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What is a translation contract?

A translation contract is an agreement between a freelance translator and their client, outlining the scope of work, milestones and deadlines, rights, and payment. 

Here we take a look at why you need one, what you need to include, and our top tips for getting your contract just right.  

Why do you need a translation contract template?

First and foremost, you need a well-structured and easy-to-understand translation contract to protect yourself as a freelance service provider. You should never enter into an agreement with a prospective client without first defining what it is you’re being asked to do, when you need to deliver it by, and how much you’re being paid. 

Starting a translation project without a contract could leave you open to being taken advantage of, having your time wasted, or being left out of pocket.

What should you include in your translation contract sample?

Your contract should include the following information:

  • What you’re being asked to translate. Is it a book? A webpage? How many words? In what language? Be as detailed as possible.
  • Milestones and deadlines. When is the first draft due? How many rounds of revisions? When do you need to submit the final draft? Get it all in writing.
  • The amount you’re being paid and when it’s due. Are you being paid per word translated, a flat fee, an hourly rate? How much are you charging? When is it due? Leave nothing to chance when it comes to payment.
  • Who owns the rights to the translated work. This is vitally important. Make sure your contract clearly states who the rightsholder is, and how the rights can be transferred (usually upon full payment).
Translation Contract Template
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What should be included in a translation contract template?

Here are our top tips for creating a solid translation contract.

1. Make sure the project scope is crystal clear in the translation contract template

There’s no room for ambiguity when drafting a contract. So, to avoid the dreaded “scope creep” or potential client disagreements further down the line, you need to be meticulous when writing your project scope. 

It should specify precisely what you’re being asked to do and, for good measure, also indicate what’s not included under the terms of the contract.

For example, let’s say you’ve been tasked with translating a website into Spanish. In the brief, your client has outlined the 10 pages that require translation, but they haven’t included the Privacy Policy or Cookie Policy pages. Your translation contract must highlight that these pages are not part of the agreement, otherwise, your client might try to slip them in at a later date.

2. Know your rights as a translator with the translation contract template

Disclaimer: This does not constitute legal advice. Please acquire appropriate counsel for your situation.

As a translator, you have certain rights, as per the UNESCO Recommendation on the Legal Protection of Translators and Translations and the Practical Means to improve the Status of Translators

These include the right to:

  • The same copyright protections as authors.
  • The same measure of publicity as the original author in published translations.
  • A reasonable time to complete a translation.

Make sure you understand your rights as a translator, and that your translation contract highlights them in no uncertain terms.

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What are the essentials of a translation contract?

If you are contracted to translate a book into another language, you could pursue royalties over and above your fee. You might even consider forgoing the fee for a larger split of the royalties from any sales of your translated work.

However you wish to negotiate it, you need to specify your terms clearly. Don’t run the risk of missing out on a potentially lucrative contract by using vague language when it comes to your payment terms. 

Your contract must state how high your royalties will be; how often they’ll be paid; if they decrease over time; and if there’s an endpoint to the agreement. 

Follow these tips and your next translation contract will keep you safe from scope creep, protect your rights, and make sure you’re paid on time.  

Use this template

The simplest way to create a legally sound contract. Check out an example below

Translation Contract Template

This Contract is between Sample Client (the "Client") and John Doe (the "Translator").

The Contract is dated [the date both parties sign].


1.1 Project. The Client is hiring the Translator to do the following: The Translator will assist the Client with translation services.

1.2 Schedule. The Translator will begin work on October 01, 2020 and the work is ongoing. This Contract can be ended by either Client or Translator at any time, pursuant to the terms of Section 6, Term and Termination.

1.3 Payment. The Client will pay the Translator a rate of $33.00 (USD) per hour. Of this, the Client will pay the Translator $150.00 (USD) before work begins.

1.4 Expenses. The Client will reimburse the Translator's expenses. Expenses do not need to be pre-approved by the Client.

1.5 Invoices. The Translator will invoice the Client weekly. The Client agrees to pay the amount owed within 15 days of receiving the invoice. Payment after that date will incur a late fee of 5.0% per month on the outstanding amount.

1.6 Support. The Translator will not provide support for any deliverable once the Client accepts it, unless otherwise agreed in writing.


