FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This section contains a list of questions frequently addressed to the association. If there is something about translation you want to know and think it would be useful to document here, let us know and we will add your question to the list.

Can I become an association member?

You’ll find all the information on who can become a member of APTIC and the steps to follow in the “Become a member” section of our website.

Do you have a job board?

Yes. The APTIC secretary receives job offers and distributes them among members. Also there is a search engine on the association’s website for locating associated professionals according to various criteria. If you want to know how it works, click here.

Remember that APTIC is not an agency or profit-based association and we try to ensure that the jobs that come in are distributed as openly as possible. We do not choose the job candidates, but allow possible candidates to contact clients directly. Therefore, it’s highly important that, if you contact us in search of a translator or interpreter, you post clear contact details and provide as much information as possible on the job you are offering.

Where can I study translation and/or interpretation?

In Spain there are increasing numbers of universities (both public and private) as well as other centres where you can study translation and interpretation. If you would like a list of Spanish universities where you can study, please go to our links page. Or check this master’s programmes guide (year 2010).

Within Catalonia, three universities currently offer a university degree in Translation and Interpretation: the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Universitat de Vic. f you are a graduate in another career area, but would like to undertake a master’s degree or postgraduate qualification related to translation, go to the continuing study section on this same page.

Are translation and interpretation the same thing?

These two terms are often confused, but the difference is clear. A translator only translates written text. Interpreting, in contrast, is solely an oral activity. So you can get a sense of how the aptitudes and requirements for both professions are quite different. (More information on interpreting in the next question.)

What do I have to do to become an interpreter?

Interpreting is a highly demanding profession because it is performed in extremely diverse contexts (congresses, negotiations, meetings of international organisations, etc.) and because the interpreter is responsible for the message reaching its hearers with total accuracy. Therefore, it is fundamental that professional interpreters have at the very least a university training, completely master their mother tongue, are absolutely proficient in their working languages and are knowledgeable on the cultures of the countries where these languages are spoken. Likewise, among other aptitudes, they must have the ability to concentrate, mental agility and communication skills.

At university translation and interpretation faculties, you can specialise in interpretation. In any case, the number of academic hours tends to be limited and, bearing in mind that this is an activity requiring many hours of practice, it is advisable to undertake continuing study courses in order to access employment opportunities for interpreters. For more information on study centres, check the continuing study section on this same page.

These professional interpreter associations can provide further information on this topic:

  • Asociación de Intérpretes de Conferencia de España [Spanish Association of Conference Interpreters] (AICE).
  • International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), or its Spanish section (ESPaiic).

How can I become a sworn translator?

Firstly you should realise that the system for gaining a sworn translator or interpreter qualification differs according to whether you want to become a sworn translator of Catalan or Spanish. The procedure for gaining the qualification in Spanish is regulated by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs while the procedure for Catalan translators depends on the Generalitat [Government of Catalonia].

In Catalonia, the Association of Sworn Translators and Interpreters of Catalonia (ATIJC)also offers information.

How can I become a sworn translator of Spanish?

The qualification of Sworn Translator of Spanish [official name: intérprete jurado] is awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and includes both sworn translation and sworn interpreting. Exams are held in Madrid, generally between September and November. Around early May, the exam period is published in the BOE [Official Spanish State Bulletin] (more info at http://www.boe.es or http://www.maec.es). You can also call the Language Interpreting Office of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: +34 913 799 700.

In general, in order to sit these exams you must comply with these basic conditions:

  • You must be a Spanish university graduate, technical engineer, architect, or hold a similar qualification (or a homologated, foreign qualification).
  • You must have Spanish nationality, or nationality of any other EU member state.

The examinations consist of four parts, all of an eliminatory nature:

  1. Direct, general translation (of a literary or journalistic nature) without a dictionary,
  2. General, inverse translation without a dictionary,
  3. Specialised translation (on legal or economic subjects).
  4. Interpreting.

