United Kingdom

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Below you can explore the most frequently asked questions about our translation services, the areas of work we cover and our translations. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for here, please don’t hesitate to contact us using our contact form, or telephone us on 020-38074476.

How many in-house translators do you have?

We don’t use in-house translators, instead our translation agency works with an enormous pool of freelances. The great advantage of this is that we have translators available at any time with knowledge of the subject matter and the right language skills for the job.
This way of working also means we can offer a wide range of specialisms. We currently have more than 4,000 translators in our pool, with expertise in more than 120 varied fields, covering everything from medical information leaflets in English to database design in Russian.

What is an apostille?

A sworn translation can also be provided with an apostille. Placing an apostille on the document indicates that the translator’s signature has been ratified by the District Court where the signature is ratified. The apostille is valid for countries which have signed up to the Apostille Convention. We are able to arrange for an apostille to be attached to your document. This does involve some additional costs and a slightly longer delivery period.

The apostille is recognised by countries which have signed up to the Apostille Convention (The Hague Convention of 5 October 1961). New countries continue to sign up to this convention. A recent listing of countries which recognise the apostille can be found here. The apostille is generally sufficient for acceptance of the translation in countries appearing on the list. Apostilles can be issued in Dutch, English, German, French, Spanish and Italian. They appear like a sticker with the stamp and signature of the court official.

What payment methods are available?

We accept the following methods of payment for translation work:

Payments by private individuals

We request payment in advance from private individuals. You can pay with a credit card, PayPal or via a bank transfer.

Payments by commercial organisations

Commercial customers will be invoiced in arrears. Invoices can be paid via a bank transfer or a credit card. We can invoice you in English, French, Dutch, German, Finnish or Swedish, without any additional charge. The invoice will state references, or your Purchase Order number if you wish. On request we can also send you a pro forma invoice.

How can I request a price quotation?

Our quotations module can immediately calculate the charge for your translation.

What is localisation?

Localisation goes beyond simple translation. Localisation means that your text is adapted to the needs and expectations of the target group in a different country. This applies particularly to websites, online stores and games. A well localised text ensures that your business makes a local impression, which is a precondition for commercial success in many countries. The following issues are significant in the localisation process:

  • Spelling preferences: so for example there is a subtle but very important distinction between French in France and French in Belgium.
  • Illustrations: maps showing the route to your Amsterdam office are of little value on your German website.
  • Monetary units and time zones.
  • Date and time notations and telephone numbers: in France for example telephone numbers are written with stops between groups of two digits.
  • Use of colour: Green websites are an absolute faux pas in Germany.
  • Company types: In Sweden a GmbH is an AB, while in Denmark it’s an A/S, but in Norway it’s an AS. We’ll sort all this out for you.
  • Script directionality and length of the text: Arabic and various other languages are written from right to left. Without certain (minor) technical modifications, only individual words are written right to left, and not whole sentences. Our language engineers will be delighted to assist you with this.
  • Weights and measures.
  • Decimals and the use of commas and stops in figures.

Localisation also has applications outside the retail domain. Direct translation of a contract is often not sufficient for example. The translation must be adapted to the local laws, regulations and procedures. This work requires a translator with a legal background.

When we talk about localisation in the translation business we refer to adapting the translated text to make it suitable for use in a different country. This is a broad definition, as there are different things to watch out for in each country. When you are seeking to successfully penetrate a new market our project managers and language engineers will take this demanding work off your hands.

What is software localisation (and localisation of websites)?

This means that when software or a website are translated, the software or the information on the website remains usable in the translated version.

Do Fasttranslator offer machine translations with post-editing?

Yes, we certainly offer this service.
We can provide machine translations which are processed by a human translator after the computerised translation. The end result is a great improvement on a pure machine translation but cannot compete with a text translated entirely by a human. We don’t use free translation websites for this purpose. Our software “learns” from translations that we have made over the course of twenty years. Machine translation with post-editing may be useful for you if one of the following applies:

  • There is a huge quantity of text, so that human translation would be prohibitively expensive.
  • The translation is required with extreme urgency, so that it is not feasible for it to be translated by human beings.
  • The “impact” is low, for example if the text is to be read only by a limited group of people, for whom speed is more important than quality.
  • There is a limited budget.
  • There is a large amount of repetition in the text.

Practical examples include article files, product catalogues, hotel descriptions, customer feedback, and texts for contract tendering processes, where a large advance investment is not desired.
The costs of these so-called machine editing + post editing (MT+PE) translations are much lower. Ask our Project Manager whether your text lends itself to this approach.

What is a native speaker?

Translation requires much more than a good command of a language. Even language users who have grown up in a bilingual setting are sometimes poor translators: they may still find it difficult to make a text in one language into an equivalent text in the other language.

On the other hand one is sometimes forced to use translators who are not working into their native language, for example if there are simply no native speaker translators available. Strict requirements must then be imposed on such a non-native translator.

Non-native translators have always followed a course in translation and have a good command of the language they are translating into. They will have achieved a near native level of linguistic ability.

Specialised texts sometimes call for a translator who specialises in the specific area of work. Their expertise can make them preferable to a translator with a native-speaker command of the language, but without the necessary specialist background.

