The difference between translators and interpreters

Most people are under the impression that interpreting and translating are one and the same thing, and that an interpreter can translate and a translator can interpret. However, this is not necessarily the case. An interpreter provides oral translations in a court of law, in police interviews, at hospitals or over the phone, whereas a translator provides written translations. Only government-authorized translators are authorized to stamp their translations with a protected stamp. No interpreter – not even a government-authorized interpreter – is authorized to stamp a translation unless he/she is also a government-authorized translator.

The Association of Government-Authorized Translators in Norway (STF) encourages members who are not qualified interpreters to refrain from interpreting in the courts, for the police or for the health services and from carrying out assignments involving remote interpretation (over the telephone). Likewise, we urge interpreters not to undertake translations that require the official stamp of a government-authorized translator.

Furthermore, STF encourages translation clients in the public sector, such as the courts, the police and the health services, to use the government-authorized translators registered in Translatørportalen for their written translation requirements.

A poor translation can have serious consequences. Using professionals with the right expertise is an assurance of quality and makes financial sense – in both the short and long term.

Many of STF's members are both government-authorized translators and interpreters, and provide their services all over the country.

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