Parts One and Two last two hours in total and you cannot use a dictionary. Part Three lasts an hour and a half and in this section you can use dictionaries.
If you pass the first three tests, you will be called for the oral test (Part Four). If you pass this, you will obtain the sworn interpreter qualification in the language in which you have been examined and Spanish. (This qualification is bidirectional: From the foreign language into Spanish and vice versa.)

A distribution list exists where you can locate other professionals who have passed or are preparing for the test.

Students undertaking a llicenciatura [undergraduate degree] in Translation and Interpretation can gain the qualification of Sworn Translator in their B Language and Spanish if they comply with the requirements listed in BOE Number 184, of 2 August 2002. To gain this qualification the graduate must have passed 24 credits in legal or economic translation and 16 interpretation credits. The new grading system for Translation and Interpretation is still unregulated (information updated 30 July 2009).

How can I become a sworn translator of Catalan?

Authorisation of a sworn translator of Catalan is awarded by the Generalitat [Government of Catalonia]. Exams are held inBarcelona, generally between October and November. The examination period is published in the DOGC [Official Bulletin of the Government of Catalonia]. (For more information, see the website of the Direcció General de Política Lingüística)[Directorate General on Linguistic Policy]..

Graduates in Translation and Interpretation can gain the qualification of Sworn Translator from their B language into Catalan if they fulfil the requirements listed in Article 7 of the parliamentary decree regulating such authorisation. In this case, candidates would not have to sit the examination unless they wish to be qualified in their C language, in which case they must at least sit the Translation and Interpretation section.

The languages which these exams currently cover are the following: Spanish, English, French, German, Italian (in the Translation and Interpreting sections), Chinese and Arabic (only in the Translation section). Spanish examinations are held every year while those for other languages are held on alternate years.

As in obtaining the qualification of Sworn Translator in Spanish, you must be a graduate or technical engineer, architect, or hold a similar qualification (or a homologated foreign qualification).

The exams are divided into four sections:

  1. Law examination
  2. Catalan examination
  3. Translation examination
  4. Interpretation examination

Law examination: this is eliminatory. It is held one month before the Translation and Interpreting examinations. Graduates in Law are exempt, as are graduates in Translation and Interpretation (into Catalan) and those candidates who are already sworn translators in any language.

Catalan examination: this is also eliminatory, and is also held some time before the Translation and Interpretation examinations. Graduates of Catalan Philology are exempt, as are those who are already sworn translators in any language, and any person who can accredit knowledge of Catalan equivalent to the Level D certificate awarded by the Direcció de Política Lingüística [Directorate General on Linguistic Policy]. (This is the case of graduates of Translation and Interpretation into Catalan.)

Translation examination: this is independent from the Interpretation examination. It consists of one section of general translation (direct and inverse) and another of specialised translation from a legal, insurance or other document (not generally a scientific text) in which dictionaries may be used.

Interpretation examination: this is independent from the Translation examination. It consists of interpreting (for each language) a five-minute video tape in which somebody is giving evidence before a judge in relation to the circumstances of a particular accident.

What is localisation? Is it a translation specialisation?

Both in translation and in computer science, localisation means adapting, generally a computer application, a website, or even instruction manuals, into the language and culture of a specific market. To localise, apart from the linguistic and supra-linguistic knowledge a translator possesses, a number of technical skills are required related to information technologies and programming. You’ll find more information at www.lisa.org, an association for specialists in the sector.

Where can I find computer resources for translators?

The Internet is packed with places where you can find the dictionary, programme or reference source you need… It’s just a case of searching and using them!

You can start with our links page. Bon voyage… and happy hunting!

How can I find work as a translator?

The most usual channels are the following:

  • Through the job boards at universities and translator associations (such as APTIC)’s). In the case of the job boards at associations, you normally have to be a member to access them.
  • Sending out CVs (check the next question).
  • Through advertisements posted on the Internet and published in other media.
  • By word-of-mouth, for example colleagues who have too much work and want to share their projects.
  • If you are a member of APTIC, see the new translators’ guide which you will find in the area for members, under guide in the Downloads section.

Where should I send CVs?

To anyone who could possibly be interested in using your services: translation companies, publishing houses, export companies… You can find addresses in the Yellow Pages or in Internet directories.

