What is your turnaround?

Turnarounds are based on the complexity and length of the document, as well as the availability the translator. For in-house translations, turnarounds are estimated according to the translator's workload.

Do you accept printed copies of documents?

No. For security reasons, the Translations Office no longer takes printed originals or photocopies of any document. Legible and clear electronic copies of the documents to be translated should be submitted to the Translations Office via e-mail, or Outlook encryption/SEFT (for documents containing personally identifiable information). Once the Translations Request Form has been completed, you will be contacted with instructions on how to submit your document(s).

How are translation requests prioritized?

The Translations Office receives a high volume of requests throughout the year in a variety of language combinations. The two staff translators try to keep up with demand, but frequently requests for translations need to be contracted out at a cost to the requestor if a quick turnaround is required. Moreover, a contracted translation is less likely to be subject to delays since agencies typically employ multiple translators.

In-house translations may be subject to delays, so they are prioritized as follows:

  1. Medical record translations (test results, pathology reports, SOAP reports, referral letters, notifications to patients, etc.) and translations of personal documents (passports, driver’s licenses, diplomas, etc.)
  2. Translations of protocol consent updates (small modifications/additions/deletions to an already-translated document)
  3. Patient document translations related to research studies (questionnaires, scripts, instructions, directions, etc.)
  4. Protocol consent translations (new documents that have not been translated before)
  5. Translations of short documents for patient education (fact sheets, summaries, web page information, etc.)
  6. Translations of scientific articles and book chapters

What is your policy for the translation of patient records?

Referring physicians of international patients should provide an English translation of their records. In cases where translation is not feasible, a clearly typed summary in the foreign language (typically, 3-5 pages) containing pertinent information about the case should be submitted. Any other records should have relevant, non-redundant, circumscribed, and clearly typed and displayed content.

Can you translate my personal documents?

No. The Translations Office only provides translations to support employment and/or research at the NIH. Some examples of personal translation requests that cannot be completed by our office are:

  • vital records for extended family members;
  • academic records for a spouse who is not an NIH employee or contractor;
  • property deeds or financial documents related to domestic or foreign personal business transactions;
  • documents to be submitted to a foreign consulate or government agency for personal purposes;
  • documents connected to an employment search outside the NIH;
  • foreign driver’s licenses for family members.

Can I make only one online request for multiple documents?

Yes, as long as the documents need to be translated into the same language and they  are of the same type (for example, protocol consents, articles, vital records, etc.) If the request involves several languages or different types of documents, new online request form(s) would need to be completed.

Do you translate all types of documents?

Due to time constraints and limited resources, it is usually not possible for the in-house translators to accept the following requests, although contracting them out through the Translations Office is possible:

  • translation of entire web sites;
  • translation projects that involve constant updating;
  • translation projects that, due to their length and complexity, involve a dedicated service for a particular client;
  • translation projects for agencies or entities beyond the mission purview.

To find a contractor for a large project, please refer to NIH Language Access Services: Translation and Interpretation (LASTI):

Do you translate foreign driver´s licenses?

Yes. We translate foreign driver´s licenses; however, our translations are not accepted by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Please refer to the following web page for detailed information about approved translators by the Maryland MVA:

Do you do audio transcriptions?

We do not offer audio transcriptions in house, but this service can be contracted out through the Translations Office and the cost passed to the client´s IC.

How much does a translation cost?

Translations are generally priced by word count and the cost may range between $0.14 and $0.34 per word, depending on the language combination (languages of lower diffusion tend to be more costly), the topic and complexity of the document, and the desired turnaround. In the cases of documents of one page or less, a minimum fee is applied, which may vary depending on the language combination. Extra charges may include formatting, shipping, rush fees, notarizations, etc.

Can I pay for a document directly without using my IC’s Common Account Number (CAN)?

No. We are unable to receive direct payments for contracted translations. In order to contract out a translation, a CAN and the name of the approving official are required. To find a translator for a personal request, please refer to the directory of the American Translator’s Association:

Will I be charged for requesting a translation quote?

Quotes are free of charge. Clients are not charged until they have provided their written authorization agreeing with the proposed cost and turnaround.

What is the difference between translation and interpreting?

Translation refers to written materials and interpreting refers to spoken language. We only offer translation services.

What is a certification of accuracy?

A certification of accuracy verifies that the translations is true, accurate, complete, and correct and that it was performed to the best of the translator´s ability. It contains the contact information and signature of the translator.

Can in-house translators certify an existing translation?

If the document is translated from or into any of the language combinations covered in house, the staff translators can perform a side-by-side comparison of the original document and its translation to be able to certify that it was competently reviewed. If the document is translated from or into any other language combination not covered in house, a revision would need to be contracted out to issue the certification.

What is a notarization?

It is the confirmation that the signature of the translator in the certification is authentic (this is only required for official documents by certain agencies and institutions).

Do you offer notarization services?

We offer notarization services only for our translations. If a notarization is required for other purposes, please refer to the list of Notary Publics available at the NIH:


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Last modified date: Wed, 08/12/2020 - 6:58pm