Legal Interpreting Guidelines in North Carolina

Legal Language Services ranks North Carolina as a state with lightly 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 North Carolina.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in North Carolina

While North Carolina does not require certified interpreters for any situation, the use of certified interpreters are strongly encouraged whenever possible.

North Carolina state authorities periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification based on the guidelines of the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts. In addition, the state of North Carolina accepts certification from member states participating in the Consortium for Language Access in the Courts.

North Carolina offers certification in 14 languages:

  • French
  • Haitian Creole
  • Hmong
  • Ilocano
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Mandarin
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Turkish
  • Vietnamese

Classification of Interpreters in North Carolina

The North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts defines legal interpreters in the following three ways:

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has achieved a score of 70 percent or more on each of the three oral and written test sections, submitted to a background check and passed a basic ethics test.
  • Conditionally Qualified Interpreter: An interpreter who has not achieved certification but who has either passed two of the three sections of the oral and written tests, or has come within 10 points of passing all three sections.
  • Minimally Qualified Interpreter: An interpreter who works in a language other than Spanish and has not achieved certification but has met minimum requirements to be considered for court interpreting assignments when a professionally certified or qualified interpreter is not available.

Common Languages Spoken in North Carolina

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 10.34% of the North Carolina population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, almost 84% of the non-English speaking population in North Carolina speaks one of the following 10 languages:


  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Vietnamese
  • Chinese*
  • Arabic
  • Korean
  • Tagalog
  • Hindi
  • Gujarathi
Charlotte, North Carolina skyline - court interpreting guidelines

Other languages spoken in North Carolina include Russian, Hmong, Italian, Japanese, Greek, Urdu, Portuguese, Telugu, Kru/Ibo/Yoruba, Mon-Khmer/Cambodian, Laotian, Persian, Mandarin, Tamil, Amharic, French Creole, Panjabi, Thai and Polish.

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

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There are 30 judicial districts in North Carolina that encompass 100 counties. However, certification requirements in North Carolina are statewide and remain consistent across all local jurisdictions.

  • District: 1
    Counties: Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank, Perquimans
  • District: 2
    Counties: Beaufort, Hyde, Martin, Tyrrell, Washington
  • District: 3A
    Counties: Pitt
  • District: 3B
    Counties: Carteret, Craven, Pamlico
  • District: 4A
    Counties: Duplin, Jones, Sampson
  • District: 4B
    Counties: Onslow
  • District: 5
    Counties: New Hanover, Pender
  • District: 6A
    Counties: Halifax
  • District: 6B
    Counties: Bertie, Hertford, New Hampton
  • District: 7A
    Counties: Nash
  • District: 7BC
    Counties: Edgecombe, Wilson
  • District: 8A
    Counties: Greene, Lenoir
  • District: 8B
    Counties: Wayne
  • District: 9
    Counties: Franklin, Granville, Vance, Warren
  • District: 9A
    Counties: Caswell, Person
  • District: 10
    Counties: Wake
  • District: 11A
    Counties: Harnett, Lee
  • District: 11B
    Counties: Johnston
  • District: 12
    Counties: Cumberland
  • District: 13
    Counties: Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus
  • District: 14
    Counties: Durham
  • District: 15A
    Counties: Alamance
  • District: 15B
    Counties: Chatham, Orange
  • District: 16A
    Counties: Hoke, Scotland
  • District: 16B
    Counties: Robeson
  • District: 17A
    Counties: Rockingham
  • District: 17B
    Counties: Stokes, Sunny
  • District: 18
    Counties: Guilford
  • District: 19A
    Counties: Cabarrus
  • District: 19B
    Counties: Montgomery, Randolph
  • District: 19C
    Counties: Rowan
  • District: 19D
    Counties: Moore
  • District: 20A
    Counties: Anson, Richmond
  • District: 20B
    Counties: Stanly, Union
  • District: 21
    Counties: Forsyth
  • District: 22
    Counties: Alexander, Davidson, Davie, Iredell
  • District: 23
    Counties: Alleghany, Ashe, Wilkes, Yadkin
  • District: 24
    Counties: Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, Yancey
  • District: 25A
    Counties: Burke, Caldwell
  • District: 25B
    Counties: Catawba
  • District: 26
    Counties: Mecklenburg
  • District: 27A
    Counties: Gaston
  • District: 27B
    Counties: Cleveland, Lincoln
  • District: 28
    Counties: Burncombe
  • District: 29A
    Counties: McDowell, Rutherford
  • District: 29B
    Counties: Henderson, Polk, Transylvania
  • District: 30A
    Counties: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon, Swain
  • District: 30B
    Counties: Haywood, Jackson

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