ISO 17100 Certification Translators International

Our loyal customers, followers of our blog and website know that Translators International is certified according to the ISO 17100 quality standard.

The first Monday of July, just like every year, we were audited for the compliance to this standard.

We are happy to announce Translators International has once again passed with flying colors!

Most professionals out there know the ISO 9001 quality standard. It specifies the requirements for a quality management system, allowing companies to demonstrate the ability to consistently provide products that meet customer and regulatory requirements, regardless size or industry.

Why ISO 17100?

The ISO 17100, on the other hand, is the quality standard that focuses specifically on the translation industry. Professional intrusion is unfortunately still a reality. After all, we can estate, not without a hint of sarcasm, that it is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a good computer and knowledge of a second language must be able to translate, to rephrase Jane Austen’s famous quote.

But who is an intruder? Someone without a degree in translation?

Not everyone who speaks a language fluently can translate, and someone without a translation degree can prove to be an excellent translator.

In my personal experience, this is especially true with technical translations, where the best translators have a training in other fields, such as industrial engineering or computer science, and in addition, also have an amazing gift for writing.

Among other things, ISO 17100 regulates the framework in which translators are qualified to perform translation work. Both translators and revisers must at least possess one of the following three requirements:

a) a recognized graduate qualification in translation from an institution of higher education;

b) a recognized graduate qualification in any other field from an institution of higher education plus two years of full-time professional experience in translating;

c) five years of full-time professional experience in translating.

By being ISO 17100 certified, Translators International guarantees their customers that all work is carried out exclusively by professionals.

Service Level

All ISO 17100 translations are always reviewed by a second professional: the reviser.

But first things first, what is Translation and what is Revision?

  • Translation: the translator shall translate in accordance with the purpose of the translation project, including the linguistic conventions of the target language and relevant project specifications following some criteria related to domain & terminology, semantic accuracy, grammatical correctness, compliance with potential style guides and so on.
  • Revision: The reviser shall be a person other than the translator, and will examine the target language content against the source language content for any errors and other issues, and its suitability for purpose. This shall include comparison of the source and target language contents for all criteria mentioned above at Translation.

Is a Translation-only job (i.e. without revision) automatically a translation of lesser quality?

Well, not necessarily!

The ISO 17100 standard guarantees that all team members are full time professionals in the field, as explained earlier.

There is also a common misunderstanding that also claims that translation performed without revision is of less quality than a translation revised by a second pair of eyes. While this can be the case, it’s not necessarily so in all situations.

What happens next, will pretty much be determined by the choice of team members by the Project Manager. Take for instance a real life example:

Situation 1: Translation and Revision.

Team members both meet requirement a) (i.e. a translation degree), having both just left university without any professional translation experience. I set them both in the translation team, one as a translator and the other one as a reviser.

This is an ISO 17100 compliant workflow.

Situation 2: Translation only

Because of time constraints, we agree with our customer to skip the revision phase. The translator assigned to the job is someone who has been professionally translating in that field for 20 years.

This is not an ISO 17100 compliant workflow. 


Question: Will Situation 1 result in a better translation than Situation 2?

The answer will most likely be NO.

This seasoned translator has a deep understanding of the topic at hand leaving little room for textual misunderstanding, a high command of the terminology, impeccable grammar and a fluent style thanks to the writing skills acquired through years of experience.

Would an extra revision improve the quality of the translation? Maybe a comma will be added. Maybe a lost typo will be found, most likely nothing even noticeable to the naked eye. In fact, it might be possible that a reviser wouldn’t have to make any change.

Are you saying, (I hear you thinking), that if you skip revision, files are going to be passed on to the customer, trusting blindly in an invisible force that everything is in order? Well, no, of course not! All jobs are still verified for release by either a quality manager or a project manager, depending on the organization. This is a mandatory ISO 17100 quality assurance task.

As with all in life, everything is relative. But the ISO 17100 certification helps us to keep the focus on the quality our customers demand!

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