Governmental Translation and What’s Important to Know

American Language Services has been helping local, state, and federal agencies translate a myriad of documents for almost 4 decades. In that time, we have developed a keen understanding of how and what governmental agencies need to communicate with their constituents. Our dedication to this sector has earned us a reputation as a can-do agency. Because of our diverse staff and designation as a small business enterprise (SBE), hiring us also makes it easier to fulfill minority requirements.

In this whitepaper, we will go over some basic information about linguistic services for governmental agencies and outline the characteristics of a good translator.

An Overview of Governmental Translation

Would you believe that the number of limited-English proficient people in North America has grown by more than eighty percent in the past few decades alone. Though this might shock you, it is just one example of how little borders and countries of origin mean in our digitized world. As globalization increases, the demand for linguistic diversity at the governmental level will continue to grow.

Many Governmental agencies mandate that governmental forms and a variety of documents be accessible to all an agency’s constituents. This is often dictated by reaching a certain minimum percentage of foreign speakers in the agency’s jurisdiction. This equates to tens of millions of words translated on a yearly basis.

The need for governmental translation goes far beyond bureaucratic red tape. The success of military, legal, diplomatic, educational, and business-directed initiatives often hinge on the availability of information in various languages. Can you imagine if you are a foreign writer/speaker and do not understand special medical instructions because you do not read English? It is a potential nightmare and could be life threatening.

Translation companies work with the Government to translate many types of documents including the following documents:

  • Immigration paperwork
  • Safety sheets
  • Executive orders
  • Tax forms
  • Ballots
  • Governmental inspection paperwork
  • Compliance
  • Medical Information
  • Safety Sheets
  • Birth/Death certificates
  • Diplomas
  • Press releases
  • Diplomatic announcements
  • Trade agreements

The Costs of Getting Governmental Translation Wrong

Errors in civic paperwork can have dire consequences. Choosing a subpar governmental translator can mean:

  • Eroded foreign relations
  • Miscommunication of important public information
  • Less effective emergency and public safety initiatives
  • Damaging the reputation of your business, community, country, agency, or department
  • Less involvement of foreign speakers in politics and civic endeavors
  • Losing revenues and increasing globalization costs
  • Paying fines, lose funding, or facing increased public scrutiny.

What to Look for in a Governmental Translator

We are willing to bet that you don’t want to get stuck dealing with lost revenues, hefty fines, or a lack of civic engagement. So, it’s important that you hire the right translation company. But what makes someone qualified to offer governmental translation?

  • An Understanding of Local Law: No two countries are the same. What’s allowed in one nation can be against the law in another. This can affect the terminology and format of governmental documents. To ensure you get it right, you’ll want to opt for an agency with ample experience in your target market. To ascertain their knowledge of the law, ask them to detail their expertise for you.
  • Governmental Acceptance: There’s a lot of red tape in government and there’s even more of it if you’re trying to build a relationship from the ground up. That’s why you should always opt for a language service provider who has country-specific certifications or ample experience working with governmental agencies in your target market. AML-Global, for instance, is one of the few providers on the Federal GSA Schedule. To determine their qualifications, ask if about their relevant certifications.
  • Accuracy: Even a few mistakes can have a negative impact when it comes to governmental translation. To ensure you’re working with a professional agency, inquire about their editing process. Who will be double checking your work? Will any of it be outsourced to another provider? How many rounds of revision do they allow? What’s their average accuracy rate? If they can’t provide solid answers to these questions, move on to the next contender.
  • Security and Confidentiality: You don’t want just anybody having access to your documents. This is doubly true when secure data or confidential information is involved. To make sure your data is safe, ask your potential LSP about the steps they take to ensure everything’s secure. Do they require passwords for entry? Use high-level encryption methods? Host things on a secure server? The importance of this characteristic varies greatly depending on the types of documents involved.
  • Availability: While the government sometimes seems to move at the speed of molasses, some instances necessitate a quick response. To ensure you can get things done accurately when you need them, you will want to hire a company with 24/7 availability and fast turnaround times. It is important to clarify rush needs, typical completion times you need, and other stylistic points desired with a potential translation vendor before signing up for these critical services.

About American Language Services

Since 1985, our company has worked diligently to become a go-to provider of governmental translations. Now, we are one of the largest, most successful language service providers, not just in the U.S., but worldwide. Our language experts provide a full range of language services in over 150 languages. We also possess a GSA schedule contract with the federal government. Because of the importance of a quick response, we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

AML-Global possesses some of the most impressive governmental translators in the world. These highly skilled language professionals are recruited, screened, and tested to ensure high-quality work. Our stringent hiring requirements ensure that you’ll get the civic expertise you need for your translation project.

By paying meticulous attention to detail, AML-Global has earned an outstanding reputation for providing cost-effective, high-quality translation services to people at all levels of government.

Contact us by email at or call 1-800-951-5020 for a free estimate on your governmental translation.


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