How Much does it Cost to Translate A Document? [2021 Detailed Guide]

How Much does it Cost to Translate A Document? [2021 Detailed Guide]

Want to know the average rates charged for translations in the UK? 

You’ve come to the right place! We put together a detailed guide, to help you understand just how much you should pay for translations and why. 

Here’s what we’ll talk about:

So, how much does it cost to translate a document in the UK?

In most cases, document translation costs are calculated on a price-per-word basis established according to industry-standard rates for translation (practised by most translators and translation companies or agencies).

However, each translation company and translator is free to establish their own prices, which is why you’ll notice a difference in translation rates from one provider to another. 

You’ll also see things like:

  • cost of translation services per word
  • cost of translation services per page
  • cost of translation services per hour


Why does this happen?

Well, there are lots of factors that influence the final cost, starting with the type and format of the document and ending with the languages involved in the process. But, in the end, it’s mostly about the effort required to do the job and the experience of the translator(s). 

Factors that Influence the Cost of Translation Services

The answer to “how much does it cost to translate a document?” is not very straightforward. In fact, there’s a series of factors that can bring the cost to translate documents up or down. 

Here are the main influencing factors:

  • Language pairing (the source language and the target language)
  • The experience of the translator
  • The nature of the content
  • Document formatting
  • The length of the translation
  • Urgency

Language Combination [or Pairings]

In short, some languages are more expensive than others, so it’s difficult to offer an accurate answer to the ‘how much does it cost to translate a document’ question. 

Languages that are popular (English, Spanish, Mandarin, and others) are less expensive than the ones that are rare (think Latin). In addition, the combination also matters (the language from which you’re translating and the language into which you need the translation).

The rates for a translation from English to Italian should be lower than the rates for a translation from English to Japanese. 

This happens because it’s easier to find translators that can work in English and Italian than translators that know both English and Japanese well enough. 

In addition, translators who live in a country where the cost of living is low can afford to charge lower rates. 

For instance, Chinese is one of the least expensive languages, which can seem unfair compared to Nordic languages (where the cost of living is high). Not to mention that the supply of Chinese translators outweighs the demand, while the situation is reversed for Nordic languages (fewer translators have to manage a larger demand).

As such, while a 10,000-word document translation into Chinese may cost around £1000, the same document translated into Icelandic may cost £1600 or higher. 

Experience of the Translator

An experienced translator who is comfortable with the language combination and the subject can finish the job faster, without errors or other issues. However, this also means they will charge higher rates. 

On the other hand, a translator that’s just starting will be slower and requires assistance (proofreading and checking for any contextual problems) from an experienced colleague or superior. The rates may be lower, but the project will take longer. 

Document Formatting & Subject

If the document requires specific formatting (re-creating tables and graphs) or it’s a specific type of translation (such as a birth certificate translation or a marriage certificate), the rates can get higher.

In addition, the subject of the document can also influence the final cost (or rates). If the text is highly technical (such as a technical manual for a piece of software or the documentation for a patent) the rates will be higher. Medical and scientific documents, legal translation, or mechanical engineer schematics also require special, high-level expertise and extra care for specific industry terminology (which can be difficult to translate).  

Technical translation, in general, requires the assistance of an expert in the field, who also knows the wanted language combination. This makes it more difficult to find someone than it would be for, say, a site/blog content translation

Project Size

The average rates charged for translations are also influenced by the length of the project. 

Depending on the difficulty of the translation, the rates may be established hourly, or on a per word/per page basis. Regardless, the size of the translation (calculated based on the source text) will influence the final cost. 

How much does it cost to translate a document per word?

The rate per word is the most common way to calculate the cost of translation.

The rate per word is used in situations where the amount of text is not consistent from page to page. In addition, if the font used is small, a page will contain more words, which means more work for the translator.  

For instance, marketing materials (with lots of images & schematics) or web content can’t be measured on a per-page basis. 

