Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Rhode Island

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

Legal Language Services ranks Rhode Island 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 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 Rhode Island.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Rhode Island

Rhode Island recognizes certification from the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters
and Translators (NAJIT), The Federal Court Interpreter Certification Exam (FCICE), and the
National Center for State Courts (NCSC) Certification Exams.

Rhode Island Judiciary provides proficiency examinations for certification through the NCSC in the following 20 languages:

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

Common Languages Spoken in Rhode Island

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 20.82% of the Rhode Island population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, almost 88% of the non-English speaking population in Rhode Island speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Spanish 50.00%
Portuguese 16.38%
French 6.53%
Italian 4.32%
French Creole 2.74%
Chinese* 2.16%
Mon-Khmer/Cambodian 1.97%
Laotian 1.30%
Polish 1.15%
Kru/Ibo/Yoruba 1.15%


Other languages spoken in Rhode Island include Tagalog, Arabic, German, Russian, Armenian, Greek, Korean, Vietnamese, Mande, Hmong, Hindi, Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai, Japanese, Nepali, Tamil, Hebrew and Gujarathi.

*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 Rhode Island

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

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has earned a passing score on one of the following standardized tests: the NAJIT exam, the Federal Court Interpreter Certification exam, or the National Center for State Court Consortium for State Court Interpreters full exam. A certified interpreter has also agreed to adhere to the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility for Court Interpreters in the Rhode Island Judiciary.
  • Qualified Interpreter: An interpreter who has passed the written exam, completed an oral proficiency assessment, attended a training session and agreed to adhere to the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility for Court Interpreters in the Rhode Island Judiciary.

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

Judicial Districts in Rhode Island

There is 1 judicial district in Rhode Island that encompasses 5 counties.

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