In the globalised market, companies engaged in the internationalisation process need to communicate in several languages, and they do it in different ways: translating internally with their own staff (distracting them from daily activities), hiring dedicated translators (we have talked about it extensively here), using freelance translators or turning to external entities called Translation Agencies and Translation Companies.

There seems to be widespread confusion about the latter two categories.

Are these two different ways of identifying translation companies or are there substantial differences between Translation Agencies and Translation Companies?

There is a fair degree of confusion in this regard, and search engines certainly do not help, since, for example, when searching for “translation company” on Google, the search engine often returns results that are not perfectly consistent, fuelling uncertainty for users.

Let’s try to outline the two organisational models by highlighting the differences.


The translation agency, born as a business model at the end of the 1970s, is an organisation that brings together several freelance translators and organises their work. For a long time, it has been the solution for companies that needed to translate with a fair degree of continuity and in different target languages. Instead of relying on several freelance translators or making the choice to hire one or more in-house translators, the agency provides a link between the translation professionals and the needs of the clients.

Thanks to its network of translators, in fact, the agency offers the client the possibility of translating into a series of languages, keeps in touch with translators all over the world and is essentially the means by which the client company benefits from the services that the freelance translator can offer.

The Agency model was the initial step towards a renewal of the sector: it was the response to the first more systematic requests with a higher degree of complexity that businesses needed due to the transformation of increasingly global markets. The “forces” of the agency and individual freelance translators alone were no longer sufficient, and it became necessary, especially at the turn of the millennium, for an organisation to offer more varied translation services and to support the new demands for localisation of products/services.

For a long time, the translation agency has been the main (if not the only) reference for more structured companies, but nowadays it turns out to be a model with many limitations when compared to Translation Companies.


We can define Translation Companies (born in the USA at the beginning of the second millennium and then becoming multinational) as the evolution of Translation Agencies, which goes hand in hand with the evolution of the global market and the increasing demand for integrated services that respond to an ever greater organicity of processes. Not only do businesses need more and more specific services (not just translation), but they also need to direct their activities towards more and more accurate objectives and, at the same time, they need a structure that can easily manage all workflows and no longer just a simple intermediary between the business and the freelance translator.

In fact, Translation Companies are not simple intermediaries, but have a structure divided into departments, translation is only one of the many services they offer. For example, they have in-house mother-tongue translators specialised in the appropriate terminology according to the sector, they also take into account the cultural context of the country towards which the action is targeted, they have a production department with dedicated Project Managers, they offer a 360° Customer Service, etc.

Translation Companies also take advantage of the latest Machine Translation technologies, have access to the main innovations in the field of Artificial Intelligence and Neural Network which, together with careful human review, is able to provide multiple services quickly and with greater efficiency.

In addition, a Translation Company is organised into specific areas to provide Clients with a cloud of services. From the Sales department, Post Sales, to Production, from the Digital Communication department for multilingual SEO translations, strategies and monitoring of online communication campaigns to the IT department, up to the Marketing department.

In short, a Translation Company is an organisation that offers integrated solutions tailored to the client’s specific needs, not just delivering a translation.



– Is a small organisation
– Has no internal translators
– Connects companies with freelance translators
– Is not organised into specific departments
– Is not organised to provide a Customer Service or to handle any complaints
– Is able to offer only a few services related to translations
– Costs, delivery times and methods depend mainly on the freelance translator


Is an ISO-certified company, organised into departments with 50 employees including native translators and proofreaders, Sales, Production, Marketing, Digital Communication, IT and Administration
– Manages workflows with dedicated Project Managers
With its Post Sales department it always ensures a direct contact with customers
Has access to a network of 20,000 translators located all over the world, uses advanced Machine Translation technologies and integrates them into the Neural Network
Offers 30 localisation services, from the more traditional ones like translation and interpreting to App Localization, Transcreation, Web and Software Localisation, SEO Content Writing etc.
– Thanks to specific departments, it is able to support companies by providing them with multiple services related to localisation, such as multilingual SEO translation and Digital Marketing campaigns designed and configured for measurable objectives.

Qontent is the ideal partner for internationalised companies

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