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For non-linguists, the process of buying translation and interpreting services can often be difficult to negotiate. This section aims to help you find your way.

Congratulations! You have already identified your need for translation or interpreting services and have decided you need the help of a professional – you have taken the first, and possibly most important step on your path to achieving your objective! While some people seem to think that Google Translate and French GCSE are all that they need, you have recognised the importance of getting support from a professional human translator or interpreter. By following the next steps below, you can find the right person for your job.

We also have two publications produced by ITI and its partners - "Translation - Getting it Right" and "Translation - Buying a Non-Commodity" - which provide the low-down on planning and working on translation projects.

Getting it Right | Translation Guide

The Getting it Right Guide: A buyer's guide to sourcing and using translation services. 

These booklets are available below as a PDF in a variety of languages, including English, US English, Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish.  

Guide overview

There are hundreds of ways a translation project can go off track: ridiculous deadlines, ambiguities in source text amplified by the translator not asking questions, misapplied MT (machine translation), no proofreading of typeset text by a native speaker, blissful unawareness of an over-confident translator operating in a vacuum, poor coordination of large projects, poor cheap freelance translator, poor expensive freelance translator, poor cheap translation company, poor expensive translation company, no client input, and on and on.

By applying even half the tips in this guide, you will improve your chances of getting a translation solution that works.

Step 1: Translator or interpreter?

Do you know what service you need? This step will help you decide whether you want a translator or an interpreter.

Read more: Step 1: Translator or interpreter?

Step 2: What is the purpose?

What do you want to do with your translation? It sounds like a very basic question, but it is one worth asking as it could help you to save money! 

Read more: Step 2: What is the purpose?

Step 3: How much will it cost?

Translation and interpreting are both services, and as a result are generally priced according to the amount of work involved, rather than a specific volume of output.

Read more: Step 3: How much will it cost?

Step 4: Who can help?

ITI has identified the need to guide buyers of translation and interpreting services towards professional service providers.

Read more: Step 4: Who can help?

Model terms of business

Working closely with translation and interpreting industry practitioners, legal professionals and regular buyers of translation services, ITI has drawn up some model terms of business that can be used as templates for translation and interpreting work in the UK.

Read more: Model terms of business

Certification or sworn translations

As a professional association that assesses the quality of its members, ITI maintains a directory of qualified members with suitable language skills and technical expertise. The Institute can hold its members to account in the event of complaints. In the same vein, it has taken steps to establish itself as a body whose members can certify translations. 

Background - sworn translations, not sworn translators

Many translation buyers believe that a professional translator has to be “certified” or “sworn” to do the job. However, in the common law system in the UK, we do not have the "sworn translator" concept that exists in civil law countries.

Even so, translations sometimes have to be "sworn" or certified for various purposes, such as when providing official translations for public authorities. In the UK, certifying or swearing has no bearing on the quality of a translation. It serves instead to identify the translator and his qualifications, so that he is accountable.

When a translation is sworn before a solicitor (or a notary in Scotland), the legal professional does not verify the quality of the translation but merely satisfies himself as to the translator's identity. Certification does, however, lend weight to a translation: if, for example, a document is willfully mistranslated or carelessly translated, the translator could be charged with contempt of court, perjury or negligence.

ITI provides its Qualified Members with special seals, or stickers, that can be attached to a translation to add confirmation of the translator’s membership of the Institute.

ITI corporate members can use ITI Qualified members (MITI or FITI) as “suppliers” to certify translations on their behalf.  The corporate member must ensure that they only use MITI’s or FITI’s that are ITI assessed in their language group.

To check if an ITI member is a qualified  MITI or FITI please refer to the ITI Directory of members.  Please note, not all members have agreed to be listed in the Directory so if you cannot find the translator, please contact the ITI Membership Officer, Parveen Mann and she will be able to assist you with your query.

Qualified and Corporate Members can purchase seals by contacting the ITI office on 01908 325251 or for information on the cost of the seals, please email Parveen Mann at .

Examples of the seals that our Qualified and Corporate members may be using can be found in the attachment below.

Acceptability of ITI certification to the authorities.

The legal advice ITI has taken is that ‘a certificate is acceptable if it is accepted’ and that ITI members should certify translations and wait to see whether a certificate is challenged and, if so, by whom. The Institute’s advisers feel that such a challenge is unlikely, or that by the time a challenge does rise, a firm precedent will have been set.

If the end user of the translation insists on a higher grade of certification (in England and Wales), they should be pointed in the direction of notarisation and referred to notaries (where practicable, those firms whose members are ITI members). 



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