Next.js App Router with i18next (Tutorial)

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A complete guide for setting up react-i18next with the App Router

(6 minute read)

Available App Router i18n Tutorials:

i18next + Next 13/14 App Router

In this tutorial we’re going to walk through setting up react-i18next with the Next.js App Router.

You may be wondering why we’re using react-i18next instead of next-i18next. The next-i18next library was specifically built for the Pages Router and is not compatible with the App Router. The maintainers recommend using react-i18next for the App Router because it functions well in this setting, and there is no need for them to make next-i18next compatible.

Let’s get started!

Project Set Up

I’ve gone ahead and generated a basic Next.js app that uses the App Router using:

$ npx create-next-app@latest

I’ve simplified the Home page to look like this:

import styles from './page.module.css';
import ExampleClientComponent from '@/components/ExampleClientComponent';

export default async function Home() {
  return (
    <main className={styles.main}>
      <h1>Welcome to my home page</h1>
      <ExampleClientComponent />

This page is a Server Component that imports a Client Component that I named ExampleClientComponent:

'use client';

export default function ExampleClientComponent() {
  return <p>Have a great day!</p>;

And here is the result:

A simple webpage with a header and subheader.

I bet you would love to see more of my beautiful UI designs! 😉


$ npm install i18next react-i18next i18next-resources-to-backend next-i18n-router

First, we’re installing both react-i18next and its base library i18next.

To assist with loading translations server side, we will use the i18next-resources-to-backend add-on.

Lastly, next-i18n-router is a lightweight package to implement internationalized routing and locale detection specifically in App Router projects. It is a recommended resource in Next’s App Router docs since Next’s built-in internationalized routing feature was removed in the App Router.

Internationalized Routing

Before we get started with setting up i18next, we’re going to set up next-i18n-router.

next-i18n-router will prefix all of our paths with the current locale, except for our default locale which will still be available at the base path with no prefix.

For example, if I have a page at /about , the paths would appear like so:




Setup requires 3 steps:

1) Create a config

Add a file at the root of your project called i18nConfig.js.

const i18nConfig = {
  locales: ['en', 'fr', 'it'],
  defaultLocale: 'en'

module.exports = i18nConfig;

The locales property is an array of languages we want our app to support.

The defaultLocale property is the language that visitors will fall back to if our app does not support their language.

2) Set up a dynamic segment

Second, we need to add a dynamic segment inside our /app directory to contain all pages and layouts. I’ll name mine [locale]:

└── app

    └── [locale]

        ├── layout.js

        └── page.js

3) Create middleware

Finally, at the root of your project add a middleware.js file.

Note: If you are using a /src directory, it should be inside of /src.

import { i18nRouter } from 'next-i18n-router';
import i18nConfig from './i18nConfig';

export function middleware(request) {
  return i18nRouter(request, i18nConfig);

// applies this middleware only to files in the app directory
export const config = {
  matcher: '/((?!api|static|.*\\..*|_next).*)'

The middleware is where the magic happens 🔮

The i18nRouter function will take the request, detect the user’s preferred language using the accept-language header, and then redirect them to the path with their preferred language. If we don’t support their language, it will fallback to the default language.

next-i18n-router also lets you customize the detection logic if you wish.


After restarting our server, we can now visit our home page successfully at /, /fr, and /it.

Our internationalized routes are ready to go! Now let’s set up i18next to render translations based on the current language.


To set up react-i18next, let’s first create some files for our translations.

We could do this the old-fashioned way by manually creating a bunch of JSON files for each page and language. But I prefer to use i18nexus to machine translate and generate my JSON files for me. I highly recommend this.

Not only does it machine translate, but when your team is ready to hire professional translators, you can just invite them to your project instead of emailing JSON files.

By the end of this tutorial, our app will be fully translated:

Animated recording of changing languages using an input dropdown

Initializing the project

If you don’t already have an i18nexus account, you can sign up for a free account here.

After creating a new i18nexus project, add your supported languages. In my case, I’m supporting English, French, and Italian:

i18nexus Language Dashboard with English, French, and Italian tiles

Next, we’ll click Open Project in the top right corner of the page. After clicking the Add String button, we see three fields:

i18nexus Strings Management page showing three input fields.

