Licensed Court Interpreters Frequently Asked Questions

BASIC AND MASTER COURT INTERPRETER DESIGNATIONS (HB 4445) – NEW!

  1. What’s the difference between a Master Court Interpreter and a Basic Court Interpreter?
  2. If I currently hold an active court interpreter license will I receive a master designation?
  3. I scored at least a 60% on all three parts of my oral exam a few years ago. Can I use that score to obtain a basic license?
  4. What score do I need on the oral exam to obtain a master license?
  5. What score do I need on the oral exam to obtain a basic license?

GENERAL

  1. When must a licensed court interpreter be appointed?
  2. What does TDLR consider to be court proceedings?
  3. Does the law apply to Federal courts?
  4. What counties have a population exceeding 50,000?
  5. What if the county does not have a population exceeding 50,000?
  6. What is TDLR's role in establishing wages paid to interpreters or assigning interpreters?
  7. Are grand jury proceedings covered by Chapter 57?
  8. Can a court deny a request for a licensed court interpreter?
  9. Is a licensed court interpreter required for a parent whose attendance is required at a juvenile proceeding, but who is not a party to the proceeding?
  10. If there are no licensed interpreters in my county, does the judge still have to appoint one?
  11. What if a request is made for a licensed interpreter for a language in which there are no licensed interpreters?
  12. Will I be in violation of Section 57.049 if a court makes a determination that no licensed interpreters exist for a particular language, and then they appoint me to interpret?

LICENSING

  1. Why do court interpreters need a license?
  2. How do I get a license?
  3. How do I get an application?
  4. How do I schedule an examination?
  5. Which examinations are accepted by the Department?
  6. What languages does the Department offer oral examinations in?
  7. What will the examination measure?
  8. I want to interpret in a language for which there is no examination. What do I need to do?
  9. Will the license distinguish which foreign language the interpreter is allowed to practice?
  10. Can I get one license to cover everyone in my agency or company?
  11. How do I find a licensed court interpreter?
  12. How often can I take the License Court Interpreter exam?
  13. My license has expired. How do I get it back?

OAG DENIAL OF LICENSE RENEWAL

  1. I received a Notice of Denial of License Renewal. Who should I contact to resolve the matter?
  2. Why did I receive a Notice of Denial of License Renewal?
  3. Can I use my existing license after getting a license nonrenewable notice from TDLR?
  4. Who should I call about removing the nonrenewable status of my license?
  5. How can I renew my license?  
  6. After I settle with the Office of the Attorney General, when can I renew my license?
  7. What will happen if I don’t get a release from the Child Support Division and my license has not expired?
  8. What will happen if I don’t get a release from the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division, and my license has expired?

ENFORCEMENT

  1. How do I file a complaint?

COMMUNICATION

  1. How may I receive notification of new and changing information with your department?

CONTINUING EDUCATION

  1. What is required to renew my TDLR Licensing Court Interpreter license besides submitting my renewal application and renewal fee?
  2. Should I wait to submit my license renewal application until after I have completed my continuing education?
  3. Where can I locate licensed court interpreter continuing education provider and course information?
  4. What is the actual amount of instruction time required for one hour of continuing education?
  5. There are no continuing education classroom courses in my area. Are other course delivery methods available?
  6. What must I do if I have already taken a continuing education course since I was licensed, but that provider is not on TDLR’s web site list of registered providers?
  7. Who notifies TDLR that I have completed a required continuing education course?
  8. How will I be notified that I have completed a required continuing education course?
  9. Can I get partial credit for completing part of a required continuing education course?
  10. Are licensees who take a distance learning continuing education courses (for example: Internet monitored?
  11. Will I be able to go to TDLR’s web site and look up my completed continuing education hours?
  12. What can I do if my completed continuing education hours are not posted on the TDLR web site?
  13. What should I do if I don’t receive a certificate for my completed continuing education course?
  14. If I am a licensee and an instructor for an approved continuing education course, can I get my continuing education hours while teaching that course?
  15. Will college course hours count towards continuing education for license renewal?
  16. How long must I keep a copy of my continuing education certificate of completion?

BASIC AND MASTER COURT INTERPRETER DESIGNATIONS (HB 4445) – NEW!

