Language interpreting services for providers

Participants from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds may need interpreting assistance to communicate with providers. 

The NDIA has partnered with the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) to make sure information about the NDIS can be shared in a way participants can understand.

On this page you’ll learn about the services that are available to participants implementing the funded supports in an NDIS plan, how to register for NDIA funded services on behalf of the participant and how to appropriately use them.

Services available with TIS National

TIS National is an interpreting service provided by the Department of Home Affairs for people who prefer a language other than English, and for agencies and businesses that need to communicate with linguistically diverse people.

Services available for NDIS participants to use with registered providers include:

  • immediate phone interpreting
  • pre-booked phone interpreting
  • on-site interpreting.

Registering for funded TIS National services

You will need to be an NDIA registered service provider to access funded interpreting services. You will also need to register with TIS National for a Client Code. 

Unregistered Service Providers can still use TIS National services, however they will be expected to fund the cost of the service and will be forwarded a bill directly.

To access NDIA funded interpreting services, registered providers need to register for a client code through the TIS National website (External website) using these details (if you already have a TIS National client code, you still need to register as follows, so NDIA receives invoices for NDIS participants):

  1. Category—Commonwealth Government Agency
  2. Subcategory—National Disability Insurance Agency
  3. Name of agency—your organisation name
  4. NDIS Provider Registration Number—your unique provider number supplied by the NDIA
  5. Section name—NDIS
  6. Add provider details—while requesting your email address, please note that invoices will be sent directly to the NDIA.

TIS National will issue an activation email with your client code, requesting you log into TIS online to activate your account. Do not use this code to book until you have received a welcome email from TIS National confirming your client code and details on how to book TIS National services including using the participant’s NDIS number. You should receive this email within two working days. For further details please phone TIS National on 1300 655 820.

Accessing TIS National services

Once you become registered with TIS National you can access immediate phone interpreting, pre-booked phone interpreting and on-site interpreting on behalf on an NDIS participant implementing the funded supports in a plan.

Whenever you request an interpreter, you will need to provide your Client Code, the language you need and the participants’ NDIS number. 

Immediate phone interpreting

NDIS participants and providers can access immediate phone interpreting services by calling TIS National’s operator assisted service on 131 450 (within Australia). This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, however not all languages are available during this time period. 

Pre-booked phone interpreting

Phone interpreting services can also be pre-booked via the online interpreter booking form available on the TIS National website (external) (External website)

Pre-booking a telephone interpreter is recommended when interpreters for languages which are less common or you have a set time for your appointment.

The service provider must consider the needs of the participant when booking a phone interpreter. If you are unsure if you need to pre-book an interpreter you can call TIS National’s Client Liaison team on 1300 655 820.

On-site interpreting

When you need a face-to-face interpreter, you can book one via TIS online (external) (External website). This is an automated booking tool to request and manage on-site interpreter bookings online. 

On-site interpreting is recommended when: a scheduled appointment with a NDIS participant may take some time, be complex, require specialist knowledge, or when documents or forms will be discussed.

Cancelling a TIS National service

Interpreter bookings can be accepted up to 90 days in advance for both pre-booked phone and on-site interpreting jobs. TIS National suggests booking at least one week in advance to ensure the availability of interpreters. 

To cancel a booking you must provide the following minimum notice to ensure you do not incur charges to the NDIA: 

Type of assignment Required minimum notice
Pre-booked phone 24 hours before scheduled start time
Standard on-site (under 6.5 hours) 24 hours before scheduled start time
Full day on-site (6.5 hours or more) 48 hours before scheduled start time

More details on TIS Nationals cancellation policy are available from the website (external) (External website)

What to remember when using TIS National services

An NDIS provider is responsible for service quality and must ensure that regulatory responsibilities are met (see the National Disability Insurance Scheme Guidelines). 

The NDIA encourages best practice by using on-site (face-to-face) interpreters where communication involves:

  • sensitive, complex, or time-consuming issues
  • group meetings or interviews planned in advance
  • situations where, for practical reasons, phone interpreting is not appropriate; for example, reliance on mobile phones in rural and remote locations or when working with participants with a hearing impairment.

TIS National interpreters cannot translate documents or complete forms on behalf of you or the participant; they can only interpret what is being communicated verbally between the two parties.  

Find out more about TIS Online or visit the TIS Online login page (external) (External website) to get started.

Costs for interpreter travel to remote areas

Where the on-site interpreting job is in a regional or rural area an interpreter may not be available. In certain circumstances, the NDIA may pay for travel costs where the one-way distance is greater than 100km. 

These jobs require pre-approval by the NDIA and should be submitted via TIS Online. Find out more about extended travel for on-site jobs on the TIS National website (external) (External website).

Requesting a specific interpreter

TIS National may agree to fulfil a participants request for a specific interpreter where the NDIS provider can demonstrate evidence of continuity of care. A specific interpreter request is more likely to be successful if you can demonstrate that allocation of the nominated interpreter:

  • is essential to maintaining the quality and continuity of care or service
  • is of clear benefit to the non-English speaking participant
  • has interacted with the non-English speaking participant previously, either with your agency or another agency delivering services to the participant.  

More details about accessing TIS National services is available from the TIS National website (external) (External website).

Services not provided by TIS National

These services cannot be procured through TIS National and will need to be sourced separately by NDIS registered providers. 

  • Indigenous languages are not available through TIS National and will need to be sourced from state-based interpreting services.
  • Disability related interpreting supports (such as hearing or vision interpreting) are not available through TIS National. NDIS service providers are encouraged to source assisting communication services locally or by following the participant’s preference as these supports are included in a participant’s plan. 
  • TIS National does not provide document translations, to enquire about translated information for a participant contact the NDIA on 1800 800 110.

More information about TIS National

For more information, read through the frequently asked questions available on the TIS National website (external) (External website)

To speak to someone about registering for a TIS National client code, please call 1300 655 820 or alternatively visit (External website).

To access an immediate phone interpreter, once you have registered with TIS National and have been provided with a client code, please call 131 450 (within Australia).

You can contact the NDIA through their National Call Centre on 1800 800 110.

This page current as of
13 August 2019