The Official Blog

Foreign Credits Endorsed by AICE

by Admin 7. May 2015 07:03

Foreign Credits is pleased to announce that we have joined AICE, the Association of International Credential Evaluators, Inc.® as an Endorsed Member Evaluation Service.  Through extensive research and deliberation, we have decided that membership in this professional not-for profit organization is best suited for our needs since it is founded on sound research-based policies governing ethical standards in a progressive business environment. We look forward to continuing to provide thorough, accurate, and timely credential evaluation services to the comparative education community in North America and beyond.

The mission of AICE® is to “promote best practices in the international credentials evaluation field, advance comparative education research, and provide the general public with access to trustworthy credential evaluation expertise.”  Foreign Credits Inc. supports this mission entirely, as it compares favorably to our professional activities. Our staff, including the Evaluation Team led by Aleks Morawski, Director of Evaluation Services, regularly participate in numerous professional organizations and present and train credential evaluation methodology to the public at large. Our up-to-date and ongoing research is the hallmark of advancing comparative education knowledge, which we provide to the general public through comprehensive credential evaluation services and resources, including a free GPA calculator and a database of higher educational systems. Foreign Credits maintains our belief in providing expert credential evaluation services while developing trust with the international education community and all individuals educated in the United States and abroad navigating the waters of comparative international education. 

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Accreditation | Credential Evaluation | General

Properly Formatting Word Documents for Translation

by Joseph 12. February 2015 12:32

I have often said that you can tell a lot about a person by how they format a word document. It is something that I teach my project managers from the very beginning, things that lead up to properly prepare documents for translation memory.

 

Things that have often been noted or submitted by translators that are examples of improper ways of formatting a translation include the use of text boxes, recreating a table with hidden borders using tabs or spaces, columns or section breaks, improper use of the hard return (such as using them to get the cursor on the next page), soft return, and breaking and non-breaking spaces.

This post on formatting documents for translation will address the first three issues. These three, the use of text boxes, re-creating tables with tabs and spaces, and the use of columns all revolve around the free movement of text and the problems that arise with target language expansion and bringing the document into a translation memory program.

 

Text Boxes

Text boxes should never be used in Microsoft Word. They are extremely troublesome to deal with if you want to change any aspect of formatting. They can obscure text beneath them, and if the entered text is larger than the original size, text may be hidden. From a more technical aspect, the contents of text boxes are imported out of order in translation memory programs and may lead to illogical translations as they may not be placed in the proper sequence when presented in the translation window.

 

Solution: tables. The problems associated with the use of text boxes can be alleviated with the use of tables. Tables are placed in line with or include text and can be customized to include cell borders. Table cells expand to show the text contained, and when brought into a translation memory program, the text is presented in a logical order.

 

Re-creating tables with tabs or spaces

As bad as the use of text boxes is, re-creating tables with tabs or spaces is, in my book, the number one, worst offense a translator can commit. Nothing is ever truly aligned, if you make one change, the whole thing gets messed up and text that should stay together doesn’t. Rule of thumb, if you have to use a hard return followed by a series of tabs or spaces to get text together, you’re doing it wrong. Moreover, translation memory programs do not work well at all with this type of formatting.

 

Solution: tables. Again, in using tables, all of the problems that come with using tabs and spaces to align text are eliminated. When the document is then translated, the text stays together and the tables adjust to allow expansion or compression of text.

 

Columns and Section Breaks

The final method of improper document formatting for this post is regarding the use of columns and section breaks. Again, with this method of formatting, the text moves too freely and in instances of text expansion or compression, the rows get misaligned, there is too much space between columns, and the flow of the text lends to continuity issues when the text reaches the bottom of the column. Furthermore, the use of section breaks creates odd continuity issues as well. There’s only one type of section break that should be used, the “Next page” section break.

 

Solution: tables. Properly created tables keep text together and create a rigid structure to hold the contents of the cell together. The “Next Page” section break is the only one that should be used as it allows for the changing of page orientation within the document.

 

 

That’s all for this first installment of blog posts on document formatting. The next one will be posted next week.

