Australia’s Trade Agency Updates Requirements for Translators

Australia Translator Certification 2024

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has updated its requirements for translations. The latest measurement adopted by this government agency changes the way translators accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) in the country have been attesting to the validity of translations for this sector.

In Australia, some documents used by the DFAT must be declared as valid — certified as legal instruments — in order to be accepted for use by overseas governments or organizations, according to the agency’s announcement.

To carry an official certificate, a translation can be accompanied by an apostille (an internationally accepted document issued by a government authority to attest to the validity of a signature or official seal) or be validated through a series of authentications of signatures and/or seals.

NAATI, the non-profit organization representing the interests of Australia’s regional and national government agencies like DFAT, maintains a quality assurance, standards, and credentialing system for translation and interpreting professionals.

NAATI offers different types of credentialing under two main schemes: certification, for which practitioners pass a test, and “recognized practicing,” used when there are no tests available and competency is otherwise assessed.

Previously, NAATI-credentialed translators used to accompany their work for the DFAT with a statement that the document delivered was a true and accurate translation of the original, much like it is still done in other countries.

That statement is being phased out in favor of a NAATI certification. Under the new scheme, the DFAT will only accept translations completed by certified translators who hold NAATI certification under the current credentialing system. Translations attested by “accredited” translators (i.e., those who were issued accreditation prior to 2018 under the NAATI credentialing system) will no longer be accepted

Certification as an Official Certificate

Under the new mandate, the stamp or signature of a NAATI credentialed translator can be considered an “official certificate,” carrying with it the legal weight and validity typically assigned to an apostille.

“In light of NAATI’s function as the national standards and certification body for translators and interpreters in Australia, a stamp/signature of a NAATI credentialed translator can be treated as an ‘official certificate’ for the purposes of issuing an apostille only where it is accompanied by additional information, designed to protect the integrity of both NAATI, the translator and DFAT,” reads the updated requirements notice.

To comply with the new standard, every page of a translation submitted to the DFAT must include the translator’s NAATI stamp (either physical or digital), as well as essential data like the translator’s name and practitioner ID; language and type of certification; the date of the translation (a physical stamp) or the date of creation of the digital stamp; a signature (a physical stamp) or a digital stamp that reads “Digitally Authenticated by NAATI”.

Translators will also need to preserve official Australian government seals and stamps in their original format, followed by any definitions or explanations in brackets in the target language as needed. A web address below the QR code must be clearly legible (this applies to digital stamps only).

Furthermore, the translator will need to sign or stamp the original document (or a copy of it) and include it with the translated document upon delivery.

The organization has been making major updates to standards of practice for interpreters and translators, as well as those who work with them, since 2017. Prior to this latest requirement for translations, the organization helped create an updated version of the guidelines for working with judicial interpreters for federal courts in March 2023.