Lastly, it’s important to know that numbers, special characters, proper names, measurements, and other similar strings will also be counted as words.

How much does it cost to translate a document per page?

The rate per page is used for standardized documents, such as sworn translations, birth certificates, or other official documents. Since these have a strict format and a specific number of words on the page, it’s easier to establish a cost per page. 

In addition, the rate per page is also applied to projects where the text has a consistent formatting style, and the number of words per page is similar. 

How much does it cost to translate a document per hour?

The rate per hour is applied wherever the rate per word or the rate per page doesn’t apply. 

For instance, if the document requires a lot of preparation or the translator needs to apply specific formatting settings, these will be charged on an hourly basis. In short, all the extra effort that doesn’t cover cost per word will be charged as cost per hour. 

This is why it’s best to make sure your documents are properly formatted, easy to read, and clearly convey the message. 

See how you can prepare your documents for translation.

How Much Does It Cost To Translate A Document? [at Translations123 ]

In this section, we’ll talk about the rates we practice, as a translation agency with access to the best translator experts all over the world. 

Minimum Fee for Small Projects

Translations123 practices a minimum fee per order –  £20 or £25, depending on the language

This means that no matter how small a project is – should you need to translate one word for a tattoo, one short text message, just the headline of an article, or the address on a utility bill – we’ll charge you the minimum fee.

This includes translation, certification, and standard delivery – so, there are no hidden costs.

Translation Rates for Standard Documents

By standard documents, we understand 1-2-page documents that can be considered to have similar content and format to the same category in the same language.

There are many such examples:

How much does it cost to translate a document?

We start pricing at as low as £20 and can go as high as £30.
The rate per page is influenced by the type of document and language.
For instance, a 1-page, very complex document, like a Tax Statement or Insurance Statement, can cost £30.
Just like above, this includes the translation, certification and standard delivery.

Translation Rates for Non-standard Documents

There can be many examples here, so we will only outline a few:

  • CVs
  • Reference letters
  • Bank statements
  • Education curriculums
  • Contracts
  • Power of attorneys
  • Medical tests or other medical documents
  • Marketing documents, brochures, presentations

How much does it cost to translate a document?

The rates here are more volatile than with standard documents. 

As such, we start by assessing: 

  • the formatting needed
  • whether they are typed or handwritten
  • the number of words
  • whether the files are editable
  • language pair 
  • potential urgency.

We will apply rates similar to the ones above, and provide explanations as to how we came up with the quote.

How Much Does it Cost to Translate A Document in the UK [with Discounts]?

We offer a series of discounts, for various scenarios:

Similar Documents

For the translation of similar documents as part of the same order.

For example, if you have two children and need to translate both their Birth Certificates, we will do the second one at half price.

Large Projects

Since each project is different, we will discuss the best option for each large project individually, and provide solutions to help reduce rates.

For instance, with lengthy texts, assessed based on word count, the rate/word won’t include additional fees for certification, delivery etc. (these will be supported by us).

Regular Clients 

These are clients who contact us at least once a month (have regular work for us). 

Now, we have many such clients (some even go years back), and each of them has different translation needs. As such,  we like to discuss with each of them and set up an individual pricing plan that will reflect the volume of work.

Quality Assurance

Discounted prices don’t mean lower quality. It’s just our way of showing our care and investment in our customers. We always strive to keep the highest quality, this being our first guiding principle!

Is Your Quote Based on a Fair Price?

As we already mentioned, the cost to translate documents is influenced by a series of factors. However, the quality of the end result is the most important factor that can hype the price.

And yes, it is normal that a high-quality translation of a difficult document, with a language pairing that’s not very common, will cost a pretty penny. 