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Translation

Professional Translation Ethics and Protocol

by Joseph 30. January 2015 12:42

Translation as a profession, like other service industries, is governed by a code of ethics – whether explicit by means of professional associations or implicit things that you just should not do because it would be morally wrong.

The most understood among professional translators is in acknowledgement that translating your own personal documents for your own personal gain is a conflict of interest and it is looked down upon; a translation done by the holder of a document could be manipulated to put the holder in a better place than achieved and would therefore be dishonest. As stated on this blog before, being a part of a company that does credential evaluations as well as translations puts us in a unique position. We see translations that were completed by other individuals and companies. Several times a week, we are asked if potential clients can avoid translation costs if they translate the documents themselves and several times a week, we tell them that they cannot because of the conflict of interest.

Recently, we were asked to look over a translation done by another company. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the holder of the document was the owner of said company and was the one who certified the translation, using an alias. How do you respond to that breach of ethics? Unfortunately, it was discovered that the aforementioned company was not a member of any professional associations and no report of the incident was able to be filed.

 

As a corporate and individual active member in national and regional translator associations, I, Director of Operations and Head of Translations at Foreign Credits, have assumed dedication to a professional code of ethics and have ensured that all members of affiliated staff and contractors adhere to the same. Foreign Credits will and shall not accept translations that are in violation of basic professional ethics nor shall Foreign Credits produce translations that are in violation of the same.

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Translation: What happens when you buy a commodity.

by Joseph 12. January 2015 05:56

The very first Translation blog post that I posted started off with a quotation from Benjamin Franklin, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” and established our commitment to quality and quality assurance.

It is truly something I believe in and instill in new hires when training the translation team here at Foreign Credits. If we are going to do something, we are going to do it well in order to deliver the best quality translations at a fair price.

As a company that offers credential evaluations as well as translations, we are in a very unique position in that we see what other Language Service providers deliver. A lot of the providers whose translations we receive offer bottom-barrel pricing and sell translation as a commodity rather than a service (see Translation: Service or Commodity?).

Below are examples of translations we have received that were done by said companies. These examples prove that you truly get what you pay for and when a translation is concerning your academic credentials, buying a service is much preferable to buying a commodity. Furthermore, these examples are ones from fairly common language pairs (German, Spanish and French into English) and I assure you, finding good-quality providers for these language pairs is easy to do.

German Error image 1

Original

Erroneous Translation

DIE FAKULTÄT FÜR NATURWISSENSCHAFTEN DER UNIVERSITÄT ULM

FCAULTY OF NATURAL SCIENCES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ULM

This first one was done from German into English. As can be observed, there is a typographical error in the translation of FAKULTÄT – FCAULTY; which would not be that bad except that the original document had attached an original English Translation to the German Text (see below).

German correction

Original Translation

THE FACULTY OF NATURAL SCIENCES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ULM

And still further, we have the following typographical error.

Second German Error

Original

Erroneous Translation

Original Translation

DOKTOR DER NATURWISSENSCHAFTEN

DOCTOR OF NATAURAL SCIENCES

DOCTOR OF NATURAL SCIENCES

While typographical errors are minor infractions, they are magnified by the fact that these misspellings in the final translation could have been avoided if the project manager had been more careful to notice that an original translation was attached, if the translator had been more attentive when re-typing the original translation for proper certification, or if any among the Project Manager, Translator, or Quality Assurance (the issuing company talks of a QA step in their workflow) had thought to run a simple spell check. Moreover, in a document of eighty words, two errors such as these lend to the questioning of the translation’s validity entirely.

This next translation was of a document from Mexico. In this case, the translator had shamelessly changed the names of courses to something they were not thereby invalidating the translation as a whole. The customer was then asked to pay for a second translation, one that truly represented the source documents’ content. The coursework was for a program in agriculture.

 

Spanish error - originals

I truly wish I were fabricating this information; however, this is what the original translation company provided. For the life of me, I cannot even try to understand how a translator thought these translations of the coursework were alright to submit.  As can be seen below, the translations of Commercial Poultry Production, Temperate Climate Bovines, Basic Crops, and Growing Ornamental Plants are nowhere near being close to conveying the idea of an Agricultural Practicum, Horticulture, Artificial Insemination or Soils and Fertilizers (respectively).

