Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Washington, DC

Washington, DC US mapRegulations for legal interpreters in Washington, DC, differ from those in other states and territories.

Legal Language Services ranks Washington, DC, as a district 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 and territories, 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 Washington, DC.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Washington, DC

Court systems in Washington, DC periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification in Spanish and several other languages.

Washington, DC also recognizes certified interpreters from states offering federal certification as well as that based on the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts.

In addition to Spanish, Washington, DC offers certification in seven other languages:

  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • French
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Swahili
  • Vietnamese

Common Languages Spoken in Washington, DC

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 14.53% of the Washington, DC population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, more than 78% of the non-English speaking population in Washington, DC speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Spanish 51.07%
French 9.50%
Amharic 3.58%
German 3.03%
Chinese* 2.68%
Kru/Ibo/Yoruba 2.41%
Italian 1.58%
Arabic 1.51%
Hindi 1.45%
Portuguese 1.45%

 

Other languages spoken in Washington, DC include Korean, Russian, Tagalog, French Creole, Japanese, Vietnamese, Persian, Cantonese, Polish, Mandarin, Swahili, Greek, Bengali, Turkish, Danish, Hebrew, Swedish, Gujarathi and Dutch.

*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 Washington, DC

The Washington, DC Judicial Department defines legal interpreters in the following three ways:

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has passed a written exam as well as a three-part oral exam and who has completed an orientation seminar.
  • Professionally Qualified Interpreter: An interpreter who has successfully passed an interpreter examination or an individual who is in good standing in a professional interpreter association and has the sponsorship of three active members of the same association.
  • Language-Skilled Interpreter: An interpreter who is not certified or considered professionally qualified, but who can demonstrate to the sanctification of the court their ability to effectively interpret from the fore language into English and vice versa in court proceedings.

A certified interpreter is always the first choice in courtroom settings, however, 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.

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