How expensive is a translation?
What expenses can I expect when booking an interpreter?
The following applies for all services:
Price negotiations should always take place in advance and the assignment should be awarded with a fee that is as precise as possible. This way, both sides can avoid disagreements later on regarding the fee due.
Due to antitrust reasons, BDÜ is not permitted to issue rates recommendations.
Pricing is always a matter of negotiation and depends on a number of factors, such as:
- content-related degree of difficulty (special field, terminology)
- technical degree of difficulty (readability, software requirements, etc.)
- deadline (normal/rush job)
Calculation by standard lines
A standard line consists of 50-55 characters (depending on the basis of calculation) and a standard page consists of 30 such lines. Preferably, the translated text (target text) will be used as the basis for the calculation. However, an offer can be based on the text to be translated (source text) as long as it is available in a countable format. Agreeing upon a flat fee on this basis is also possible. There are special line counting programs for determining the line count.
Calculation by words
In some countries, translations are not calculated by lines, but by words. However, this method is less useful for translations into or out of German. The reason for this is the long compound words that are typical in particular for German specialist texts (such as “Punktschweißroboter”, “Einkommensteuer-Durchführungsverordnung” or “Arbeitnehmer-Entsendegesetz”). Therefore, the calculation by standard lines in the target text has become common practice for translations from or into German.
For translations that need to be completed quickly or over the weekend, a higher line price or a rush fee/weekend surcharge may apply, which needs to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis.
Additional services on an hourly basis
Services such as proofreading, editing translations or also translations that require a great deal of manual formatting are usually charged by the hour, since calculating the cost based on line prices is very difficult.
Differing conditions apply for the translation of works of fiction and nonfiction that are commissioned by publishing houses. Here, calculations are usually based on pages. For more information, refer to the Verband deutschsprachiger Übersetzer literarischer und wissenschaftlicher Werke (Association of German-speaking translators of literary and scientific works (VdÜ)).
Translations for courts and authorities
For translations in the legal/authority field, the regulations of the German Judicial Remuneration and Compensation Act (JVEG) apply.
Daily rates are typically charged for interpreter services at conferences, trade fairs, company tours, seminars and similar events even though an assignment may not last an entire day.
The reason for this is the time-consuming preparation and follow-up work that interpreters perform for to ensure high-quality interpreting services. Therefore, even for relatively short but preparation-intensive interpreting assignments, such as for notarial acts or marriages, a minimum of one half-day is charged.
Additional charges to be remunerated in addition to the interpreting service itself are travel and wait times along with the corresponding travelling expenses.
Interpreting for courts and authorities
The same applies here as well: Compensation of interpreting assignments for legal/official authority clients is regulated by the German Judicial Remuneration and Compensation Act (JVEG).
For further information on remuneration for interpreting services, go to:
- the website of the Association of Conference Interpreters in BDÜ (VKD)
- the Dolmetschen von A - Z glossary