ISO for Interpretation and Translation Services – What It Is and Why It Matters to Your Company

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ISO for Interpretation and Translation Services – What It Is and Why It Matters to Your Company

When you’re looking for language services, you may wonder whether finding ISO-certified or compliant interpreters and translators is a necessity. Since language service providers aren’t required to follow ISO standards, you may wonder if choosing a provider that doesn’t is a big deal.

However, by learning more about ISO standards, it’s often easy to see why choosing a language services provider that follows those requirements is essential. If you’re wondering what ISO is and why it matters when you’re looking for interpretation and translation services, here’s what you need to know.

What Is the ISO?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an international, non-governmental organization that creates operational standards for various industries. Its goal is to ensure the quality and safety of various products and services and create a framework for international business and transactions.

ISO standards cover a wide range of topics. Some are broad, applying to essentially any company. Others are industry-specific, addressing concerns relating to a smaller set of products or services that fall within a category.

Currently, there are 166 ISO member organizations, creating an international network of national standards bodies. Depending on a member organization’s level, they have the ability to participate in the updating and creation of standards or monitor those kinds of activities while they are in progress. That ensures that multiple perspectives are taken into consideration.

Why ISO Standards Matter

ISO standards create a framework for operations. When companies follow ISO requirements, they embrace best practices that increase the quality of results. Additionally, when it comes to the language services industry, many ISO standards outline requirements for those participating in the translation and interpretation process.

By working with a language services company that aligns its operations with ISO standards, you increase your odds of getting the high-quality, reliable results your business needs. Language services providers who follow the requirements offer exceptional customer service, but they also do more.

ISO-certified language services organizations adhere to stringent knowledge, training, and educational standards for their interpreters and translators. Additionally, they have strict requirements for other employees participating in the translation process, including reviewers, revisers, and project managers.

The ISO Standards for Interpreters and Translators:

Here is a quick overview of some of the most widely applied ISO standards for interpreters and translators.


ISO 18841 sets forth standards for interpreting services. Along with outlining best practices and core operating principles, it also covers interpreter competency requirements and qualifications to ensure quality.


Like ISO 18841, ISO 20228 focuses on quality standards for interpreting services. However, this standard addresses legal interpreting specifically, placing additional requirements on interpreters working in this category and outlining critical best practices.


ISO 21998 is the medical and healthcare-focused counterpart to ISO 18841 and ISO 20228. It ensures that all professionals serving as medical interpreters meet the proper requirements and follow best practices specific to the healthcare industry.


With ISO 13611, the focus is on community interpreting. It ensures that all interpreting for the purpose of increasing access to public services and similar community resources, outlining operational guidelines, and setting standards for interpretation services in this niche.


ISO 20108 covers simultaneous interpreting, specifically when it comes to the quality and transmission of sound and image input. It covers on-site and distance interpreting, ensuring clear communication occurs.


Specifically designed for the translation industry, ISO 17100 covers competency standards to ensure all translated documents are high-quality. Along with addressing requirements for translators, it also covers project managers, reviewers, and revisers that participate in the broader translation process.


ISO 18587 is highly similar to ISO 17100 but is specifically focuses on the post-editing of machine translation. It’s designed to ensure output quality by outlining competency requirements.


While the other standards above focus on the interpretation and translations services industry, ISO 9001 applies to a broad range of industries. It sets standards and outlines best practices regarding quality management systems, ensuring companies properly address customer needs and deliver high-quality results.

Do You Need Reliable Interpreters and Translators?

Finding a high-quality, reliable language services provider is essential for companies. By choosing a company that adheres to the strictest standards, you can ensure the quality of your results.

If you need a professional interpreter or translator, Acutrans can help. Acutrans provides high-quality interpretation services – on-site, over the phone, and video remote – and offers certified document translations within 24 hours. Along with general interpreters and translators, legal and medical specialists are available.

If you need an interpreter or translator, the Acutrans team can provide a fast, reliable, and professional solution. Contact us for a free quote today.