Debt collection for translators

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Contracts & Debt Collection for Translators

Best Practices


It may not seem logical to start a debt collection article with the beginning piece - the contract but in order to utilize many of the legal resources available you need to have proper agreements and documentation in the form of a contract or work order. There are many templates and online sources available including some here on on how to write a contract. here is a list of some online resources for contracts


There are many elements to a translation contract, some of which may be negotiable. Here are some resources on negotiation

Payment terms

  • Rates (detail needed on deciding rates, negotiating rates)
  • payment Terms (detail needed on payment terms)
    • Payment schedule: The payment schedule may indicate that payment will be made within 30 days of completion. Does that mean 30 days after you submit the translation work, 30 days after they accept it via email or file transfer, 30 days after it has been reviewed and Q&A performed? Is there any bonus or incentive opportunity for turning the work in early?
    • Form of payment: Do they offer PayPal or Moneybookers, will they send a check or money order, bank transfer. Each form of payment has its advantages and disadvantages from processing time, currency conversion fees, banking or transfer fees and each needs to be investigated and understood as to what is best for your business and in your country. Different currencies may have different implications for you in converting back to your native or preferred currency.

Currency converter

Delivery and receipt terms

  • File Format
    • will the document be in a XLiff format, word, PDF? Can you easily convert those and work in your CAT Tool environment? Will accepting one be more work and mean less profit for you

(additional contract elements and terms information needed)

Debt Collection

So if you have a solid contract in place that can be enforced and you are having trouble with an agency making payments to you - what can you do? First you should make sure that your fellow translators are able to avoid the same troubles by making an entry in the Blue Board As each country and region has specific laws regulating business practices it is important to be familiar with the rights and resources for contractors collecting debt in your country.

List of Debt Collection Services by Country

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