What is NRPSI?

Our customers often ask us about the National Register of Public Service Interpreters – what it is and whether to join. This is a brief overview to help you understand the background and purpose of the organization.

Imagine that one of your family members is abroad, in a country where people speak a completely different language, and they become a victim of a serious crime. In order to interact with the police (and potentially even courts), they require an interpreter. You would hope that your loved ones are being assisted by people sufficiently knowledgeable and qualified as to enable a fair and just treatment and outcome, wouldn’t you?

When a spoken-word public service interpreter is working in the UK, often in a potentially life-changing or life-threatening situation, the interpreter may be the only person who understands what both of the parties are saying. So, it makes sense for public service to ensure only the best possible practitioners are engaged to aid them in their work.

Well-trained, highly qualified and experienced spoken-word public service interpreters contribute to the safeguarding of human rights in the UK. The National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI) is the UK’s only independent voluntary register of professional spoken-word interpreters specializing in public service settings.


NRPSI was set up in 1994 with the help of the Home Office and the Nuffield Foundation to protect individuals who do not speak or understand English, ensuring they are not hindered from accessing public services and that the public and public sector organizations are protected from the negative outcomes of poor-quality spoken-word interpreting.

Why do people engage with NRPSI?

The NRPSI register has stringent joining criteria which specify hours of experience, as well as qualifications obtained. Interpreting engagements in the public sector should be carried out by those who are fit to practice: typically, interpreters with a Level 6 Vocational Diploma like the CIOLQ DPSI and with more than 400 hours of experience.

More than 90 per cent of Registrants are registered at Full status, qualified to honours degree level/Ofqual Level 6 or above and have the proven skills required to work in a public service setting with the necessary experience. The remainder are on one of two interim statuses while they are either working towards achieving their 400 hours’ experience (Interim (a)) or their qualification (Interim (b)), or they interpret in languages for which no examinations are available and are registered as ‘Rare Language’ Registrants.

Registrants voluntarily abide by the NRPSI Code of Professional Conduct, the only code written specifically for spoken-word public service interpreters.

For more information see www.nrpsi.org.uk.