Freelance fees guide for fully qualified interpreters (RSLI) and trainee interpreters (TSLI) or equivalent:
Please note: the figures are provided as guidance only to the fees that NUBSLI members are likely to charge and apply to work carried out remotely or in person.
Fee guidance information is collected from our membership on a triennial basis, the most recent in 2020. This information has been adjusted in line with inflation and is correct at time of publishing.
Those seeking to engage interpreters’ services are advised to enquire with them directly for most up to date fee information.
BSL/English interpreters reserve the right to decline to be filmed or otherwise recorded whilst working (except when such recording is inherent within legal proceedings). Consent to recordings intended for broadcast or publication should be sought from the interpreter(s) in advance. Such recordings are likely to incur an additional fee.
BSL/English interpreters generally work in half or full day sessions. However, at the interpreter’s discretion, a ‘short duration’ fee may be charged if an assignment is local to the interpreter and/or short in duration.
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Specialist work may incur a higher fee. This includes any assignment which requires additional training, specific expertise and/or a substantial amount of preparation. For examples of what this might include see our Specialist work tab.
Due to the physical and mental demands of interpreting, more than one interpreter may be required for an assignment. The reasons for this are varied, but include the duration and/or intensity of the work involved and to ensure accuracy and quality of interpreting are maintained. Examples of where this might be the case are when interpreting for conferences, in the courtroom and mental health tribunals to name a few. Interpreters will discuss your requirements and advise you accordingly at the time of booking.
Evening and weekend rates
Interpreting during evening hours, at weekends, or on public holidays may be charged at a higher rate at the interpreter’s discretion.
0 – 7 days prior to date of assignment: 100% of agreed fee
8 – 14 days prior to date of assignment: 50% of agreed fee
Travel and accommodation expenses
Travel expenses will be paid to cover travel to and from the assignment, and for any travel required as part of the booking. Interpreters may quote a fee inclusive of travel otherwise this will be charged at £0.45 per mile for travel by car, or at standard fare rate for public transport.
When an assignment requires an overnight stay, reasonable accommodation expenses will be charged. Interpreters reserve the right to charge for travel time.
Terms of payment
Payment to be made in full within 30 days of receipt of invoice. After 30 days, charges will be applied (at the interpreter’s discretion) as per Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998.
Interpreting assignments of a legal nature or those with higher possible risk implications are not suitable for trainees to undertake. The types of domain this could include are: court, law, police, mental health, child protection, medical, conferences and any work involving the signature of any legal documentation (this is not an exhaustive list).
Further to this, trainee interpreters are regulated and supervised so it is advisable to discuss the details and potential complexity of an assignment with individual trainee interpreters to afford them the opportunity to discuss the assignment with their supervisor prior to accepting a booking.
Interpreters working in the settings listed below (not an exhaustive list) are likely to charge more than the fees guidance stated to reflect the skill, experience and responsibility of working in those domains.
This is a specialist area and qualified interpreters who hold relevant experience and additional training to work in this domain should be used. In some circumstances two interpreters and Deaf intermediaries may be required. A booking should include sufficient time to brief the interpreter(s).
Higher fees to those in the NUBSLI guidance may be incurred for the skilled professionals working in this domain.
Those working in this domain are qualified registered interpreters, who will have received additional training and are experienced. The fees for working with such highly skilled interpreters may be higher to reflect this.
Bookings should ensure sufficient time to include pre and post assignment briefings with interpreters. Ensure that enough interpreters are booked to include both interpretation in court and for outside court consultation.
Bookings should be made for a half or a full day to allow for occasions when court may overrun.
Interpreters working within mental health are qualified, experienced and will have received additional training in this domain. BSL/English interpreters may also work alongside Deaf interpreters.
When booking an interpreter ensure that you have scheduled time to prepare the interpreter(s) and brief them pre and post booking.
Interpreters working in this domain will be experienced and have received additional specialist training. Fees are likely to be higher than the fees guidance stated to reflect the preparation time required in advance of the performance and that these may occur during the evenings and at weekends.
Preparation will likely include, but is not limited to, reading scripts and researching characters and plots, viewing live or recorded performances, learning and understanding song lyrics and attending rehearsals.
These factors should be discussed with interpreters well in advance of the performance.
Fees for conferences may be more than those stated in the fees guidance due to the amount of preparation involved and the high demands of working in this setting.
