A certified translation is one which fulfills the requirements in the country in question, enabling it to be used in formal procedures, with the translator accepting responsibility for its accuracy. These requirements vary widely from country to country. While some countries allow only state-appointed translators to produce such translations, others will accept those carried out by any competent bilingual individual. Between these two extremes are countries where a certified translation can be carried out by any professional translator with the correct credentials.
English speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, the USA, Australia and New Zealand fall on the more relaxed end of the spectrum, and simply require certified translations to include a statement made by the translator attesting to its accuracy, along with the date, the translator's credentials and contact details. This is the type of certification that is required by UK government bodies such as the Home Office and the UK Border Agency, as well as by universities and most foreign embassies.
European countries other than the UK tend to have much stricter laws regarding who can produce a certified translation, with most appointing official certified translators based on them having obtained the local state-regulated qualification. German regional courts have the power to appoint "sworn translators". The specific title and the appointment procedure are different in each state. Germany maintains an official database that lists all translators sworn-in in all federal states. Both Italian courts and consulates have the power to appoint as "official translators" candidates who pass an examination or show proof of language proficiency.
For legal and official purposes, evidentiary documents and other official documentation are usually required in the official language(s) of a jurisdiction. In some countries, it is a requirement for translations of such documents that a translator swear an oath to attest that it is the legal equivalent of the source text. Often, only translators of a special class are authorized to swear such oaths.
In some cases, the translation is only accepted as a legal equivalent if it is accompanied by the original or a sworn or certified copy of it. Even if a translator specializes in legal translation or is a lawyer in their country, this does not necessarily make them a sworn translator. The procedure for translating to legal equivalence differs from country to country.