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For applicants

How can I become a professional translator or interpreter?

Becoming a professional translator or interpreter takes more than speaking two languages. Click these links for information on pathways to translation or pathways to interpreting and for NZSTI-approved courses in New Zealand.

What sort of experience would be considered in support of my application?

In all but rare instances, membership is awarded based on qualifications in translation and/or interpreting only. A few years' experience with no specific qualifications is not sufficient.

Certain types of experience may be taken into account at the discretion of the membership committee and NZSTI council*:

  • Published translations of a high calibre such as books or scientific journals, where you are named as the translator
  • Very detailed reference/s from reliable agencies, but only if they check their translators' work
  • Proof of regular, repeated assignments from the same private client/s over a number of years
  • Note that such proof should be from independent sources (other people) not your own CV
  • Documentation should include details of the volume and complexity of assignments fulfilled
  • You may include a detailed list or spreadsheet of your work history but the evidence must be verifiable, e.g. backed up by detailed references and contact details of clients/agencies

If your documentary evidence does not comply with the above guidelines you are unlikely to qualify for Member or Affiliate status.

* Please note, the above guidelines do not mean that NZSTI doubts an applicant's ability to speak/read/write high-quality language; simply that objective evidence is required to support all claimed experience.

I have a degree in my specialist field, why is this not recognised?

Qualifications in other subjects, even if studied in another language, do not guarantee knowledge of the specific issues relating to translation and interpreting. The Online Directory includes notes and a search filter to enable members to attract work in their specialist fields.

What is meant by "certified copies" of documents?

To obtain a "certified" copy of a document, take the original document and the photocopy you have made, to a Justice of the Peace or solicitor. He/she will check that the copy is the same as the original, then stamp and sign it.
This is a necessary requirement for most copies of documents for official purposes, so that the recipient can be sure they are seeing a genuine document. For NZSTI's purposes the copy does not have to be in colour, as it is the information content that is important.

Click here to find a Justice of the Peace near you.
Do I need a licence to become a translator or interpreter in New Zealand?

At present you do not need a licence, but an increasing number of organisations require membership of NZSTI or specific qualifications in translation or interpreting.

For members

How can I upgrade my membership?

If you are an Observer or Affiliate member of NZSTI, you can apply to upgrade your membership by completing this form and providing evidence of your new qualifications.

Where can I order my NZSTI membership card or translator stamp?

Under member resources in the My NZSTI area go to membership card or translator stamp.

May I use the NZSTI logo or banner on my website, stationery or advertising?

No - the logo and banner are for the exclusive use of the society as an organisation.
However, Full Members and Affiliates may download the NZSTI membership insignia applicable to their membership after agreeing to the rules of use. These are available in the log-in section and may be used for websites, email signatures and on stationery but only in relation to the language pair for which that level of membership is held.

You may also state that you are a full member or affiliate of NZSTI in any of the forms listed in the NZSTI Constitution. 

Why don't I receive mail-outs from NZSTI?

NZSTI communicates regularly with members according to their chosen email subscriptions - check your preferences, you may need to select more.
Our platform complies with bulk mail regulations but but these emails can still get caught by spam filters.
Please check your spam folder. You may also need to adjust your spam settings to accept email from and add our email to your address book.
Please ensure you log in and update your email address if you change it.
It is a good idea to check the website frequently for new notices of events that might interest you.

How do I enrol with the NZTA to translate driver licences?

Waka Kotahi (NZTA) has a closed list of translators and they only open for applications approximately every five years. We expect that Waka Kotahi will seek registrations of interest in mid-2022 as the existing approvals expire in December 2022.

Waka Kotahi will advise the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI), allowing NZSTI to inform its members. Registrations of interest will be sought from NZSTI members only.

Individuals and organisations wanting to be approved to provide a translation service will need to be current members of the NZSTI.

If you have any further queries, please refer to the Waka Kotahi website for more information


Who needs to hold NAATI certification?

From 1 July 2024, all interpreters in New Zealand wanting to work for government agencies (either directly or through language service providers) must hold NAATI certification (RPI, CPI or CI).

Is it just for face-to-face interpreting?

No, NAATI certification will be required of ALL interpreters providing their services to a government agency in-person or remotely. This includes phone interpreters.

Which government agencies will require interpreters to hold NAATI certification?

All government agencies are affected by the new requirements. This includes, but is not limited to, the Ministry of Health (including DHBs), Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education (i.e. schools) and Immigration.

How do I get support from MBIE to achieve NAATI certification?

You will need to register with MBIE through NAATI. NAATI will assess your qualifications and confirm to MBIE whether you already qualify to sit a test or need further qualifications. MBIE then issues you with an entitlement note (in a pdf format) outlining the financial support you can receive. This may include the compulsory induction module (yet to be released), preparation workshops and PD run by NZSTI, and the NAATI test fee. Depending on your qualifications, it may also include funding for a tertiary training course. Head to MBIE's website for more information and to register.

What is RPI, CPI and CI?

RPI stands for Recognised Practising Interpreter. This certification is granted for languages where no NAATI test is currently available.CPI stands for Certified Provisional Interpreter. The CPI test involves consecutive interpreting.CI stands for Certified Interpreter. The CI test involves dialogues, sight translation and monologues (consecutive and simultaneous interpreting).