The key is what is used to reference this string in our code.

The value is the text that will be rendered to the end user.

The details field is optional and meant to provide any internal notes about this string if you’re working with other team members or translators.

Adding Strings

Our homepage has a header that says “Welcome to my home page”. I’m going to add this string with a key named “header”

Our home page also has text that says “Have a great day!”. I’m going to add a string for this text with a key named “greeting”:

After adding the strings, we can expand the rows to see that they have automatically been translated to our other languages using Google Translate:

i18nexus Strings Management page showing two strings with their translations

Sweet! 🔥


When using the App Router with i18next, it is good practice to namespace our strings per page. This way we don’t need to load all of the strings for our entire app when viewing one page, we can just load one page’s strings at a time.

In the top right corner of the page in i18nexus, we can see we are currently in a namespace called “default”. Let’s rename this namespace to “home” to use on our home page:

Renaming the current namespace to 'home'

Connecting to our app

Now let’s get these translations into our app! To do this we will use the i18nexus-cli:

$ npm install i18nexus-cli -g

Next, grab your i18nexus API key from the Exports page and add it as an environment variable in your project. I’m going to add it to my .env file:


Now in our project directory we can run $ i18nexus pull. We should see all of our translations as JSON files at the root of our project in a folder named locales.

For convenience we can also pull the latest strings any time we start our dev server or build by updating our scripts in package.json:

  "scripts": {
    "dev": "i18nexus pull && next dev",
    "build": "i18nexus pull && next build",
    "start": "i18nexus pull && next start",
    "lint": "next lint"

Note: If you do this you should also add the i18nexus-cli as a dev dependency to ensure it works in all environments: $ npm install i18nexus-cli --save-dev

Our translations are ready to go! 🚀

Loading and Rendering Translations

With the App Router, we need to support rendering translations in both Server Components and Client Components.

Server Components with react-i18next:

I’m going to create a file in my /app directory called i18n.js that contains a function to generate an i18next instance:

import { createInstance } from 'i18next';
import { initReactI18next } from 'react-i18next/initReactI18next';
import resourcesToBackend from 'i18next-resources-to-backend';
import i18nConfig from '@/i18nConfig';

export default async function initTranslations(
) {
  i18nInstance = i18nInstance || createInstance();


  if (!resources) {
        (language, namespace) =>

  await i18nInstance.init({
    lng: locale,
    fallbackLng: i18nConfig.defaultLocale,
    supportedLngs: i18nConfig.locales,
    defaultNS: namespaces[0],
    fallbackNS: namespaces[0],
    ns: namespaces,
    preload: resources ? [] : i18nConfig.locales

  return {
    i18n: i18nInstance,
    t: i18nInstance.t

We can now use this function to generate an i18next instance that will translate text on our home page:

import styles from './page.module.css';
import ExampleClientComponent from '@/components/ExampleClientComponent';
import initTranslations from '../i18n';

export default async function Home({ params: { locale } }) {
  const { t } = await initTranslations(locale, ['home']);

  return (
    <main className={styles.main}>
      <ExampleClientComponent />

In our page, we are reading the locale from our params and passing it into initTranslations. We are also passing in an array of all of the namespaces required for this page. In our case, we just have the one namespace called “home”.

We then call the t function with the key of the string we want to render.

Let’s go to /it and take a look at our header in Italian!

The rendered home page with the header translated in Italian and subheader still in English

That was easy! ⚡️

If we want to use more than one namespace on this page, we just include them in the array passed into initTranslations. The first namespace in the array is set to be our default namespace.

Note: To translate a key of another namespace on the same page, you must include the namespace name and a colon with the key like so: t("secondary-namespace:hello-world")

Let’s move on to translate the text in our Client Component.

Client Components with react-i18next:

To make our translations available to all the Client Components on the page, we’re going to use a provider. I’m going to create a new file with a component called TranslationsProvider in components/TranslationsProvider.js:

'use client';

import { I18nextProvider } from 'react-i18next';
import initTranslations from '@/app/i18n';
import { createInstance } from 'i18next';

export default function TranslationsProvider({
}) {
  const i18n = createInstance();

  initTranslations(locale, namespaces, i18n, resources);

  return <I18nextProvider i18n={i18n}>{children}</I18nextProvider>;

This provider is a Client Component that creates an i18next instance on the client and uses the I18nextProvider to provide the instance to all descendent Client Components.