In both cases the translator will be able to produce a sound translation, but the resulting text should preferably be refined by a native speaker.

How does the translation process work?

Translation is a unique discipline. We work exclusively with professional translators with translation qualifications, with specialisms in particular fields and who are above all native speakers of the target language. We have an extensive database of freelance translators, so that we can find the right translator for every project. Our project managers are experts in finding the ideal translator for your job.

The translation process

There are several aspects to the translation process. The source text is first read through, often several times. The translator will then make a start on an overall translation of the text. The more troublesome elements of the translation may not be addressed at this time. Once the overall translation is complete the translator will go deeper into the text to consider what the best solution is for any difficult points. They will make use of an extensive library of reference works: dictionaries, terminology databases and the internet. Translation engines play no role here. A text must never be translated literally, word for word. The text will no longer flow, and readability will suffer. A translator must however remain faithful to the source text and must not omit or add facts. Account must also be taken of the readership for the translation. Is the translation intended for a general audience or for a select group? Is the target language the mother tongue of the readers? Are the readers familiar with the topic of the text, or should the translation be kept as simple as possible? These are just a few examples of factors the translator must consider with every new translation that comes along.

End stage

Once the translation is completed to his or her satisfaction, the translator will let the text lie for a while, before thoroughly reading over it again. When returning to the text in this way the translator will often notice potential improvements they had missed the first time round. Translators also often have the translation proofread by a colleague, to identify any errors they may have missed. Proofreading is the final stage in the translation process.

What are the costs of a translation?

We normally require to see the text before estimating the cost. You can complete a quotation request form on our website.

Who carries out your specialist translations?

We are often asked if we use lawyers for our legal translations, or doctors for medical translations. This is possible, but it’s not essential Our legal and medical translators have mostly worked in the legal or medical field, and/or have undertaken special training. You can read more about our work in specialist fields on our page about our translation services.

Can you supply sworn translations?

Unfortunately we do not provide these services for the UK at the moment.

Do you also provide interpretation services?

Yes we also provide interpretation services, find out more about our interpretation services on our page about our language services.

Which languages do you work with?

We can translate into and out of any language you require. For a summary see our page about the different languages we work with.

What are your specialist areas of work?

With such an extensive pool of translators at our disposal we can offer you dozens of specialisms. We have particular specialisations in legal translations, medical translations and technical translations, but you can also rely on us for translations of texts about flowers and plants, cookery, architecture, animals, literary works, books, reports, marketing material, advertising, brochures, flyers, software… There isn’t really anything we can’t translate!

I have a text that needs to be translated. How does that work?

You can request a quotation using the quotations module on our website, by completing our contact form indicating your requirements, or by telephoning one of our offices. Our project managers will then let you know as quickly as possible about the charges and the delivery time for the translation.

What file types can be submitted for translation?

Our translators work best with text in Word or Excel documents. These are easy to process and any illustrations can be left in place. We can also work with PowerPoint presentations without difficulty. If there is content which can’t be processed we will let you know.

Texts can also be provided in the pdf format. These will be returned to you as a processable text in Word, without any special formatting.

Are your files more complex than this? We can help there too. Our quotations module lists all the types of files we accept. If your file type isn’t there, please use our contact form to get in touch. Our project managers generally have a solution for this type of problem.

How do you deliver your translations?

All translations apart from sworn translation are delivered by email. Translations of large documents can be downloaded from our secure server. Your Project Manager will then provide you with a download link to access to our client portal.

Do you also translate scanned documents?

Yes of course. A scanned document (in jpeg or pdf format) is a digital document, but is not processable. This entails that the translator will be unable to provide a translation in the same format. The text will then be converted to a Word file without special formatting. If you would prefer us to handle the layout your Project Manager will be able to inform you about the DTP options.

What characteristics do you look for in a translator?

We work with experienced, professional translators who are reliable, punctual, loyal and fast. Each translator has expertise in a specific area of work, and works exclusively into a single language.

What requirements must be met by a translator?

We work exclusively with translators who are native speakers of the target language. Our translators have also completed a course in translation and have years of experience in the profession.

I am a translator. Can I register with you as a freelance?

Certainly! For further information please contact us.

Do you work permanently with some translators?

We have an extensive pool of freelance translators, many of them work permanently with us.

How many in-house translators do you have?

We don’t work with in-house translators, instead we can call upon thousands of freelance translators who live and work all around the world.

Do you offer discounts on translations?

In some cases it is possible to deviate from our standard rates and offer a discount. One precondition is that the job involves a reasonably common language combination, such as Dutch to English, Dutch to German or English to French. It’s also important that the deadline is generous, so that we have plenty of time to set up the translation for you. A reduced rate is sadly not possible in the case of urgent translations.

What are the EU languages?

The European Union has 27 member states and 24 official languages. The EU languages are: Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Irish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish.

Should my translation be into Mandarin or Cantonese?

Cantonese is not the major language in China, so it is better to translate into Mandarin, the standard language in the Chinese world.

What is the difference between traditional and simplified Chinese?

These are two different types of script, used in two different geographical areas: simplified Chinese is used in China and Singapore. Traditional Chinese is used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and other Chinese communities outside China.