Be confident in the quality of the German translation you buy
If you plan to invest money in buying translations, then you want to know that an independent certification body believes the translation agency you have chosen offers a
professional level of service & meets set translation standards.
Why use certified translation services?
Certification benefits both the translation agency and its clients:
Credibility & trust is a great USP for attracting new clients
Greater process consistency & efficiency is good for the bottom line
Proven compliance is increasingly important for public procurement contracts
Greater customer loyalty & client confidence
More efficient workflows lead to higher quality results
Regular monitoring ensures professional standards are maintained
Understanding translation standards
In the translation world, when it comes to certified translation services, one standard is fast becoming the industry norm:
EN 15038 – “Translation Services – Service Requirements”.
Other translation-related certifications you’ll come across includes:
CGSB 131.10 (Canada, 2017)
ASTM F2575-14 (USA, 2014)
your German translation is being provided as part of a range of
services offered by a localization or globalization agency, then these
will be subject to the professional guidelines of the Localization
Industry Standards Association (lisa.org), or the Globalization and
Localization Association (gala-global.org).
Remember: Translation standards cover translation agency work processes - not specifically the output of the individual translators they employ.
EN 15038 was developed in 2006 by CEN, the European Committee for
All CEN standards are subsequently adopted and
published as national standards by each European country - hence the
variety of logos associated with EN 15038 (here the blue Austrian
Although some national governments had already introduced translation
standards for their local industry (e.g DIN 2345 in Germany, ÖNORM
D1200 & D1201 in Austria, UNI 10574 in Italy, etc.), EN 15038 is the
firstEuropean-wide standard developed specifically to certify translation services.
EN 15038 is the response to the industry’s attempt to introduce greater levels of professionalism.
It is a process standard, i.e. it certifies the way a translation agency organizes
and monitors the translation process, with project checklists,
procurement processes, etc.
Certification is awarded by
independent certification bodies.
One is LICS , the Language
Industry Certification System, which offers independent, third-party
certification services for the language industry (translation,
documentation, localization...). Hence the red logo, too.
TÜV SÜD America, originally a German certification body but now
What do certified translation services with EN 15038 certification offer?
EN 15038 certifies 3 main areas:
Human resources and processes - competence of
translators, technology and equipment, quality management system
Relationship between the client and German translation service
provider - quoting, agreements, dealing with client information, etc.
Procedures - project management, preparation
and the translation process itself, including a “second set of eyes”.
EN 15038 is aimed at providers of translation rather than interpretation
However, all agency services are expected to be carried out to a similar level of professionalism.
Certified translation services with EN 15038 certification will be subject to regular
audits, so you can be fairly sure that a certified agency will do
everything it can to retain its status.
For more information: www.lics-certification.org or www.tuvamerica.com
2. ISO 9001
Before EN 15038, many German translation service providers
sought ISO 9001 International Organization for Standardization)
certification which is primarily a measure of internal quality
ISO 9001 covers systems for controlling documentation, records and
products, communicating with customers, audits and meetings to review
However, as ISO 9001 did not address many
translation-specific processes, it failed to become widely adopted by
the translation industry for certifying translation services.
3. CGSB 131.10 (Canada, 2017)
Canada has its own translation standard.
The Canadian Standard for
Translation Services CAN CGSB 131.10-2008 is a modified version of
Europe’s EN 15038, and developed by the Canadian General Standards Board
specifically for the Canadian translation services industry.
Like EN 15038, it doesn’t apply to interpreting or terminology
It specifies the requirements that translation services must
meet when providing translation services.
The major requirement is the
documentation of procedures; this helps ensure consistency, both from
job to job, and client to client.
Freelancers can also apply for
CAN CGSB 131.10 certification, and agencies are increasingly requiring
this of their Canadian translators.
4. ASTM F2575-14 (USA, 2014)
You may also come across the ASTM F2575-14 “Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation”.
this is not a standard but rather a set of “guidelines”, approved by
the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials).
It is aimed at
all stakeholders in the translation process, and to help new buyers of
language services get a good translation from their chosen German
According to the ATA,
“It explains terminology, the process
of purchasing and producing flawless copy, selecting a translation
service provider, defining project specifications, actual production
(terminology management, translation, editing, formatting, proofreading,
and quality control), and post project review.”
A few final thoughts...
It's always a good idea to choose certified translation services for your translation needs.
Certification indicates an agency is professional, and is set up to do a good
However, certification and translation standards are not a
panacea for all the industry’s ills:
How do you judge the quality of a
Grammar is one thing, but quality assessment metrics can’t
address questions of style. No two reviewers of a translation will make
the same amendments to a translated text.
Translation is an art, not a
science, and we need to keep this in mind as we busily regulate our
management processes. (Here are some of my thoughts on what makes a translation "good".)
Standards says a lot about the
processes of managing translation, but nothing about the treatment of
the translators involved – their pay, conditions, training, etc.
Translator forums are full of the “race to the bottom”: translators
increasingly competing on the open market by price alone, thereby
driving down quality and the ability for a professional translator to
make a living at their work.
By working with a certified translation service, you are helping the profession to uphold standards and treat translators fairly - certainly a recipe for success.
a German to English
translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts
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