AUSTRIAN ASSOCIATION OF CERTIFIED COURT INTERPRETERS

Postal Address: A-1011 Vienna, PO box 124
Phone: +43 / 1 / 479 65 81, Fax.: +43 / 1 / 478 37 23
E-Mail: office@gerichtsdolmetscher.at

Secretariat: Mon., Tues. and Thurs. 16.00 - 18.00 hrs.

Instructions for Applicants

The Federal Law on Sworn and Certified Court Experts and Interpreters (SDG) amended the requirements for registration in the List of Court Interpreters to the extent that applicants must prove professional experience as interpreters and/or translators. Graduates of university departments for translator and interpreter training must furnish proof of two years of professional work, all other applicants proof of five years of professional work during the years immediately preceding registration.

The Application for Registration in the List of Sworn and Certified Court Interpreters must be submitted to the president of the court of first instance in the district of the applicant's regular residence or place of professional activity ('centre of economic interests'). In the course of the registration proceedings the president responsible for the registration (certifying authority) will charge a commission with preparing an expert opinion on whether registration requirements are fulfilled (qualifications). The examination fee is € 400.00; when more than three examiners need to be called in, the examination fee amounts to an additional € 100.00 per examiner.

Whenever a candidate withdraws from the examination three days before its scheduled date, at the latest, only one fourth of the examination can be refunded. The same applies if the candidate is prevented by an unforeseeable or inevitable event from appearing at the scheduled date and documents the circumstances within fourteen days of the incident. Otherwise, the full amount of the examination fee becomes due.

You are advised to prepare thoroughly before filing your application. Circumstances permitting, you may be called very soon after applying to sit for an examination and may not have enough time for preparation (generally - depending on your educational background - you will need at least 6 months to acquire the necessary knowledge).

The work of a Court Interpreter not only calls for an impeccable command of German and the foreign language, but also requires knowledge of the principles of Austrian legal and court procedures and of the legal and court procedures of the country where the chosen language is the official language, as well as extensive knowledge of the legal and commercial terminology of law and commerce both in German and the foreign language. In addition, a thorough knowledge of the terminologies of other fields such as medicine, technology, etc. is required.

Translating and interpreting must be mastered both from German into the foreign language and from the foreign language into German. A restriction to work only in one direction is not possible.

As far as written expression is concerned, a faultless mastery of German and the foreign language regarding grammar, syntax, and spelling are basic requirements. Extreme diligence, as well as accuracy and precision of the translation are of extreme importance since a Court Interpreter is a certifying officer, who in this capacity affixes an official seal to translations. If certified translations are incorrect, an action for damages may be filed.

Another important prerequisite for the work of Court Interpreters is flexibility and resourcefulness (especially when interpreting). Keep in mind that, when interpreting, you not only have no dictionaries at your disposal but must have command over a substantial vocabulary and phrases enabling you to produce at all times an at least intelligible rendering in the other language at all times. 

Candidates should bear in mind that knowledge of the standard language alone is not enough to meet the working requirements of a Court Interpreter. At times, you will have to be able to put across and explain complicated concepts in plain language, or to master jargon, vernacular and slang. 

At this juncture you may wonder how you will be able to acquire all those skills? 

Of course, it would be ideal if you had completed a university course in interpreting and translation. If you do not have such an educational background, you must acquire the required knowledge by self-study. 

As far as German legal terminology is concerned, you could use i.a. the Work Sheets and Study Material produced by our Association.

Furthermore, every year the Association organizes several one-day Introductory Seminars for Applicants, where a lawyer will explain the necessary basics required when working as a Court Interpreter. Moreover, the interpreting and translating skills are taught at basic and advanced seminars. Please contact the Secretariat for details and dates. 

In order to acquire the specific knowledge in the foreign language, it is advisable to study the relevant literature (statute books, bilateral treaties, legal text-books) as it is not enough to understand individual terms but extremely important to understand the context.

Watching court proceedings can also be useful when preparing for the examination.

Please bear in mind that you ought to be available for courts and authorities at all times (also at short notice). Repeated refusals to answer a summons or to produce a translation may lead to your name being deleted from the List.

If you have any further questions, please contact the Secretariat of the Association at the office hours as indicated above at the Vienna telephone number (01) 479 65 81, or by sending an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..