I regularly read Corinne McKay's blog, Thoughts on Translation to gain new insight on how to conduct business in the translation world. In a follow-up to a post on translating official documents, Corinne corrected her earlier stance on including images from the original source document (stamps, seals, signatures, photographs). Her new advice is taken from Thomas West, a renowned attorney and author of Spanish-English Dictionary of Law and Business""I know of an instance where an American judge asked that translators stop scanning in the seals and logos on official documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates) because it could appear as though they were “counterfeit” – in the judge’s view, it should be clear that the translation is a translation and NOT an original document, and the more fancy logos/scans you add, the more it can appear that the English-language document was issued by the officials in the foreign country. My conclusion is that all this fancy scanning is (1) not necessary and (2) dangerous, because it can make the document look forged and (3) therefore should not be done.""
I can't uphold this advice 100% because some agencies send templates of birth certificates with these official seals and stamps pasted into them. I have been congratulated for adding stamps, seals and signatures to my official document translations, and the end clients for these projects have been no less than district attorneys for US states bordering Mexico.
On the other hand, I have another client who was bothered by all of the extra logos and such. He said "keep it simple."
In conclusion, instead of prescribing a general rule for this practice, I would ask the client first whether adding these images is desirable. "It never hurts to ask." as the saying goes.