Bear in mind that you will probably not get a fast response, but many places save the CVs they receive and you may get a pleasant surprise a year or so after having sent it!

What should I do to work as a freelance (autònom) translator?

Firstly, you have to go to the administració de l’Agència Tributària [local tax office] in your area and register in the Hisenda [Inland Revenue] census. To do so you will have to fill out a model 036 [036 form]. The epigraph that corresponds to translators and interpreters is Epigraph 774, secció 2a. This procedure will also register you for the impost d’activitats econòmiques [IAE, economic activities tax], although it is not payable at this time. This census registration must be completed on the same day you start your business activity, or within the following ten days.

You have one month from when you start your business activity to register with Social Security under the règim especial [special category] of autònom [freelance] professionals. You must go to the Social Security office corresponding to your business address with a photocopy plus the original of your alta censal [census registration] and your NIE [Foreign Resident’s Identification Number], and fill in Form 521/A.

Once you have registered at Hisenda [Inland Revenue] and the Seguretat Social [Social Security], you can begin to work as a freelance translator. You must submit quarterly and yearly tax returns as applicable to your case (you will be informed of this when you register in the census). You must invoice all jobs and keep your accounting books up to date. You can find more detailed information in the APTIC guide Vull treballar per compte propi [I Want to Work for Myself, only in Catalan], available in the «Downloads» section of this website.

Important: This information is only orientative and may be subject to change. All data must be confirmed with the Agència Tributària [Tax Office] – in person, by phone (+34 901 335 533) or on their website (www.aeat.es)- and with your local Social Security office – in person, by phone (+34 901 502 050), or on their website (www.seg-social.es).

What rate should I apply to my translations?

Quotes can be offered:

  • By character (1,800 – 2,100 spaces per page)
  • By word (approximately 9.5 words per line, 285 words per page)
  • By page (approximately 30 lines, 285 words, 2,100 spaces).

Prices vary according to many factors: distance between the source and target language, degree of specialisation of the translation, its urgency, the document format and so on. Furthermore, you should bear in mind that sometimes translations are calculated according to the source text and other times according to the target translation.

Professional translators need to be aware that they are offering a business activity and therefore must calculate according to what they want to earn, subtracting their expenses. Here are some links you might find useful:

  • CalPro accounting sheet available on theAsetrad website.

You can also ask for advice and guidance directly from other professionals through our Internet distribution lists, or talk to them personally at meetings organised by associations or other organisations related to translation and interpretation.

How do I make an invoice in Spain?

Cal que hi facis constar:

  1. Your given names and surname(s), NIF [National Identity Number] and registered business address of the professional [you] issuing the invoice.
  2. Your client’s name, NIF and registered business address.
  3. Invoice number and date. The sequencing of numbers and dates must match up perfectly.
  4. Items invoiced and fees. The fees are the price you have negotiated with the client (the result of multiplying the negotiated price per page, line or word by the number of pages, lines or words translated, or from the original text). Your fees are the basis for all your tax calculations. This amount is also called the taxable amount [base imponible] or gross amount [importe bruto].
  5. IVA [Value-Added Tax, or sales tax]: 21 % on top of your fees. (Note: some translations are not subject to IVA, or they may be subject to IVA but exempt. For more information, see the question on translations where IVA does not apply.)
  6. IRPF [Income tax]: 21 % withholding from your taxable amount. During the year you register as autónomo and the two following years, if you want, you may choose 7 % withholding instead of 21 %.
  7. Total payable: fees + IVA – IRPF withholding.

You can download a template from our website and adapt it to your needs.

Important: This information is only orientative and may be subject to change. All data must be confirmed before its use.

When is IVA not applicable to a translation job?

Written translations of scientific, literary and artistic works that are subject to author’s rights (even if these are later waived) are considered subject to IVA, but exempt. If you create an invoice without IVA for this reason, you must add the following text to the invoice: “Operació subjecta a IVA però exempta per l’article 20.1.26 de la llei de l’IVA 37/1992 de 28 de desembre” [Operation subject to value-added tax but exempt under Article 20.1.26 of IVA Act 37/1992 of 28th December].