1. What’s the difference between a Master Court Interpreter and a Basic Court Interpreter?

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. If I currently hold an active court interpreter license will I receive a master designation?

Yes, the department will be mailing out master license to all individuals who currently hold an active court interpreter license.

3. I scored at least a 60% on all three parts of my oral exam a few years ago. Can I use that score to obtain a basic license?

Until September 1, 2013 the department shall consider examinations taken up to two years as long as the applicant files a new application and the required fees to the department.

4. What score do I need on the oral exam to obtain a master license?

You need to score 70% or higher on each part of the oral examination to obtain a master license.

5. What score do I need on the oral exam to obtain a basic license?

You need to score 60-69% on each part of the oral examination to obtain a basic license..


GENERAL

1. When must a licensed court interpreter be appointed?
At the discretion of a judge, a licensed court interpreter must be appointed when a court proceeding is in a county whose population exceeds 50,000 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. What does TDLR consider to be court proceedings?
TDLR considers the following to be court proceedings under this law: civil and criminal trials, depositions, mediations and arbitrations.

3. Does the law apply to Federal courts?
This law does not apply to federal courts.

4. What counties have a population exceeding 50,000?
According to the April 2000 census, the following 54 counties have populations exceeding 50,000: Anderson, Angelina, Bastrop, Bell, Bexar, Bowie, Brazoria, Brazos, Cameron, Collin, Comal, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, Ector, El Paso, Ellis, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grayson, Gregg, Guadalupe, Harris, Harrison, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hunt, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Liberty, Lubbock, McLennan, Midland, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Orange, Parker, Potter, Randall, San Patricio, Smith, Starr, Tarrant, Taylor, Tom Green, Travis, Victoria, Walker, Webb, Wichita and Williamson.

5. What if the county does not have a population exceeding 50,000?
A licensed court interpreter is not required to be appointed 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 Department's role is that of a licensing agency, the Department has no authority in those situations.

6. What is TDLR's role in establishing wages paid to interpreters or assigning interpreters?
The Department has no role in the setting of compensation or the hiring of interpreters.

7. Are grand jury proceedings covered by Chapter 57?
Yes. The scope of Chapter 57 includes civil and criminal proceedings, and the Texas Attorney General in JC-0579 (573kb PDF file) held that grand jury proceedings are considered to be criminal proceedings that may require the appointment of a licensed court interpreter.

8. Can a court deny a request for a licensed court interpreter?
Yes. A court has the authority to determine whether a party or witness is able to communicate in English and requires an interpreter.

9. Is a licensed court interpreter required for a parent whose attendance is required at a juvenile proceeding, but who is not a party to the proceeding?
Yes. Assuming that the parent cannot communicate in English and requires an interpreter, Opinion JC-0584 (3.15MB PDF file) holds that because a court may impose conditions or sanctions against a parent, the parent is treated as a party, and may be entitled to a licensed court interpreter.

10. If there are no licensed interpreters in my county, does the judge still have to appoint one?
Yes. In a county of over 50,000 in population, if a judge determines that a licensed court interpreter is needed, and one exists but resides in a distant location, the court is required to appoint that person.

11. What if a request is made for a licensed interpreter for a language in which there are no licensed interpreters?
If there are no licensed interpreters to interpret in a particular language, then a court has no option other than to appoint an interpreter who is not licensed.

12. Will I be in violation of Section 57.049 if a court makes a determination that no licensed interpreters exist for a particular language, and then they appoint me to interpret?
No. Under these circumstances the person is not representing themselves, acting or advertising as a licensed court interpreter and there is no violation of Section 57.049.

LICENSING

1. Why do court interpreters need a license?
House Bill 2735, passed by the 77th Legislature in 2001, requires a court in a county with a population of 50,000 or more to appoint licensed court interpreters if a motion is made requesting an interpreter and the judge determines that an interpreter is necessary.

2. How do I get a license?
You must complete and file an application with the applicable fees and satisfy the examination requirements.

3. How do I get an application?
Applications are available on the TDLR website's Court Interpreters page (www.tdlr.texas.gov/court/court.htm) or by calling the Department at (512) 463-6599.

