A Comparison of US and European Standards for Translation Services
by Gérard de Angéli

Complementary perspectives

The above comments indicate that both standards provide useful and complementary guidelines: while the EN 15038 Standard may provide a more detailed specification of the TSP quality system and translation management framework (‘System Standard’), the US Guide provides more practical ‘how-to’ advice and application tools.
Translation Standards: what for?

At this point in the discussion, the reader may ask him/her self: is this for me? What benefits can I expect from it?

My own conviction is that it will eventually modify both client-TSP and TSP-translator relationships.

For instance, a translation company wishing to make its organization comply with the Standard’s requirements will require its own subcontractors to demonstrate compliance as well.
Compliance benefits

Working according to the Standard requirements and the Standard management system will provide the TSP with the following benefits:

1. It will give the TSP a unique opportunity to position its services on the market, and have them singled out against the competition with added selling points, provided it is backed up by a genuine translation management system and … an effective advertising strategy!

2. Any genuine effort to comply with the Standard requirements will bring about greater organizational effectiveness; and establish a continuous improvement process in TSP’s operations. For instance tracking and compiling complaints and non-conformities (either internal or external) for traceability purposes will induce corrective and preventive measures for a greater long-term effectiveness.

Read Also: Translation of Color Words

Conducting a compliance program

In a next article, we will review and discuss the essential components of a compliance program, with real-life stories from TSPs that have been through the process.

(Many thanks to Melanie Uniacke for her fast work on proofreading this material)


1. F 2575 – 06 Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation, ASTM International, published June 2006. The Guide was issued under the jurisdiction of ASTM Committee F15 on Consumer Products and is the direct responsibility of Subcommittee F15.48 on Translation Services. Can be purchased and downloaded from

2. EN 15038:2006 Translation Services – Service requirements.

3. German standard entitled Translation Contracts Ref. DIN 2345 :1998, which was used as a basis for the newly published European Standard EN 15038:2006.

4. As defined in Standard ISO/DIS 8402: Quality management and quality assurance vocabulary

5. See CE Marking Handbook: A Practical Approach to Global Safety Certification, by David Lohbeck. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1998(Published in French by Dunod, Guide du Marquage CE, Paris, 1999 (translation: Gérard de Angéli)).

6. Namely: ISO/CEI 17000:2004, Conformity assessment – Vocabulary and basic principles. EN 45014:1998 General criteria for supplier’s declaration of conformity. ISO/CEI 17050-1:2004 Conformity assessment – Supplier’s declaration of conformity Part 1: General requirements. ISO/CEI 17050-2:2004 Conformity assessment – Supplier’s declaration of conformity Part 2: Supporting documentation.

7.Extract from ASTM Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation F 2575-06, Section 1 Scope.