When booking interpreters for the first time, especially for a one hour meeting you might be a bit surprised to find that most carry a two hour minimum. If the interpreter is only needed for 30 minutes, this can be confusing and see quite unfair. Below we’ve explained the most common reasons why two hour minimums are put in place for major markets.

1. Commute Time

In major cities or larger areas getting an interpreter to a location can take some time. Given that freelancers travel place to place to make a paycheck, you can understand the large gaps of time in a schedule on any given day. For this reason, a two hour minimum provides some coverage at the end of a single hour job ensuring an interpreter doesn’t need to overwork themselves to earn a living.

2. Overages

Rarely do we see interpreters leave an event at the strike of the hour. More often than not, meetings run over or time is used simply getting out of the building. Adding on an additional hour is protection for those instances where an interpreter would otherwise be unable to pack their schedule for a full workday.

3. Reducing Fees

Agencies hate charging additional fees. It makes our services seem gimmicky when it happens too often. We don’t like tacking on overages or having to bill for things like additional travel. When we can count on a two hour minimum, an interpreter leaving 15 minutes after the scheduled time isn’t a huge deal.


Interpreters have an incredibly physically taxing job. When you consider that most salaried service professionals have the opportunity to take paid breaks and lunches throughout the week, you can quickly se that interpreters aren’t afforded the same luxury. A two hour minimum allows the interpreter the breathing room to take breaks through the day which is physically safer for the body.

5. Lateness

Let’s face it, we’re all human and humans aren’t always the best with time. When service users or those facilitating an event are behind schedule, you can be assured that an interpreter on a two hour minimum isn’t crunched for time. Instead, things can move along as planned – albeit late, without the need to skip over valuable information.

Two hour minimums work best in our industry to support interpreters in providing them the breathing room to function at their best. It’s one of the many ways our field makes up for the vast differences between office life and the quick paced freelancing work many of us provide. We hope you can see the benefit in them as well!