How Much Do Interpreters Cost?

working with interpreters
How Much Do Interpreters Cost?

A lot less than not working with one, that is for sure.

Let me ask you, if I may, how important is it for you:

  • that your patient takes the right dose of medication?
  • to close that deal you have been working on for months and that will open a new market for your company?
  • or to pave the way to a better understanding with a key country?

You would not hire the least expensive lawyer to represent you in court, would you? Then why would you allow a non-professional interpreter to put your words in another language? When your goals are on the line, the assistance of a qualified, professional interpreter can determine the success or failure of your project.

I am not saying that we are all superheroes nor infallible creatures. What I am saying is that a good, qualified, professional interpreter will honour your message and help you build stronger bonds and communicate effortlessly with your clients or patients or audience or diplomatic counterpart.

So, how do interpreters charge for their services, then?

It all depends on each interpreter’s preferences and the type of interpreting you need.

Usually, conference and diplomatic interpreters charge by the day. Some may offer a half-day fee if the interpretation is short and local, but that depends on the project and the interpreter’s quoting choices.

Corporate and legal interpreters tend to use mixed quoting schemes.

Court and public services interpreters are usually paid by the hour.

Some interpreters even offer special rates for NGOs and charities.

Is that all or are there any additional charges?

Additional charges depend on whether the interpretation is local or not or whether interpreting equipment is needed. Let’s see:


Conference, diplomatic, corporate interpreters usually charge a per diem, unless food is provided by the client.

Court and public services interpreters usually charge an additional fee for travelling and waiting time, plus travelling expenses as they usually travel from one venue to the next.

Out of Town:

Court and public services interpreters rarely travel out of town for work but conference, diplomatic, and corporate ones often do. In this case, clients are usually responsible for:

  • Travel and accommodation expenses
  • Travel time, as interpreters are usually expected to arrive one or two days before the event
  • Meals, or a food allowance if meals are not provided
  • Additional interpreting time if, for example, interpreting is needed during dinner after a day’s work


For large conferences, it is necessary to set up interpreting booths. There are companies who specialise in this type of service and provide the necessary equipment and staff to install and operate the booths. This is charged separately.

For smaller setups, using portable wireless devices may be enough. These may be rented from specialist providers or simply property of the interpreter working with you. Either case, this is usually charged separately and added to the interpreter’s invoice.

As you can see, the best thing to do is contact your preferred professional interpreter, describe what you need to them in as much detail as possible, and ask them for a quote.

They will take care of the rest – and of your goals.

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