FAQs - NAATI certification for interpreters

The New Zealand Sign Language Board has approved the implementation of NAATI as a system of interpreter standards and associated certification for NZSL interpreters.

From 1 July 2024 New Zealand public sector agencies will engage NZSL interpreters with a NAATI Recognised Practising credential (RPI) to provide interpreting services. When Certified Provisional Interpreter (CPI) and Certified Interpreter (CI) tests are available for NZSL interpreters, New Zealand public sector agencies will then engage NZSL interpreters with CPI or CI credentials.

Below you will find the answers to frequently asked questions regarding the requirement for interpreters working for NZ government agencies to be NAATI-certified as of 1 July 2024.

Please also see the links beneath to MBIE’s, NAATI’s and NZSTI’s FAQ pages.

What is NAATI?

  • NAATI is the the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters. NAATI sets and maintains high national standards for the translating and interpreting sector, and issues credentials or certification to people who wish to work in this profession. NAATI is a public, not-for-profit company that is jointly owned by the Australian Commonwealth, state and territory governments.
  • A decision to adopt the NAATI system of interpreter standards and associated certification for those doing interpreting work in the New Zealand Public Sector was made in 2017. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is the lead agency managing the three year transition to the new environment where only NAATI-certified interpreters are engaged to provide interpreting services to the New Zealand public sector agencies from 1 July 2024.

Who needs to hold NAATI certification?

  • From 1 July 2024, all interpreters in New Zealand wanting to work for government agencies (either directly or through language service providers) must hold NAATI certification (RPI, CPI or CI).

What evidence do I need to register with NAATI?

  • Your MBIE Entitlement Note (apply to NAATI)
  • A scan of your interpreting qualification
  • Your student id (contact your education provider)
  • A letter from an employer or agency, or anonymised invoices as evidence that you have been working as an interpreter

How do I register for NAATI?

View our NAATI step by step registration guide [DOCX, 248 KB] to learn how to register for NAATI.

How do I get my student ID number?

  • Contact AUT if you studied in NZ or contact your education provider if you studied overseas

What happens if I don’t have RPI by 1 July 2024?

  • You can still apply for RPI but you will need to pay for the cost. You can work in areas where no funding is from the public sector.

Who pays for the Ethics Competency test ?

  • Before 1 July 2024 MBIE covers the cost of the EC test. 

Is MBIE funding for NAATI testing limited to up to 30 June 2024?

  • Yes.

What happens to interpreters who don’t work 40 hours per year?

  • The requirement by NAATI is an average of 40 assignments or hours per year (120 assignments over three years). If you are unable to achieve 120 hours over 3 years you will need to contact NAATI to ask for special consideration due to your circumstances.
  • NAATI has the ability to grant you an extension of up to one year on a case-by-case basis (for example, if you were unable to work for extended periods due to health reasons, or for practitioners in low demand languages).
  • You can also contact NAATI for advice at recertification@naati.com.au and one of the team will respond as soon as possible.

How many Professional Development points will I need to re-certify?

  • Practitioners are required to demonstrate they have reached at least 120 professional development points in total (no matter how many certifications they hold). This is an average of 40 points per year.
  • Of the 120 minimum points, practitioners should reach a minimum of 30 points in each of the three categories, including at least one activity from the Ethics sub-category. See the NAATI Professional Development Catalogue Professional-Development-Catalogue.pdf (naati.com.au) .

What types of professional development are recognised for NAATI re-certification?

What is NAATI's Ethical Competency test? Do I need to sit it before I can book my NAATI test date? 

If you are applying to NAATI to gain a certification for the first time, you may need to pass both the Intercultural Competency and Ethical Competency tests before you become eligible to sit a certification test. 

You do not need to apply separately to sit an Ethical Competency test. When you apply to sit the NAATI test, NAATI will make a determination and will advise you whether you need to sit the Ethical Competency and/or Intercultural Competency tests. If you have completed an Endorsed Qualification within the last 3 years, you will not need to sit this test as this content was covered in your tertiary course. 

If NAATI advises that you need to sit the Intercultural and/or Ethical Competency tests, you must pass them before NAATI will allocate you a test date for your NAATI certification (CI, CPI, etc.). Once you have that test date, you may register for an NZSTI-run NAATI test preparation workshop. Note that the cost of sitting the Intercultural and/or Ethical Competency tests is covered by your MBIE entitlement note. 

If I qualified overseas as a Sign Language interpreter, will I need to have an SLPI assessment to register as an NZSL interpreter with NAATI?

No. The Board was considering the use of a Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI) assessment for overseas qualified interpreters applying for NAATI but after consultation the board has decided not to use the SLPI assessments. NAATI has a testing process for NZSL interpreters, this should assess the interpreter’s use of NZSL, meaning the SLPI is not necessary. 

Visual Guide for interpreters applying for NAATI assessment

Download the visual guide for interpreters applying for NAATI assessment [DOCX, 178 KB].

3 pathways to certified registration for NZSL interpreters.


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