Public Service Interpreters in the UK Can Now Obtain Official ‘Accredited’ Status

Public Service Interpreters in the UK Accredited

The UK National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI), a professional organization established in 1994 to maintain a register of qualified interpreters, announced on July 18, 2023, that public service interpreters are now recognized as “Accredited Professionals,” i.e., regulated professionals, by the government’s Department for Business & Trade

Interpreters listed in the NRPSI have proven competencies and skills, and adhere to a nationally accepted code of conduct as well as standards set forth by the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL). The CIOL is a professional organization and the de facto regulator for the listed linguistic professions to which accredited public service interpreters have been added.

The NRPSI groups all registered public service interpreters, which means that court, healthcare, social services and other interpreters who have already met the qualifications to be accredited may now add an official “accredited” logo to their signatures, stationery, and social network profiles.

The expectation as far as qualifications for accredited interpreters is to have knowledge of languages and skills at a university level, as well as specialized degrees. On the latter, at this time acceptable degrees reach vocational levels, e.g., a certificate or diploma in public service Interpreting. Employers of interpreters also typically seek practical experience. Interested interpreters may wish to validate their credentials and register with the NRPSI.

Standards Apply Across All Four UK Nations

Although each nation within the union has additional rules and regulations for public service interpreters based on the service provided, England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have accepted the Chartered Institute’s standards, and by default the new accredited interpreter designation.

Interpreters – Regulation and standards for public service interpreters vary from public service to public service and across the four nations of the UK. However, minimum standards for qualifications and experience are widely established and a National Register of Public Service Interpreters is in place. Chartered Linguists who are interpreters, have the designation Chartered Linguist – Interpreter.

Source: NRPSI website

In the announcement, the NRPSI laments that there are no restrictions as to who can actually work as a professional public service interpreter. For that, regulations would need to go a step further, to certification and licensure. 

However, under the new regulation, interpreters who voluntarily submit their qualifications to be approved (accredited) and listed in the Register will have the status of “protected title.” This means that interpreters who claim to be accredited will have a title protected by law that can be verified against the Register.

All the professional linguist designations, including translator, interpreter, and other linguists, appear now in the government’s list of regulated professions. A search for “interpreter” leads users to “Chartered Linguist,” a broad definition that includes a summary description of the different linguistic professions and the organizations that uphold the Chartered Institute of Linguists’ standards, including the NRPSI.