How Much Does it Cost to Translate a Document?
We are often asked about how much it costs to translate a document. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer! Each UK translation company has its own pricing structure. The cost of a document translator also depends on the type of document and your requirements. Translate a document into a widely-spoken language, and you’ll pay far less than translating into a niche language with few professional linguists available, for example.
So, how can you figure out a rough cost estimate for your project? This article explains all you need to know! Below we look at six factors that can affect the rates for translating a document. By the end, you’ll have a fair estimation of the budget you need to set aside.
1. Language Pair
The language pair is the first thing to consider when translating a document. What language is the original document in?—this is the source language. And what language would you like it to be translated to?—this is the target language. For example, if you need to translate a document from English to Spanish, English is the source language, and Spanish is the target language.
Translating between two common languages spoken by many people will usually be cheaper than translating a document between a more unusual language combination. This is because more translators work between widely-spoken languages. A UK translation company almost definitely has a skilled linguist that can translate from English to French, for example.
On the other hand, it becomes more expensive to translate a document between rarer languages. The translation costs more when the source or the target language is uncommon. And when the original and the target language are rare, translation fees increase further. For example, finding a professional document translator for Albanian to Hawaiian can be challenging.
2. Length of the Document
The length of the document will have a significant impact on translation fees. A UK translation company usually calculates their fees based on the number of words in the source document. The longer the content, the more time it takes to translate a document, so the more you need to pay.
Translations are charged like this as it’s the best way for companies to provide accurate translation costs upfront. It isn’t easy to anticipate the word count of a final product ahead of time, so the source document acts as a reliable and fair price point. A professional document translator can translate an average of 1500-2000 words daily, depending on the language, technology aids, and other factors.
The only exception to this rule is for high-volume projects. A UK translation company typically offers generous discounts if you’re translating particularly long documents or the same document into several languages. The provided discounts will be clearly identified in your initial quote.
3. Turnaround Time
We’ve explained that most document translators can render 1500-2000 words daily. However, this doesn’t mean your document translator will be available immediately! A UK translation company will have many simultaneous ongoing projects and a backlog of other work.
If you need to translate a document quickly and push your project to the front of their to-do list, it could increase the translation cost. This is more likely if the document has a high word count or the delivery date is just a few hours or days away. If a translator must work evenings or weekends to meet a short deadline, this is likely reflected in the quote.
Planning ahead and offering extended deadlines when hiring a professional linguist to translate a document will prevent the cost from rising due to tight deadlines. Being flexible with the deadline saves money without sacrificing the quality of the end product.
4. Area of Specialisation
Translation fees can also vary significantly depending on the content of the document. Specialisation is necessary for technical translations, such as documents in the fields of medicine, pharmaceuticals, and engineering. These types of translations require specific use of technical phrases and specialist knowledge by the document translator.
Some organisations and governments may require someone with specific qualifications or certificates to translate a document. This is especially true in the case of identity documents, evidence to support visa applications, or legal translation. This is sometimes called a sworn translation or certified translation. Hiring a UK translation company for these purposes may cost more.
5. Source Text Formatting
The formatting of the original document can affect the cost of hiring a UK translation company. If the original document is a non-editable scan of a document or even a physical copy of a book, translation fees could be higher. Your translator must convert the document into an editable format before they can begin the translation process, adding to the time taken to translate a document.
Providing an editable, digital copy of the source text is always preferable for a professional document translator and anyone wanting to keep translation fees low. It is also possible to provide translations from an audio file. This service, known as multilingual transcription services, is priced differently from text-to-text translation, charged per minute of the original recording.
6. Localisation and Transcreation
Depending on your needs, localisation and transcreation might be required. These services are more comprehensive than translation services, considering cultural preferences and making the end-user experience the same for people across the globe.
These services better suit specific industries. For example, market-facing materials that capture a localised brand image might require creative writing in another language or transcreation. You can expect to pay more for localisation and transcreation than to simply translate a document. Your document translator needs to put more work into the project, as reflected in the price.
On the other hand, a more direct translation that does not need localisation or transcreation services will be priced lower. Not every UK translation company offers localisation and transcreation, so check when requesting a quote to ensure your translated materials are fit for their purpose.
Get a Quote to Translate a Document Today!
Ultimately, it is impossible to say how much it costs to translate a document without seeing the document or discussing it first. There are many factors used to calculate translation fees. The more specialised skills your need your document translator to have, the quicker your deadlines, and the more work you require, the higher the rates.
You can receive an accurate quote from our leading UK translation company easily online. Our company is a member of the Association of Translation Companies in the UK, and we are also members in SDL Trados LSP Partner Programme. Click here and provide us with just a few details about your document. One of our friendly team will be in touch to discuss our translation fees, providing you with a competitively priced and transparent quote within a few hours.