Aunt Tania’s advice for an aspiring translator – continued

Some more advice (continued from here).

Q. I don’t know how to send an invoice – I do not want to appear unprofessional
Create a simple form including all the required information (date, your name and address, client’s name and address, short description of performed work, amount). No one will hold it against you if the invoice contains no bells and whistles. (Note that from the legal point of view you are not obliged to register your business, you can conduct it using just your own name.) I started using somewhat nicer form when I registered my own company (so now I have something like a logo in a corner) but the rest is pretty much the same. Don’t worry about the clients, they will look at how you do the job and not at how artful your invoices are. Besides, many of my clients do not require any invoice whatsoever – I name the price, they agree, I do the job and they send me the payment. Translation agencies usually ask you to send them an Excel spreadsheet once a month for all the jobs you did in that month, and they often give you their own invoice form to use.

Q. How do you accept payments? What is the best way?
I use three ways of accepting payments:
a. Paypal. I started accepting Paypal payments just because I already had a Paypal account and it seemed to be a convenient way. Frankly, I never tried other electronic payment systems and have no idea how they compare with Paypal. Please note that Paypal charges you (I think) 2.5% from any amount you transfer into your bank account.
b. Bank transfer. Within Canada or from abroad. It can be more expensive than Paypal but some clients do not like using Paypal for various reasons. Please note that Canadian banks (at least CIBC which I use) charge you $10 when someone transfers money into your account from abroad. So, for small amounts Paypal is probably better.
c. Your US and Canadian clients can mail you a cheque which you then deposit into your bank account in a usual way. This takes somewhat longer than Paypal but does not cost you anything except your bank’s standard fee for depositing a cheque. It is cheaper for the clients, too, because a bank transfer costs, and that way they only pay for sending a letter.

Q. I don’t have any stamp I could use to confirm a translation!
You cannot have a stamp to confirm a translation unless you have an official certification (e.g. ATA, ATIO). On the other hand, most translations do not need certification. The only ones that do are official documents (e.g. birth certificates) that will be used for official purposes (e.g. in an immigration process).

If you want to translate such documents, you can do it in one of the two ways:
– obtain a certification (this is, I believe, a lengthy process that may take 2 to 4 years), or
– find a certified translator that will check and stamp ready translations, and send your clients to him/her after you translated their papers, to certify the translations you make. I found such a translator, but then I don’t do a lot of document translation. (I decided not to go for the official certification, at least not now, see my previous post.)

Some more advice. Contact SISO ( – they work with many translators to and from different languages, and they may need someone with yours. They are located in Hamilton but you will only have to visit them once or twice for orientation sessions. After that all the communication is held by e-mail. You will translate documents and SISO will certify them using their own certified translator. They probably won’t give you a lot of work but still it is a nice way to begin, to earn some references etc. Mention that you want to work as a paid translator and not as a volunteer (they have a lot of volunteers working for them, too, so it is better to clarify this from the beginning).

Rivint ( is a similar agency in Toronto. I suggest you search for other similar agencies and community organizations, I am sure there is a lot of them around.

To be continued…


9 Responses to “Aunt Tania’s advice for an aspiring translator – continued”

  1. Nagli Says:

    Thanks a lot.

  2. Ewa Says:

    Your advice is invaluable!
    I did a lot of translations, but as a part of my job duties and not as a freelancer, so I had lots of doubts. I study translation at Glendon, because wherever I asked (ex.: at MCIS Toronto, Access Alliance, etc. where I am registered as an interpreter) they said that if I wanted to do translation assignments as well I need a degree in translation. I believe in getting it anyways. I was wandering about one thing though: does a degree give you the same privilages as, let’s say, ATIO membership, in terms of not having to send your clients with official documents to someone else for accreditation? I know I could ask a professor, but they are usually a bit detached from reality…, plus there’s the strike still!

  3. oryxandcrake Says:

    I would not know because I have neither a degree in translation nor a certification, and it does not prevent me from getting translation assignments. My degree is in applied math and computers – either this or my translation experience or both satisfy the clients/agencies and no one ever said that I need anything else to do the job. On, if the client requires credentials, they specify it in the job description. But this is very rare, and I believe that in this case they really don’t care what kind of certification you have – ATIO or ATA, especially since most clients are from USA and ATA certification would suit them perfectly well. The reason I am saying all this is that I talked to a professional translator in one of Toronto member meetings, and he said that ATA certification is much easier and cheaper to obtain. I did not try it though, because I am doing quite well without any certification. But look into ATA membership. On the other hand, though, if you want to be able to certify documents in Canada, I am not sure that ATA membership is good for that. Sorry I cannot be of more help with this issue.

  4. Ewa Says:

    I was hoping you knew how it works from some of your collegues.
    Thanks anyway.

  5. oryxandcrake Says:

    Ewa, you can actually ask this question on a forum. There should be a section related to certifications, legal issues and such.
    Besides, member gatherings (they are called powwows) are regularly held in many cities, including Toronto. If you look at the appropriate section of, you may find out when the next powwow will be held, if there is one anytime soon. You can go there and ask any questions you like.

  6. ewa Says:

    Thanks a lot!

  7. oryxandcrake Says:

    There will be a powwow in the end of February

  8. patenttranslator Says:

    You cannot have a stamp to confirm a translation unless you have an official certification (e.g. ATA, ATIO). On the other hand, most translations do not need certification. The only ones that do are official documents (e.g. birth certificates) that will be used for official purposes (e.g. in an immigration process).

    I don’t know how it works in Canada and other countries, but since translation is not regulated by the state here in US, unlike much more important and demanding types of business activities such as cutting hair or walking dogs, you can just go to Office Depot and have them create a circular embossing stamp for you for about 20 bucks. Mine has the name of my business on it and the words OFFICIAL TRANSLATION. You can than put your stamp on your certifying statement printed on your stationary. At least that is how it works here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: