefer translations certified in Italy).
So, bottom line: Compare the costs. In Italy we also charge stamp duty fees.
I prefer to lay out all the options, even if that means I don't close any deals. ;)
In my experience, translations done in a language not spoken in the country where they are translated are rarely accurate (which doesn't mean my colleagues aren't professionals. But if you live for 20 years in another country, your own language tends to wither and you may come up with very literal translations without even noticing).
Then, as it recently happened to two clients, you may have everything done in the consulate and then your documents lack an apostille or its translation, because in the US it's not required (but in Italy it is). So, what do you do?
You call me, I talk to the town hall clerk and we sort out the best solution to salvage your application ;)
This is another pro of having everything translated in Italy: you have a person to talk to Italian offices/clerks/lawyers if problems arise. I do it for my clients, because these types of translations are a tricky business and requirements vary based on the city you're applying in or there are some problems/circumstances you can get to know only by speaking to the local clerk.
So, what should you do?
If your documents were mine, I'd do exactly the following:
1) Am I applying through a US/Canada consulate? >>> Ask for US/Canada-based translators' quotes.
2) Compare said quotes with Italian translators' quotes.
3) Am I applying through an Italian comune?>>> Ask for Italy-based translators' quotes (at least 3, in different cities, because stamp duty fees are - absurdly - not the same everywhere)
4) Do I want to apply through a US/Canada consulate?>>> If you're aware of potential problems (names misspelled, ancestors' records irretrievable...) consider applying through a comune in Italy.
Any question? I'm here!
I'm Natalia Bertelli, an English/Spanish to Italian legal translator. Since 2008 I have been working on contracts, judicial deeds, certificates, corporate translations for foreign clients who want to do business in Italy, get a dual citizenship or simply settle in my beautiful country.