Request an interpreter
If you don’t speak or understand English very well, you may need a court interpreter to help you in court. Even if you speak English in everyday life, the situations and language in court can be very difficult. An interpreter can help make sure that you understand and can communicate as well as possible.
What to know about court interpreters
- Court Interpreters are provided free of charge
- You must request an interpreter in advance
- Ask the court to provide an interpreter as soon as you find out that you need to go to court
Court interpreters must follow specific rules for what they can and can’t do
They must interpret what is being said in the courtroom into your language and interpret your words into English
They must keep all communications between you and your lawyer confidential
They must disclose any conflicts of interest they may have with your case
They cannot give you legal advice
Court interpreters cannot typically provide services outside of the courtroom
Some courts have interpreters available in their Self-Help Centers to assist with interpretation outside of the courtroom. You can contact your court’s Self-Help Center to find out if this is available at your court.
Only qualified court interpreters can interpret court proceedings
You are usually not allowed to have a friend or relative who speaks English to serve as the interpreter for you in the courtroom. However, if you will need help outside of the courtroom with getting information or filling out forms, you may get help from a friend or relative who speaks English
Visit the Language Access page of your court’s website
The procedure for requesting an interpreter varies from one court to another. Your court’s website will list the steps required by your specific court to request an interpreter.
Here is some information you should look for on your court’s website so you can understand your court’s requirements:
Use the Find My Court to quickly access your court’s language access information
Does my court require advanced notice for an interpreter to be present?
What form does my court use for requesting an interpreter? (Most courts use Request for an Interpreter (Civil) (form INT-300) but others use a different form.)
Does my court allow for interpreter requests to be made online or by email?
Fill out the form
If your court requires a form to request an interpreter, your next step is to complete the form. The form is available in many languages but must be filled out in English. Many courts use the Request for Interpreter (Civil) (form INT-300).
To complete the form, you need to know:
- Your case number
- Language you need interpreted
- The date of your next hearing
Submit your request to the court
After you complete the form in English, return it to the Interpreter Coordinator’s Office.
Confirm the court got your request
Contact the interpreter coordinator or language access representative in your court either by phone or email to confirm they received and approved your request. The contact information for these staff will be on your court's language access web page.
Tips for working with your court interpreter
If you cannot hear or understand the interpreter, tell the judge right away
Speak loudly and clearly, at a normal pace or a little slower
Speak only in your language
Listen only to the interpreter
Speak directly to the person asking the questions, not to the interpreter
If the court gives you a court interpreter and something went wrong
You can file a complaint with the court or with the Judicial Council.
- Ask the language access coordinator at the court or the Self-Help Center how to file a complaint.
- You may file a complaint with the Court Interpreters Program about a California Court Interpreter. The Judicial Council is the licensing agency for certified court and registered interpreters so it can investigate if a court interpreter behaved in a way that goes against the licensing requirements.