Legal Language Services ranks South Dakota as a state with lightly regulated legal interpreting requirements.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in South Dakota

South Dakota does not require certified interpreters for any legal proceeding. At this time, federal certification is available for Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Navajo. The clerk’s office and court will determine the qualifications of interpreters of all other languages. New interpreters are screened prior to being placed on the court’s local roster.

Call Legal Language Services at 1-800-788-0450 to find South Dakota interpreters for courtroom trials, hearings, depositions, arbitrations and other legal proceedings.

Classification of Interpreters in South Dakota

The South Dakota Judicial Department defines legal interpreters in the following ways:

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has successfully completed the Federal Court Interpreter Examination for a language in which an examination is currently available including Spanish, Navajo, and Haitian Creole.
  • Professionally Qualified Interpreter: An interpreter who has sufficient documentation and authentication for providing interpreting services in languages other than Spanish, Navajo, and Haitian Creole and who has passed a written exam.
  • Language Skilled/Ad Hoc Interpreter: An interpreter who does not qualify as “professionally qualified” or certified, but who can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the court their ability to interpret court proceedings.

Common Languages Spoken in South Dakota

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 6.54% of the South Dakota population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, almost 85% of the non-English speaking population in South Dakota speaks one of the following 10 languages:

  • Spanish
  • Dakota
  • German
  • Vietnamese
  • Chinese*
  • Russian
  • Amharic
  • French
  • American Indian
  • Serbo-Croatian

Other languages spoken in South Dakota include other specified African languages, Tagalog, Czech, Korean, Croatian, Arabic, Hindi, African languages, Norwegian, South/Central American Indian, Ukrainian, Cushite, Afrikaans, Japanese, Dutch, Laotian, Swahili and Urdu.

*This table was created based on respondents’ written answers, the majority of whom wrote “Chinese” while others specified “Cantonese” or “Mandarin.”

Judicial Districts in South Dakota

Legal interpreting requirements can vary by district in South Dakota. This state as 7 judicial districts that encompass 66 counties:

  • 1st Judicial District of South Dakota
    Counties: Aurora, Bon Homme, Brule, Buffalo, Charles Mix, Clay, Davison, Douglas, Hanson, Hutchinson, McCook, Turner, Union, Yankton
  • 2nd Judicial District of South Dakota
    Counties: Lincoln, Minnehaha
  • 3rd Judicial District of South Dakota
    Counties: Beadle, Brookings, Clark, Codington, Deuel, Grant, Hamlin, Hand, Jerauld, Kingsbury, Lake, Miner, Moody, Sanborn
  • 4th Judicial District of South Dakota
    Counties: Butte, Corson, Dewey, Harding, Lawrence, Meade, Perkins, Ziebach
  • 5th Judicial District of South Dakota
    Counties: Brown, Campbell, Day, Edmunds, Faulk, Marshall, McPherson, Roberts, Spink, Walworth
  • 6th Judicial District of South Dakota
    Counties: Bennett, Gregory, Haakon, Hughes, Hyde, Jackson, Jones, Lyman, Mellette, Potter, Stanley, Sully, Todd, Tripp
  • 7th Judicial District of South Dakota
    Counties: Custer, Fall River, Pennington, Shannon

Not all venues in South Dakota require certified interpreters, even for Spanish-language cases. Please consult with Legal Language Services for the rules pertaining to your specific venue and language.

Please Note

The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information about legal interpreting guidelines in South Dakota is believed to be accurate at the time of posting; however, Legal Language Services is not responsible for any errors or omissions.