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Purchasing high-quality translations (2/2)

Translation services according to ISO 17100

Purchasing high-quality translations (2/2)

How to contract high-quality translations (2/2)

In a previous blog entry (only available in Spanish, at the moment), we explained the basic concepts of the quality standards and presented two of the standards that apply to the translation sector: ISO 9001 and UNE-EN 15038. We also mentioned that these standards were undergoing changes in 2015. In today’s blog entry, we will discuss the changes that have been introduced to the new version of the UNE-EN 15038: the ISO 17100:2015.

ISO 17100:2015 standard

The new version of the standard was published on 1st May 2015 and specifies the requirements for translation services: ISO 17100:2015. The standard is actually an update of the European standard UNE-EN 15038. The fact that the European standard has been raised to an ISO standard (with very few changes) demonstrates the validity of the UNE-EN 15038 and is also a sign of the acceptance that this standard has been met with both by translation providers as well as clients of translation services.
The standard presents the necessary requirements for the delivery of a high-quality translation service. The main changes that have been introduced are detailed below.

Extended list of terms and concepts

The new standard provides an extended list of forty-two terms and definitions regarding different concepts related to translation and translation services, the translation workflow and technology, the control of the translation process, etc.

New technologies

The ISO 17100:2015 includes the tools and IT systems as a support to the translation process. According to the standard, translators and revisers as well as translation service providers should have the necessary knowledge and resources to be able to carry out the technical tasks required by the translation project.

Definition of the reviewer profile and the revision task

The new standard distinguishes between various types of revision: check, revision, review, proofreading and final verification and release. The check consists of an overall self-revision of the translation by the translator prior to delivery. The revision is obligatory and must include a bilingual comparison of the source and target languages. The review is a revision of the target language. The proofreading is a final revision prior to printing. The project manager must then carry out the final verification and release to confirm that all specifications have been met.

Translation project manager

The translation project manager profile is defined by the standard as responsible for all aspects of the production process. The steps that should be carried out when managing a translation project are also specified.


The new standard differentiates between a translation service provider (TSP) and a language service provider (LSP). The TSP provides translation services only, whereas the LSP also provides other language-related services.

Translation workflow

The ISO 17100:2015 establishes the processes and phases of a translation project. It distinguishes between pre-production, production and post-production processes, as well as providing a breakdown of each one of the activities involved in each phase.

New annexes with suggestions

The new version includes six informative annexes with suggestions, such as contractual specifications, translation technologies or management records and reports.
It is important to note that the ISO 17100:2015 does not apply to interpreting services, nor does it contemplate the use of machine translation output and post-editing.
It should also be underlined that the previous version of the standard is no longer valid and no more certificates will be issued. As of the date of publication of the new standard, organisations must be certified according to the ISO 17100:2015.


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