Those booking interpreters for conferences should ensure preparation is provided in advance. This might include:
- Agenda/running order of the day
- Speaker list and copies of presentations
- Links to videos used during the day
Conferences may require a team of interpreters, especially if the day includes networking, plenary and breakout workshops. You should discuss this with the interpreters before confirming a booking.
If you are planning on recording or live streaming the event you must inform the interpreters in advance and agree consent.
What is the fee guidance?
NUBSLI has surveyed and consulted its members around the UK on fees in the areas they work in. The median (average) is calculated from the responses and published as guidance for those looking to purchase interpreting / translation services.
This is a substantial piece of work and is usually completed every three years. However, due to the cost of living crisis, members voted to update fees now to better reflect inflation ahead of a full survey next year.
The guidance consists of a written guide and fees calculated from members’ survey responses. The fees represent a mid-point of the market and are indicative of a price for which you might engage interpreting / translation services when purchasing directly from a freelancer.
The published fees guidance is not a cap, or maximum, and by limiting your budget to the published figures you may exclude a significant number of professionals who are likely to be more skilled and experienced.
Are interpreters / translators getting a pay rise?
Compared with previous guidance, interpreters and translators are taking a real terms pay cut, as inflation has continually outpaced updates to NUBSLI fee guidance. Colleagues’ fees have remained stagnant for several years whilst prices have been going up, our new approach to the guidance aims to address this.
Do other professions and workers have standard pay rates or guidance on fees?
Yes, many do. Examples of professions who have set standard pay rates or guidance on minimum fees include the National Union of Journalists, The Association of Professional Tour Guides, BECTU (Media and Entertainment), Equity (Actors and Performers Union), The Musicians Union, and NASUWT (the largest teachers’ union).
What if my ATW budget doesn’t cover the new fees?
ATW claimants can apply to ATW for a review of the budget. ATW can conduct a review and potentially increase your allocation to accommodate the new fees. Your ATW award should be reflective of the fees charged by suppliers in order to ensure you are able to do your job. NUBSLI have contacted ATW and informed them of the update to our guidance. For more information, please see the full briefing document which accompanies the updated fee guidance.
How did you reach the new figures?
Our last guidance was issued in 2020 and after a turbulent few years, members requested an update. We surveyed members and asked two questions. One was about whether members would like to be polled on updating the guidance annually (rather than every three to four years). The second asked if members would like the current guidance to be updated in light of increasing inflation.
Members overwhelmingly voted in favour of reviewing the guidance in line with inflation.
We anticipate that with more frequent updates to the guidance, in future years any increases will be smaller but regular, rather than larger and infrequent.
What are the fees for specialist areas?
The guidance reflects the median fee charged by interpreters / translators for a standard assignment. Those working in specialist settings can be expected to charge more than the guidance rate in order to reflect the level of skill and experience required for a given assignment. There are too many specialisms and variables for us to publish guidance on specialist rates and we advise interpreters / translators and clients to agree fees for a booking before it is confirmed.
Is there a fee for recording?
Some colleagues choose to add a fee for recording their work. Recording interpreters and translators means that their work becomes fixed. It requires additional preparation and adds cognitive stress into the interpreting/translation process. The charge will be dependent on the specific demands of an assignment and we advise interpreters/translators and clients to agree fees for a booking before it is confirmed..
Is there a difference in fees between in-person and remote work?
We have not collected data or published different guidance on remote vs in-person work. Each practitioner will have their own balance of circumstances determining the cost of providing services in each scenario.
Remote work comes with its own unique challenges and costs. Members must have proper equipment including laptops, additional devices, headsets, cameras, and more; broadband, heating, light, space in the home, etc.
Additionally, working from a screen in 2D is extremely challenging and creates additional demands on the interpreting / translation process.
Conversely, face to face work requires additional time to be allowed for travel, as well as associated costs. We advise interpreters/translators and clients to agree fees for a booking before it is confirmed.
Have you contacted stakeholders?
Yes, NUBSLI have contacted key stakeholders and providers of interpreting/translation services to inform them of the changes to our fee guidance and the reasoning behind it.
Will all interpreters and translators immediately be increasing their fees?
It should be anticipated that many colleagues are already charging the fees shown in our guidance. Other colleagues may increase their fees accordingly.
Changes to fees need to be negotiated between members and those purchasing their services on a case by case basis. We advise interpreters / translators and clients to agree fees for a booking before it is confirmed.
My question hasn’t been answered, who can I contact?
You can send an email query about the fees guidance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can learn more about NUBSLI’s fee guidance and how fees are determined by reading our briefing document.