October 1

What are the differences between ISO 17100 and ISO 18587 certification for language service providers?

For translation service providers (ÜDL), there are two important standards that serve to ensure quality. It's worth being certified for both. There are some valid reasons for this. They affect your marketing and your internal processes as a translation service provider.

This is what you will find out:

  • What are the main features and requirements of the ISO 17100 standard?
  • What constitutes ISO 18578?
  • How do you benefit from certification?
  • How can you get ISO 17100 and ISO 18587 certified?

You can reach us by phone on +41 44 552 66 19 or send an email to Mr. Markus Kukla, head of the certification body. We look forward to hearing from you!

What are the key points of ISO 17100?

The ISO 17100 standard was created to standardize processes at translation service providers (ÜDL) - in English Language Service Providers (LSP) - and to increase the quality of translation work. This standard applies to all LSPs and is confirmed through a certification process.

ISO 17100 consists of an extensive questionnaire in three main areas: resources, pre-production processes and post-production processes.

In the ISO 17100:2015 certification process, your processes are examined and the questions of the standard are addressed in each area. Points are awarded for every fulfillment of the standard requirement. If a point in the standard is completely met, 10 points are awarded. If this is not the case, depending on the severity, fewer points may be awarded for the ISO 17100 translation service. However, you can also achieve more than the maximum number of points with particularly good processes. This maturity metric helps you make comparisons to previous years and identify weak points.

What requirements must be met for the ISO 17100 quality standard?

In order for your company to be certified, your work processes and resources will be examined. The focus is on:

  • The skills of your staff and your external forces
  • The skills of your staff as well as training and further education
  • How are requests processed?
  • How is the linguistic specification documented?
  • How are projects evaluated?
  • What does invoicing and follow-up look like?
  • How do you protect information?

How complex is certification according to ISO 17100?

If you have decided on certification, there is first a preliminary check of the procedural instructions. This is followed by an optional pre-audit. If serious defects are found here, they can be eliminated with a list of measures. Only then does the certification audit begin, which leads to a report and possibly a list of measures. At the end, if you get enough points, the certificate will be issued if your translation company works in accordance with ISO 17100. There is an annual audit to maintain certification.

What does ISO 18587 certification mean for translation agencies?

When you handle large projects involving machine-based translations, customers often ask questions about the quality of computer translations. You won't see it at all, just a version edited and checked by your employees. With an ISO 18578 certification you can prove that you meet high quality standards in post-processing.

What areas does ISO 18587 cover?

The ISO 18587 standard explicitly refers to the processing of documents that have been translated using computer programs. Machine translation has received another major boost through the use of artificial intelligence. But still the results are not customer-friendly.

iso norm

ISO 18587 proves how you can post-process these documents. The focus is on the processes and internal procedures as well as the skills of the people working on the projects.

The ISO standard, for example, requires that the people working on the work be fully trained translators. You must prove this through appropriate qualifications, experience or certificates as part of an audit if you want to meet the standard.

Your employees must also be able to understand the specific requirements of machine translated texts and, for example, quickly recognize typical errors.

What are the benefits of ISO 17100 or ISO 18587 certification?

Translation service providers face tough competition from one another. Being able to stand out is a challenge. Since it hardly makes sense to get involved in a price war given the high demands on translations, quality assurance is a unique selling point.

With a certificate according to ISO 17100 or ISO 18587 you can objectively prove to your customers that you meet international standards. Since the certificates have a time limit, reissuing them is always an argument in customer discussions. It shows that you are constantly striving to ensure and improve translation quality.

What does the ISO standard bring to the internal process?

In the process of certification according to ISO 17100 or ISO 18587, you will put your own structures and processes to the test. Many things that may seem practical and normal to you in translation work no longer meet certified standards.

You can reach us by phone on +41 44 552 66 19 or send an email to Mr. Markus Kukla, head of the certification body. We look forward to hearing from you!

An example: Many translation service providers (ÜDL) work with external service providers, especially if you need additional help with large projects.

  • Have these freelancers all signed an NDA document with you?
  • Was this created by lawyers?
  • Do you have proof of the qualifications of all external employees?
  • Is there evidence of suitability for certain specialist areas?
  • Can you provide evidence of native-speaking translators?

Data protection is more important than ever today, also in public perception. There is news about information theft almost every day. The ISO standards force you to comply with the best safety standards. This includes:

  • An integrated information management system
  • Clear rules and access permissions
  • Emergency plans in the event of an office outage
  • Agreements with customers for additional security levels
  • Risk assessment procedures
  • Updating security-related procedures for new software solutions

The certification optimizes your company according to international standards. You receive valuable impulses in the certification process that you can implement immediately. In this way you reduce error rates, increase security and can satisfy customers who have very high expectations.

iso 9001 zertifizierung

How can you get certified?

To become certified, you should contact a recognized certification body such as the Swiss certification body for language services LinquaCert. Here we first take a look at the composition and number of employees in your company. Depending on this, an offer can be made as to what ISO 18587 or ISO 17100 will cost.

If you are getting certified for the first time, a pre-audit is recommended. This analyzes what level of maturity you have with regard to the ISO 17100 and ISO 18587 certification requirements and where there are weak points. These are listed together with specific suggestions for improvement. You will then have enough time to eliminate them.

In the certification audit, the list of questions relating to the ISO certification you require is then compared with examples of practical implementation. The procedures run separately for ISO 18587 and ISO 17100. Once all question points have been addressed, a report is created. If enough points are achieved, the certificate can be issued. It is temporary to ensure that companies are always up to date. A follow-up certification usually only takes a few days because you can build on existing conditions.


Whether you want to have the post-processing of machine translated documents or your workflow and quality assurance documented - with ISO certification you can only win. You will convince customers better and improve your own processes.


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