2.1 Client Owns All Work Product. As part of this job, the Translator is creating “work product” for the Client. To avoid confusion, work product is the finished product, as well as drafts, notes, materials, mockups, hardware, designs, inventions, patents, code, and anything else that the Translator works on—that is, conceives, creates, designs, develops, invents, works on, or reduces to practice—as part of this project, whether before the date of this Contract or after. The Translator hereby gives the Client this work product once the Client pays for it in full. This means the Translator is giving the Client all of its rights, titles, and interests in and to the work product (including intellectual property rights), and the Client will be the sole owner of it. The Client can use the work product however it wants or it can decide not to use the work product at all. The Client, for example, can modify, destroy, or sell it, as it sees fit.

2.2 Translator's Use Of Work Product. Once the Translator gives the work product to the Client, the Translator does not have any rights to it, except those that the Client explicitly gives the Translator here. The Client gives the Translator permission to use the work product as part of the Translator's portfolio and websites, in galleries, and in other media, so long as it is to showcase the Translator's work and not for any other purpose. The Translator is not allowed to sell or otherwise use the work product to make money or for any other commercial use. The Client is not allowed to take back this license, even after the Contract ends.

2.3 Translator's Help Securing Ownership. In the future, the Client may need the Translator's help to show that the Client owns the work product or to complete the transfer. The Translator agrees to help with that. For example, the Translator may have to sign a patent application. The Client will pay any required expenses for this. If the Client can’t find the Translator, the Translator agrees that the Client can act on the Translator's behalf to accomplish the same thing. The following language gives the Client that right: if the Client can’t find the Translator after spending reasonable effort trying to do so, the Translator hereby irrevocably designates and appoints the Client as the Translator's agent and attorney-in-fact, which appointment is coupled with an interest, to act for the Translator and on the Translator's behalf to execute, verify, and file the required documents and to take any other legal action to accomplish the purposes of paragraph 2.1 (Client Owns All Work Product).

2.4 Translator's IP That Is Not Work Product. During the course of this project, the Translator might use intellectual property that the Translator owns or has licensed from a third party, but that does not qualify as “work product.” This is called “background IP.” Possible examples of background IP are pre-existing code, type fonts, properly-licensed stock photos, and web application tools. The Translator is not giving the Client this background IP. But, as part of the Contract, the Translator is giving the Client a right to use and license (with the right to sublicense) the background IP to develop, market, sell, and support the Client’s products and services. The Client may use this background IP worldwide and free of charge, but it cannot transfer its rights to the background IP (except as allowed in Section 11.1 (Assignment)). The Client cannot sell or license the background IP separately from its products or services. The Translator cannot take back this grant, and this grant does not end when the Contract is over.

2.5 Translator's Right To Use Client IP. The Translator may need to use the Client’s intellectual property to do its job. For example, if the Client is hiring the Translator to build a website, the Translator may have to use the Client’s logo. The Client agrees to let the Translator use the Client’s intellectual property and other intellectual property that the Client controls to the extent reasonably necessary to do the Translator's job. Beyond that, the Client is not giving the Translator any intellectual property rights, unless specifically stated otherwise in this Contract.

3. COMPETITIVE ENGAGEMENTS. The Translator won’t work for a competitor of the Client until this Contract ends. To avoid confusion, a competitor is any third party that develops, manufactures, promotes, sells, licenses, distributes, or provides products or services that are substantially similar to the Client’s products or services. A competitor is also a third party that plans to do any of those things. The one exception to this restriction is if the Translator asks for permission beforehand and the Client agrees to it in writing. If the Translator uses employees or subcontractors, the Translator must make sure they follow the obligations in this paragraph, as well.

4. NON-SOLICITATION. Until this Contract ends, the Translator won’t: (a) encourage Client employees or service providers to stop working for the Client; (b) encourage Client customers or clients to stop doing business with the Client; or (c) hire anyone who worked for the Client over the 12-month period before the Contract ended. The one exception is if the Translator puts out a general ad and someone who happened to work for the Client responds. In that case, the Translator may hire that candidate. The Translator promises that it won’t do anything in this paragraph on behalf of itself or a third party.


