Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Florida

Florida US MapRegulations for legal interpreters in Florida differ from those in other states.

Legal Language Services ranks Florida as a state with moderately regulated legal interpreting requirements.

In general, your legal interpreter must have the appropriate level of certification that meets your language needs. This is especially true if you require an interpreter who will be working in a courtroom.

This does not mean, however, that you should hire a certified interpreter for every situation.

Whether or not an interpreter is certified — let alone the level of certification — will have an effect on how much you are charged for legal interpreting services.

Do you need a certified interpreter?

Due to the added cost of certified professionals, it may not be a sound strategy to use certified legal interpreters if certification is not legally required for your proceeding. In fact, some situations may not benefit from certified interpreters. In particular, where subject matter expertise and/or special skills are required, certification may be a secondary consideration in securing a competent interpreter.

As previously noted, non-certified legal interpreters can provide professional interpreting services at a more affordable price. As in other states, a certified interpreter will command a higher fee for legal interpreting services. Prices will be affected based on the level of certification.

Legal Language can help you determine the best interpreter, certified or otherwise, for your legal interpreting needs in Florida.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Florida

The State Courts System in Florida periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification in Spanish and several other languages based on the guidelines of the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification.

The state of Florida also recognizes certified interpreters from states offering Consortium-based certification as well as federal certification.

In addition to Spanish, Florida offers certification in 16 other languages:

  • Arabic
  • Cantonese
  • French
  • Haitian Creole
  • Hmong
  • Ilocano
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Mandarin
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Tagalog
  • Vietnamese

Common Languages Spoken in Florida

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 26.64% of the Florida population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, more than 91% of the non-English speaking population in Florida speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Spanish 73.35%
French Creole 6.91%
French 2.25%
Portuguese 1.88%
German 1.58%
Tagalog 1.16%
Vietnamese 1.16%
Italian 1.16%
Arabic 0.83%
Chinese* 0.75%

Other languages spoken in Florida include Russian, Polish, Greek, Hindi, Korean, Hebrew, Gujarathi, Urdu, Japanese, Dutch, Hungarian, Thai, Serbo-Croatian, Bengali, Romanian, Persian, Albanian, Telugu and Yiddish.

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

Classification of Interpreters in Florida

There are currently three levels of classification for interpreters in the state of Florida.

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored a minimum of 70 percent on an oral exam as well as 80 percent on each section of a three-part written exam, completed a two-day training program, documented twenty hours of courtroom observation, passed a background check and agreed to earn 16 credits of continuing education.
  • Language-Skilled Interpreter: An interpreter who is skilled in a language for which no certification exam is available, passed an oral proficiency interview, completed a two-day training program, documented twenty hours of courtroom observation, passed a background check and agreed to earn 16 credits of continuing education. Language-skilled interpreters are required to complete certification requirements within two years of an exam in his or her language becoming available.
  • Provisionally Approved: An interpreter who has met all of the basic requirements, scored a minimum of 65 percent on the oral performance exam and a minimum of 60 percent on each section, completed a two-day training program, documented twenty hours of courtroom observation, passed a background check and agreed to earn 16 credits of continuing education. Provisionally approved interpreters must complete certification requirements within two years of being granted provisionally approved status.

Judicial Districts in Florida

There are 20 judicial districts in Florida that encompass 67 counties. However, certification requirements in Florida are statewide and remain consistent across all local jurisdictions.

  • 1st Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton
  • 2nd Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla
  • 3rd Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Columbia, Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor
  • 4th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Clay, Duval, Nassau
  • 5th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Citrus, Hernando, Lake, Marion, Sumter
  • 6th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Pasco, Pinellas
  • 7th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: St. Johns, Volusia, Flagler, Putnam
  • 8th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy, Union
  • 9th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Orange, Osceola
  • 10th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Hardee, Highlands, Polk
  • 11th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Dade
  • 12th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota
  • 13th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Hillsborough
  • 14th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Washington
  • 15th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Palm Beach
  • 16th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Monroe
  • 17th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Broward
  • 18th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Brevard, Seminole
  • 19th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, St. Lucie
  • 20th Judicial District of Florida
    Counties: Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry, Lee

Call Legal Language Services at 1-800-788-0450 to find Florida 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 Florida is believed to be accurate at the time of posting; however, Legal Language Services is not responsible for any errors or omissions.