Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Virginia

Legal Language Services ranks Virginia 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 Virginia.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Virginia

Virginia does not require certified interpreters for any legal proceeding, but all courts are encouraged to utilize certified interpreters first. However, the judge is the final arbiter of every interpreter’s qualifications.

Virginia state authorities periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification. The state of Virginia also accepts certification from member states of the State Court Interpreter Certification Consortium.

Virginia offers certification in six languages:

  • Arabic
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese

Classification of Interpreters in Virginia

Virginia state authorities define interpreters in the following way:

Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has scored 80 percent or above on one part of a written exam, passed the second part of a written exam, scored 70 percent or above on an oral exam, and attended a two-day orientation.

Common Languages Spoken in Virginia

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 14.13% of the Virginia population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, more than 76% of the non-English speaking population in Virginia speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Common Languages Spoken in Virginia

  • Spanish
  • Korean
  • Vietnamese
  • Tagalog
  • Chinese*
  • French
  • Arabic
  • German
  • Hindi
  • Persian
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Other languages spoken in Virginia include Urdu, Amharic, Kru/Ibo/Yoruba, Russian, Telugu, Japanese, Italian, Panjabi, Bengali, Greek, Portuguese, Thai, Mandarin, Gujarathi, Tamil, Turkish, French Creole, Mon-Khmer/Cambodian and Polish.

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

Judicial Districts in Virginia

There are 31 judicial districts in Virginia that encompass 95 counties. Certification requirements in Virginia are statewide and remain consistent across all local jurisdictions.

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