5.1 Overview. This section contains important promises between the parties.

5.2 Authority To Sign. Each party promises to the other party that it has the authority to enter into this Contract and to perform all of its obligations under this Contract.

5.3 Translator Has Right To Give Client Work Product. The Translator promises that it owns the work product, that the Translator is able to give the work product to the Client, and that no other party will claim that it owns the work product. If the Translator uses employees or subcontractors, the Translator also promises that these employees and subcontractors have signed contracts with the Translator giving the Translator any rights that the employees or subcontractors have related to the Translator's background IP and work product.

5.4 Translator Will Comply With Laws. The Translator promises that the manner it does this job, its work product, and any background IP it uses comply with applicable U.S. and foreign laws and regulations.

5.5 Work Product Does Not Infringe. The Translator promises that its work product does not and will not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights, that the Translator has the right to let the Client use the background IP, and that this Contract does not and will not violate any contract that the Translator has entered into or will enter into with someone else.

5.6 Client Will Review Work. The Client promises to review the work product, to be reasonably available to the Translator if the Translator has questions regarding this project, and to provide timely feedback and decisions.

5.7 Client-Supplied Material Does Not Infringe. If the Client provides the Translator with material to incorporate into the work product, the Client promises that this material does not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property rights.

6. TERM AND TERMINATION. This Contract is ongoing, until ended by the Client or the Translator. Either party may end this Contract for any reason by sending an email or letter to the other party, informing the recipient that the sender is ending the Contract and that the Contract will end in 7 days. The Contract officially ends once that time has passed. The party that is ending the Contract must provide notice by taking the steps explained in Section 11.4. The Translator must immediately stop working as soon as it receives this notice, unless the notice says otherwise. The Client will pay the Translator for the work done up until when the Contract ends and will reimburse the Translator for any agreed-upon, non-cancellable expenses. The following sections don’t end even after the Contract ends: 2 (Ownership and Licenses); 3 (Competitive Engagements); 4 (Non-Solicitation); 5 (Representations); 8 (Confidential Information); 9 (Limitation of Liability); 10 (Indemnity); and 11 (General).

7. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR. The Client is hiring the Translator as an independent contractor. The following statements accurately reflect their relationship:

- The Translator will use its own equipment, tools, and material to do the work.- The Client will not control how the job is performed on a day-to-day basis. Rather, the Translator is responsible for determining when, where, and how it will carry out the work.- The Client will not provide the Translator with any training.- The Client and the Translator do not have a partnership or employer-employee relationship.- The Translator cannot enter into contracts, make promises, or act on behalf of the Client.- The Translator is not entitled to the Client’s benefits (e.g., group insurance, retirement benefits, retirement plans, vacation days).- The Translator is responsible for its own taxes.- The Client will not withhold social security and Medicare taxes or make payments for disability insurance, unemployment insurance, or workers compensation for the Translator or any of the Translator's employees or subcontractors.


8.1 Overview. This Contract imposes special restrictions on how the Client and the Translator must handle confidential information. These obligations are explained in this section.

8.2 The Client’s Confidential Information. While working for the Client, the Translator may come across, or be given, Client information that is confidential. This is information like customer lists, business strategies, research & development notes, statistics about a website, and other information that is private. The Translator promises to treat this information as if it is the Translator's own confidential information. The Translator may use this information to do its job under this Contract, but not for anything else. For example, if the Client lets the Translator use a customer list to send out a newsletter, the Translator cannot use those email addresses for any other purpose. The one exception to this is if the Client gives the Translator written permission to use the information for another purpose, the Translator may use the information for that purpose, as well. When this Contract ends, the Translator must give back or destroy all confidential information, and confirm that it has done so. The Translator promises that it will not share confidential information with a third party, unless the Client gives the Translator written permission first. The Translator must continue to follow these obligations, even after the Contract ends. The Translator's responsibilities only stop if the Translator can show any of the following: (i) that the information was already public when the Translator came across it; (ii) the information became public after the Translator came across it, but not because of anything the Translator did or didn’t do; (iii) the Translator already knew the information when the Translator came across it and the Translator didn’t have any obligation to keep it secret; (iv) a third party provided the Translator with the information without requiring that the Translator keep it a secret; or (v) the Translator created the information on its own, without using anything belonging to the Client.