Spanish Correction

This last example comes from the translation of a Doctoral diploma from France. In this instance, a French pronoun which refers to the physical diploma itself was left in place and does not have any meaning whatsoever in English. It should be noted that this translation was issued by the same company that completed the first example.

French Error and Correction

Additionally, I should add that that phrase, “pour en jouir avec les droits et prérogatives qui y sont attachés.” is a very common phrase and present on almost all degree-granting certificates from France and its translation; therefore, is equally as common.

In conclusion, it can now be observed that you truly do get what you pay for when it comes to translations. How much money can really be saved in ordering a translation based on low price when the resulting first translation is so poor that the document needs to be re-translated to be done properly? All three translations were certified translations done by companies and were accompanied by a certification statement. In researching the companies that issued the translations, both of them obscured their quality assurance workflows if they mentioned quality at all.

 

At Foreign Credits, we believe in transparency in our procedures. You can trust us to deliver the best possible translation because we have in place and adhere to a quality assurance policy in order to minimize errors. Aside from the procedural protocol in place, we also have two members of the staff who hold Master’s degrees in Language and Linguistics; in addition, all members of the translation staff have taught language for at least two years at either the secondary or post-secondary level. We know language. It’s our profession. It’s our passion.

What does it mean when a translation is notarized?

by Joseph 18. December 2014 10:37

When the translation is notarized, it states that the notary public has verified the identification of the person who has certified the translation. The certifier attests that all of the proper, and standard quality procedures were followed in carrying out the translation. At no time during this process do the certifier or the notary attest to the accuracy of the translation. Even though the best quality processes may have been followed, there is still a possibility for error.

Not all certified translations need to be notarized but the notarization assures that the certification is not fraudulent.

While notaries have other responsibilities, the above-mentioned instances are those as they apply to translations. While some companies charge extra for notarization, we offer notarization for all our certified translations free of cost.

Notaries public in the United States do not have the same powers as notaries public abroad as they are not lawyers and are not members of the Bar Association. In the United States, notaries are appointed by the Secretary of State in each state and are granted a limited-duration commission – for four years in Illinois.

For more information about our certified translations, visit the certified translation website. For more information about our other services, please email translation@foreigncredits.com

Machine Translation Technology and Internet Security

by Joseph 11. December 2014 06:39

Originally posted on 12/09/2014 here re-blogged with permission of the author.

 

An issue that seems to have been brought up once in the industry and never addressed again are the data collection methods used by Microsoft, Google, Yahoo!, Skype, and Apple as well as the revelations of PRISM data collection from those same companies. More and more, it appears that the industry is moving closer and closer to full Machine Translation Integration and Usage, and with interesting, if alarming, findings being reported on Machine Translation’s usage when integrated into Translation Environments, the fact remains that Google Translate, Microsoft Bing Translator, and other publicly-available machine translation interfaces and APIs store every single word, phrase, segment, and sentence that is sent to them.

Terms and Conditions


What exactly are you agreeing to when you send translation segments through the Google Translate or Bing Translator website or API?

1 – Google Terms and Conditions

Essentially, in using Google’s services, you are agreeing to permit them to store the segment to use for creating more accurate translations in the future, they can also publish, display, and distribute the content.

“When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” (
Google Terms of Service – 14 April 2014, accessed on 8 December 2014)

Oh, and did I mention that in using the service, the user is bearing all liability for “LOST PROFITS, REVENUES, OR DATA, FINANCIAL LOSSES OR INDIRECT, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES.” (Google Terms of Service – 14 April 2014, accessed on 8 December 2014)

So if it is discovered that a client’s confidential content is also located on Google’s servers because of a negligent translator, that translator is liable for losses and Google relinquishes liability for distributing what should have been kept confidential.

Alright, that’s a lot of legal wording, not the best news, and a lot to take in if this is the first time you’re hearing about this. What about Microsoft Bing Translator?

2 – Microsoft Services Agreement

In writing their services agreement, Microsoft got very tricky. They start out positively by stating that you own your own content.

