Licensed Court Interpreters

Frequently Asked Questions 

Basic and Master Court Interpreter designations (HB 4445)

  1. Master – Permits the interpreter to interpret court proceedings in all courts in this state, including justice courts and municipal courts.

    Basic – Permits the interpreter to interpret court proceedings in justice courts and municipal courts that are not municipal courts of record, other than a proceeding before the court in which the judge is acting as a magistrate.

  2. You must score 70% or higher on each part of the oral examination to obtain a Master Designation.

  3. You must score 60-69% on each part of the oral examination to obtain a Basic Designation.

General

  1. Under Section 57.002 of the Texas Government Code, a licensed court interpreter must be appointed when a court proceeding is in a county whose population is 50,000 or more and when at least one of the following occurs:

    1. Upon the motion of a party;
    2. Upon the motion of the court; or
    3. Upon request of a witness.
  2. Court proceedings in Section 57.002 include civil and criminal trials, depositions, mediations, court-ordered arbitrations, and arraignments.

  3. Section 57.002 does not apply to federal courts.

  4. According to the April 2010 census, the following 54 counties have populations exceeding 50,000: Anderson, Angelina, Bastrop, Bell, Bexar, Bowie, Brazoria, Brazos, Cameron, Cherokee, Collin, Comal, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, Ector, El Paso, Ellis, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grayson, Gregg, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Harrison, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Hunt, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Liberty, Lubbock, Maverick, McLennan, Midland, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Orange, Parker, Potter, Randall, ROckwall, Rusk, San Patricio, Smith, Starr, Tarrant, Taylor, Tom Green, Travis, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Webb, Wichita, Williamson, and Wise.

  5. Texas law does not require appointment of a licensed court interpreter in those counties. The law, however, specifies that the appointed interpreter must be qualified as an expert under the Texas Rules of Evidence, must be at least 18 years of age, and must not be a party to the proceeding. Since the JBCC's role is that of a licensing agency, the JBCC has no authority in those situations.

  6. The Commission has no role in the setting of compensation or the hiring of interpreters.

  7. The scope of Chapter 57 includes civil and criminal proceedings, and the Texas Attorney General held in Opinion No. JC-0579 that grand jury proceedings are considered to be criminal proceedings that may require the appointment of a licensed court interpreter.

  8. According to Texas Attorney General Opinion NO. JC-0584, a court has the authority to determine whether a party or witness is able to communicate in English and requires an interpreter.

  9. Yes. Assuming that the parent cannot communicate in English and requires an interpreter, Opinion JC-0584 holds that because a court may impose conditions or sanctions against the parent, the parent should be treated as a party and may be entitled to a licensed court interpreter.

  10. In a county with a population of 50,000 or more, if a court determines that a licensed court interpreter is needed to interpret in Spanish, and one exists but resides in a distant location, the court is required to appoint that person. However, if the interpreter is for a language other than Spanish and the court finds there is no licensed court interpreter for that language within 75 miles, the court may appoint an interpreter who is not licensed. The unlicensed interpreter must be at least 18 and must not be a party. Also, the court must qualify the unlicensed interpreter as an expert under the Texas Rules of Evidence.

  11. If there are no licensed interpreters to interpret in a particular language, then a court may appoint an interpreter who is not licensed.

  12. As long as you are not advertising, representing yourself to be, or acting as a licensed court interpreter, there is no violation of Section 157.106.

Licensing

  1. Section 57.002 of the Texas Government Code requires the appointment of a licensed court interpreter by a court in certain situations. For more information about those situations, see the General FAQs on this page.

  2. You must first complete a Commission-approved orientation course. You must then complete and file the appropriate applications, pay the applicable fees, satisfy the examination requirements, and pass a criminal history background check  by DPS and the FBI.
    Please refer to the Initial Licensure page of our website for additional information on this process.

  3. You must apply online. To apply online, please go to the online certification and licensing system on our home page.

    The Commission will not process incomplete applications.

     

    1. Applicants register for the exam with the JBCC by the established deadline date. This means that your completed paperwork must be at the JBCC office by close of business on that date. If there are any insufficiencies with your paperwork, you will be notified via email. Insufficiencies must be resolved by the established exam deadline date; otherwise, you will not be able to take the exam.

    2. You will receive confirmation that you've been registered for the exam, as well as the date, time, and location of the exam, via email. 

    Please refer to the Exam Procedures section of the Exams page for additional information on this process (i.e., how to apply, when, where, how much, etc.). Any questions regarding your registration must be submitted to courtinterpreters@txcourts.gov.

  4. The Commission accepts the written and oral examinations offered by the following entities:

    • Member states of the National Center for State Courts Language Access Services Section,
    • National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT)
    • Federal Court Interpreter Certification (916) 263-3494.

     

  5. The Commission offers the examinations that are developed by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Please see the list of Exam Languages on the Exams page of our website.

  6. The written examination will measure English comprehension, court terminology, and ethics. The oral examination will measure foreign language competency in sight, sequential and simultaneous interpretation.

  7. If you wish to become licensed in a language other than those shown on the Exams page of our website, the Commission accepts oral examinations offered by the following entities as satisfying the oral examination requirements:

    1. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Language Line Services (800) 752-0093,
    2. Lionbridge (888) 241-9149, extension 3966.

