Work as a Freelance Interpreter at the EU

The European Parliament, the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Union each have an interpretation service, but the selection of freelance interpreters is carried out jointly.

Freelance interpreters routinely work alongside staff interpreters in the interpreting services of the European Parliament, European Commission and Court of Justice. We mainly work in the 24 official languages of the EU but all languages are considered; for freelance interpreters, there is no nationality requirement.

To become a freelance interpreter, you need to pass an accreditation test. You will find all relevant information on the various steps of the test cycle here. The calendar will show you upcoming accreditation tests for your language.

1. Eligibility

You need one of the following:

  • BA in Conference Interpretation (4 years)

  • MA in Conference Interpretation

  • BA in any subject and
    a Post-graduate diploma in Conference Interpretation (other than a Master’s degree) of at least one academic year of full-time study
    at least one year of professional experience as a conference interpreter at the level required for international meetings acquired after award of the university degree (experience as a court interpreter, liaison interpreter, public service interpreter or company interpreter does not count).

2. Language Profiles

Check the current language profiles required by the EU interpreting services. These are subject to change, to reflect prevailing recruitment needs. To be eligible, you need a language combination that is in line with the required accreditation profiles.

3. Calendar

Tests are scheduled as necessary, according to the recruitment needs of the institutions. An indicative calendar of pre-selection and accreditation tests is published every year but may be subject to change. Make sure you provide all necessary documents by the given deadline for applications.

4. Pre-Selection Test

If your application fulfils the academic and other formal requirements, which include those concerning the language profile, you will be invited to do an online pre-selection test.

The test consists of a simultaneous interpretation of a speech of approximately 10-12 minutes into your A language. The Screening Committee chooses the passive language for your test from among the following: DE, EN, ES, FR or IT.

You can take the test once you receive the email invitation, as long as you are within the deadline (i.e. testing window). You can do the test wherever you like, as long as your device meets all the technical requirements. However, we recommend you take the test in a quiet place to ensure the best possible sound quality. This is why it is important that you carefully study our pre-selection test tool user guide.

You will receive your test results from the European Parliament test team once the evaluation period is completed.

5. Accreditation Test

If successful in the pre-selection test, you may be invited to take the accreditation test, subject to our testing capacity and service needs.

The accreditation test involves the following for each of the tested languages:

You will be tested from your passive languages into your active language and/or retour according to the languages chosen from your profile by the Screening Committee and service needs.

At least one of the speeches is on an EU-related topic; video recorded speeches may be used for the simultaneous tests.

You will be given 5-minute preparation time before the simultaneous speech of the first language. You will be called in to the booth and you will listen to the title of the speech and the short introduction of the speaker. Then before the actual test begins, you will have maximum 5 minutes to prepare. You can decide how to make use of them and may start earlier if you wish. You will have access to a fixed computer with QWERTY keyboard, which you will find in the booth. In case of any unexpected technical problem you should immediately inform the Selection Board.

The accreditation test takes place in Brussels. Have a look at the calendar for your language.

The Selection Board will evaluate your performances on the basis of the marking criteria; it will let you know the result after the test, which will be confirmed in writing later.

If you have been invited to take the accreditation test, read our top tips.

6. Entry into joint database

Successful candidates who pass the accreditation test are put into the joint database of accredited Conference Interpreting Agents (ACIs) and can be recruited by the three interpretation services of the European Union.

Admission into the joint database does not imply a right to be recruited.

7. Apply!

Now that you know everything about the different steps, complete the online application.

You will be asked to submit:

  • your CV;

  • degrees and/or diplomas giving details of marks obtained for each interpreting component;

  • where relevant, proof of 100 days of conference interpreting experience (experience as a court interpreter, liaison interpreter, public service interpreter or company interpreter will not be taken into account);

  • for languages not covered by the degree(s) or diploma(s), 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 can apply at any time but we advise you to check specific deadlines per A language on the indicative test calendar. It is important that you submit all necessary documents by the given deadline for applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Useful documents

Legal and financial documents

The French version takes precedence over all other languages. This is because all parties have signed the French version.

For ACI candidates invited to the accreditation test: financial contribution towards travel and subsistence expenses

ACI Status on the Joint List