Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Missouri

Missouri interpreting guidelinesRegulations for legal interpreters in Missouri differ from those in other states.

Legal Language Services ranks Missouri 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.

In addition to statewide requirements, some legal venues in Missouri require that legal interpreters be certified by specific organizations. 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. Please be aware that some counties in Missouri may have specific legal interpreting regulations in addition to the statewide requirements.

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 Missouri.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Missouri

Missouri has several levels of classification for legal interpreters.

Missouri state authorities 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.

In addition to Spanish, Missouri offers certification in 19 other languages, including:

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

In addition to these, abbreviated exams are offered in Bosnian, Croatian, Marshallese, Serbian and Turkish.

Despite offering certification in 20 languages, only legal interpreters who have taken the exam in Arabic, French, Mandarin, Russian and Spanish have passed in Missouri as of May 2016, according to Missouri Court Interpreter Services.

Common Languages Spoken in Missouri

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 5.88% of the Missouri population speaks a language other than English.

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

Spanish 45.07%
German 7.14%
French 4.25%
Chinese* 4.08%
Vietnamese 3.74%
Serbo-Croatian 3.06%
Korean 2.72%
Russian 2.38%
Arabic 2.04%
Tagalog 1.87%

Other languages spoken in Missouri include Italian, Pennsylvania Dutch, Hindi, Japanese, Persian, Telugu, Dutch, Kru/Ibo/Yoruba, Urdu, Portuguese, Polish, Tamil, Gujarathi, Albanian, Greek, Cushite, Mandarin, other Pacific Island languages, and Romanian.

*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 Missouri

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

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored a minimum of 80 percent on a four-part oral exam as well as a written exam and who has completed an orientation seminar.
  • Qualified Interpreter: An interpreter who has not achieved certification but has met minimum requirements to be approved by the court and will be considered for legal interpreting assignments.

Not all venues in Missouri 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 Missouri

There are 45 judicial districts in Missouri that encompass 114 counties, as well as the independent city of St. Louis, which seceded from St. Louis County in 1876:

  • 1st Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Clark, Schuyler, Scotland
  • 2nd Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Adair, Knox, Lewis
  • 3rd Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Grundy, Harrison, Mercer, Putnam
  • 4th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Atchison, Gentry, Holt, Nodaway, Worth
  • 5th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Andrew, Buchanan
  • 6th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Platte
  • 7th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Clay
  • 8th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Carroll, Ray
  • 9th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Chariton, Linn, Sullivan
  • 10th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Marion, Monroe, Ralls
  • 11th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: St. Charles
  • 12th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Audrain, Montgomery, Warren
  • 13th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Boone, Callaway
  • 14th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Howard, Randolph
  • 15th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Lafayette, Saline
  • 16th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Jackson
  • 17th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Cass, Johnson
  • 18th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Cooper, Pettis
  • 19th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Cole
  • 20th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Franklin, Gasconade, Osage
  • 21st Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: St. Louis
  • 22nd Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: City of St. Louis
  • 23rd Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Jefferson
  • 24th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Madison, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois, Washington
  • 25th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Maries, Phelps, Pulaski, Texas
  • 26th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Camden, Laclede, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan
  • 27th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Bates, Henry, St. Clair
  • 28th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Barton, Cedar, Dade, Vernon
  • 29th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Jasper
  • 30th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Benton, Dallas, Hickory, Polk, Webster
  • 31st Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Greene
  • 32nd Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Perry
  • 33rd Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Mississippi, Scott
  • 34th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: New Madrid, Pemiscot
  • 35th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Dunklin, Stoddard
  • 36th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Butler, Ripley
  • 37th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Carter, Howell, Oregon, Shannon
  • 38th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Christian, Taney
  • 39th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Barry, Lawrence, Stone
  • 40th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: McDonald, Newton
  • 41st Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Macon, Shelby
  • 42nd Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Crawford, Dent, Iron, Reynolds, Wayne
  • 43rd Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Caldwell, Clinton, Daviess, DeKalb, Livingston
  • 44th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Douglas, Ozark, Wright
  • 45th Judicial District of Missouri
    Counties: Lincoln, Pike

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