There are also cases where a translation is not subject to IVA (that is, the law does not require that IVA be applied to these operations). These are operations outside Spain. If you create an invoice without IVA for this reason, you must add the following text to the invoice: “Operació no subjecta a IVA per realització del fet imposable al lloc del destinatari fora de l’àmbit d’aplicació de l’impost, per l’article 70.1.5.B) f) de la llei de l’IVA 37/1992 de 28 de desembre” [Operation not subject to value-added tax [IVA] due to invoice recipient being resident outside the tax assessment zone, according to Article 70.1.5.B) f) of IVA Act 37/1992 of 28th December].

If you have any doubts about whether an invoice must apply IVA or not, the best thing is to check with the Agència Tributària [Tax Office] or with a gestor [chartered accountant]. However, if you are unsure, it is always best to charge IVA because it is the self-employed professional who is responsible for payment if applicable.

On the other hand, IVA is always applicable to corrections.

What is a contractistes (suppliers) certificate?

Since July 2004, if a self-employed professional does not pay taxes due to Hisenda [Inland Revenue], Inland Revenue can claim this money from the clients for whom this self-employed professional worked. This is called responsabilitat subsidiària [subsidiary responsibility]. However, if the client requires their suppliers to provide a Contractistes i sotscontractistes certificate (a document certifying that the professional is up to date with payment of tax obligations from the previous year), the company no longer bears this subsidiary responsibility.

A client can require this certificate from its suppliers if two conditions occur:

  • The invoiced item must constitute provision of services (not goods).
  • The relationship between the client and supplier must be necessary; this means that the professional provides a service related to the client’s main economic activity. For example, a translation agency or publishing house can require this certificate from its translators, but a company that manufactures shoes and has requested a one-off translation cannot do so.

On the other hand, as self-employed professionals, if we employ the services of other translators it is highly advisable to request this certificate.

To request this certificate, just go to the website of the Agència Tributària [Tax Office] and enter the data requested: your NIF [National Identity Number], your surname, the amount from Box 03 on Form 190 or Box 84 on form 390-392, and the NIF and name of the client requesting the certificate. The document will be sent to your registered address within two weeks and will be valid for one year.

How can I continue my training?

Translator associations organise different training courses with special prices for their members and, in some cases, also for members of other associations with whom they have signed collaboration agreements.

Universities tend to organise ongoing training courses as postgraduate and master’s qualifications. Some private companies also offer useful courses which are sometimes subsidised. APTIC members are entitled to discounts with certain organizations (check the details in our «Becoming a member» section or ask the Secretary).

The following sites represent some of the offerings available:

How much are automatic translators used in the profession?

An automatic translator can give you a general idea of a text in a language you are unfamiliar with, but it cannot substitute the job of a translator. It can even constitute a useful tool in your work as a translator, but using this tool has as many disadvantages as advantages.

Among the advantages, you could cite speed and immediacy because you can translate an entire document in ten seconds, something a translator can’t do. As well as saving time, you can also ensure that spelling will be correct. However, you should keep in mind that automatic translators tend to be literal and cannot resolve syntactical problems or polysemy, among other issues. And what is more important, they do not integrate an understanding of the world, something that we as language professionals can offer.

What steps should I take if a client fails to pay me?

As a very general rule, our administrative and accounts advisers tell us that the following steps are advisable in claiming an outstanding invoice:

  • First of all make every effort to resolve the matter through dialogue, though always setting yourself a time limit.
  • Once the possibilities of dialogue have been exhausted, you can send a certified fax [burofax] specifying the invoice being claimed, what services it is for, the amount and the due date.
  • Warn the client in the certified fax that you may take legal action in defence of your own interests should they fail to settle the payment.

From this point, if the client does not respond positively, you can take legal action in the form of court action to claim the amount; this may vary depending on the circumstances.

It is always better to take the advice of a lawyer – but ask for a quotation first.

COURSES AND ACTIVITIES