Chartered Institute
of Linguists

Become a Chartered Linguist

Chartership is recognised worldwide as the gold standard for practitioners, whatever their profession. 
It is publicly understood as a mark of quality and competence. Chartership provides assurance to users of language services, inspiring confidence with employers, clients and fellow language practitioners. It confirms commitment to Continuing Professional Development and indicates that as a Chartered Linguist, a practitioner is committed to maintaining high professional standards, continually developing professional language skills and specialist knowledge. Chartership demonstrates commitment to improving standards and to professionalising the language industry.

Chartership is free of charge to eligible CIOL members, and it takes only a few minutes to register online.

Who can apply?

Chartership is open to all full-paying CIOL members (and applicant members) in the following grades:

  • CIOL Member (MCIL)
  • CIOL Fellow (FCIL)

Chartership is not available to CIOL members (or linguists from other qualifying organisations) who are on a concessionary rate or in a retired grade of membership who, by definition, are not in current and/or frequent professional practice. Chartership is not available to honorary members.

Other qualifying organisations

Applications for chartership are also welcome from members and fellows (or equivalent) of other qualifying organisations, currently the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC).

What are the benefits?

Chartered Linguists benefit from enhanced professional recognition. Read more about the benefits in full.

What does it cost?

Chartership (assessment and registration) is free for CIOL members (and applicant members).

For non-CIOL members from other qualifying organisations, a non-refundable assessment fee (£50.00) and an annual registration fee (£99.00) is payable.


Chartered Linguists are entitled to use the designation 'Chartered Linguist' and/or the post-nominals 'CL' to further highlight their professionalism.

CLs may also indicate specialisation(s) as follows:

  • CL (Translator)
  • CL (Interpreter)
  • CL (Education)
  • CL (Language Specialist)

Chartered Linguists will be listed on the CL register from the day registration is approved until 31 August each year, when they will be invited to re-register. For CIOL members this will form part of the annual invitation to renew their membership, sent out in July each year.

CL admissions criteria

All full Members and Fellows of CIOL (and other qualifying organisations) should, as a matter of principle, be eligible for chartership on the basis that the PDF icon CL admissions criteria are met:

Professional practice

Applicants will have been in current professional practice for at least the last five years, working (as a minimum) 120 days each year in one (or more) of the following specialisations:

  • Translation
  • Interpreting
  • Teaching a foreign language and/or coordination or management of foreign languages at secondary level or in university language departments or language centres
  • Teaching translation / interpreting
  • Sustained, frequent use of foreign languages at a high level in business, industry, the professions (e.g. law, engineering, accountancy) or government
  • Translation/interpreting project management or equivalent in other areas of language services

Applicants working in more than one of the above specialisations must normally undertake at least 40 days' practice per year in each specialism.


Applicants will hold a relevant language qualification to honours degree level or above. In order to use one (or more) of the following designations:

  • CL (Interpreter)
    Applicants will normally hold a specialist qualification in interpreting such as the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI) or an MA or MSc (or equivalent) in interpreting
  • CL (Translator)
    Applicants will normally hold a specialist qualification in translation, such as the IoLET Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) or an MA or MSc (or equivalent) in translation
  • CL (Education)
    Applicants will normally hold a professional qualification, at first or higher degree level or equivalent, in teaching or another relevant field
  • CL (Language specialist)
    Applicants will be able to evidence attainment of a high professional level in their specific area of work in business, the professions (e.g. law, accountancy, engineering) or government demonstrated through membership of a relevant professional body and/or degree-level or other appropriate professional qualification in their area of expertise

Continuing Professional Development

Applicants will be committed to CPD and will:

  • have a record of relevant CPD activities covering the last two years (normally a minimum of 30 hours in total)
  • be continuing with professional development activities in order to maintain chartership, and have a 12-month forward plan, based on their reflection on past CPD activities

File Record your CPD with this digital form

Registration process


Current CIOL members (MCILs and FCILs only) can register online free of charge.


At this stage no physical evidence will be required, unless you are selected for audit.

For applicant Members and Fellows, applying for chartership will be part of the membership admission process.

Applicants from other qualifying organisations should contact the CIOL membership team for details of how to apply and what evidence will be required.

Auditing process

CIOL will randomly select for audit, a percentage of all registrations (from CIOL members) on a periodic basis. In addition, new CL applicants who select more than two designations will be automatically audited. If selected, CLs will be required to provide, within 60 days, the following evidence in order to maintain registration as a Chartered Linguist:

  • An up-to-date CV giving details of professional experience
  • Evidence of current professional practice
  • Evidence of CPD activities, including the number of hours spent, over the previous two years, plus a reflective statement of 500 to 1,000 words on CPD undertaken plus a forward plan, based on their reflection on previous CPD activities

CIOL will provide additional guidance on the evidence needed including format and how this should be submitted. Evidence supplied will initially be assessed by the CIOL membership team. Should the evidence submitted not meet the criteria the membership team will provide feedback. At this point, registration may be provisionally suspended until we have resolved the issues. Cases that cannot be resolved will be referred to CIOL's Chartered Linguist Registration Board for a final decision. Should evidence not be supplied within the stipulated timeframe then chartership will automatically be suspended, unless the CL has contacted the membership team to discuss and agree an extension. For more see here


Unsuccessful applicants will be eligible to reapply following a break of 12 months from the date of rejection and on submission of up-to-date requisite evidence to support registration.