However, there are situations where the quote doesn’t reflect reality. So, to make sure your hard-earned pounds are used efficiently, here are a few things you can do when enquiring about the cost of translating documents:

  • Check the quote against the industry-standard rates – this will give you an idea about the fair price
  • Consider the difficulty of the document you need translating – if it is a highly technical one, then it will require the services of a translator specialized in that respective field. On the other hand, marketing materials require additional creative and localization work from the translator. In short, if the document is not something easy to understand and interpret, there are high chances that the price will get higher. 
  • Consider the size and reputation of your business partner – a well-established agency will practice bigger prices in comparison to a freelancer. However, an agency is working with well-trained translators, with strong backgrounds and experience. On the other hand, a freelancer doesn’t offer the same level of security.

Will You Get the Best Translation Quality?

How much does it cost to translate a document using the services of a well-trained translator with a good reputation? And how can you be sure you will receive the same level of quality as their more important customers?

While there may be some agencies that treat occasional or smaller customers differently, this doesn’t mean the level of quality will drop. True, if your project is not complex, it may land on the desk of a beginner. However, all respectable agencies (us included) have a strong quality assurance process that kicks in before the work is turned in. 

So, to make sure you will receive the best quality, always choose a certified translation agency (accredited by official bodies) with good testimonials from actual customers (check their Google reviews). 

Is There A Way To Reduce The Cost To Translate Documents?

Everyone wants to receive the best possible quality, but when it comes to budget, things are not always on the generous side. 

Still, this doesn’t mean you need to be satisfied with low-quality translations (if you are on a budget). 

There are a few simple ways to reduce costs, such as:

  • Discounts for high-volume projects or documents with lots of repetitions. We also offer such opportunities for a lower cost, and you can read our conditions for a discount in the section above
  • If you have many short documents to translate, you can avoid minimum charges (we also practice this) by bundling everything together in one document.   
  • There are agencies that offer discounts to charities and NGOs (regardless of their translation work volume). 

Now, the solutions mentioned above only work for small and medium-sized projects. But, translation agencies that work with huge volumes of work on a tight deadline use various technologies to stay up to date and keep the cost down. 

Here are a few translation technologies that help significantly reduce the cost to translate documents:

Translation Memories

This technology stores various sentence pairs, paragraphs, or sentence-like units in order to be re-used by human translators. This way, you are not using machine translation, but you are still speeding up the work of a translator by providing them with easy access to phrases that were already translated, in a similar context. 

Besides increasing speed, a TM (Translation Memory) also helps reduce the number of human errors and keeps the translation costs down. Moreover, the translation will maintain consistency, since the technology takes context into account. 

In the end, a human translator will have fewer words to translate (of course, it all depends on the size and variety of the TM’s database), which means a lower final cost for the customer.  

Quick tip: It is best to use the same translation agency (once you are happy with a supplier) in order to make the most out of their cost-reducing technologies. For instance, if you have annual reports to translate that keep the same layout, the overall cost will drop in time due to the use of TM. 

Machine Translation

Some agencies use machine translation as a method to reduce the cost of translating documents, but it’s not the most reliable method. While some tech-passionates would like to suggest that Artificial Intelligence and Neural Language Processors are the future of the translation industry, it’s not widely available nor is it effective to a degree where it can be usable.  

Machine translation right now doesn’t beat human translation and it doesn’t show any signs it will in the near future. Still, for translations that don’t need to be 100% accurate or in the right context, you can use a translation engine like Google.  

However, this type of translation is mostly suitable for technical descriptions, short sentences, or other projects where the quality of the translation does not take priority. 

Overall, there are many ways to reduce the cost to translate documents. You just need to find and select the right conditions and the right translation agency.

How much does it cost to translate a document? Ask for a free quote!

Given the many factors that influence translation rates, it can be difficult to know from the start the cost to translate documents.  

But we can tell you more if you send us your document(s): 

Providing a quote is free of charge and you will have no obligation to proceed with the order should you not find the price satisfactory. 

Also, it does not matter where you are based. We serve all UK and Europe and have clients based worldwide.