“Except for material that we license to you that may be incorporated into your own content (such as clip art), we do not claim ownership of the content you provide on the services. Your content remains your content, and you are responsible for it. We do not control, verify, pay for, or endorse the content that you and others make available on the services.” (
Microsoft Services Agreement – effective 19 October 2012, accessed on 8 December 2014)

Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! Bing! We have a winner! Right? Hold your horses, don’t install the Bing API yet. It continues on in stating,

“When you transmit or upload Content to the Services, you're giving Microsoft the worldwide right, without charge, to use Content as necessary: to provide the Services to you, to protect you, and to improve Microsoft products and services.” (Microsoft Services Agreement – effective 19 October 2012, accessed on 8 December 2014)

So again with Bing, while they originally state that you own the content you submit to their services, they also state that in doing so, you are giving them the right to use the information as they see fit and (more specifically) to improve the translation engine.

 

There is also a Microsoft Translator Privacy Agreement that more specifically addresses use of the Microsoft Translator. Apparently, with Translator, they take a sample of no more than 10% of "randomly selected, non-consecutive sentences from the text" submitted. Unused text is deleted within 48 hours after translation is provided.

If the user subscribes to their data subscriptions with a maximum of 250 million characters per month (also available at levels of 500 million, 635 million, and one billion) , he or she is then able to opt-out of logging.

There is also Microsoft Translator Hub which allows the user to personalize the translation engine where "The Hub retains and uses submitted documents in full  in order to provide your personalized translation system and to improve the Translator service."  And it should be noted that, "After you remove a document from your Hub account we may continue to use it for improving the Translator service." 

So let's analyze this Translator-specific agreement. 10% of the full text submitted is sampled and unused text is deleted within 48 hours of its service to the user. The text is still potentially from a sensitive document and still warrants awareness of the issue.

If you use The Translator Hub, it uses the full document to train the engine and even after you remove the document from your Hub, and they may also continue to use it to improve the Translator service.

Now break out the calculators and slide rules, kids, it's time to do some math.

In order to opt-out of logging, you need to purchase a data subscription of 250 million characters per month or more (the 250 million character level costs $2,055.00/month). If every word were 50 characters each, that would be 5 million words per month (where a month is 31 days)  and a post-editor would have to process 161,290 words per day (working every single day of this 31-day month). It's physically impossible for a post-editor to process 161,290 words in a day, let alone a month (working 8 hours a day for 20 days a month, 161,290 words per month would be 8,064.5 words per day). So we can safely assume that no freelance translator can afford to buy in at the 250 million character/month level especially when even in the busiest month, a single translator comes nowhere near being able to edit the amount of words necessary to make it a financially sound expense.

How do these terms affect the translation industry, then?

The problem arises whenever translators are working with documents that contain confidential or restricted-access information. Aside from his/her use of webmail hosted by Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc. – which also poses a problem with confidentiality – contents of documents that are sent through free, public machine translation engines; whether through the website or API, are leaking the information the translator agreed to keep confidential in the Non-Disclosure Agreement (if established) with the LSP; a clear and blatant breach of confidentiality.

But I’m a professional translator and have been for years, I don’t use MT and no self-respecting professional translator would.

Well, yes and no; a conflict arises from that mode of thinking. In theory, yes, a professional translator should know better than to blindly use Machine Translation because of its inaccurate and often unusable output. A professional translator; however, should also recognize that with advancements in MT Technology, Machine Translation can be a very powerful tool in the translator’s toolbox and can, at times, greatly aid in the translation of certain documents.

The current state of the use of MT more echoes the latter than the former. In 2013 research conducted by
Common Sense Advisory, 64% of the 239 people who responded to the survey reported that colleagues frequently use free Machine Translation Engines; 62% of those sampled were concerned about free MT usage.

In the November/December 2014 Issue of the
ATA Chronicle, Jost Zetzsche relayed information on how users were using the cloud-based translation tool MemSource. Of particular interest are the Machine Translation numbers relayed to him by David Canek, Founder of MemSource. 46.2% of its around 30,000 users (about 13,860 translators) were using Machine Translation; of those, 98% were using the Google Translate or a variant of the Bing Translator API. And of still greater alarm, a large percentage of users using Bing Translator chose to employ the “Microsoft with Feedback” option which sends the finalized target segment back to Microsoft (a financially appealing option since when selected, use of the API costs nothing).

