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Every country has slightly different rules about the translation of important documents. There are many such documents that may need to be translated for official purposes such as visa applications, as well as employment applications, educational qualifications for prospective colleges and other further educational institutions. If you have been asked to translate your documents for official purposes in New Zealand, then the rules are fairly relaxed compared to some other countries such as neighbouring Australia.
Translation for New Zealand
There are obviously different arrangements for translating documents from your own native language into English for New Zealand official purposes and translating documents while you are in New Zealand that are meant to be sent to organisations in other countries.
Types of official documents for New Zealand government departments and other important organisations
The two official languages in New Zealand are English and Maori, but as Maori is only spoken in New Zealand and the Cook Islands, it is unlikely that you will have your documents translated into anything other than English.
The sorts of documents that are commonly translated from your own native language include:

  • birth certificates;
  • marriage certificates;
  • divorce certificates;
  • death certificates;
  • name change proof;
  • educational qualifications;
  • transcripts of educational courses;
  • professional qualifications;
  • police certificates and checks;
  • drivers’ licences;
  • proof of assets or ownership of business.

Choice of methods when translating documents in New Zealand
In New Zealand, you have a choice of organising the translation of official documents yourself or submitting them to the Translation Service of the Department of Internal Affairs. Theoretically, if your knowledge of English is excellent, you could translate them yourself. However, this is not recommended, even if it is not going to cost as much as if you have someone else to do the translation.
If you do decide to get the documents translated without the help of the Translation Service, you can be rest assured there are a plethora of good translation services that are capable of translating your documents for you at a cost. The main point to remember here is to choose a reputable professional translation service, preferably based in New Zealand, that routinely handles official document translation. Many professional translators in New Zealand are accredited to Australia’s National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI), despite the fact that it is not strictly necessary to use a NAATI accredited translator to do the translating. Every translated document, however, must be notarised by a notary public. This is something that a professional translation agency that deals with official document translation would do for you as part of the service. If you do decide to get someone else to do the translating or you do it yourself, you will still have to get your translated documents notarised.
If you decide to have your documents translated by the Department of Internal Affairs own Translation Service, this will come at a cost of $75 per document. The Translation Service will only translate the documents or parts of the document that are strictly necessary by the New Zealand organisation requesting them.
Documents for the Translation Service can be emailed, sent by post, courier or handed in personally at one of the Department of Internal Affairs regional offices. Turn-around time is 2 to 4 working days, but if you are in a hurry, you can pay more for a faster service. The Translation Service does not require original documents and will accept photocopies.
Translating New Zealand official documents from English into another language
If you live in New Zealand and have New Zealand official documents you have to submit to another country’s government department, college, university or employer and you need to translated from English into the official language of that country then you should check to find out exactly what the criteria are for acceptability of translations, just to be on the safe side.
You will find that if you use the Department of Internal Affairs own Translation Service or a professional translation agency that specialises in the translation of documents into the language you need that they will know what the requirements are. Some countries are stricter than others and one thing you really don’t want is to spend time and money having your documents translated and finding that they don’t match the criteria demanded in the country to which they are going to be sent.
Translating official documents for New Zealand has become a routine requirement when your documents are not in English originally. You will find exactly the same requirement if your documents were issued in New Zealand and you need them to be translated if they are to be used overseas, e.g. for a job in Germany. For New Zealand document purposes, you have a good choice of professional translation agencies that can translate your documents and have them notarised as well as the New Zealand government’s own Translation Service.