Certified Translation Services

Certified Translation Services Japan: Is it a hanko or signature?

Does the Statement of Certification need to be signed or affixed with a hanko?

First, let’s do a little housekeeping and clarify some technical terms here.

The Statement of Certification is a certificate issued by the translating entity -be it a company or a freelancer- attesting to the accuracy of a translation. The Statement of Certification makes a translation certified, and official (governmental) organizations will NOT accept Japanese English translation of legal documents without this certificate. A hanko is a generic Japanese term meaning stamp or seal.

With terminology out of the way, let’s get back to the original question: Is it a signature or hanko?

Rather than a this or that thing, it’s more of a question of prevailing customs and norms in the country where your certified Japanese translation is being submitted. That is, in western countries a signature is used to authenticate documents, even documents signed by a legal entity’s representative authority. In Asia, though, the preferred method of authenticating official and legal documents is with a stamp or seal. (In Japan there are a number different hanko used for different purposes; however you should ensure the translating entity’s official hanko registered with the Japanese Ministry of Justice is affixed to the Statement of Certification.)

Therefore, either a signature of the Japanese translation company’s authorized representative or a company stamp (seal) on the Statement of Certification is acceptable.

 However, what should a person do if they’re not sure which is appropriate for their particular situation? Follow this Golden Rule:

Always contact the organization where you will submit your application, because they are, after all, the folks that will be evaluating your documents.

(Translation companies will probably want to give you advice, which is, in most cases, in good faith; but, it is important to keep in mind that Japanese translators are at the end of the day translators and NOT the evaluators of your application.)

Got more certified translation questions? Contact Certified Translation Services Japan in Tokyo

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