    Please refer to the Exam Languages & Other Information section on the Exams page of our website for additional information.

  8. Yes. Each license will have one or more language endorsements other than English. Knowledge of English is mandatory.

  9. No. The license is only for individuals, not for companies or organizations. Each person practicing as a licensed court interpreter must hold a separate license.

  10. If you fail the exam, you must wait at least 6 months before you re-take the exam.

  11. An individual whose license has been expired for 90 or less may renew for 1½ times the normally required renewal fee. An individual whose license has been expired more than 90 days but less than one year may renew for twice the normally required renewal fee. If your license is not renewed within a year of expiration, you will be required to meet the requirements for a new license, including examination. Exceptions will not be granted and fees will not be waived, refunded, or transferred. Please refer to section 3.2 of the JBCC Rules for more information.

     

Denial of License Renewal by the Office of the Attorney General

  1. The Child Support Division (CSD) sends these notices. Contact CSD at (800) 252-8014.

  2. Office of the Attorney General's Child Support Division records show you have not made a payment in more than 6 months.

  3. You may not use your license after the expiration date on the license. However, you may work between the date you receive the nonrenewable notice and the expiration date on the license.

  4. Contact the Office of the Attorney General's Child Support Division (CSD) to settle payment of any amounts you may owe and to change the nonrenewable status of your license. Contact CSD at (800) 252-8014.

  5. First, contact the Office of the Attorney General's Child Support Division at (800) 252-8014 to resolve payment of any amounts you may owe and obtain a release. Then, apply with the Commission for renewal of your license.

  6. You may not apply for renewal of your license until the Commission receives a release from the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

  7. If you haven't received a release from the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General approximately 65 days before the expiration of your license, you will receive a notice from the Department Commission that you need to get a release from the Child Support Division in order to apply to the Department Commission for license renewal. You may not use your license after the expiration date on

  8. License holders have 365 days from the expiration date to apply for license late renewal. License holders who are barred from license renewal due to past-due child support must obtain a release from the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General and apply for renewal within the 365-day period. Otherwise, the license cannot be late renewed.

Continuing Education

  1. Effective 04/12/2018, to renew a license, court interpreters must have completed 16 hours of approved continuing education, including 4 in ethics. Court interpreters can carry forward 8 hours of CE to their next license period. Ethics hours cannot be carried forward.

  2. Courses must be approved before you submit your renewal, as part of the renewal process is reporting the approved courses you took.

  3. Please refer to the the Continuing Education page of our website for information on this process. 

  4. You can search for approved CE courses via our online certification and licensing system.  For information on our system, please refer to the home page of our website in the section titled “New Online Certification and Licensing System”. Please refer to the “Guide to Using the Online System” for step-by-step instructions on how to search for approved CE courses. 

    If a course you want to take is not on the list, you must apply for course approval. Your application will be reviewed to determine if, based on the JBCC Rules, the course will be approved and, if so, for how many hours. Information on the course approval process is located on the Continuing Education page of our website. 

     

  5. Continuing education is granted in quarter hour increments.  The total number of minutes is rounded to the nearest quarter hour.  One hour of continuing education is equivalent to 60 minutes of actual instruction time.

  6. You must report the JBCC approved CE courses you've taken when you apply for renewal of your certification. You must also upload copies of your certificates of attendance to your renewal application as well.

  7. The program provider will issue you a course completion certificate or other documentation that you completed the course. If you have questions, please contact the program provider.

  8. You can only receive credit for what you actually completed. For example, if the CE course was 8 hours but you only completed 3 hours, you can only receive 3 hours of credit for the course.

  9. You can track the approved CE courses you've reported to the JBCC by logging in to our online certification and licensing system. For information on our system, please refer to the section titled “New Online Certification and Licensing System” on the home page our website. 

  10. If you do not receive your course completion certificate, please contact the program provider.

  11. Instructors who are licensees may apply with the JBCC to obtain CE credit for the portion of the course they taught. However, if the instructor did not teach the entire course, they may attend the remainder of the course to obtain credit for the whole course. 

  12. Courses which are not approved by the JBCC as continuing education courses may not be used for license renewal. If the college course is a JBCC- approved continuing education course, then the course hours can be used for license renewal. However, the courses must be taken during the period of the license being renewed. 

  13. Licensees are required to keep their course completion certificates for 3 years after the date of course completion.

  14. Applications are processed as soon as possible. Also, please remember that course approvals must be submitted no later than 2 months before your certification expires.

Miscellaneous

  1. You can search for licensees via our online certification and licensing system. For information on our system, please refer to the home page of our website in the section titled “New Online Certification and Licensing System”. Please refer to the “Guide to Using the Online System” for step-by-step instructions on how to search for licensees. 

  2. You must update your information within 30 days of the change via our online licensing and certification system. Please go to the online certification and licensing system on our home page

  3. You must apply for a name change via our online licensing and certification system. To apply online, please go to the online certification and licensing system on our home page. Additionally supporting documentation will be required (e.g., copy of marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order).

  4. You can track your status and confirm receipt using the online certification and licensing system on our home page, or by submitting items using a method that will allow for confirmation on your end.