Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Minnesota

Minnesota US mapRegulations for legal interpreters in Minnesota differ from those in other states.

Legal Language Services ranks Minnesota 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 a court interpreter.

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 Minnesota.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Minnesota

Certified interpreters are not mandatory in most Minnesota courts, but courts are encouraged to use them. In addition, some Minnesota trial courts use only certified interpreters.

Please be aware that some counties in Minnesota may have specific legal interpreting regulations in addition to the statewide requirements.

Minnesota state authorities periodically offer exams for certification in Spanish and several other languages based on the guidelines of the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification.

In addition to Spanish, Minnesota offers certification in 13 other languages:

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

Common Languages Spoken in Minnesota

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 10.26% of the Minnesota population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, almost 75% of the non-English speaking population in Minnesota speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Spanish 36.45%
Hmong 10.62%
Cushite 6.43%
German 5.07%
Vietnamese 4.00%
French 3.02%
Russian 2.92%
Chinese* 2.53%
Laotian 2.24%
Amharic 1.66%


Other languages spoken in Minnesota include Arabic, Mon-Khmer/Cambodian, Hindi, Kru/Ibo/Yoruba, Korean, Norwegian, Swahili, Algonquian, Tagalog, Polish, Telugu, Finnish, Tamil, Urdu, Japanese, Serbo-Croatian, Portuguese, Thai and Czech.

*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 Minnesota

The Minnesota Judicial Department defines legal interpreters in the following way:

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has achieved a passing score on a written exam, scored a minimum of 70 percent on a three-part oral exam as well as a written exam, and completed a two-day orientation seminar.

If a certified interpreter is not available, an interpreter who has not achieved certification but has met minimum requirements to be approved by the court will be considered for legal interpreting assignments.

Not all venues in Minnesota 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 Minnesota

This state has 10 judicial districts that encompass 87 counties:

  • 1st Judicial District of Minnesota
    Counties: Caver, Dakota, Goodhue, LeSueuer, McLeod, Scott, Sibley
  • 2nd Judicial District of Minnesota
    Counties: Ramsey
  • 3rd Judicial District of Minnesota
    Counties: Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Ride, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Winona
  • 4th Judicial District of Minnesota
    Counties: Hennepin
  • 5th Judicial District of Minnesota
    Counties: Blue Earth, Brown, Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Murray, Nicollet, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock, Watonwan
  • 6th Judicial District of Minnesota
    Counties: Carlton, Cook, Lake, St. Louis
  • 7th Judicial District of Minnesota
    Counties: Becker, Benton, Clay, Douglas, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd, Wadena
  • 8th Judicial District of Minnesota
    Counties: Big Stone, Chippewa, Grant, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Meeker, Pope, Renville, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, Wilkin, Yellow Medicine
  • 9th Judicial District of Minnesota
    Counties: Aitkin, Beltrami, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Itasca, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau
  • 10th Judicial District of Minnesota
    Counties: Anoka, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Pine, Sherburne, Washington, Wright

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