Principal rules for interpreters

Here, you can read about the most important points in interpreting ethics, laws, rules and guidelines that govern your work


Presentation and interpreting ethics

Always begin the interpreting discussion by introducing yourself. It is best if the interpreting user begins the discussion by informing the client about your role in the discussion, in other words what interpreting ethics cover. You then interpret this for the client. The aim is for the client to feel safe and be certain of being apprised of everything that is said. If the interpreting user does not inform the client him or herself, you must present this information. Say, for example "Excuse me, may I just begin by introducing myself?". You should then present this in both languages.


Here are the most important points in interpreting ethics

  • Interpret everything that is said: you may not summarise what is said nor add your own comments.
  • You must be neutral: you may not take sides for either the interpreting user or the client, or get involved in the matter otherwise. You are impartial.
  • You must observe strict professional secrecy: everything that is said in the interpreting discussion is secret. Everything said during the interpreting discussion is covered by confidentiality.
  • Always interpret in first person: interpreting in first person emphasizes your role as a neutral spokesperson.

These four points should be included in the initial presentation.


Prepare yourself

Before an interpreting assignment, you should familiarise yourself with relevant terminology and facts. Always have a dictionary, pen and paper on hand. Also be prepared for special conditions, such as if it concerns interpreting for children or in psychiatric services. Also remember to fill in as much as possible on the order form before you come to the assignment to keep booked time from being spent filling in the order form. Also remember to find the travel time and route before leaving for an on-site assignment. Ensure to have plenty of time before the assignment begins.


Conflicts of interest

If the client turns out to be a friend or relative of yours, you must inform the interpreting user of this. It is not permitted to interpret with a conflict of interest without the interpreting user's consent.


Be neutral

Avoid sitting and talking with the interpreting user or client before or after the interpreting assignment - your neutrality as an interpreter can then be called into question.


Placement in the room

Think about where you place yourself in the room. You, the interpreting user and the client should form a spatial triangle where the interpreting user and the client sit across from each other and have eye contact. This way, you can also emphasize your role as a neutral spokesperson.


Assignment time

The interpreting user has the right to use your services for the full time ordered, even for more clients. You may not leave the assignment earlier without the orderer's consent.


Be on time

Be careful to always come on time. If you nonetheless are delayed on occasion, inform Semantix immediately so that we can notify the interpreting user and avoid unnecessary irritation. If you are delayed, phone 0770-457 410, extension 1 (speak with an interpreting coordinator).



Take breaks if the discussion lasts a long time so that you do not get too tired and lose your concentration. You should take a break at least once an hour. You have the right to five minutes' break per hour.


Note and ask about what you do not understand

Take notes and be particularly careful with names, figures and addresses. You may need to use your dictionary or consult with somebody else. You are the language expert, but it is the customer who is the expert on the topic.

If you notice that the parties do not understand each other, it is not your duty to comment on this in the discussion - they must discover this themselves. However, you should of course say if you do not understand what somebody is saying. Then, step out of the role and say: "The interpreter does not understand."


Your notes and professional secrecy

After concluding an interpreting assignment, you can either turn over your notes to the customer, or destroy them. For reasons of secrecy, you may not save any notes. You must always observe strict professional secrecy. Everything said during the interpreting discussion is covered by secrecy.


Laws, rules and guidelines that govern your work

The laws and rules below have a bearing on your work as an interpreter:

  • Public Access to Information and Secrecy Act (2009:400) (OSL)
  • Act concerning Confidentiality for Certain Interpreters and Translators (1975:689). This act applies to all authorised interpreters and interpreters who translate professionally.
  • Good interpreting practice, Swedish Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency 2012
  • Agreement for interpreters