Legal Language Services ranks Texas as a state with heavily regulated legal interpreting requirements.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Texas

Texas state authorities periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification and licensure based on the guidelines of the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification.

The state of Texas also offers federal court certification and accepts certification and licensure from NAJIT (National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators).

Texas offers certification and licensure in 22 languages:

  • Arabic
  • Bosnian
  • Cantonese
  • Croatian
  • French
  • Haitian-Creole
  • Hmong
  • Ilocano
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Mandarin
  • Marshallese
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese

Classification of Interpreters in Texas

The Texas Judicial Department defines legal interpreters in the following two ways:

  • Master Court Interpreter: An interpreter who has completed a two-day orientation program, submitted to a criminal background check, passed a written examination, and achieved a score of 70% or higher on each part of the oral examination. This permits the interpreter to interpret court proceedings in all courts in this state, including justice courts and municipal courts.
  • Basic Court Interpreter: An interpreter who has completed a two-day orientation program, submitted to a criminal background check, passed a written examination, and achieved a score of 60-69% on each part of the oral examination. This permits the interpreter to interpret court proceedings in justice courts and municipal courts that are not municipal courts of record, other than a proceeding before the court in which the judge is acting as a magistrate.

Not all venues in Texas require certified or licensed interpreters. For counties with a population under 50,000, a licensed or certified interpreter is not required. Please consult with Legal Language Services for the rules pertaining to your specific venue and language.

Common Languages Spoken in Texas

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 34.20% of the Texas population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, more than 94% of the non-English speaking population in Texas speaks one of the following 10 languages:

  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese
  • Chinese*
  • German
  • Tagalog
  • French
  • Korean
  • Urdu
  • Hindi
  • Arabic

Other languages spoken in Texas include Kru/Ibo/Yoruba, Gujarathi, Telugu, Persian, Mandarin, Malayalam, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Bengali, Tamil, Laotian, Amharic, Italian, Thai, Mon-Khmer/Cambodian, Cantonese, Swahili and Polish.

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

Judicial Districts in Texas

There are 9 judicial districts in Texas that encompass 254 counties:

  • 1st Judicial District of Texas
    Counties: Anderson, Bowie, Camp, Cass, Cherokee, Collin, Dallas, Delta, Ellis, Fannin, Franklin, Grayson, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Hopkins, Houston, Hunt, Kaufman, Lamar, Marion, Morris, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rains, Red River, Rockwall, Rusk, Shelby, Smith, Titus, Upshur, Van Zandt, Wood
  • 2nd Judicial District of Texas
    Counties: Angelina, Bastrop, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Chambers, Fort Bend, Freestone, Galveston, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Lee, Leon, Liberty, Limestone, Madison, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, Polk, Robertson, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller, Washington, Wharton
  • 3rd Judicial District of Texas
    Counties: Austin, Bell, Blanco, Bosque, Burnet, Caldwell, Colorado, Comal, Comanche, Coryell, Falls, Fayette, Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hamilton, Hays, Hill, Lampasas, Lavaca, Llano, McLennan, Milam, Navarro, San Saba, Travis, Williamson
  • 4th Judicial District of Texas
    Counties: Aransas, Atascosa, Bee, Bexar, Calhoun, DeWitt, Dimmit, Frio, Goliad, Jackson, Karnes, LaSalle, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Webb, Wilson, Zapata, Zavala
  • 5th Judicial District of Texas
    Counties: Brooks, Cameron, Duval, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Nueces, Starr, Willacy
  • 6th Judicial District of Texas
    Counties: Bandera, Brewster, Crockett, Culberson, Edwards, El Paso, Gillespie, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Mason, Medina, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Real, Sutton, Terrell, Upton, Uvalde, Val Verde
  • 7th Judicial District of Texas
    Counties: Andrews, Borden, Brown, Callahan, Coke, Coleman, Concho, Crane, Dawson, Ector, Fisher, Gaines, Garza, Glasscock, Haskell, Howard, Irion, Jones, Kent, Loving, Lynn, Martin, McCulloch, Menard, Midland, Mills, Mitchell, Nolan, Reeves, Runnels, Schleicher, Scurry, Schackelford, Sterling, Stonewall, Taylor, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Ward, Winkler
  • 8th Judicial District of Texas
    Counties: Archer, Clay, Cooke, Denton, Eastland, Erath, Hood, Jack, Johnson, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Somervell, Stephens, Tarrant, Wichita, Wise, Young
  • 9th Judicial District of Texas
    Counties: Armstrong, Bailey, Baylor, Briscoe, Carson, Castro, Childress, Cochran, Collingsworth, Cottle, Crosby, Dallam, Deaf Smith, Dickens, Donley, Floyd, Foard, Gray, Hale, Hall, Hansford, Hardeman, Hartley, Hemphill, Hockley, Hutchinson, King, Knox, Lamb, Lipscomb, Lubbock, Moore, Motley, Ochiltree, Oldham, Parmer, Potter, Randall, Roberts, Sherman, Swisher, Terry, Wheeler, Wilbarger, Yoakum

Call Legal Language Services at 1-800-788-0450 to find Texas interpreters who meet state interpreting rules for courtroom trials, hearings, depositions, arbitrations and other legal proceedings.

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 Texas is believed to be accurate at the time of posting; however, Legal Language Services is not responsible for any errors or omissions.