Working as a freelance translator in Denmark
Thread poster: Chris Clunan

Chris Clunan
Local time: 13:29
Danish to English
Sep 3, 2013

I’m considering establishing myself as a freelance (Danish – English) translator in Denmark.

I’ve discovered that I need approval from Erhvervsstyrelsen if I want to use the title ‘translator’ in Denmark. This either requires a degree (cand.ling.merc) in English, or a translator exam. As I’m a native English speaker, with a couple of degrees in other fields, I don’t really want to start university all over again to take an English degree from a Danish university. The translator exam, which would seem to be the logical option, isn’t available in English.

Does anyone have any experience of working as a translator in Denmark without approval from Erhvervsstyrelsen? E.g. regarding the practicalities of advertising translation services without being allowed to use the title ‘translator’?

I have attempted to speak to Erhvervsstyrelsen to see if there is any alternative route to approval, but they were particularly unhelpful, in that special way that only public sector employees with a little bit of power seem to be…


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:29
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Hello and welcome! Sep 3, 2013

We are called oversættere in Danish.
I am a native speaker of English too, but live and work in Denmark.

There are plenty of us - and absolutely anybody can set up in business as an 'oversætter'. It is true that 'Translatør' is a protected title, and unfortunately it is not worth wasting time on it if your target language is English and you are not prepared to take the five-year cand.ling.merc. with the required profile = an MA. (Believe me, I tried very hard to find a loophole!)

There are other ways to go about it. In fact lots of highly qualified Danes haven't got precisely the right degree either, and they do fine as oversættere. The big difference comes if you specialise in law, and need to stamp documents to certify that they are an accurate translation... or whatever the required wording. That does require a Translatør. However, they do not actually have to translate the text themselves, if they have proofread it, so agencies can arrange to have your work stamped by a Translatør if necessary. If you don't have the necessary training in legal translation, stamping translations is not a big problem, but it does crop up with birth or marriage certificates and similar, which are often quite easy to translate.

If necessary, you can take a different Danish qualification - I have the Specialised Language Diploma / Erhverssproglig Diploma, generally known as ED, which covers a lot of the same ground as the MA, but is available in modules as distance teaching or adult education. That means you can take as many or as few modules as you need, depending on what you have already. It has been reorganised since I took it, and is now in two levels, but it is still alive and well.

Or, if you feel able to do so, you simply register for VAT with the companies register (CVR) and start looking for clients.

Because the oversætter market is unregulated in practice, you do need some kind of accreditation - like membership of the ITI or CIoL, or ATA if you are American.

The professional Union Kommunikation og Sprog can help you too.

Or post some more specific questions on this site...

There will also be a gathering - called a powwow - in Copenhagen on September 14th. It's just about the last minute to register, and you would meet a lot of interesting colleagues... I have not counted, but my guess is that the majority are not Translatører.
If you can't make it, there will be others!

Best of luck!

[Edited at 2013-09-03 22:47 GMT]


Chris Clunan
Local time: 13:29
Danish to English
Thanks Sep 6, 2013

Hi Christine


I'm relieved to hear that there are others who have experienced the same issues, but that it's possible to work as a translator here in DK without having a state authorisation.

Thanks for the info about the powwow - that sounds like a great idea - especially for a newbie like myself. Unfortunately I can't make it on the 14th, but I'll definitely try to make it next time.

Thanks again



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