Poll: Which payment times do you apply the most?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 23:54
Jun 3, 2017

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Which payment times do you apply the most?".

This poll was originally submitted by Nicole Blanc. View the poll results »


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jun 3, 2017

To answer the question - I don't apply "payment times". Chance would be a fine thing. My invoices have a date of issue... and that's all.
This is because I live and work in Spain. Over the years, I've learnt that the best approach is to simply bill the client for the work and then sit back and wait until they pay you. If they haven't paid up after two or three months, I might send them a reminder. However, in the case of universities and similar public institutions, they might have their own billing cycle, which basically renders any "due date" I might place on my invoices as mere wishful thinking. In general, the companies I work with as direct clients pay me when they can. My best client is able to pay me monthly on a regular basis, however some of the smaller firms can only stump up according to their cash flow.

Nowadays I really only work regularly with one agency, and they pay within a month. I occasionally do the odd job for another agency, which has a terrible Blue Board rating (and may even be banned from posting job offers on proz), mainly for paying at 90 days or more and communicating poorly with translators. I haven't actually done anything for them for the past couple of years, but that's because I'm usually always busy... In fact I should be working right now.

PS: Before translating full-time, I worked on TEFLA courses outsourced by the regional government, funded by the EU. In addition to witnessing the book fiddling and corruption that went on with these funds, we sometimes had to wait for over a year before getting paid. However, as we were getting hourly rates 4 or 5 times higher than many other TEFL freelancers, we just had to put up with it and muddle through. We weren't happy with it, but there was nothing we could really do about it. This was the real world for us.

[Edited at 2017-06-03 08:40 GMT]


Dušan Ján Hlísta  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:54
English to Slovak
+ ...
14-21 days Jun 3, 2017

after date of the invoice.
30 or 45 days is the "chinese" way how to eploit your work. No work for them with such a long period for payment!

[Edited at 2017-06-03 08:54 GMT]


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:54
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
None Jun 3, 2017

Almost all my regular clients have their own payment schedules. It would be seen as slightly ridiculous for me to tell them when to pay me. One of my best clients pays within 5 days. Another pays within 2 weeks. The rest are mostly on a 30-day schedule. Agencies are the worst.

One-off clients invariably pay right away.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 07:54
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
30 days Jun 3, 2017

All my clients pay within 30 days, with two exceptions on opposite sides: one always pays the day after receiving my invoice, the other pays 60 days after receiving my invoice. Of course, over the years, I had to chase payment several times...


Holly-Anne Whyte  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:54
Member (2012)
French to English
+ ...

Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile

60 days for reliable agencies Jun 3, 2017

I try to apply 30 days from invoice date and try to invoice on delivery. Immediate payment is usually acceptable to direct clients (usually individauls). Agencies are, however, my main source of income at the moment and at least two will only pay 60 days after invoice and invoices have to be sent at the end of the month. Nevertheless, they give me regular, interesting projects and pay on time without having to be reminded, so I see it as a small price to pay. Needless to say, my equally reliable clients with better payment terms get priority when I have too much work. One size doesn't need to fit all in this case and flexibility is always appreciated by clients. I do think 60 days is the limit of reasonable though.

I have one agency client who pays on delivery, my favourite (obviously)!


Gudrun Maydorn  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:54
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
14 days from date of invoice Jun 3, 2017

14 days from date of invoice for industry customers, payment before delivery for private customers. This is irrespective of whether my customers are located in Germany or abroad.


Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:54
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
net 30 Jun 3, 2017

if you ask me, but usually I am not asked - the clients have their own terms and you cannot do much about that.

My best client pays 45 days end of month, which I put up with, because they always pay without reminders, pay good rates and provide me with a lot of work.
Two other very good clients pay within 30 days.

And for the rest: I have started to decline work from clients (all agencies) with payment terms >45 days.
Now that I have plenty of work anyway, I give priority to prompt payers.

