Translation is a service that is largely based on trust. Especially if you do not speak the target language yourself, you have to blindly, in the truest sense of the word, rely on the translation agency’s work. That is why choosing a translation agency should only be done with the help of various quality criteria. A small checklist might be helpful here:
Is the agency ISO 17100 certified?
ISO 17100 is the only internationally valid quality standard and regulates quality standards for the translation process, the finished translation and compliance with customer agreements. Any reliable agency should hold such a certification which can also be renewed every two years by means of an audit. It acts as a mark of quality and should be expressly communicated by agencies as a certification and should be shown upon request.
The ISO 17100 quality standard covers the criteria for a high-quality translation service. Many agencies also quote other applicable quality criteria that they impose on themselves and adhere to in their work.
According to the ISO 17100, a translation must be done using the four-eyes principle. This means that at least one other translator must read and revise the translation. Translators are also selected in accordance with the standards of ISO 17100:
- The translator has a translation qualification at university level at least
- The translator has a university degree in any subject and can demonstrate at least two years’ translation experience
- The translator can demonstrate at least five years’ experience as a translator
Caution however. Registration for ISO 17100 certification is not a sign of quality. There are plenty of agencies who have registered for an ISO 17100 audit who do not undergo the subsequent audit by independent experts who in turn issue the certification. Registration is therefore not a sign of quality.
Non-disclosure agreement and liability
A translation agency is often called upon to translate highly-sensitive documents. You should therefore always double-check that your agency has concluded non-disclosure agreements with its staff and translators.
It is often also not clear to corporate customers who is liable for possible damages in the case of a translation error. A serious translation agency recognises that the issue of liability is not always easy to answer, even legally. A serious translation agency will offer clear information about its own liability and will never try to cast liability away from itself as this is never fair.
Registered office and contact information
As is often the case in the service sector, details of the registered office, a correct address and a permanent, human contact person speaks volumes about the integrity of a translation agency. Before commissioning an agency, you should therefore also check if its contact information appears credible to you. An initial meeting can often be arranged in advance for briefing purposes and to get to know one another. Again, in serious translation agencies, this is a given.