Short Turnaround Time (TAT) Translations Projects

Pollion Team

Our fast-paced interconnected world requires quick, accurate translation services. For this reason, short turnaround time (TAT) translation projects are becoming more numerous. Translation professionals are now meeting this need by developing efficient workflows and managing resources to meet these deadlines without compromising quality. 

This article discusses how to manage TAT translation projects, including implementing rush fees, strategies to improve quick turnaround translation times, and best practices for managing quality assurance and client expectations. 

What are Short Turnaround Time (TAT) Translation Projects? 

Short Turnaround Time (TAT) translation projects are translation tasks that must be completed within a tight deadline. These projects generally involve urgent or time-sensitive materials that must be translated quickly. 

Short TAT translation projects may be necessary for several reasons, including: 

Business emergencies: a company may need to translate important documents, contracts, or communications on short notice. Due to international partnerships, legal requirements, or time-sensitive marketing campaigns, they may require these services for urgent business needs. 

Legal or regulatory requirements: legal documents, contracts, or compliance-related materials may have strict deadlines. They may need to meet regulatory requirements or court deadlines. 

Marketing or promotional activities: marketing materials, product launches, or advertising campaigns may require translations to be completed quickly to take advantage of market opportunities or reach target audiences within specific timeframes. 

Last-minute changes or updates: changes to existing documents or materials may require rapid translation services to ensure that all stakeholders have access to the latest information. 

These projects are very urgent, which means that translators and translation service providers need to prioritize efficiency, effective communication, and collaboration in order to meet tight deadlines and maintain accuracy and quality standards. 

Rush Fees

Rush charges or rush fees are additional costs that are charged for expedited translation services. These fees are meant to cover tight deadlines and accommodate clients who need quick translation services. 

The fees also allow translation service providers to prioritize this work before other translation projects. Rush charges allow them to allocate additional resources and compensate for the extra effort needed to complete the work quickly. 

Rush fees are charged for these reasons:

Justification for additional costs: rush charges are justified due to the need for additional resources. Extra resources can include adding more translators to the project, working overtime, or expediting the work to meet the client’s deadline. 

Varied pricing structure: The pricing structure for rush charges can depend on the urgency of the project, the language pair, the complexity of the content, and the specific policies of the translation service provider. Some providers calculate their fees as a percentage of the total project cost. However, others may charge a flat rate or an hourly fee for expedited services. 

Transparent communication: Translation professionals must be transparent about their rush fee policies and communicate them clearly to their clients upfront. This is one method of managing client expectations regarding costs. Clients also need to understand the additional fees associated with fast turnaround projects. 

Balancing speed and quality: rush fees ensure the translation service providers prioritize an urgent project and deliver within a quick timeframe. However, translators must not compromise the accuracy or the quality of their work in a rush project. The extra fee should also count toward the accuracy and quality of the translated content. 

Rush charges are crucial for expedited translation services and meeting clients’ demands. Translation service providers must communicate their pricing policies and prioritize the quality and accuracy of the translated materials for rush projects. 

What Constitutes a Rush Translation? 

A rush translation is a project that requires the translator to rearrange their schedule and workflow. They do this to meet the client’s deadlines. 

On the other hand, a rush translation could also be a project that requires the translator to work on more than a specific number of words per day. Or maybe the project needs to be completed with a turnaround that’s less than 24 hours. 

But then this leads to the question of what the difference is between a rush project and overtime. 

Difference Between Rush and Overtime

It’s not easy to determine the difference between rush and overtime. Many questions come up when you try to make this determination, including: 

  • Does the translator need to translate faster on a rush project? 
  • Is the translator working longer hours on a rush project? 
  • What sort of fee should translators charge for fast translation services? 
  • Should the translator charge an extra 10% or 100%? 
  • Should workers receive time-and-a-half for overtime? 
  • What part of the project are rush charges applied to? 

The problem is that there are no concrete guidelines that answer these questions. However, many translators have said they may charge more if the client is desperate. They may also use the rush charge equation to calculate the rush fees. It’s up to each translator how they want to charge for quick turnaround on translation projects. 

Managing Client Expectations

Managing client expectations can be challenging when working on a fast translation project. Here are some strategies that can effectively manage client expectations: 

Clear communication: open, transparent communication channels with the client are needed at the beginning of a rush project. The translator must communicate the expected timeline for completion and explain potential challenges or limitations. They should also let the client know about the steps involved during the translation process. 

Set realistic deadlines: the translation service provider needs to work with the client to establish realistic deadlines based on the project’s scope, complexity, and the translator’s availability. The translator must avoid overcommitting to unrealistic turnaround times that could lower the quality of the translation. 

Define scope and requirements: another method to manage client expectations is to clearly define the scope of the project, including the specific content to be translated. The explanation must include the language pair, formatting requirements, and any additional services requested or required. Both the client and the translator need to have a clear understanding of the project requirements and deliverables. 

Urgent translation requires the translator to be responsive and accessible. They also need to manage the workload and prioritize tasks to get the project completed on time. These are the ways a translation professional can build trust and show their professionalism to the client. 

By using these strategies, translators can effectively manage client expectations on these projects and foster positive relationships with their clients. 


Managing Short Turnaround Time (TAT) translation projects requires balancing speed and quality. Urgent translation needs will come up from time to time. Translation service providers must consider the quality, speed, and cost of their services for rush projects. 

Short-turnaround translation projects can be stressful; however, when the right workflow and processes are in place, it can ease the stress of the translators and their team.

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Translation Project FAQs

What are the drawbacks of rushing a translation project?

Rushing a translation project can reduce quality, increase errors, limit review time, complicate handling of complex content, strain translators, and negatively impact the client.

Do shorter TAT translation projects cost more?

Yes, shorter TAT (Turnaround Time) translation projects often cost more due to higher rates or rush charges needed to meet the expedited timeline.

How to reduce the turnaround time for the translation process?

To reduce the turnaround time, utilize technology such as translation memory and CAT software, pre-translate repetitive content, collaborate with multiple translators, establish clear guidelines, prioritize tasks, and streamline review processes.