Postage & handling

Postage & handling is very common in the modern world. We live in the shopping online era and if we want our products delivered, we must pay for that delivery. This is quite simple to understand when we talk about a pair of shoes or the groceries we may buy online, but what happens if it’s a translated document? How is that delivery charged and what are the rules?

Most translations do not require printed copies to be delivered to the client. We can simply send the digital format and the client will use it the way they think fit. However, sometimes you may need printed copies to be sent to the client, especially for certified translations of documents and in that case, you will need to charge for delivery.

Certified Translation services

Usually, a certified translation cannot be sent in digital form. This is mainly for two reasons, the first reason is security. A certified translation is an official document that carries the stamp and signature of the translator who has done it and certified it. Even though we all like to think email is a safe way of communication and our documents would be encrypted, the truth is online nothing is 100% safe, so that document could be captured and your stamp could be copied and used illegally. This is one of the reasons NAATI and AUSIT always recommend we never publish photos of our NAATI stamp anywhere, especially online.

The second reason, and also quite obvious, is that the documents are most probably part of an application and need to be submitted to an official body. These bodies also want originals because they want to verify the authenticity of the document, and a digital copy can be altered.

Charging for postage

 If you need to send the documents to your clients, you must charge for that cost, because you pay to get the documents posted and that is part of your service. But how should you charge for that service?

For me, before the pandemic, postage was an option on my price list. If a client lived locally and was happy to visit my office to pick the documents up, they could do so, free of charge. However, with the pandemic, things changed dramatically and pick up is no longer available. This is also the case for most of my colleagues. So, postage became part of my certified translation services.

The way this fee is calculated may change. It has always been a topic of discussion if you simply charge what you pay (postage fee) or if you should add a percentage for the time you take to post it (handling fee). In my case, I simply charge a postage fee, that is, my clients pay what I have paid to send them the documents. I believe all the rest is already included in my certified translation services rate.

Keep your clients informed

It is important that you keep your clients informed about this fee. It should appear on your Price List. For example, if you need to post documents outside your country, you must also provide that information in your Terms & Conditions, so they know the service is available and how it is charged. The same should happen if you have multiple pricing for postage in your country. In my case, I use Australia Post Express, which is a service that allows me to send an envelope up to 500g for a flat rate. The service also guarantees next day delivery and tracking, which is very important, not only for me but for my clients. If the documents exceed that weight then Terms & Conditions will apply, as the charges will be different. The same happens for international mail. The client may choose to have it sent via Australia Post or DHL. Again, a quote of the service must be provided to the client and they must choose the service they want. This way, you ensure total transparency and great communication with your clients, which is a fundamental part of your business.

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