Chapter 4: Court Interpreter Certification

4.1 Introduction

(Revised 04/1109/15)

Beginning September 1, 2006, interpreters who perform interpreter services during court proceedings must hold either a current court interpreter certification issued by the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) Office for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (DHHS), or a current legal certificate issued by the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. This chapter outlines the process to become court certified.

4.2 Eligibility Requirements for Court Certification

4.2.1 Qualifications and Requirements for Court Interpreter Certification

The following describes the qualifications that must be met to become a Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) certified court interpreter.

An applicant who is hearing must:

  • hold at least one BEI certificate at Level III, IV, V, III Intermediary, IV Intermediary, V Intermediary, Advanced, Master, or Oral: Comprehensive; or hold certification from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) with a Comprehensive Skills Certificate, Certificate of Interpretation and Certificate of Transliteration, Reverse Skills Certificate, Certified Deaf Interpreter, Master Comprehensive Skills Certificate, or National Interpreter Certification Advanced or National Interpreter Certification Master;
  • pass the DARS DHHS-approved court interpreter written test, which may be taken only by applicants who hold one of the certificates listed above; and
  • pass the court performance test, which may only be taken by applicants who have passed the court interpreter written test.

An applicant who is deaf must:

  • hold at least one BEI certificate at Level III, IV, V, III Intermediary, IV Intermediary, V Intermediary, Advanced, Master, or Oral: Comprehensive; or hold certification from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) with a Comprehensive Skills Certificate, Certificate of Interpretation and Certificate of Transliteration, Reverse Skills Certificate, Certified Deaf Interpreter, Master Comprehensive Skills Certificate, or National Interpreter Certification Advanced or National Interpreter Certification Master;
  • have completed the following hours of training and/or mentoring:
    • a minimum of 12 Continuing Education Units (CEUs), which is the equivalent of 120 clock hours, of DARS DHHS approved courses of instruction in courtroom interpretation knowledge and skills;
    • a minimum of 120 hours of actual practice provided by a certified court interpreter who has been approved by DARS DHHS to act as a mentor; or
    • a combined minimum of 120 hours of instruction and mentoring; and
  • have passed the court interpreter written test, which may be taken only upon completion and approval by DARS DHHS that the applicant has completed the required training and/or mentoring.

An applicant must provide DARS DHHS with documentary proof that the applicant meets the requirements for testing and for certification.

An applicant who formerly held BEI court certification but who is ineligible to renew their BEI court certification must meet all applicable qualifications and requirements of this section.

An applicant who is a military service member or military veteran and who is deaf may satisfy the training requirements of this section with verified similar military service, training, or education. This section does not apply to a military service member or military veteran applicant who is deaf and who holds a restricted license issued by another jurisdiction or has an unacceptable criminal history according to the laws applicable to DARS.

An applicant who is a military spouse will be issued an expedited BEI court interpreter certificate if the spouse holds a current license issued by another jurisdiction that has licensing requirements that are substantially equivalent to the requirements in this section.

A person with an expired certification must not perform work requiring a certification (for example, interpret for a person who is deaf or hearing impaired at a court proceeding) under Government Code, Chapter 57.

4.3 Training Requirements

(Revised 04/1109/15)

Court interpreter training must focus on court procedure and interpreting for court proceedings. A court proceeding can be civil, criminal, or juvenile and includes, but is not limited to, arraignments, mediations, court mandated arbitrations, depositions, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution.

DARS DHHS must approve court interpreter training courses. Training courses may be provided by:

  • DARS DHHS;
  • a military, public, or private educational facility; or
  • other providers approved by DARS DHHS.

Court interpreter training must be related to court proceedings as described above and include at least:

  • 16 clock hours on criminal law process;
  • 16 clock hours on civil law process;
  • 8 clock hours on legal terminology; and
  • 8 clock hours on ethical practices for court interpreters.

Contact the DARS DHHS office for information on training opportunities.

4.4 Applying for Court Interpreter Certification

4.4.1 Applying for the Court Interpreter Written Test

(Revised 04/1107/1204/16)

There is a $50 administrative fee payable to DARS DHHS and a $50 registration/proctoring fee payable to the Office of Court Administration (OCA), the entity proctoring the court interpreter written test.

Required Forms for DARS DHHS

The applicant must:

  • complete Form 3901-1, Court Interpreter Certification Application;
  • complete Form 3901-2, Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of Certified Court Interpreters;
  • attach:
    • a copy of a valid photo ID or driver's license;
    • a check, money order, or cashier's check payable to DARS DHHS for the designated administrative fee; and
    • documentation to verify eligibility, such as copies of:
      • a valid certificate card;
      • continuing education unit (CEU) certificates of attendance or transcripts for training (if applicable); and
      • certificates of completion of mentoring (if applicable); and
  • mail the form with the attachments to DARS DHHS.

Required Form for the Office of Court Administration

To apply to take the test:

  1. complete the registration form required by Office of Court Administration (OCA); and
  2. mail the registration form and registration fee directly to OCA, PO Box 12066, Austin, TX 78711-2066.