As you can imagine, while I was reading that article, I was yelling at all 13.9 thousand of them through the magazine. How many of them were using Google or Bing MT with documents that should not have been sent to either Google or Microsoft? How many of these users knew to shut off the API for such documents - how many did?

There’s no way to be certain how much confidential information may have been leaked due to translator negligence, in the best scenario perhaps none, but it’s clear that the potential is very great.

On the other hand, in creating a tool as dynamic and ever-changing as a machine translation engine, the only way to train it and make it better is to use it, a sentiment that is echoed throughout the industry by developers of MT tools and something that can be seen in the output of Google translate over the past several years.

So what options are there for me to have an MT solution for my customers without risking a breach in confidentiality?

There are numerous non-public MT engines available - including Apertium, a developing open-source MT platform - however, none of them are as widely used (and therefore, as well-trained) as Google Translate or Bing Translator (yes, I realize that I just spent over 1,000 words talking about the risk involved in using Google Translate or Bing Translator).

So, is there another way? How can you gain the leverage of arguably the best-trained MT Engines available while keeping confidential information confidential?

There are companies who have foreseen this problem and addressed it, without pitching their product, here’s how it works. It acts as an MT API but before any segments are sent across your firewall to Google, it replaces all names, proper nouns, locations, positions, and numbers with an independent, anonymous token or placeholder. After the translated segment has returned from Google and is safely within the confines of your firewall, the potentially confidential material then replaces the tokens leaving you with the MT translated segment. On top of that, it also allows for customized tokenization rules to further anonymize sensitive data such as formulae, terminology, processes, etc.

While the purpose of this article was not to prevent translators from using MT, it is intended to get translators thinking about its use and increase awareness of the inherent risks and solution options available.

 

In the end, we need to be more cognizant of what we send through free, public, and semi-public Machine Translation engines and educate ourselves on the risks associated with their use and the safer, more secure solutions available when working with confidential or restricted-access information.  

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Translation

Certified Translation, an overview

by Joseph 4. December 2014 12:22

What does it mean when a translation is certified? What types of documents need certification?

A certified translation is one that is accompanied by a statement from the translator or Language Service Provider stating that, to the best of the knowledge of the certifier, the translation is an accurate representation of the source document in the target language.

This can be verified in a few different ways. The first is based on the professional translator attesting to the validity by him or herself being completely conversant in both the source and target languages. The second is based on the project manager or coordinator attesting that the translation was performed by a translator conversant in both languages. Either type of certification is sufficient to be considered a certified translation; though, a certified translation may still be rejected if it has been discovered that the translation is not as certified and found to be unfaithful to the original.

Documents in need of certified translation are ones that have been issued by an official government or academic entity, such as certificates, diplomas, civil status papers, and health records. Other documents in need of certification are those of an official nature in which the accuracy of a translation could be a legal liability if incorrect. Examples of such documents include court documents and medical documents for pharmaceutical and biotechnology testing.

In all cases, certification of the translation should be expected. Notarization, however, is a different story. Not all certified translations need to be notarized, but notarization does lend verification that the translator or project manager who has certified the translation is who they say they are and that the certification is not fraudulent.

Moreover, it should be noted that the certification may not necessarily certify the accuracy of the translation, but merely certifies that the proper procedures for translation have been followed. In addition, the notarization only certifies that the identity of the certification’s signatory has been verified. The notarization, likewise, only certifies the identity of the signatory, not the accuracy of the translation.

 

For samples of certified translations, visit the certified translation website. For more information regarding these and many other types of services, please contact Foreign Credits, Inc. at support@foreigncredits.com

Translation for Credential Evaluation

by Admin 26. November 2014 13:08

When you choose to have your academic credentials evaluated by Foreign Credits, you can trust that we will accurately review your coursework and accurately assign credits and grades as if you attended these courses within the U.S. education system. One of the benefits to choosing Foreign Credits for this service is that we offer Translation and Evaluation under one roof. You only need to deliver your academic documents to us via our online submission system and we take it from there!