What is MBIE's compulsory module?

MBIE has now launched its compulsory module “Interpreting in Aotearoa New Zealand: The Public Sector Context”. This was previously called the ‘induction module’ and must be completed by all interpreters intending to work in the New  Zealand Public Sector from 1 July 2024. The full announcement  is now available to view on our website.

Do I have to do MBIE's compulsory module before I sit the NAATI test?

No. You are free to do it either before or after sitting the NAATI test; it is not a prerequisite for sitting NAATI. However, you must complete it by 1 July 2024, and hold NAATI certification (RPI, CPI or CI), in order to continue working in the NZ public sector.

Do I have to do a test preparation workshop run by NZSTI?

No, they are optional but strongly recommended in order to help you pass the NAATI test. The workshops cover the key skills that will be tested and give you insights into what the test will be like.

What is NAATI's Ethical Competency test? Do I need to sit it before I can book my NAATI test date?

If you are applying to NAATI to gain a certification for the first time, you may need to pass both the Intercultural Competency and Ethical Competency tests before you become eligible to sit a certification test.

You do not need to apply separately to sit an Ethical Competency test. When you apply to sit the NAATI test, NAATI will make a determination and will advise you whether you need to sit the Ethical Competency and/or Intercultural Competency tests. If you have completed an Endorsed Qualification within the last 3 years, you will not need to sit this test as this content was covered in your tertiary course.

If NAATI advises that you need to sit the Intercultural and/or Ethical Competency tests, you must pass them before NAATI will allocate you a test date for your NAATI certification (CI, CPI, etc.). Once you have that test date, you may register for an NZSTI-run NAATI test preparation workshop. Note that the cost of sitting the Intercultural and/or Ethical Competency tests is covered by your MBIE entitlement note.

Will NAATI be testing in NZ and when will tests be available?

NAATI is currently only testing NZ interpreters online. Visit the NAATI website for full details.

Will NAATI tests have an Australian or a NZ focus?

NAATI tests for NZ interpreters will be those used for all applicants outside Australia, meaning that you do not need to be familiar with Australian processes and culture. They will not include NZ-specific details.

What are the changes NAATI is making to its CI test process?

NAATI has recently changed the CI test process so that you must first sit and pass the CPI test, then to achieve CI certification you must sit further test modules (meaning you do not repeat the CPI test module in the CI test anymore). This means that if your MBIE entitlement note says you can sit the CI test, you may now register for the CPI and the CI workshops.

Why can't I see any CI workshops scheduled?

NZSTI is currently waiting on further information from NAATI about their new test process in order to adjust our CI workshops to match the new process. Once this has been done we will schedule more CI workshops (2023).

How can I get notified about NZSTI-run NAATI test preparation workshops?

Once a workshop becomes available, we email everyone with an NZSTI account who has selected the Professional Development email subscription. If you want to receive these notifications, go into your account and tick the relevant box. Click here for instructions.

When can I enrol for an NZSTI-run NAATI test preparation workshop?

Once you have booked your NAATI test, you can enrol for a test preparation workshop run by NZSTI. Make sure you have uploaded your entitlement note to your NZSTI account and added your test date.

My entitlement note says I can sit the CPI test. Can I attend a CI test preparation workshop?

No. If you are sitting the CPI test, you can only enrol for the CPI test preparation workshop. However, if your entitlement note says you can sit the CI test, you may now register for the CPI and the CI workshops, following NAATI's changes to its CI testing system.

If you are only eligible for the RPI certification, you cannot attend the test preparation workshops as NAATI does not offer a test for RPI certification.

My entitlement note says I can sit the CI test. Can I attend a CPI test preparation workshop?

Yes. NAATI is changing the CI test process so MBIE has agreed to fund both the CPI and the CI workshops if you are eligible to sit the NAATI CI test.

I have sat and passed the CPI test, and want to sit the CI test now. Will MBIE fund that?

Yes, there is funding available for those holding CPI to go on to sit CI. Please contact MBIE directly as you will require a new entitlement note.

I have an entitlement note. How can I register for NZSTI workshops and CPD for free?

NZSTI is running test preparation workshops and CPD to support interpreters wanting to achieve a NAATI certification. Priority will be given to entitlement note holders. These events will be clearly marked and will show a price for entitlement note holders of $0. To access that price, you need to create or log into your NZSTI account, upload your entitlement note (pdf) and enter your NAATI test date. Once you have done this, you can register for the event or workshop free of charge. Download this guide to see how to create an account, upload an entitlement note, enter your test date and register for a workshop or PD event.

What are NAATI recertification points?

Recertification is the process by which translators and interpreters with NAATI certification demonstrate that they remain active and committed to the translation and interpreting industry at regular intervals. Before the expiry date of their NAATI certification, practitioners are required to provide evidence of continuing work practice and professional development to recertify the certification for a further three years. Points are allocated to different types of development. Click here for the professional development catalogue listing the CPD options for obtaining recertification points.

Where can I find guidelines about video and telephone interpreting?

AUSIT has guidelines about telephone and video interpreting protocols available on its website:

Telephone interpreting protocols

Recommended RVI protocols


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