Frequently Asked Questions for agencies

The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) has produced some Frequently Asked Questions designed to answer some common questions for agencies and businesses about our services.

If you cannot find what you are looking for on our website please contact us and a TIS National staff member will help with your enquiry.

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Getting started with TIS National-Expand content

What is a ‘NES initiated’ call?

A ‘NES initiated’ call is a call where a non-English speaker (NES) calls TIS National directly and requests the assistance of an interpreter to speak with your agency.

If your agency accepts NES initiated calls, TIS National operators will connect the NES to your agency with an interpreter already on the line.

When TIS National receives a NES initiated call, our operator will phone your agency and introduce themselves. When your agency has agreed to accept the call the operator will connect you with the NES and interpreter and provide the job number before leaving the conversation.

Service charges, free services and invoicing-Expand content

I am a Medical Practitioner. Am I eligible for free interpreting services?

Medical practitioners (defined as general practitioners, nurse practitioners and approved medical specialists) are eligible for the Free Interpreting Service and access to the Medical Practitioner Priority Line when providing services that are:

  • Medicare-rebateable 
  • delivered in private practice, and
  • provided to non-English speakers who are eligible for Medicare. 

Nursing and practice support staff who are working with a private medical practitioner registered with TIS National can also access the service using the same client code.
Doctors who meet the above criteria can apply for access to the Free Interpreting Service and the Medical Practitioner Priority Line by completing the Register agency form.

What is the Medical Practitioner and Pharmacy Priority Line?

The Medical Practitioner and Pharmacy Priority Line is a free phone interpreting service which helps medical practitioners and pharmacists quickly connect to an interpreter to communicate with their non-English speaking patients.

The Priority Line is available to eligible medical practitioners and pharmacists 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Contact the Free Interpreting Service team on 1300 575 847 for more information about this service.

Why does my invoice include two charges for the same job?

Pre-booked telephone and on-site services are requested in advance and scheduled for a specific period of time. If the actual interpreting time of the appointment runs longer than the scheduled time, the agency will be charged for the extra time.

Charges for extra time will appear on your invoice as a separate line item with ‘A1’ at the end of the job or invoice number.

For example, if an on-site interpreter is booked for 90 minutes but the actual session lasts for 120 minutes, the charge will be split into two items on your invoice. The first item will be for the time that was booked (90 minutes), and the second item will be for the additional time (30 minutes).

TIS National services-Expand content

Does TIS National provide conference interpreting?

No, TIS National does not provide conference interpreting services.

TIS National endeavours to develop services in line with feedback received from our clients. To provide TIS National with feedback about services you require which are not currently available complete our online feedback form to let us know.

TIS Online for agencies-Expand content

I work in a medical practice. Can all of our doctors share a TIS Online account?

In some instances, TIS National can provide a single client code for a medical practice. Please call TIS National to discuss your medical practice’s needs on 1300 575 847.

Using TIS National services-Expand content

Can I request a specific interpreter?

TIS National’s policy is to allocate work to interpreters on the basis of their:

This ensures that clients receive the most qualified available interpreter. 

In some circumstances, limited additional factors such as those outlined below may be taken into account in determining allocation. However, the highest available credential level always remains a primary criterion.


TIS National accepts that there are sometimes circumstances where an interpreter of a specific gender is required.  For example, this may be necessary for sensitive matters, especially those of a medical nature. To facilitate this, clients can indicate the gender of interpreter required (where this is important). TIS National will then allocate the highest credentialed available interpreter of that gender, wherever possible.

Working with Children’s Check:

Occasionally, clients may advise TIS National that they require an interpreter with a Working with Children’s Check (or equivalent). Such requests are made in order to comply with relevant legislation and TIS National will therefore give such requests priority when determining allocation. In these circumstances, allocation will be to the most highly credentialed available interpreter who holds the required Check.

Specific Interpreter Requests:

TIS National strongly encourages clients to avoid requesting specific interpreters where possible.

Such requests:

  • limit TIS National’s ability to supply an interpreter, particularly for urgent requests (the specified interpreter may not be available when requested); and
  • may not result in allocation of the most highly credentialed interpreter available for your appointment.

In exceptional circumstances, TIS National may agree to fulfil a client’s request for a specific interpreter.  However, the client must first clearly demonstrate what exceptional circumstances apply to warrant allocation outside of normal policy. 

Whilst such requests are assessed on a case by case basis, they are more likely to be considered favourably where a client can demonstrate that allocation of the nominated interpreter is:

  • essential to maintaining the quality and continuity of care or service; and
  • of clear benefit to the non-English speaking client.

Clients will be required to complete an acknowledgement of requirements for the provision of a specific interpreter form, including details of the exceptional circumstances which apply, before TIS National will consider a specific interpreter request.

Specific interpreter requests must generally be made at least three business days prior to the appointment date. Requests made less than three business days in advance will only be considered in exceptional circumstances and will generally result in an interpreter being allocated in accordance with standard TIS National interpreter allocation policy.

If a specific interpreter request is declined, the client will be offered the highest credentialed interpreter available at the time. Where a client chooses not to accept the interpreter allocated in this manner and decides to cancel the request, this must be done with sufficient notice, in accordance with TIS National’s Cancellation Policy in order to avoid charges. Cancellations must be made in TIS Online or in writing, as appropriate.

No other considerations are ordinarily taken into account when allocating assignments. 

TIS National:

  • does not keep records on interpreters’ ethnicity, nationality, country of birth, religion or political affiliations and is unable to allocate interpreters based on these considerations
  • will not provide a specific interpreter simply to meet the personal preferences of the client or non-English speaker (NES)
  • will not agree to allocate a specific interpreter outside of the usual allocation policy where there is no evidence to substantiate a history or continuity of care or service.

Working with TIS National interpreters-Expand content

Can I contact a TIS National interpreter directly?

Clients must contact TIS National directly with any queries relating to its services. Clients must not request interpreters to provide their contact details to facilitate direct contact between the agency and interpreter. To ensure services are delivered in line with TIS National standards, clients must call TIS National on 131 450 for all interpreter job bookings, this also includes when a call disconnection takes place.


What should I expect when using a TIS National interpreter?

TIS National gives priority to interpreters who have National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) credentials, which provides a guarantee of interpreter skill and accuracy.

TIS National interpreters understand their responsibilities and perform under the Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) Code of Ethics. Our interpreters maintain professional behaviour and keep the content of a conversation confidential whilst abiding by their Code of Ethics. Our interpreters facilitate communication with the non-English speaking client and do not conduct interviews, give advice, complete forms or provide their own personal opinions.