Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Tennessee

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

Legal Language Services ranks Tennessee 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 Tennessee.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Tennessee

Tennessee does not require certified interpreters for any legal proceeding. However, court systems in Tennessee 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 Tennessee also recognizes certified interpreters from states offering Consortium-based certification as well as federal certification and the National Judiciary Interpreter and Translator Certification Exam.

In addition to Spanish, Tennessee offers certification in 55 other languages, including:

  • Arabic
  • Cantonese
  • Croatian
  • Haitian Creole
  • Hmong
  • Korean
  • Kurdish
  • Mandarin
  • Persian (Farsi)
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Vietnamese

Common Languages Spoken in Tennessee

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 6.22% of the Tennessee population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, more than 81% of the non-English speaking population in Tennessee speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Spanish 58.84%
German 3.86%
French 3.54%
Arabic 3.38%
Chinese* 2.89%
Vietnamese 2.25%
Korean 2.25%
Laotian 1.61%
Tagalog 1.45%
Hindi 1.29%

 

Other languages spoken in Tennessee include Russian, Japanese, Gujarathi, Kurdish, Amharic, Persian, Italian, Serbo-Croatian, Kru/Ibo/Yoruba, Cushite, Telugu, Mon-Khmer/Cambodian, Portuguese, Polish, Thai, Romanian, Mandarin, Malayalam and Urdu.

*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 Tennessee

The state of Tennessee classifies court interpreters in the following three ways:

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has attended a two-day orientation program, passed an oral exam as well as a three-part written exam, and submitted to a criminal background check.
  • Registered Interpreter: An interpreter who has attended a two-day orientation program, passed a three-part written exam, and submitted to a criminal background check.
  • Non-Credentialed Interpreter: An interpreter who has not completed all of the steps necessary to become a registered interpreter or who has not yet started the certification process.

Not all venues in Tennessee 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 Tennessee

There are 31 judicial districts in Tennessee that encompass 95 counties. However, certification requirements in Tennessee are statewide and remain consistent across all local jurisdictions.

  • 1st Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Carter, Johnson, Unicoi, Washington
  • 2nd Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Sullivan
  • 3rd Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins
  • 4th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson, Sevier
  • 5th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Blount
  • 6th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Knox
  • 7th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Anderson
  • 8th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Campbell, Claiborne, Fentress, Scott, Union
  • 9th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Loudon, Meigs, Morgan, Roane
  • 10th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Bradley, McMinn, Monroe, Polk
  • 11th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Hamilton
  • 12th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Bledsoe, Franklin, Grundy, Marion, Rhea, Sequatchie
  • 13th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Clay, Cumberland, Dekalb, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, White
  • 14th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Coffee
  • 15th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Jackson, Macon, Smith, Trousdale, Wilson
  • 16th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Cannon, Rutherford
  • 17th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Bedford, Lincoln, Marshall, Moore
  • 18th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Sumner
  • 19th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Montgomery, Robertson
  • 20th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Davidson
  • 21st Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Hickman, Lewis, Perry, Williamson
  • 22nd Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Giles, Lawrence, Maury, Wayne
  • 23rd Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Stewart
  • 24th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Benton, Carroll, Decatur, Hardin, Henry
  • 25th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Fayette, Hardeman, Lauderdale, McNairy, Tipton
  • 26th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Chester, Henderson, Madison
  • 27th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Obion, Weakley
  • 28th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Crockettt, Gibson, Haywood
  • 29th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Dyer, Lake
  • 30th Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Shelby
  • 31st Judicial District of Tennessee
    Counties: Van Buren, Warren

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