Language Industry Standards

Translation, Interpreting and Localization Standards

There are thousands of translation and localization companies around the world, each with their own way of doing things. It can be difficult for an outsider to evaluate a potential vendor or partner. How do they measure quality? Will I receive professional customer service? Do they have a process in place for when things go wrong? When faced with questions like these, industry standards can help differentiate companies.

Demonstrating professionalism to clients is an important reason why translation companies become certified in translation standards. The complex task of preparing for certification helps to organize, document, and improve internal processes. Finally, some requests for proposals (RFPs) require participants to be certified, especially when working in regulated industries.

Translation and localization standards are not static; they change and evolve over time. In addition, there are dozens of parallel standards from organizations around the world, and only a few are widely adopted (see list below). Keep in mind that standards certifications are only one measure of a company's maturity and competence. When evaluating a service provider, it's important to look beyond certifications to ensure a good fit with your projects and goals.

ISO Requirement Standards
  • ISO 9001:2015 - Quality management systems - Requirements
  • ISO 17100:2015 - Translation services - Requirements for translation services
  • ISO 18587:2017 - Translation services  - Post editing of machine translation output
  • ISO 20771:2020 - Legal translation - Requirements
  • ISO 18841:2018 - Interpreting services - General requirements and recommendations
  • ISO/IEC 27001:2022 - Information security management systems - Requirements
  • ISO 13485:2016 - Medical devices - Quality management systems - Requirements for regulatory purposes
ISO Guidance Standards
ASTM Guidance Standards
  • ASTM F2572-23 - Standard practice for language translation (Related to ISO 11669:2024)
  • WK46396 - Standard practice for analytic evaluation of translation quality (Related to ISO 5060:2024)
  • WK54884 - Standard practice for holistic quality evaluation system for translation 
  • ASTM F3130-18 Standard Practice for Language Service Companies  

GALA encourages language services companies to consider the benefits and costs of certification carefully, but it is not engaged in the certification process.

GALA's standards work is driven by the GALA Standards Committee which has ongoing projects creating educational and reference materials, providing analysis and recommendations, and advocating for standardization in the areas where it is most needed. 

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