8.3 Third-Party Confidential Information. It’s possible the Client and the Translator each have access to confidential information that belongs to third parties. The Client and the Translator each promise that it will not share with the other party confidential information that belongs to third parties, unless it is allowed to do so. If the Client or the Translator is allowed to share confidential information with the other party and does so, the sharing party promises to tell the other party in writing of any special restrictions regarding that information.

9. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. Neither party is liable for breach-of-contract damages that the breaching party could not reasonably have foreseen when it entered this Contract.


10.1 Overview. This section transfers certain risks between the parties if a third party sues or goes after the Client or the Translator or both. For example, if the Client gets sued for something that the Translator did, then the Translator may promise to come to the Client’s defense or to reimburse the Client for any losses.

10.2 Client Indemnity. In this Contract, the Translator agrees to indemnify the Client (and its affiliates and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against all liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of: (i) the work the Translator has done under this Contract; (ii) a breach by the Translator of its obligations under this Contract; or (iii) a breach by the Translator of the promises it is making in Section 5 (Representations).

10.3 Translator Indemnity. In this Contract, the Client agrees to indemnify the Translator (and its affiliates and their directors, officers, employees, and agents) from and against liabilities, losses, damages, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) related to a third-party claim or proceeding arising out of a breach by the Client of its obligations under this Contract.


11.1 Assignment. This Contract applies only to the Client and the Translator. The Translator cannot assign its rights or delegate its obligations under this Contract to a third-party (other than by will or intestate), without first receiving the Client’s written permission. In contrast, the Client may assign its rights and delegate its obligations under this Contract without the Translator's permission. This is necessary in case, for example, another Client buys out the Client or if the Client decides to sell the work product that results from this Contract.

11.2 Arbitration. As the exclusive means of initiating adversarial proceedings to resolve any dispute arising under this Contract, a party may demand that the dispute be resolved by arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association in accordance with its commercial arbitration rules.

11.3 Modification; Waiver. To change anything in this Contract, the Client and the Translator must agree to that change in writing and sign a document showing their contract. Neither party can waive its rights under this Contract or release the other party from its obligations under this Contract, unless the waiving party acknowledges it is doing so in writing and signs a document that says so.

11.4 Notices.

(a) Over the course of this Contract, one party may need to send a notice to the other party. For the notice to be valid, it must be in writing and delivered in one of the following ways: personal delivery, email, or certified or registered mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested). The notice must be delivered to the party’s address listed at the end of this Contract or to another address that the party has provided in writing as an appropriate address to receive notice.

(b) The timing of when a notice is received can be very important. To avoid confusion, a valid notice is considered received as follows: (i) if delivered personally, it is considered received immediately; (ii) if delivered by email, it is considered received upon acknowledgement of receipt; (iii) if delivered by registered or certified mail (postage prepaid, return receipt requested), it is considered received upon receipt as indicated by the date on the signed receipt. If a party refuses to accept notice or if notice cannot be delivered because of a change in address for which no notice was given, then it is considered received when the notice is rejected or unable to be delivered. If the notice is received after 5:00pm on a business day at the location specified in the address for that party, or on a day that is not a business day, then the notice is considered received at 9:00am on the next business day.

11.5 Severability. This section deals with what happens if a portion of the Contract is found to be unenforceable. If that’s the case, the unenforceable portion will be changed to the minimum extent necessary to make it enforceable, unless that change is not permitted by law, in which case the portion will be disregarded. If any portion of the Contract is changed or disregarded because it is unenforceable, the rest of the Contract is still enforceable.

11.6 Signatures. The Client and the Translator must sign this document using Bonsai’s e-signing system. These electronic signatures count as originals for all purposes.

11.7 Governing Law. The laws of the state of Florida govern the rights and obligations of the Client and the Translator under this Contract, without regard to conflict of law principles of that state.

11.8 Entire Contract. This Contract represents the parties’ final and complete understanding of this job and the subject matter discussed in this Contract. This Contract supersedes all other contracts (both written and oral) between the parties.


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