Processing Court Written Test Application

(Revised 07/1204/16)

Upon receipt of the application, a DARS DHHS staff member:

  • determines eligibility;
  • informs the applicant of acceptance or denial by email; and
  • notifies the testing contractor of the applicant's eligibility.

Upon receipt of an applicant's eligibility, the Office of Court Administration:

  1. schedules an appointment with the applicant and confirms the date, time, and location;
  2. proctors the test for the applicant; and
  3. grades and reports the results to the applicant approximately 30 days after the date that the test was administered.

Upon receiving the court written test results, the applicant must send the test results to DARS DHHS by email at bei@dars.state.tx.us or by fax to 512-407-3299.

Preparing for the Court Written Test

Information may be obtained from DARS DHHS or may be downloaded at Court Interpreter Written Test Overview.

4.4.2 Applying for a Court Interpreter Performance Test

(Revised 04/16)

The applicant must:

  • complete Form 3901-3, Court Interpreter Performance Test, and Form 3901-2, Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of Certified Court Interpreters;
  • attach to the form:
    • a copy of a valid photo ID or driver's license;
    • a copy of valid certificate card; and
    • a check, money order, or cashier's check payable to DARS DHHS for the designated fee; and
  • mail the form with the attachments to DARS DHHS at least 60 calendar days before a scheduled test date. Scheduled test dates are published on the DARS DHHS Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) Registry.

A submitted application does not guarantee that a requested appointment on a specified day, location, or time will be accommodated. Appointments are given on a first-come, first-served basis. The DARS DHHS staff member contacts applicants when necessary to arrange alternate testing dates.

For more information about test expectations and format, see the Study Guide for BEI Court Interpreter Performance Test Candidates available online or by request from the DARS DHHS office.

4.5 Court Certificate Annual Renewal

(Revised 12/0904/1109/1504/16)

A court interpreter certificate holder must renew his or her certificate annually by paying the required annual renewal fee to DARS DHHS before the expiration date. Annual courtesy renewal notification letters are mailed or sent via email at least 60 days before the due date. Failure to receive a courtesy notification letter from DARS DHHS does not exempt a certified court interpreter from the renewal requirements.

Certified court interpreters must complete Form 3901-2, Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of Certified Court Interpreters, and Form 3924, Court Certificate Annual Renewal, or Form 3921, Multiple-Certificate Annual Renewal.

Upon receiving Form 3901-2, Form 3924, or Form 3921 and the required fees, a DARS DHHS staff member updates the certified court interpreter's status and generates a new certificate card, which is valid through the following year.

4.6 Court Certificate Five-Year Recertification

(Revised 12/0907/1209/1504/16)

A certified court interpreter must maintain all prerequisite certifications and satisfy the five-year recertification requirements to maintain his or her certification. For more information, see Chapter 1: BEI General Interpreter Certification Policies and Procedures, 1.8.2 Multiple Certificates and 1.9 Five-Year Certificate Recertification.

Holders of a BEI General Certificate and a Court Certificate must satisfy:

  • 6.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) (60 clock hours) in interpreting-related topics;
  • 2.0 CEUs (20 clock hours) in court-related topics approved by DARS DHHS; and
  • 2.0 CEUs (20 clock hours) in ethics-related topics.

Holders of a BEI Court Interpreter Certificate must satisfy:

  • 2.0 CEUs (20 clock hours) in court-related topics approved by DARS DHHS; and
  • CEU requirements for requisite certificate issued by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), or NIC.

Court Certificate five-year recertification courtesy notification letters are mailed or sent by email at least 60 days before the certificate recertification due date. Failure to receive a courtesy notification letter from DARS DHHS does not exempt a certified court interpreter from the recertification requirements.

To recertify, the certified court interpreter must:

  1. complete:
    • Form 3901-2, Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility of Certified Court Interpreters, and Form 3912, Court Interpreter Five-Year Certificate Renewal; or
    • Form 3922, Multiple-Certificate Five-Year Recertification; and
  2. attach:
    • the applicable recertification fee;
    • copies of the CEUs earned during the five-year certification period; and
    • a copy of a valid certificate if not a holder of BEI certification.

Mail the five-year recertification form and fee, and the CEU documentation at least 30 business days before the expiration date to DARS DHHS.

Upon receipt of forms and fees, a DARS DHHS staff member:

  • reviews the renewal paperwork for accuracy and completeness;
  • updates the certification status; and
  • mails a new certificate card to the qualified certificate holder.

Allow 30 business days for processing.

4.7 Court Certificate Renewal and Five-Year Recertification Fee Schedule

(Revised 12/0904/16)

The court renewal and five-year recertification fees are as follows:

Certificate Held Time Frame Certificate Annual Renewal Five-Year Recertification
One Certificate Held Before certificate expires $55 $50
1 to 90 days after certificate expires $82.50 $75
91 to 364 days after certificate expires $110 $100
Multiple Certificates Held Before certificate expires $105 $100
1 to 90 days after certificate expires $157.50 $150
91 to 364 days after certificate expires $210 $200

For more information on certificate expiration and reinstatement, see Chapter 1: BEI General Interpreter Certification Policies and Procedures, 1.8.3 Certificate Expiration and 1.8.4 Certificate Reinstatement.