Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Kentucky

Kentucky interpreting servicesRegulations for legal interpreters in Kentucky differ from those in other states.

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

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 in Kentucky 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 Kentucky.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Kentucky

Kentucky has several levels of classification for legal interpreters.

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

While Spanish is the only language in which a legal interpreter can be certified, Kentucky has exams to qualify legal interpreters in eight other languages:

  • Arabic
  • Bosnian
  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Portuguese
  • Russian

In addition to passing both the written and oral exams, interpreters must also complete a workshop, obtain a set number of court observation or work hours, and clear a background check.

Common Languages Spoken in Kentucky

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 4.56% of the Kentucky population speakers a language other than English.

What’s more, almost 77% of the non-English speaking population in Kentucky speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Spanish 52.41%
German 6.58%
French 4.17%
Chinese* 2.85%
Serbo-Croatian 2.85%
Vietnamese 2.63%
Japanese 2.41%
Arabic 2.19%
Tagalog 1.97%
Korean 1.54%

Other languages spoken in Kentucky include Pennsylvania Dutch, Russian, Hindi, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Turkish, Cushite, Telugu, Greek, Persian, Polish, Gujarathi, Nepali, Tamil, Kru/Ibo/Yoruba, Urdu and Mandarin.

*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 Kentucky

The Kentucky Judicial Department defines legal interpreters in the following three ways:

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored 80 percent or above on the English Proficiency Exam and at least 70 percent overall on the Certification Exam, completed a two-part orientation workshop, obtained the the required number of hours of court observation or work, read and agreed to abide by Kentucky’s Code of Professional Responsibility, taken Kentucky’s Interpreter Oath and passed a criminal background check.
  • Registered Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored 80 percent or above on the English Proficiency Exam and between 65-69.9 percent overall on the Certification Exam, completed a two-part orientation workshop, obtained the the required number of hours of court observation or work, read and agreed to abide by Kentucky’s Code of Professional Responsibility, taken Kentucky’s Interpreter Oath and passed a criminal background check.
  • Provisional Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored 80 percent or above on the English Proficiency Exam and between 55 and 64.9 percent overall on the Certification Exam, completed a two-part orientation workshop, obtained the the required number of hours of court observation or work, read and agreed to abide by Kentucky’s Code of Professional Responsibility, taken Kentucky’s Interpreter Oath and passed a criminal background check.

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

Judicial Districts in Kentucky

There are 60 judicial districts in Kentucky that encompass 120 counties. However, certification requirements in Kentucky are statewide and remain consistent across all local jurisdictions.

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