Right to interpretation

  • Under legislation on patient rights, patients who do not speak Icelandic are entitled to interpretation of information on their state of health, planned treatments and other possible remedies. If you need an interpreter, you should indicate this when you make an appointment with a doctor at a health clinic or hospital. The clinic or hospital in question will decide whether or not it will pay for the interpreter’s services. See here for further information on procedures governing the interpreting services provided by the National University Hospital of Iceland
  • Those who do not speak Icelandic or who have not achieved fluency in the language are entitled, according to law, to free interpretation in court cases.
  • In many cases, an interpreter is hired to interpret communications with municipal social services, trade unions, the police and in companies.
  • The assistance of interpreters is often obtained in nursery schools and primary schools, e.g. for parent interviews. The institution in question is generally responsible for booking an interpreter and paying for the service. The same applies when social services require the interpretation of communications.
  • Interpreters are not always free of charge for the individual, and it is therefore a good idea to check the policy of each institution or company as regards payment for interpretation.
  • When requesting the services of an interpreter, the language of the person in question must be stated, as it is not always sufficient to indicate the country of origin.
  • Individuals are entitled to refuse the services of an interpreter.
  • Interpreters are bound to confidentiality in their work.
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