Free Interpreting Service general information

Free Interpreting Service - General information sheet

The Free Interpreting Service aims to provide equitable access to key services for people with limited or no English language proficiency.


The following groups can access the Free Interpreting Service:

  • Medical practitioners: when delivering Medicare rebateable services in private practice. Nurses, reception and other practice support staff can also access the service when working with the registered medical practitioner.
  • Pharmacies: to provide community pharmacy services.
  • Non-government organisations: when providing casework and emergency services, where the organisation does not receive substantial government funding to provide these services
  • Real estate agencies: to discuss any private residential property matter.
  • Local government authorities: to communicate about most local government services.
  • Trade unions: to assist workers to access support and advice.
  • Parliamentarians: for constituency purposes.

You can check your eligibility for the Free Interpreting Service using the eligibility calculator on the TIS National website.

Why use interpreters

Australia has a rich cultural diversity. The 2016 census revealed that Australians were born in almost 200 different countries and speak more than 300 languages.

The Free Interpreting Services helps eligible groups to communicate with clients who have limited or no English language proficiency. Using credentialed interpreters can facilitate better access to essential services for these clients and is particularly important for conversations in technical, legal or health contexts.

Using the Free Interpreting Service is easy and convenient. It is quick and simple for service providers to register and they can be connected to a phone interpreter within a few minutes.

Services Available

Eligible groups can use the Free Interpreting Service to access interpreting services delivered by TIS National, including:

  • immediate phone interpreting
  • pre-booked phone interpreting
  • pre-booked onsite interpreting (not available to pharmacies or real estate agents)

Immediate phone interpreting is most useful for unplanned interactions. It provides:

  • access to more than 2700 interpreters in more than 150 languages.
  • interpreting services 24 hours a day 7 days a week
  • connection to an interpreter within a few minutes of calling.

Pre-booked phone interpreting is useful for planned interactions, or if you know you need to request a less common language. When phone interpreting is not suitable, TIS National can arrange an interpreter to arrive onsite for a face-to-face appointment. This may be important when you have a group of people needing the same language interpreter, when you are discussing complex ideas or when you anticipate that the appointment will go for an extended period of time.

Register for a client code

Each eligible individual, group or organisation will need their own unique client code to access the service. To register for a client code, complete the online client registration form on the TIS National website. If you require assistance with registering contact TIS National on 1300 575 847.

How to access the Free Interpreting Service

  1. Call TIS National on 131 450.
  2. Provide the operator with the language of the interpreter that you need.
  3. Provide your client code and the name of the organisation/practitioner/parliamentarian.
  4. Request an interpreter of a particular gender, if required (subject to availability).

More information

Free Interpreting Service: 131 450

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