CLs whose registration is revoked will be treated on a case-by-case basis.

Renewing chartership

CIOL members who are chartered will automatically retain their chartership on:

  • Renewal of their CIOL membership
  • Confirmation that the CL admissions criteria continue to be met; this will be obtained through a series of declarations.
  • Agreement to provide evidence if selected for audit


Unsuccessful applicants and Chartered Linguists called for audit who subsequently have their registration revoked, will have the right to appeal under the current arrangements.

Chartered Linguist FAQs

How much does it cost?

If you are a CIOL Member or Fellow seeking chartership then there are no additional costs to be chartered.

If you are applying from a qualifying organisation (currently ITI and AIIC) then the fees are:

  • £50.00 – assessment fee (payable when your application is submitted)
  • £99.00 – registration fee (for 12 months registration)

I am not a member of CIOL or the two named qualifying organisations ITI or AIIC, can I apply for chartership?

Yes, but please email or call the CIOL membership team on +44 (0) 20 7940 3100 to discuss your situation and to request an application pack.

I belong to ITI or AIIC, can I apply?

Yes, please read the PDF icon CL admissions criteria document first. If you think you meet the criteria, please call the CIOL membership team to request an application pack. Please do not apply using the CIOL Declaration form as this form is for CIOL members only.

I am an Associate member, can I apply for chartership?

You must have at least five years' experience and be a MCIL or FCIL in order to apply for chartership.

If you have been an Associate member for a number of years, then you may be eligible to upgrade to MCIL and seek chartership at the same time. Please refer to the upgrade your membership section on our website for further guidance.

How many years' work experience do I need?

You need to have been a language practitioner for at least five years and still be in current professional practice. We expect your volume of work to equate to at least 120 days per year.

Do I need a specialist qualification to be chartered?

No, but you must typically hold at least a degree-level qualification in your non-native language.

How long will it take to process my registration?

Existing members: If you are a current MCIL or FCIL applying for chartership, following submission of the online declaration form your registration will be automatically confirmed. The membership team will review your declaration form and if any immediate anomalies are found we will contact you.

Applicant members: If you are an applicant applying for MCIL/FCIL and chartership, your chartership will be considered once we have confirmed your eligibility to be admitted as a full Member or Fellow.   The time taken to confirm your chartership will vary depending on the time of year you apply. We will endeavour to confirm your registration within 20 working days, once your grade of membership has been confirmed. 

I cannot agree to all the declarations, what do I do?

If you cannot agree to all the declarations then you will not be able to continue with your registration.

I don't think I quite meet the eligibility criteria, who can I discuss this with?

You can email the membership team detailing your case. Please allow up to 10 working days for a response.

I applied before and was unable to meet the eligibility criteria, can I reapply?

Yes you can, but you will have to agree to all the declarations and if you are called for audit you should be prepared to submit the evidence required to prove your eligibility. If your circumstances haven't changed then we would advise you not to reapply until you can meet the criteria.

How many hours of CPD do you require?

At CIOL we realise that CPD is a very personal journey, but normally we ask for a minimum of 30 hours' CPD over a two-year period.

What is relevant CPD?

CPD is whatever you need it to be in order to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding you need to fulfil your role and develop as a language practitioner.

CPD can be:

  • Formal – e.g. training days, courses, online webinars and videos, and
  • Informal – e.g. regularly reading relevant books, articles, newspapers, journals in the language you use professionally, or networking with other linguists, watching films or even visiting the country where your professional language is spoken.

It can also be CPD relating to other professional skills other than language skills that help you in your work, e.g. business, marketing, financial, IT or managerial skills.

What is important is understanding what you have learnt from the CPD activity and how you apply this to your role as a practitioner.

In addition, you should use reflection to identify your needs for the next 12 months and use this to create a plan of action.

What happens if I am selected for audit?

You will have 60 days to supply information which confirms that you meet the eligibility criteria. This will include details about your working practice, including volume of work, a record of CPD undertaken in the previous two years, plus your 12-month forward plan. CIOL will provide full guidance on what we need and by when.

I am unsure which designation to select.

You should select the designation(s) which reflect your working practice(s). For example, if you are a translator, you would select CL (Translator). If you also teach then you may also select CL (Education). You must translate and teach for a total of at least 120 days per year (but within that, not less than 40 days for each specialisation).

How long is the registration period for?

The registration period is linked to the CIOL membership year of 1 September to 31 August. When you are admitted to the CL register, your registration will be active until 31 August. When you are invited to renew your CIOL membership (usually July each year), you will also be asked if you wish to continue with your CL registration. If you do, then you will be asked to re-sign the declarations to confirm that you continue to meet the eligibility criteria.