I have successfully filled out my DS-260 and now I have to upload a bunch of "Civil Documents". Some of them are in my native language (German), such as:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Military Records

According to https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/the-immigrant-visa-process/step-5-collect-financial-evidence-and-other-supporting-documents/step-7-collect-civil-documents.html, these documents must include certified translations.

According to various sources (e.g., https://citizenpath.com/faq/certified-translation/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Certified_translation#United_States_of_America) there are no strict criteria about who a translator may be.

Has anyone needed to do this before and has some advice?

  • Clearly I am fluent in English and German myself. Can I do the certified translation myself? Even if it's allowed, would be be advised?
  • Can it be someone from my family (e.g. sister)?
  • Should the translator have any proof (TOEFL score or similar) or is the signed statement enough?
  • What is the best form to do such a translation? For example, a birth certificate consists of multiple tables etc. Is it enough to just type the information in English into a word file? Or is it better to reproduce the original layout? Or is it better to take a copy of the original and write each word translated on top of the original?
  • I don't know about Germany, but some countries will issue documents in multiple languages, possibly including foreign languages, possibly including English. If you can get a new copy of a document with bilingual German and English data labels, you won't need to worry about translating it.
    – phoog
    Jun 14, 2022 at 15:59

1 Answer 1


While you can have a friend or family member translate the documents (my understanding is that as long as they speak english they can translate), I would recommend a translation service like immitranslate or similar. The charges are not excessive and gives you peace of mind knowing that USCIS won't give you a hard time.

To answer some of your other questions, you could translate yourself, although I, personally, would advise against. A signed statement is enough. Translators usually try to reproduce the layout of the document, I would recommend doing the same.

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