Frequently Asked Questions

Translation is the conversion of a written document from its original, or source language into a second, or target language. Interpreting is the rendering of spoken language into a second language, that is, from source-to-target or target-to-source. Interpreting is performed either simultaneously or consecutively between two or more speakers of different languages.

The following are the modes of interpretation:

Simultaneous: Interpreting at the same time as the speaker.

Consecutive: Interpreting after the speaker has finished a sentence or a thought.

Sight Translation: Interpreting aloud a document from one language into another.

A certified court interpreter is an individual who possesses proficiency in English and a second language and is skilled in the three modes of court interpreting: simultaneous, consecutive and sight translation. In order to become certified, a person must pass a written English exam as well as an oral exam which tests interpreting skills, bilingual proficiency and specialized terminology.

Once certified, a court interpreter must file for certification with the Judicial Council, submit proof of completion of an orientation course and a Code of Ethics Workshop. Certified court interpreters also must maintain their certification both through continuing education courses and by interpreting in the courts or the private sector.

The Judicial Council of California has sixteen certified languages. Currently the languages are: American Sign Language, Arabic, Eastern Armenian, Western Armenian, Cantonese, Farsi (Persian of Iran), Japanese (certification exam not being offered at this time), Khmer (Cambodian), Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

Certified court interpreters are required to carry a Judicial Council-issued badge that displays a photo, ID number and an expiration date.

Certified Court interpreters are required in all stages of criminal proceedings involving a second language. This includes delinquency hearings as well as certain civil matters such as divorce or separations involving a protective order, child custody and visitation proceedings. Certified Court interpreters are also required for Civil Depositions filed in a court of record and can translate and certify written translations.

The use of Court-Certified interpreters is mandated by:

California Constitution, Article I § 14
Government Code 68560.5 and 68561
Rules of Court 2.893 and 10.51

Yes, the certification process to become court certified is the most rigorous certification in California. This certification allows interpreters to interpret in all legal, court (criminal and civil), administrative, and medical proceedings (Including Mediations, Arbitrations, QMEs, AMEs and signing Settlement Agreements as well as certifying translations).

The only exception is the U.S. District Courts, which require federally certified interpreters; however, attorneys may stipulate to the use of the services of a state certified interpreter whenever a federal interpreter is not available.

Section 9795.3 of the California Code of Regulations indicates that for “an appeals board hearing, arbitration or deposition, interpreter fees shall be billed and paid at the greater of the following (i) at the rate for one-half day or one full day as set forth in the Superior Court fee schedule for interpreters in the county where the service was provided, or (ii) at the market rate.”

This section also indicates that “Unless notified of a cancellation at least 24 hours prior to the time the service is to be provided, the interpreter shall be paid no less than the minimum fee.”

As of March of 2013, interpreters of languages for which no certification examination exists are required to pass a written exam and an oral proficiency exam in both English and their non-English language. They must also fulfill the corresponding Judicial Council requirements in order to become a ‘Registered’ interpreter.

Because the sole testing requirement for registered interpreters prior to March of 2013 was the taking of an English written examination, we encourage hiring parties to visit our registered members’ profiles to ascertain the years of experience a registered interpreter may have with the non-English language, as well as his/her work experience in the field of interpretation and/or written translation, level of fluency, exams passed, etc.

A Certified Administrative interpreter is a bilingual individual who has passed the corresponding examination in order to work in Administrative proceedings such as: Worker’s Compensation Depositions, Worker’s Compensation Board Hearings, signing of C&R settlement agreements, Deposition Reviews, Deposition Preps and Medical Appointments as well as DMV hearings, and Social Security Administration Appeals, among others. Note: This type of examination is no longer offered in California.

Please see for a list of interpreters that have passed the Administrative Exam, as mandated by Government Code Section 11435-11435.65, or call (916) 653-7325.

A Certified Medical interpreter is a healthcare interpreter who has passed a national board certification exam or has taken the California medical interpreters exam (no longer offered). Certified medical interpreters interpret in hospitals and any and all medical settings. Insurance companies may approve a medical interpreter to interpret in med-legal appointments. However, the use of a certified court interpreter is highly recommended for medical interpreting as well.

See and to learn more.

You can also verify Medical Certification mandated by Gov. Code 11435-11435.65, by going to:

To facilitate finding a court interpreter AIJIC has created a directory FIND AN INTERPRETER. All listed certifications have been verified.

For a complete list of Court-Certified or Registered Interpreters, visit the Judicial Council of California’s registry at:, or Contact Debbie Chong-Manguiat at 415-865-7596.

Each interpreter on the Master List is required to carry a Judicial Council issued badge that displays a photo, the interpreter’s official identification number, and an expiration date. You can use this badge as part of your identity verification process and to obtain the certification or registration number as needed for your records.

A Federally Certified Interpreter is one who has passed the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Examination administered by The National Center for State Courts through the Administrative Office of the United States Courts . There is a national database, as well as local rosters, where these interpreters can be found. AIJIC’s FIND AN INTERPRETER directory has many federally certified interpreters available to work in any U. S. District Court and federal proceeding.

Interpreters holding a federal court interpreter certification are not required to pass the California court interpreter written and oral exams, but they do need to meet all other California requirements for enrollment on the Judicial Council’s Master List of Certified Court Interpreters.


Although the above Information has been produced and processed from sources believed to be reliable, no warranty express or implied is made regarding its accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability, or usefulness. AIJIC has made every effort to verify the certification for each of its members at the time of registration. Contracting parties must ascertain that an interpreter’s certification is valid and current. AIJIC assumes no responsibility for any end user’s failure to conduct an independent verification of any interpreter’s credentials.