4. How do I schedule an examination?
When an applicant is eligible to sit for the written examination, the Department will mail the applicant information and instructions that explain the scheduling process. When an applicant passes the written examination, the score report contains instructions on scheduling the oral examination.

5. Which examinations are accepted by the Department?
The Department accepts the written and oral examinations offered by the following entities:

The Department accepts oral examinations offered by the following entities as satisfying the oral examination requirements if the Department does not offer an oral examination in that language:

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

6. What languages does the Department offer oral examinations in?
The Department is a member of the National Center for State Courts Consortium and offers the examinations that are developed by the Consortium. Currently the Consortium has developed examinations for Arabic, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, Cantonese, Chuukese, French, Haitian-Creole, Hmong, Ilocano, Korean, Laotian, Mandarin, Marshallese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

7. What will the examination measure?
The written examination will measure English comprehension and court terminology. The oral examination will measure foreign language competency in sight, sequential and simultaneous interpretation.

8. I want to interpret in a language for which there is no examination. What do I need to do?
Languages other than those for which the Department offers examinations may be offered by one of the acceptable providers listed above. Contact them for availability. For languages not provided by the Department or any acceptable provider, oral competency requirements will be determined by the Executive Director on a case by case basis.
For all languages, applicants must take the Department written examination.

9. Will the license distinguish which foreign language the interpreter is allowed to practice?
Yes. Each license will have one or more language endorsements other than English. Knowledge of English is mandatory.

10. Can I get one license to cover everyone in my agency or company?
No. The license is only for individuals, not for companies or organizations. Each person practicing as a licensed court interpreter needs to hold a separate license.

11. How do I find a licensed court interpreter?
The Department's website has a database listing of every licensed court interpreter and their language endorsement(s).

12. How often can I take the License Court Interpreter exam?

You may only take this examination twice within a one year period.

13. My license has expired. How do I get it back?

You must submit a renewal application, all required attachments, and the appropriate late renewal fee.

  • 1-90 days late: $75.
  • 91 days - less than 18 months: $100.

If your license has been expired for more than 18 months but less than three years, you may submit a “Request to Executive Director for Expired License Renewal” form with the required renewal fee.

If your license has been expired for more than three years you may not renew your license. You must apply for a new license.

You may be subject to enforcement actions, including administrative penalties and sanctions, for operating with an expired license (expired less than 18 months) or operating without a license (expired 18 months or more).

If your renewal application is postmarked before your expiration date, it is considered a timely renewal.

ENFORCEMENT

1. How do I file a complaint against a licensee?
To file a complaint about a licensed court interpreter, contact the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation at (512) 463-6599 or visit our web site at: https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/Complaints/ .

To file a complaint about a legal proceeding, contact the State Commission on Judicial Conduct at (512) 463-5533.

OAG DENIAL OF LICENSE RENEWAL

1. I received a Notice of Denial of License Renewal. Who should I contact to resolve the matter?

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

2. Why did I receive a Notice of Denial of License Renewal?

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

3. Can I use my existing license after getting a license nonrenewable notice from TDLR?

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. Who should I call about removing the nonrenewable status of my license?

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. How can I renew my license? 

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 Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation for renewal of your license.

6. After I settle with the Office of the Attorney General, when can I renew my license?

You may not apply for renewal of your license until the Department of Licensing and Regulation receives a release from the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

7. What will happen if I don’t get a release from the Child Support Division and my license has not expired?

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 that you need to get a release from the Child Support Division in order to apply to the Department for license renewal. You may not use your license after the expiration date on the license.

8. What will happen if I don’t get a release from the Office of the Attorney General’s Child Support Division, and my license has expired?

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.

COMMUNICATION

1. How may I receive notification of new and changing information with your department?
You may sign up on the TDLR E-mail Subscriber Notification Lists on our website at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/TXDLR/subscriber/topics?qsp=CODE_RED. These list(s) were established to allow subscribers to receive automated notification of new and changing information.

CONTINUING EDUCATION

1. What is required to renew my TDLR Licensed Court Interpreter license besides submitting my renewal application and renewal fee?

Each licensed court interpreter is required to complete eight hours of continuing education to renew his/her license, including two hours of instruction in ethics.

Continuing education hours must be completed within the period of the license. (Example: if the license is effective from May 1, 2006 to May 1, 2007, the hours must be completed during that period only. A course taken in April 2006 is not within the license period, and will not count for the required continuing education hours.)

