Translation of documents for immigration applications must be done in accordance to the instructions published by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). These instructions apply to IRCC online and paper applications submitted:
- through consular missions and visa application centres (VACs) abroad by people living outside Canada, and
- by people living in Canada, the United States or abroad and applying directly to IRCC
About the translations
In all situations, supporting documents that are in a language other than English or French must be accompanied by an official translation of the original document, or of a certified copy of the original document in English or French. That translation must be
- of the original document, or
- of the certified copy of the original document, and
- certified by a certified translator, or in the event that the translation cannot be provided by a certified translator, it must be accompanied by an affidavit, and
- included with the application
Documents that are already in English or French do not have to be translated, even if the application is in the other official language. For example, an application completed in French may be accompanied by an English document. A translation of the English document is not required.
Important: Supporting documents in a language other than English or French can either be the originals or certified photocopies of the originals. When a certified copy of the original document is submitted, the accompanying translation must be of the certified copy and the translator must stamp both the certified copy and the translation.
Determining if a translator is certified
Documents that are not in English or French must be translated by a certified translator. A certified translator is a member in good standing whose certification can be confirmed by a seal or stamp that shows the translator’s membership number of a professional translation association in Canada or abroad. All stamps and seals that are not in English or French must also be translated. A translator who has not yet received certification or accreditation, but is in the process of receiving it, is not considered a certified translator for IRCC’s purposes.
If the translation is being done in Canada
Applicants should use the services of a certified translator who is in good standing with their provincial or territorial organization and certified to translate documents.
If the translation is being done outside of Canada
Applicants should use the services of a translator who is accredited (officially recognized or authorized) in the country where the translation is being completed.
For all applicants (in or outside of Canada): translations must not be done by
- the applicants themselves
- members of the applicant’s family
- the applicant’s representatives or consultants
Any family member of the applicant who may be a lawyer, notary or translator is also not permitted to translate documents. This includes a parent, guardian, sibling, spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, grandparent, child, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew and first cousin.
Should the accuracy of the translation appear suspect, IRCC reserves the right to request a retranslation by a different translator.
Documents translated by a non-certified translator
In situations where the translation cannot be provided by a certified translator, it must be accompanied by an affidavit swearing to the accuracy of the translation and the language proficiency of the translator.
An affidavit for a translation is a document that states that the translation is an accurate version of the original text. The translator swears that their translation is an accurate representation of the contents of the original document.
The translator does this in front of a commissioner authorized to administer oaths in the country where they live. The commissioner or notary public must be proficient in English or French in order to administer the oath. All stamps and seals that are not in English or French must also be translated.
Who can take an affidavit
- a notary public
- a commissioner of oaths
- a commissioner of taking affidavits
- a notary public, or equivalent
For all applicants (in or outside of Canada), affidavits must not be done by the applicants themselves, nor by members of the applicant’s family. Any member of the applicant’s family who may be a lawyer, notary or authorized translator is also not permitted to prepare affidavits. This includes a parent, guardian, sibling, spouse, common-law partner, conjugal partner, grandparent, child, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew and first cousin.
Submitted applications without translations
Applicants who submit required and/or requested documents without accompanying translations will have their application returned as incomplete. They will also be asked to
- have the original document(s) translated into English or French by a certified translator (or the equivalent in other countries), and
- re-submit the application with the original document(s), or a certified copy or copies of the original document(s), and the certified translation(s) attached
This will involve additional time and expense on the applicant’s part and can be avoided by always ensuring that any document that is not in English or French is translated by a certified (or equivalent) translator.
Right to ask for a translation
Should the accuracy of the translation appear suspect, officers retain the right to request a retranslation by a different certified translator at any time.
Expiry of translated documents
A translation cannot change over time and should be valid indefinitely unless the original document has changed or has expired. If the signature of a certified translator or notary has expired, it does not invalidate the translation. As long as the translator’s certification was valid at the time of signature, the translation remains valid.
The only time the translation would expire and a new translation would be required is if the original document has expired or has changed and the applicant submits a new document.