You may be asking yourself, why must I order an Evaluation if all I want is for my transcript (marks sheet) to be translated? Shouldn’t translation include ‘translating my grades’?

Your grades, as well as the degree conferred, are part of an education system and are given on a grading scale which cannot be expressed through pure translation. Our translation-expert staff take your transcripts and certificates and recreate them in English so that our evaluators may then recognize all of your coursework and education attended and completed. They then spend time to research and apply their expertise to convert your grades, create your GPA, and assign a U.S. equivalent degree obtained.

 

In short, the difference between grade/degree translation and evaluation, is that translation focuses on the literal meaning of the text on each page you submit while evaluation delves into the behind-the-scenes meaning of the names and numbers.

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Credential Evaluation | Translation

Translation: Service or Commodity?

by Joseph 21. November 2014 10:45

When tasked with writing an article about whether or not translation is a service or commodity, it should first be established what would differentiate the two. Webster’s dictionary defines commodity as, “a mass-produced unspecialized product” examples of such products would be granulated cane sugar, iodized table salt, unleaded gasoline, or even 16 GB flash drives. For all these items, they are essentially the same in quality, despite the price tag, and when needed, average consumers are generally satisfied with the lowest-cost item.

 

On the other hand, other items cannot be considered commodities; cars cannot be considered commodities unless all that was important to the consumer was its ability to mechanically propel the operator and up to three guests on four wheels (a Ford Focus is not the same car as a Maserati Quattroporte). In the same way, no two documents in need of translation are the same and no two translations of the documents are the same. Therefore, it can be established that translation is not and cannot be considered a commodity.

When buying translations, there are many factors to consider including the type of document to be translated, language pair, subject matter, target audience, purpose, and regional variation. If your documents are of a highly technical nature, you wouldn’t want to have it translated by a medical doctor unless it pertained to medical devices, and vice-versa. Language Service Companies understand these demands on translation projects; it’s our profession and we have trained project managers with an array of tools available to them to ensure that you receive the best quality translation possible. Moreover, Language Service Companies have a system of Quality Assurance practices to minimize the occurrence of errors.

These steps of tailoring the approach to each specific project give added value to translations purchased from a company. What separates Foreign Credits from other Language Service Companies is that we are very transparent in our operations. When you order from Foreign Credits, you will know that your translation will be translated by a competent professional with years of experience translating similar documents; before you receive the final translation, you can trust that it is accurate because of our quality protocol which ensures that it has been edited by someone who is unaffiliated with the original translator and working to verify translation accuracy. Finally, your translation will undergo quality assurance checks to make sure that the final document accurately represents the source document in register and formatting.

 

If you have any questions regarding the services we, the translation department at Foreign Credits, provide or regarding the quality assurance practices we have in place, we would be happy to discuss any of your questions via e-mail at translations@foreigncredits.com, or give us a call if you require assistance with the service ordering process.

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Translation

Foreign Credits Translations and Quality Processes

by Joseph 13. November 2014 12:11

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

–Benjamin Franklin

                At Foreign Credits, a workflow that focuses on quality is the heart of our business. While we are not certified to ISO 9001 or EN 15038 standards, we are compliant with and ascribe to their quality processes in order to ensure the highest possible quality in translated documents. While any freelance translator can produce quality translations, only Language Service Providers, like Foreign Credits, can deliver quality-assured translations from tested, well-established translators and third-party editors, unaffiliated with the original translator.

 

At Foreign Credits, we have established a basic quality assurance workflow that is the core of all projects.

 Basic Workflow

The above workflow has proven to ensure that our final delivered product is a true and accurate representation of the original document. We at Foreign Credits believe that this focus on quality adds value to our translations and sets us apart from other Language Service Providers who focus on providing low-cost translations while obscuring their quality processes. In addition, some providers charge extra for notarization; at Foreign Credits, all our certified translations are certified by our project managers or coordinators and come with notarization.

For further information, visit our Translations page or send an e-mail to translations@foreigncredits.com.

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