What is a Translation Contract?
A translation contract is a legally binding document between a freelance translator and their client company that clearly states the terms of a project. This document spells out the scope of work, payment terms, approval process, ownership rights, dispute resolution, and termination.
A contract takes the client’s prior written consent for the services you’ll offer. It’s an essential starting point to cover the legal requirements before you kick-off any project. It also helps you avoid scope creep.
A translation contract also saves you a lot of legwork when starting a new project. You can simply customize your translator contract template to include specific project details and send it off for signature from your client.
Note: Download this translation contract sample for free by signing up to Bonsai.
Why Do You Need a Translation Contract?
Picture this: you’ve started a new translation assignment and completed a large chunk of it. Your client ghosts you and then ends the agreement abruptly–an all too familiar experience for many independent contractors unfortunately.
If you’re afraid of going down the same route, a fully-vetted translation contract template is a must. Here’s why you need template contracts:
Clarify every detail to avoid scope creep
Defining the scope of work for the project at hand is one of the biggest benefits of having agreement contracts in place. You might discuss all the details with your client verbally, but they need to be included in the contract in order to be held legally responsible.
Without a clearly defined project scope document that describes all the included services, you leave yourself open to taking on additional work. This will ultimately complicate the payment terms and leave you in the dark about the complete pay for your translator work.
So, use your translation contract template to outline exactly what’s expected from you in regards to the project at hand. That way, there’s no unexpected and unremunerated tasks along the way.
Dispute resolution terms
Another huge reason why you should always go for a translator contract is to protect yourself if something goes wrong. Translators are prone to some level of conflict with the publisher and many things can go wrong—you should be prepared if they do, and contracts help you prepare.
In addition to explaining the scope of work, your translator agreement should also specify details about the timeline, services, milestones (if any), fixed and variable costs, and similar considerations.
With an agreement clearly stating the payment terms, you don’t have to worry about issues arising from non-payment from your customer. You can include the necessary provisions–such as late payment fees–to address your concerns and create a bulletproof translation contract template to use time and time again.
What to Include in a Translation Contract?
Now that you know the importance of a translation contract, you’re all set to draft one. You don’t know where to begin? Hakuna matata, we’ve all been there.
Here are some of the most important elements to include when writing an agreement for translators:
The contract has to be between two or more parties–start your contracts with an introduction to your client’s company and yourself, and how you’ll be referring to the parties from here on in.
For instance, you are the “translator” and the client is the “client”. This is important for defining your individual roles within the project, and how you’ll be referring to the parties throughout the contract. It also saves a lot of leg work, as you’ll only need to change information up top in each contract you make.
Scope of the project
Once you’re done including details of the parties involved, it’s time for the most important part of your agreement—the project requirements. This section lists down all the services included within this translation project along with the timeline and milestone-based deliverables.
As mentioned before, while writing the project scope section, you have to be as clear and precise as possible.
Here’s what you can specify in this part of your agreement:
- Services offered: include everything you’re offering for a project—whether you’re translating to the English language or you’re localizing their existing content to another language. Define all the services finalized with the customer for a comprehensive scope of work.
- Workflow: tell the client about when you’ll submit what. Your publisher doesn’t expect you to translate everything in one go, but it’s always better to tell them how the content will be translated and communicate the deliverables.
- Timeline: set out realistic timelines for completing the translation project and include it in your agreement. This ensures everyone’s speaking the same language and sets a level of mutual understanding.
In essence, this part of the agreement explains the work that the translator and client agree to.
Editing and approval process
A translator works the same way as a writer—with a process for drafting, editing, and revising the content. A clearly defined review and approval process is a must for any freelance translator.
Your agreement should include a section spelling out the steps for customer review–including what’s expected of your edits and then how to confirm final approval.
Bonsai top tip: It’s a good idea to remind your client you may be doing more than translating. Some key terms, expressions, and cultural references may not make sense for another country or language, in which case you’ll need to localize the context of the copy rather than directly translate the piece.