2. Should I wait to submit my license renewal application until after I have completed my continuing education?

No. You may file your renewal application at any time during your renewal period. We encourage you to file the application early so your license won’t expire and you won’t be subject to late fees.

3. Where can I locate licensed court interpreter continuing education provider and course information?

You can find TDLR Licensed Court Interpreter (LCI) continuing education provider and course information on TDLR’s LCI web site under “ List of registered Continuing Education providers and courses forLicensed Court Interpreters .” This list is updated as new providers are registered and courses are approved.

4. What is the actual amount of instruction time required for one hour of continuing education?

One hour of continuing education is equivalent to 50 minutes of actual instruction time.

5. There are no continuing education classroom courses in my area. Are other course delivery methods available?

Yes. Please refer to the list of registered Licensed Court Interpreter providers and courses on the Licensed Court Interpreter licensee continuing education web page: http://www.tdlr.texas.gov/court/lcice.htm 

This list is updated as new providers are registered and courses approved.

6. What must I do if I have already taken a continuing education course since I was licensed, but that provider is not on TDLR’s web site list of registered providers?

If the course you took was not from a registered TDLR provider (or was not an approved course), it will not count toward your required hours for license renewal. You must select from registered providers and approved courses located at http://www.tdlr.texas.gov/court/lcice.htm

7. Who notifies TDLR that I have completed a required continuing education course?

Providers are required to submit to TDLR your continuing education course completion information. If you have taken a course from one or more providers, each provider must transmit that information to TDLR and also issue you a certificate of course completion.

TDLR will make the provider course completion information available on the web site for your review and you may check for your posted courses at Continuing Education Course Look-up If you have a question about the information posted on the web site, please check first with the provider. If you continue to have questions, please contact TDLR: by phone, (512) 463-6599 or toll-free inTexas (800) 803-9202; or by e-mail ce@tdlr.texas.gov.

8. How will I be notified that I have completed a required continuing education course?

Your provider will issue you a course completion certificate. If you have questions, please contact your provider first. If you continue to have questions, please contact TDLR: by phone, (512) 463-6599 or toll-free inTexas (800) 803-9202; or by e-mail ce@tdlr.texas.gov.

9. Can I get partial credit for completing part of a required continuing education course?

No. TDLR does not accept partial completion of a continuing education course. However, a provider may allow you to finish the course at another time; when the course is fully completed, the provider will transmit the completion record to TDLR.

10. Will I be monitored if I take a distance learning continuing education course (for example: Internet).

Yes. TDLR requires the provider to monitor licensee attendance for all courses, including Internet courses. If a licensee does not meet the provider’s monitoring requirements, no continuing education hours will be given.

11. Will I be able to go to TDLR’s web site and look up my completed continuing education hours?

Yes. You can check your records of for completed CE hours from TDLR’s web site.

12. What can I do if my completed continuing education hours are not posted on the TDLR web site?

If your course completion is not posted seven days after you completed the course, contact your provider first. If you continue to have questions, please contact TDLR: by phone, (512) 463-6599 or toll-free inTexas (800) 803-9202; or by e-mail ce@tdlr.texas.gov.

13. What should I do if I don’t receive a certificate for my completed continuing education course?

If you do not receive your course completion certificate within 15 days from the completion date of the course, please check first with your provider. If you continue to have questions, please contact TDLR: by phone, (512) 463-6599 or toll-free inTexas (800) 803-9202; or by e-mail ce@tdlr.texas.gov.

14. If I am a licensee and an instructor for an approved continuing education course, can I get my continuing education hours while teaching that course?

Instructors who are licensees may arrange with the provider to get continuing education hours for that portion of the course which the instructor taught. However, if the instructor does not teach the entire course, the instructor must attend the remainder of the course to obtain credit for the whole course. No partial course credit is allowed.

15. Will college course hours count towards continuing education for license renewal?

Courses which are not approved by TDLR as continuing education courses can not be used for license renewal. If the college course is a TDLR 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. (See question and answer #1.)

16. How long must I keep a copy of my continuing education certificate of completion?

Licensees are required to keep the course completion certificate for one year after the date of course completion.

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