Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Michigan

Legal Language Services ranks Michigan as a state with lightly 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 an interpreter who will be working in a courtroom.

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 Michigan.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Michigan

Michigan does not require certified interpreters for any legal proceeding. However, court systems in Michigan periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification based on the guidelines of the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification.

The state of Michigan also recognizes certified interpreters from states offering Consortium-based certification as well as certification from the NJITCE (National Judiciary Interpreter & Translator Certification Examination).

Michigan offers certification in 17 languages:

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

Classification of Interpreters in Michigan

The Michigan Judicial Department defines legal interpreters in the following three ways:

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has passed a written exam and all three parts of an oral exam (sight translation, consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation),  and completed an orientation seminar.
  • Provisionally Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has passed a written exam and the sigh translation exam, and either the consecutive or simultaneous interpretation portions of the exam.
  • Qualified Interpreter: An interpreter who has only passed the written exam, and can only provide services if the court determines he or she is competent for a particular proceeding.

Common Languages Spoken in Michigan

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 8.89% of the Michigan population speaks a language other than English.

What’ more, almost 69% of the non-English speaking population in Michigan speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Common Languages Spoken in Michigan

  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • German
  • French
  • Chinese*
  • Polish
  • Syriac
  • Italian
  • Albanian
  • Hindi
Michigan state capitol building - court interpreting guidelines

Other languages spoken in Michigan include Tagalog, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Romanian, Bengali, Urdu, Greek, Telugu, Serbo-Croatian, Gujarathi, Dutch, Panjabi, Hmong, Tamil, Mandarin, Kru/Ibo/Yoruba, and Macedonian.

*This table was created based on respondents’ written answers, the majority of whom wrote “Chinese” while others specified “Cantonese” or “Mandarin.”

Judicial Districts in Michigan

There are 57 judicial districts in Michigan that encompass 83 counties. However, certification requirements in Michigan are statewide and remain consistent across all local jurisdictions. There are 57 judicial districts in Michigan that encompass 83 counties.

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