Avoid letting the client ask for as many revisions as they want without any added costs–fix the number of times your client can request edits. Besides, you should also add provisions to ensure that extra revisions come at an extra cost.
Agreements are crucial for finalizing the fee for your translation services, and it’s a good idea to discuss the cost with the publisher before preparing this section of your contract. You want to have discussed potential costs beforehand–maybe in a translation proposal or quotation.
Your contract should include the pay finalized through mutual agreement—with no room to negotiate further. Explain how you’re going to bill the client and mention the accepted payment methods. You can also define any payment milestones for your work.
Moreover, remember to include provisions penalizing late payment.
You can also add a clause giving you the right to raise a legal dispute if the publisher doesn’t pay at all. You can issue however many days prior written notice of your intentions, and then this translation contract will enable you to stand your ground.
Bonsai top tip: As a freelance translator, there’s a high chance you’re working with a client that works in a different currency. Be sure you’re discussing payment in the same currency—sometimes there’s a big difference!
Your translation work is your intellectual property—unless you credit it to somebody else. You can choose to work with a publisher in a ghost capacity, which gives them exclusive rights to your work. Alternatively, you can choose to only offer services under the condition that any materials produced become your exclusive property.
This part of your translation agreement and its subject matter hereof will specify which of the two parties owns this intellectual property. Since every project differs in its requirements, discuss this aspect in detail with the publisher before setting it in stone.
Bonsai Top Tip: It may be worth introducing a clause that states your agreement shall allow you to use the translation work within your portfolio to help win future clients.
Some projects are terminated prior to getting the chance to reach completion–make sure both parties know what happens if this ends up being the case. In the case that your client decides to end the contract prematurely, you should have the right to dispute it, claim damages, and raise any payments referenced as invoices.
Add a section detailing the acceptable terms for terminating the agreement. That way, if the contract is terminated by either party, such party understands the remedies available to them.
It creates a sense of accountability and ensures both parties understand the consequences of not abiding by the terms of the agreement.
If you want to make your translation contract template even more fail-proof, consider including these components:
- Non-disclosure clause: to maintain the confidentiality of the work you’re doing
- Exclusivity: to specify whether you’re working exclusively for the publisher or can also work for what could be considered as their competitors
- Tax regulations: to detail the kind of documentation you’ll need from the client
- Limitation of purpose: to keep your work limited to its original purpose and avoid publication in different formats
Adding these smaller clauses will ensure that agreement has limited to no shortcomings.
Creating a Translation Contract is Simple with Bonsai
Drafting contracts over and over again is time consuming and unproductive. Instead, an agreement template gives you a model contract on which to build a new contract and expedites the process of creating customized agreements.
With Bonsai, this whole process is a lot easier. Bonsai’s contract templates for translators give you the flexibility to add, edit, or remove any details and quickly personalize the entire agreement.
Just follow these three quick steps:
- Sign up to Bonsai for free
- Choose the template you’re looking for—in this case, translation services
- Make changes to meet your specific needs
It’s that easy. Bonsai is the go-to resource for thousands of freelancers and SMBs. So, you can rely on its templates for proposals, contracts, invoices, and virtually any kind of typically time-consuming documentation—while you focus on doing what you love.
Voilà! You’ve streamlined your business processes while looking professional every step of the way.
Translation Contract Template FAQs
Do you need a translation contract?
Yes, contracts prepare a legal foundation for your relationship with a new client.
If you’re offering freelance translation services, a contract will protect all your interests in terms of project scope, workflows, fees, and termination and allow you to start a new project with confidence.
What to include in a freelance translation contract?
When creating a translation contract for your freelance services, include details like:
- Parties involved
- Scope of the project
- Editing and approval
- Other factors
Spend some extra time thinking about all these factors to ensure you’re addressing every possible loophole and making your agreement as strong as possible.