And honestly, it really annoys me with those long payment terms.


Anna Herbst  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:54
Member (2008)
English to Swedish
+ ...

Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile

15 days from date of invoice Jun 3, 2017

Not that most agencies pay much attention - they pay according to their own schedules, usually 30 days from receipt of invoice. Wish I could set my own payment conditions for goods and services I get billed for....
Private clients usually pay on receipt of invoice, bless them!


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:54
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Transparency: I keep translation costs and financial costs apart Jun 3, 2017

While developing my mission/vision/values statement, which I intend to include in my web site, I realized the major value I uphold in my translation business: transparency. I mean, if any client could watch via a webcam everything I do relative to their job, they'd feel proud of having chosen me, for the value they are getting for their money.

And no, this isn't a new project of mine, but something I've been doing for years.
The new project is about saying it in so many words on my web site.

A few points to consider are that:
a) They hire me for my translation and other associated services (e.g. DTP, subtitling, etc.);
b) I checked, and my bank does NOT offer translation services;
c) As a translator, I'll always be an amateur in the money lending business.

Just as my clients are entitled to choose any translator they want, yours truly being one of the options, they should have the same right to choose where they'll get financial services. I am generalizing the assumption that no bank, anywhere, offers translation services.

The translation process starts and ends with me. I don't keep an inventory of prêt-à-porter translations bought from a manufacturer on credit. They are a service that I provide on demand. So if I get paid any time later than job delivery, it is tantamount to me lending money to my client for that period.

Globalization made international commerce a snap. Most translation services (though not all) don't involve logistics, shipping containers packed with raw materials or finished products; originals and translations travel via Internet instantly regardless of the physical distance, at no extra cost than merely being online. Money may travel at the same speed - or not - and this travel involves variable costs.

My bare translation cost is fixed. I won't delve into how I calculated it here. It assumes the client giving me cash in my local currency at the very moment I deliver them whatever service they requested from me.

My country - Brazil - has a few peculiarities regarding money.

One is obstreperously high interest rates, about 15% per month (sic!). There are somewhat lower rates, however these are the ones applied to an oversimplification of an "unexpected" loan: I don't know when I'll be assigned a job, and I don't know exactly when it will be paid. IOW this is the interest rate a bank would charge me per month, if I were to "unexpectedly" finance a client's cash flow for an undetermined period of time.

The other is funds transfer fees.

My bank charges me USD ~40 in fees to receive a wire transfer. P2P services (Western Union, Moneygram) charge a modest fee from the payer, and nothing from me, however it involves some individual at the client receiving in cash and sending the money personally to me. As cash could easily vanish, few clients larger than a one-person-outfit accept using it.

The problem here is PayPal. Until they set up their own operation in Brazil, it was easy, cheap, and quick to use Xoom (another P2P service - in this case the two P's being the same person) to transfer funds from a PayPal account to a Brazilian bank account. As soon as PayPal set foot in Sao Paulo, the first thing they did was to shut down the Xoom option. Now PayPal owns Xoom, but hasn't restored the Xoom option.

PayPal deducts 6.5% in fees from the payee as the funds are credited, and it openly adopts a 3.5% lower-than-market exchange rate upon transferring funds to a bank account here. Furthermore, PayPal strictly forbids surcharging payers for these fees, under severe penalties.
Adding insult to injury, while Xoom effected the transfer in less than 60 minutes during banking hours, PayPal takes 3-5 business days to do it.

So, in that transparency, I offer my clients three basic price levels:
  • Standard - for payment via PayPal in two weeks from delivery with invoice.
  • Sensible - 10% discount (= PayPal fees) for payment via bank transfer or P2P in two weeks - as PayPal is not involved in the transaction, they can't impose any sanctions.
  • Smart - 6.7% discount for payment in two business days - thus sparing the client from hefty Brazilian interest rates - if they don't have the money yet, they probably can get a much more affordable loan.

