Government interpreting services

Find out how to request an interpreter if you or someone you know needs language support when calling or meeting with a New Zealand government agency.
MEC Interpreting eLearning English

Scenario: Accessing interpreting services when calling government agencies

If you want to call a government agency in New Zealand, but you need language support, you can request an interpreter for free. In this scenario, we take you through an example phone call to Healthline to show you how the process works.

How to request an interpreter

It is the government agency’s responsibility to make sure its services are accessible. This includes providing professional interpreters to the public for free.

How to get an interpreter:

  1. Call the government agency.
  2. Ask for an interpreter and tell the person on the phone the language you speak. You will need to ask in English, so practise saying the words ‘interpreter’ and the English name for your language before you call.
  3. You will be asked to wait. Stay on the phone - do not hang up.
  4. If available, a professional interpreter will join to help you. Government agencies may need to book interpreters in advance for some languages.

If you require an interpreter for a face-to-face or video conference meeting, email the agency beforehand to ensure an interpreter is available.

Many government agencies and councils can assist you with interpreting support. Find the full list at:

If you have questions or concerns about accessing government interpreting services, email us at

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