We often provide official translations of formal documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce certificates, death certificates, Japanese family registers (Koseki), bank statements, no-claims bonuses and the like, mainly for clients in the UK, and commonly for visa applications. There are various ways of doing this:
The cost and time required rise as you go down the list. Self-certification generally adds just the cost and time of postage (we deliver most translations by email, but a signed certification naturally needs to be sent by post, and you may decide that registered/insured post is best). An affidavit may add 1-2 days, and notarization 3-4 days (depending on how busy the Notary Public is). We have never yet needed to obtain an apostille!
Which form of certification you should acquire depends entirely on the requirements of the court, government office or other body to whom you are submitting the translation: we cannot advise, as they each have different rules, which change quite frequently. We suggest you ask them first whether "a self-certified translation by a qualified professional translator" would be sufficient, as this will be the cheapest, quickest and easiest to obtain. If you have lengthy documents where only a small part is required (for example a bank statement used to prove your address), it is also worth checking whether they will accept a translation of this part by itself, rather than paying for the translation of lots of irrelevant small print too.