Become a court interpreter
Learn how to become a court interpreter, the rules and responsibilities and how you can help people in your community access justice in their language.
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What court interpreters do
Most interpretation assignments are for criminal cases. You may also be asked to interpret in:
- family court matters
- civil court matters
- small claims court matters
- Provincial Offences Act proceedings
Assignment requests can range from short matters, such as bail hearings and plea courts, to lengthier ones such as trials.
During an assignment, you might be asked to do some of the following:
- sight translate a written message into a spoken message
- interpret a witness testimony
- interpret the questions the lawyers or presiding judicial official will ask the witness
- interpret the entire proceeding for someone not fluent in the language of the court (English or French)
Court interpreters should have strong communication, listening, memory and interpersonal skills. Court interpreters must also demonstrate professionalism and discretion.
We pay freelance court interpreters $30 per hour.
If a court interpreter travels for an assignment, we provide compensation for mileage, meal and accommodation according to travel policies.
Freelance court interpreters work on a fee-for-service basis and are not government employees. They do not qualify for government benefits such as health and dental coverage, insurance or pensions.
How to become a court interpreter
If you speak one or more languages well enough to become a court interpreter, you can apply to become accredited through the Ministry of the Attorney General.
To become an accredited court interpreter, you must:
- complete an Application for Accreditation as a Freelance Court Interpreter and send it, with your current resume, to MAG.InterpreterServices@ontario.ca
- attend a free test preparation session. Applications that are screened in as “qualified” are invited by email
- pass a bilingual, English or Indigenous court interpreting test
- attend a training seminar and pass a test in courtroom procedures and interpreter ethics
- successfully complete a background check
We encourage interpreters of all languages to apply. Applications in all languages remain on file for 18 months.
Preparing for the test
After you submit your application, we may invite you to attend a free test preparation session. We also offer free online test preparation resources.
Rules of professional conduct for court interpreters
Ministry of the Attorney General court interpreters are bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters. Interpreters who violate the Rules are subject to removal from the Registry of Accredited Freelance Court Interpreters.
The Rules of Professional Conduct for Court Interpreters:
- Court interpreters shall faithfully and accurately reproduce in the target language the closest natural equivalent of the source language message, primarily in terms of meaning, and secondarily in terms of style, without embellishment, omission or explanation.
- Court interpreters shall remain impartial and should avoid any appearance of bias or favoritism. They should avoid conflicts of interest or appearance thereof, and should indicate to the trial judge any possible conflicts of interest.
- Court interpreters shall dress and conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the dignity of the court.
- Court interpreters shall never, in the course of their duties, give witnesses or parties advice, or engage in activities which may be construed to constitute the practice of law.
- Court interpreters shall keep all assignment-related information confidential. They shall not publicly discuss, report on or offer an opinion concerning a matter in which they have been involved, even when that information is not privileged or required by law to be kept confidential, and they shall not discuss any aspect of the case they are working on with parties, witnesses or jurors.
- A court interpreter who at any time during a given case feels unable to provide adequate interpretation should immediately address the judge to that effect.
- Court interpreters shall keep all assignments and appear on time for those assignments. If unable to keep an assignment, the court interpreter shall give the court as much advance notice as possible, so that another interpreter can be found.
- Court interpreters shall interpret only for cases to which they have been assigned by the court office. If requested to interpret by lawyers or private individuals, they shall first check with the court official who usually requests their services.
- Any court interpreter who discovers anything which would impede full compliance with these rules shall immediately report it to the court office.