How to Become a Court-Appointed Translator/Interpreter?

The topic of certified or sworn translations and the various forms of authentication, legalization, and apostilles has been covered by several other posts on our blog in the past.

Yet we still get quite a few questions, namely from our external vendors, as to how one can become certified and get hold of the so-called seal, the mark of a proud court-appointed translator.


One of the reasons for this interest may be that they see certified translations as an easy way to gain supplemental income, and they are convinced that translating a birth or marriage certificate is a piece of cake.

However, this is often far from the truth; translating personal documents is just a tiny fraction of the big picture. The daily bread of certified translators and interpreters consists of court or police files and dossiers, verdicts, and reports or notarial deeds, often written in an unintelligible legal jargon, as well as financial statements and audit reports, technical certificates, and – a “favourite” among translators – medical reports.

In addition, a court or sworn interpreter has to attend court hearings and police interrogations, often without access to any useful reference resources that would assist them to properly prepare. One really needs years of training and experience to be able to tackle the job of interpreting in these situations and the translating of such documents.

Let us briefly outline what one needs to comply with in order to qualify for appointment as a court interpreter or translator.

 

First, let’s go over some of the basic legislation and definitions involved

In order to become a certified translator, you need to meet the requirements of Act 36/1967 Coll., on Experts and Interpreters, as amended. More details can be found in the related implementing regulation, Decree 37/1967 Coll., Implementing the Act on Experts and Interpreters, as amended. The current legislation does not distinguish between the professions of interpreter and translator – rather, it uses the term “interpreter” for both.

Applications for appointment as a certified interpreter may be submitted to the regional court (having jurisdiction according to the applicant’s place of residence) by a competent state body or an organization for which the candidate works; furthermore, applications may be submitted by the applicants themselves.

Candidates need to prove their integrity by submitting a criminal record extract, and they must be citizens of the Czech Republic or another EU member state; this must be demonstrated by submitting proof of temporary or permanent residence in the Czech Republic. In addition, there are requirements for professional qualifications that successful candidates need to fulfil. Detailed conditions are specified in the directive of the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic, ref. No. 359/2011-OD-ZN/11 dated 12 December 2011.

 

These conditions include a university degree in the relevant languages from any faculty of arts or teacher-training college in the Czech Republic, or a certificate of the state language examination from a state language school (highest level C2, i.e. a particular state language examination for translators and interpreters). Candidates will need to show that they have at least five years of experience in the translation business, predominantly after graduation.

 

As far as knowledge of law is concerned, applicants need a university degree from a faculty of law in the Czech Republic or a certificate of completion of a two-semester supplementary course (the legal minimum for interpreters and translators) at a faculty of law in the Czech Republic. Most regional courts also require that candidates attend a one-day course for future court interpreters, offered biannually by the Chamber of Court-Appointed Interpreters and Translators of the Czech Republic (a professional organization associating court-appointed interpreters and translators in the Czech Republic).

A complete list of the requirements for the professional qualifications of interpreters and translators is available on the Chamber’s website.

 

It should be noted, however, that even if all of the above requirements are met, your appointment is not guaranteed, as there is no legal entitlement to be appointed. When deciding on the appointment of a new interpreter, courts take into account the existing demand and the number of interpreters registered for the language combination in question. However, if you have good fortunate and the court ascertains that there’s a vacancy for your language pair and sees you as a suitable candidate, the only thing left for you to do is pay a CZK 1000 fee for the appointment and take the oath. You will then be entered into the list of experts and interpreters kept on file by the relevant regional court; you’ll receive a letter of appointment and a certificate authorizing you to finally have that long-desired court-appointed interpreter seal made.

 

If, after reading this post, you’d like to pursue your dream of becoming a court-appointed interpreter, please note that a new act on court-appointed interpreters and translators is due to come into force on 1 January 2021 (Act 354/2019 Coll.), which will introduce changes to at least some of the conditions above.

 

Rest assured that we will keep you updated on any and all changes resulting from this new legislation.

 

Author: Irena Šotková

 



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