    My clients supposedly can't get translation services from banks.
    Many translators offer money lending services bundled in the price for their services, by granting an extended payment term to their clients. I chose to give my clients a choice on that.

    Clients who try to impose 30, 45, or 60-day payment terms upon me will be paying interest on that. When they choose to use another translator on account of lower rates, I understand they are rejecting my financial services, not my translation.


  • Thayenga  Identity Verified
    Local time: 08:54
    Member (2009)
    English to German
    + ...
    30 days max Jun 3, 2017

    The most I'm willing to wait (as if I had a choice) is 30 days net. I might grant an additional day in case of a holiday. But if an invoice is 10 days' overdue, it's a 10% surcharge for late payment.

    My best client pays within 24 - 48 hours upon receipt of the invoice along with my translation.

    Anybody who offers payment terms of 45, 60 or 90 days is free to choose another translator. As José stated, I'm not a bank. Translation is my business, not money lending.

    [Edited at 2017-06-03 13:03 GMT]


    Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
    Member (2004)
    Italian to German
    + ...
    30 days Jun 3, 2017

    I always ask for 30 days when working for agencies, and this is also stated on my invoices, together with delay interests that may occur in case of late payment.
    I invoice my two main agencies once at the end of the month, though, and never ever had to send them a reminder as the money is always in my bank account at the latest the last day of the following month.
    Some agencies pay within 2 or 3 days upon my invoice.
    With industry customers, my payment terms are 10 - 14 days from invoice or even advance payment the first time.
    Private customers, who happen very rarely in my business, once every three or four years, are asked to pay before delivery.
    I used to work for one agency that was supposed to pay within 30 days, invoice end of month, having agreed to my terms as opposed to theirs that were 60 days, still end of month, but every time by sheer coincidence there was a different problem and they finally happened to pay always not even according to their own terms, but still some day late, and each time after different reminders. So this was all just a mockery!

    Even though interests in Western Europe are a negligible factor, being paid within a reasonable time is anyway a matter of principle for me.


    Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
    Local time: 03:54
    Member (2014)
    English to Portuguese
    + ...
    I apply? Jun 4, 2017

    The client applies. I agree or try to negotiate when it's more than 30 days. I usually refuse it when it's over 45 days for new clients or 60 for regular clients.


    Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
    Local time: 08:54
    Member (2006)
    Russian to Hungarian
    + ...
    when my problems and your problems met Jun 4, 2017

    José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

    So, in that transparency, I offer my clients three basic price levels:
  • Standard - for payment via PayPal in two weeks from delivery with invoice.
  • Sensible - 10% discount (= PayPal fees) for payment via bank transfer or P2P in two weeks - as PayPal is not involved in the transaction, they can't impose any sanctions.
  • Smart - 6.7% discount for payment in two business days - thus sparing the client from hefty Brazilian interest rates - if they don't have the money yet, they probably can get a much more affordable loan.

    When they choose to use another translator on account of lower rates, I understand they are rejecting my financial services, not my translation.

  • Standard payment is 8 days in my country.
    Sometimes it can be extended for 15 days.
    I am monthly VAT-payer, therefore, mainly in case of the first order (new client) I succesfully apply the following version: I translate immediately the first page and deliver it to the client but ask for prepayment.
    Usually it works, however, I take the risk that the client may disappear 'with no traces in space'.
    If the client forces 30 days, I can give an explanation what is my problem, and they usually understand.
    My policy is: I work for you WHENEVER you want (=you are the boss and I am willing to serve your interests), even in the middle of the night, under rush deadline, under hard circumstances,
    but you shall accept that I am not a millionaire to wait ages for my remuneration.
    My problems is to meet ALL your expectations.
    Your problem is how to get the money.
    My favorite client, Gastón Floreano, whom I met here, always generously pays the invoices within few minutes after the delivery. A rare gem.

    [Edited at 2017-06-04 05:49 GMT]


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