We only need to use the provider once per page. Let’s add it to our home page:

import initTranslations from '../i18n';
import styles from './page.module.css';
import ExampleClientComponent from '@/components/ExampleClientComponent';
import TranslationsProvider from '@/components/TranslationsProvider';

const i18nNamespaces = ['home'];

export default async function Home({ params: { locale } }) {
  const { t, resources } = await initTranslations(locale, i18nNamespaces);

  return (
      <main className={styles.main}>
        <ExampleClientComponent />

Even though we’re wrapping our page with this Client Component, our page is still rendered as a Server Component. Next 13+ is awesome!

useTranslation Hook

Now that our page has this provider wrapped around it, we can use react-i18next in our Client Components the same way we would use it in any React app.

If you haven’t used react-i18next before, the way that we render translations is by using a hook named useTranslation.

Let’s use it in our ExampleClientComponent:

'use client';

import { useTranslation } from 'react-i18next';

export default function ExampleClientComponent() {
  const { t } = useTranslation();

  return <h3>{t('greeting')}</h3>;

Just like with our initTranslations function, we call the t function with our string's key.

Let’s take a look at our page in Italian again:

The rendered page fully translated to Italian

We now have a fully internationalized app! 🎉

Changing Languages

The next-i18n-router does a good job of detecting a visitor’s preferred language, but oftentimes we want to allow our visitors to change the language themselves.

To do this, we will create a dropdown for our user to select their new language. We will take their selected locale and set it as a cookie named "NEXT_LOCALE" that next-i18n-router uses to override the automatic locale detection.

I’m going to create a new component called LanguageChanger:

'use client';

import { useRouter } from 'next/navigation';
import { usePathname } from 'next/navigation';
import { useTranslation } from 'react-i18next';
import i18nConfig from '@/i18nConfig';

export default function LanguageChanger() {
  const { i18n } = useTranslation();
  const currentLocale = i18n.language;
  const router = useRouter();
  const currentPathname = usePathname();

  const handleChange = e => {
    const newLocale =;

    // set cookie for next-i18n-router
    const days = 30;
    const date = new Date();
    date.setTime(date.getTime() + days * 24 * 60 * 60 * 1000);
    const expires = date.toUTCString();
    document.cookie = `NEXT_LOCALE=${newLocale};expires=${expires};path=/`;

    // redirect to the new locale path
    if (
      currentLocale === i18nConfig.defaultLocale &&
    ) {
      router.push('/' + newLocale + currentPathname);
    } else {
        currentPathname.replace(`/${currentLocale}`, `/${newLocale}`)


  return (
    <select onChange={handleChange} value={currentLocale}>
      <option value="en">English</option>
      <option value="it">Italian</option>
      <option value="fr">French</option>

Let’s add the LanguageChanger below our ExampleClientComponent and try it out:

Animated recording of changing languages using an input dropdown

Perfect! Or should I say “Perfetto!”

Using SSG

Lastly, let’s update our layout.js. We’ll use generateStaticParams so that Next.js statically generates pages for each of our languages. We’ll also make sure to add the current locale to the <html> tag of our app.

import './globals.css';
import { Inter } from 'next/font/google';
import i18nConfig from '@/i18nConfig';
import { dir } from 'i18next';

const inter = Inter({ subsets: ['latin'] });

export const metadata = {
  title: 'Create Next App',
  description: 'Generated by create next app'

export function generateStaticParams() {
  return => ({ locale }));

export default function RootLayout({ children, params: { locale } }) {
  return (
    <html lang={locale} dir={dir(locale)}>
      <body className={inter.className}>{children}</body>

We’re ready for production! 🙂

Wrapping it up

Setting up react-i18next with the App Router is quite a bit different than setting it up with a regular CSR React app or with the Pages Router. But after the initial configuration, you will find development isn’t all that different.

There are definitely other strategies for setting up react-i18next with the App Router, but we found this strategy both efficient and the most developer-friendly.

Happy internationalizing! 🌎

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