List of Resources for Locating Qualified Court Interpreters and Translators of Written Documents
(Updated: July 7, 2017)
A. Court Rules on Interpreters and Translators (Chapter 47).
Court staff: According to Iowa Court Rule 47.3 and its subsections, when the court learns that an interpreter will be needed for limited English proficient (LEP) participant in a court proceeding (defined in ICR 47.1), court personnel shall locate and schedule the most qualified interpreter who is reasonably available -- and court personnel shall not delegate this responsibility to an attorney or party in any case.
A reasonably available interpreter is defined in rule 47.1 as one who resides within 150 miles of the location where the interpreter will be needed.
The order of priority for appointment of an interpreter is: Class A (certified), Class B, Class C, then unclassified. There are specific exceptions to this priority order for appointments in rule 47.3(6).) Unless an exception applies, court personnel must attempt to locate a Class A certified interpreter within 150 miles of the courthouse before attempting to locate a noncertified interpreter (Class B, C, unclassified – in that order).
Attorneys: Attorneys with LEP clients are also encouraged to use these steps for locating an interpreter for communications involving an LEP client outside of court (e.g., in preparation for court proceedings, depositions, or reviewing court orders and other legal documents). Especially when discussing a settlement, guilty plea, or critical legal documents with an LEP client, the best practice for an attorney would be to obtain the highest classified interpreter who is reasonably available. Note: An attorney can access interpreters who reside in remote locations by telephone, Skype, or some other web-based audio-video conference system to provide interpreting services during communications with an LEP client in the attorney’s office. An interpreter does not have to be in the attorney’s office to effectively facilitate communication between an attorney and an LEP client. The attorney could also email the interpreter copies of any documents to be discussed with an LEP client prior to the meeting for which the remote interpreter will provide services.
B. List of oral languages for which there are court interpreter certification exams.
To view a list of the 20 languages for which there are oral language court interpreter certification exams, click on the link below:
On that page, click on: “NCSC Oral Exams Ready for Administration.”
There are no “certified” court interpreters for any other languages.
C. Steps for locating the most qualified court interpreter to interpret in-person.
Please search for court interpreters by accessing the following resources in the order listed below:
1. First, look at Iowa’s Roster of Court Interpreters, which is available at:
2. If you cannot locate an appropriately classified interpreter on Iowa’s roster, you should search the roster or registry of court interpreters in our neighboring states (MN, MO, NE, and WI). If you cannot find a qualified interpreter on one of their lists, search the rosters in other states.
Minnesota -- http://findinterpreters.courts.state.mn.us/
Missouri -- http://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=182
Nebraska -- https://supremecourt.nebraska.gov/programs-services/interpreters/interpreter-directory
Wisconsin -- http://www.wicourts.gov/services/interpreter/search.htm
Arkansas -- https://courts.arkansas.gov/directories/court-interpreters-registry
California -- http://www.courts.ca.gov/3796.htm
Colorado -- http://www.courts.state.co.us/Administration/Custom.cfm?Unit=interp&Page_ID=117
Kentucky -- http://courts.ky.gov/courtprograms/CIS/Pages/default.aspx
Michigan -- http://courts.mi.gov/Administration/SCAO/OfficesPrograms/FLI/Pages/Certified-Court-Interpreters.aspx
[Michigan has several certified Arabic interpreters.]
New Jersey -- https://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/public/langsrvc.html
Click on "Registry of On-Site Interpreting Resources" and scroll down on that page
Oregon -- http://www.courts.oregon.gov/programs/interpreters/Pages/roster.aspx
Click on "Interpreter Roster" on the left side of the page (a list of certified interpreters only)
Pennsylvania -- http://www.pacourts.us/judicial-administration/court-programs/interpreter-program/interpreter-roster
Tennessee -- http://www.tncourts.gov/programs/court-interpreters/find-court-interpreter
Washington (state) -- http://www.courts.wa.gov/programs_orgs/pos_interpret/
Click on "Certified interpreters" or "Registered interpreters" on the left side of the page
3. Check the directory of certified interpreters on the website for the National Association for Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT): https://najit.org/resources/find-interpreter/
4. Check for interpreters available through the Iowa International Center (515-282-8269, ext. 16). This used to be the "Iowa Council for International Understanding." A list of the languages for which they usually have an interpreter can be found at:
5. Check with State Court Administration. If you cannot locate an interpreter using the sources above, email John Goerdt, Deputy State Court Administrator at: firstname.lastname@example.org
He will send your request out on the list-serve of state court interpreter program managers throughout the U.S.
D. Telephone-based Interpreter Service
All clerk of district court offices have access to the two telephone-based interpreter services that have been approved by State Court Administration: Language Line, Inc. – or – CTS Language Link.
These are appropriate resources especially for short hearings (approximately 30 minutes or less).
The fee is usually about $.85 per minute for most languages (for court proceedings). Contact your district court administrator for more information, if necessary.
E. Finding a Certified Translator of Written Documents or of Electronically Recorded Communications
A “translator” is a person who is skilled at translating a written document in one language into a written version of that document in a different language – or – translating electronically recorded communications in one language into a written version of those communications in another language.
Court rule 47.13(3) requires the courts to use a “certified” translator of written documents, if certification of translators is available for the required languages (e.g., from Spanish to English). Rule 47.13(2) defines a “certified” translator as a person who has obtained certification in written translation from the American Translators Association (ATA). A Class A certified oral language interpreter is not a certified translator of written documents unless the certified interpreter has also obtained certification in written translation from the ATA. The ATA directory of certified translators is available at: http://www.atanet.org/onlinedirectories/
If there is no ATA-certified translator available, the court may appoint a Class A certified court interpreter to do the written translation. See court rule 47.13(3)(c) for other exceptions.
Contact state court administration (email@example.com) if you need assistance finding a qualified translator of written documents.