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Translating and Interpreting Service


The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) provides an immediate telephone interpreting service. Interpreters are available for more than 160 languages and dialects. If you need to communicate with someone who does not speak your language, TIS National may be able to help.

Telephone interpreters are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can help in emergency situations. You can use TIS National to communicate with government agencies, community groups and businesses.

Generally, TIS National is free for non-English speakers. If you are communicating with a government department, that organisation is responsible for the cost of the interpreter. Some businesses and community services may also provide free interpreting services.

To use a TIS National interpreter call 131 450 and tell the operator which language you speak. The operator will contact an interpreter. When you are connected to the interpreter, provide the name and telephone number of the organisation you wish to contact.

You will need to call during the business hours of the organisation you wish to contact.

If you need an interpreter to see your doctor with you, ask the doctor to contact TIS National on the Doctor’s Priority Line to arrange for a telephone interpreter. A doctor can also organise an onsite interpreter. Pharmacies can use telephone interpreters to speak with you about medicines. This is a free service provided by the government.

Free telephone interpreting services may be available for communicating with the following groups:

non-profit, non-government, community-based organisations
Members of Parliament
local government authorities (in relation to issues such as rates, garbage collection and urban services)
real estate agencies.

Working for TIS National

TIS National welcomes enquiries from Australian permanent residents and citizens who are interested in working as contract interpreters. For more information, please visit the TIS National website at
Translation of your important documents

Eligible migrants can have their settlement-related personal documents translated into English (for example, birth or marriage certificates, driver’s licences, and education and employment documents). This is free within the first two years of arrival in Australia or grant of permanent residence.

For more information see:

‘I need an interpreter’ card

Non-English speakers can use an ‘I need an interpreter’ card to request an interpreter when they need to communicate with government agencies, community groups and businesses. The card has TIS National’s contact details and space to write your preferred language. Show the card when you need an interpreter.

TIS National provides these cards to government agencies, community groups, and not-for- profit agencies to give to their clients.

If you would like a card posted to you, email TIS National at or phone 1300 655 820.
Interpreter symbol

The Interpreter Symbol (above and on every page of this booklet) lets people with limited English know that they can ask for language assistance when using government services.

You may see the symbol in public hospitals, police stations, state schools, community centres, housing and employment offices, local councils and settlement service providers such as migrant resource centres.

For more information please go to 

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