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Becoming a Freelance Interpreter with the European Institutions


Freelance interpreters routinely work alongside staff interpreters in meetings served by the interpreting services of the European Institutions. For freelance interpreters there is no nationality requirement and all languages may be considered.

Accreditation as a freelance interpreter is obtained by passing an inter-institutional interpreting test. To be eligible for such a test, you must comply with the following criteria:

  • - You have completed a recognised four-year full-time undergraduate course in conference interpreting and obtained the relevant diploma or
  • - You hold a recognised Master’s degree in conference interpreting or
  • - You hold a recognised university degree in any subject awarded after 3 years of full-time undergraduate study and either
    • - you have at least one year’s professional experience as a conference interpreter (experience as court interpreter, liaison interpreter, or company interpreter will not be taken into account), acquired after award of the university degree, and can provide clear documentary evidence of the total number of days worked or
    • -you have successfully completed a postgraduate conference interpreting training programme (other than a Master's degree), of at least one academic year of full time study, for which a certificate or other documentary proof can be submitted.

How to apply

You can find information regarding the current language profiles required by the EU interpreting services here. These are subject to change, to reflect prevailing recruitment needs.

If you think you are eligible for a test, you should complete an on-line application form and also submit copies of your CV, degrees and/or diplomas giving details of marks obtained for each interpreting component, and, where relevant, proof of sufficient conference interpreting experience (experience as a court interpreter, liaison interpreter, or company interpreter will not be taken into account). For languages not covered by the degree(s) or diploma(s) some evidence of how the language knowledge was acquired should be submitted (such as certificates or a personal statement).

Once you have done this, you will be sent an acknowledgement of receipt.

You may apply at any time but we advise you to check any specifically applicable deadline on the indicative test calendar.

Screening and invitation

Tests are scheduled as necessary, according to the recruitment needs of the institutions. An indicative calendar (see 2017) is published every year but is subject to modifications at any time. As soon as a test is scheduled for your booth, a Screening Committee will examine your application. Please note that, subject to operational constraints, the Screening Committee will meet approximately 15-20 weeks before the date of the test. It is therefore advisable to send your application and all supporting documents in good time. You will then be notified that either:
- your application has been accepted and you are being invited for a test;
- your language profile is interesting but not a priority. You will therefore not be invited to a test in the near future. However, your application will remain valid for a specified period during which you do not need to re-apply;
- your language profile is not in line with current EU requirements. Consequently your application has not been accepted;
- you do not have the requisite university diploma(s) and professional experience. Consequently, your application has not been accepted.
Please note that participation in a test is upon invitation only.
As of 2016, the EU accreditation tests will be preceded by a pre-selection phase. This test involves the simultaneous interpretation of a video recorded speech and is eliminatory. You will find further information in our FAQ.

Non-EU Languages

The EU Institutions are mainly interested in candidates working into or from the languages of the 28 EU member states, or countries currently engaged in accession negotiations. There is also a limited need for Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and other non-EU languages.

If you have Serbian, Bosnian or Montenegrin as part of your language combination please consult this note.

Nevertheless, language profile requirements are subject to change and vary from one language unit to another. Consequently, all valid applications will be considered.

Organisation of the test

At the accreditation test, you will be asked to interpret speeches in both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting mode (around 6 minutes for consecutive and 10 minutes for simultaneous) from your passive languages into your active language(s) and/or retour in accordance with the language profile you are offering. At least one of the speeches will be on an EU-related topic. On completion of the test, the Selection Board will inform you of its decision.
Please note that video recorded speeches may be used for the simultaneous tests.
In this document, you will find the marking criteria used to assess your performance as a test candidate (not an exhaustive list).

Next steps

If you pass the accreditation test your name and contact details will be entered into the joint EU database of accredited freelance interpreters. Please note that passing the inter-institutional accreditation test and inclusion on the joint list does not confer an automatic entitlement to recruitment.
If you fail the accreditation test, but the Selection Board thinks you have potential, it may recommend that you re-apply for a test.
Conditions for partial reimbursement of travel and subsistence expenses can be found here.

Useful links

Many freelance interpreters are members of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC). The AIIC negotiates working conditions for freelance interpreters with the European Institutions ( Rules for implementing certain provisions of the Agreement ) + Decision of 20 June 2001 (only FR) + Classification criteria (valid as of 01/08/2010).

E-learning "How to become an ACI" (freelance interpreter)

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- On-line application form -

Requests for review

FAQ on inter-institutional accreditation tests