What requirements does an official translation agency meet?

What requirements does an official translation agency meet?


Actually, the title of this blog is misleading. There is no such thing as an 'official translation agency' in the Netherlands. Anyone can call themselves a translator (unlike certified translator, 'translator' is not a protected title) and anyone is free to start a translation agency. But how do you know that you are dealing with a professional translation agency and not with a bum, the translation version of a dropshipper or even a crook? You should at least scratch your head if one or more of the following 5 points apply to your intended translation partner:

'Official' translation agencies don't exist, official documents do. We know all about it

However, we do have ISO 17100 and 18587 certificates and guarantee quality translations of official or other documents. Feel free to contact us or request a quote without obligation.

1. The website contains no or insufficient identifying information

Chances are you are searching the Internet for a suitable translation agency. Have you found an agency that appeals to you? Then immediately check to see if the following information is on the website: address, phone number, e-mail address, Chamber of Commerce number and VAT number. As with other business websites, the absence of such information is a red flag. Does the e-mail address end in gmail.com, hotmail.com or live.com, for example? Be careful even then. Professional agencies rarely use such a free account. In any case, do further research. For example, check whether the terms and conditions are on the site and they look solid.

2. The website contains language errors or the texts just don't read well

Not everyone is blessed with a fluent pen. Not everyone is focused on grammatically correct language. And a spelling mistake here and there is not such an issue for many. But from an official translation agency you expect - and rightly so - a strong focus on attractive, smooth-running texts without grammatical or spelling mistakes (especially in marketing translations). After all, that is part of the translation profession. If you immediately see language lapses on an agency's website, you know enough. If their own texts are already out of order, how will they handle your assignment? Don't.

3. The agency asks no questions

Want to have a complicated technical, medical or legal text translated? Then any professional agency will approach you with questions during the quotation phase or (in exceptional haste) during the execution of the job. About background information needed to better understand the text. About the meaning of certain industry- or company-specific terms. About any inconsistencies discovered in the text. And so on. If this does not happen, it is usually cause for caution and the quality of the translation may well be lower - or even dramatic. Of course, there are also straightforward texts that can be translated without questions, but as soon as things start to get more complicated, consultation is a must.

4. Rates are improbably low

A competitive quote is always nice. But when you know that an average translator translates no more than 2,500 words a day, you can count on your fingers that a rate of 2 or 3 cents per word is unrealistic. This often involves using non-native speakers, preferably in a low-wage country, or their indefatigable colleague: Google Translate. That this does not result in top-notch translation is anyone's guess. Attractive rates can also be achieved with tight workflows and clever forms of automation, without sacrificing quality. Scriptware Translations proves that every day.

5. The agency is not affiliated with anything and has no certifications

Precisely because the translation industry is largely unregulated, membership in a Dutch or international trade association is important. For example, the VViN has high quality standards and only allows proven professional agencies as members. Furthermore, there are two universal process standards for official translation agencies: ISO 17100 and NEN-EN15038. Agencies certified for one or both of these standards undergo periodic audits and work systematically and carefully.

Can't see the forest for the trees? Then just give us a call. At Scriptware Translations, we're happy to take all the time you need, whether you need 500 or 50.000 words translated.

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