Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Washington

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

This does not mean, however, that you should hire a certified interpreter for every situation.

In addition to statewide requirements, some legal venues in Washington require that legal interpreters be certified by specific organizations. 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 Washington. Let us help you find the best Washington interpreters.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Washington

Washington has several levels of classification for legal interpreters.

Washington state authorities periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification based on the guidelines of the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification.

The state of Washington also accepts certification from the NJITCE (National Judiciary Interpreter & Translator Certification Examination) and the Oregon Court Interpreter Certification Program.

Washington offers certification in 13 languages:

  • Arabic (Egyptian or Levantine)
  • Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian
  • Cantonese
  • French
  • Khmer (Cambodian)
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Mandarin
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Vietnamese

Washington also offers a registration credential to interpreters of the following languages:

  • Afrikaans
  • Akan-Twi
  • Albanian
  • Algerian
  • Amharic
  • Armenian
  • Azerbaijani
  • Baluchi
  • Bambara
  • Bengali
  • Bulgarian
  • Burmese
  • Cebuano
  • Chavacano
  • Chechen
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dari
  • Dutch
  • Ewe
  • Finish
  • Fulfulde (Fulani)
  • Ga
  • Georgian
  • German
  • Greek
  • Gujarati
  • Haitian Creole
  • Hausa
  • Hebrew
  • Hiligaynon
  • Hindi
  • Hmong
  • Hungarian
  • Igbo
  • Ilocano
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Jamaican Patois
  • Japanese
  • Javanese
  • Kashmiri
  • Kazakh
  • Kikongo-Kongo
  • Kinyarwanda
  • Kirundi
  • Krio
  • Kurdish
  • Latvian
  • Lingala
  • Lithuanian
  • Macedonian
  • Malay
  • Malayalam
  • Mandingo-Bambara
  • Mongolian
  • Navajo
  • Nepali
  • Norewegian
  • Oromo
  • Pashto
  • Persian Farsi
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Punjabi
  • Romanian
  • Samoan
  • Sindhi
  • Sinhalese
  • Slovak
  • Somali
  • Swahili
  • Swedish
  • Tajik
  • Tamil
  • Tausug
  • Telugu
  • Thai
  • Tibetan
  • Tigrinya
  • Turkish
  • Turkmen
  • Uighur
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Uzbek
  • Wolof
  • Wu
  • Yoruba

Classification of Interpreters in Washington

The Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts defines legal interpreters in the following two ways:

  • Registered Interpreter: An interpreter who has attended a one-day orientation seminar, scored at least an 80% on the written examination, completed an oral proficiency interview, passed a criminal background check, and who abides by the Court Interpreter Code of Professional Ethics.
  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has attended a one-day orientation seminar, scored at least an 80% on the written examination, scored at least a 70% on the four-part oral certification exam, passed a criminal background check, and who abides by the Court Interpreter Code of Professional Ethics.

Not all venues in Washington require certified interpreters. Please consult with Legal Language Services for the rules pertaining to your specific venue and language.

Common Languages Spoken in Washington

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 17.49% of the Washington population speaks a language other than English.

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

Common languages Spoke in Washington

  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese
  • Tagalog
  • Korean
  • Russian
  • Chinese
  • German
  • Japanese
  • French
  • Ukrainian
Seattle skyline - Washington court interpreting guidelines

Other languages spoken in Washington include Mon-Khmer, Cambodian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Amharic, Cushite, Pajabi, Arabic, Laotian, Samoan, Romanian, Persian, Italian, Polish, Thai, Tamil, other Pacific Island languages, Portuguese and Norwegian.

Judicial Districts in Washington

There are 31 judicial districts in Washington that encompass 39 counties. Certification requirements in Washington are statewide and remain consistent across all local jurisdictions.

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