Buyers of Interpreting Services

In most countries, the government is the largest buyer of interpreting services because, as the below graph illustrates, the public sector is the dominant market in most countries.

The exception here is the United States. This is because in the US, the healthcare market is the largest sector but unlike in other countries, healthcare is not part of the public sector.

The second largest buyers then are private businesses, such as companies, lawyers, banks, insurances, and in the US also hospitals. We group these under “corporate”.

The third and by far the smallest category are individuals. It is very uncommon for individuals to purchase interpreting services directly, as it is usually the institutions that serve the customers that are the ones that pay. However, there are three countries that have an exception to this rule:

  • Denmark: There is a new law in place that people only have a right to an interpreter for the first two years of living in the country. After that, they are expected to either speak Danish or pay for their own interpreter.
  • Spain: People do not have the right to an interpreter in medical settings and in civil proceedings, so if one is needed, the individual has to pay.
  • Belgium: People do not have the right to an interpreter in medical settings or when receiving social services. The expectation is for people to either speak one of the local languages or English.

If you want to read more about key influencers in the interpreting market, take a look at our report on Interpreting Across the Globe.

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6 December 2019
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