Official or co-official languages

German, Sorbian

Brief description of linguistic diversity




Current legislative mandates for LIT and certification

Evidence seems to point in the direction that this is not the case. LITs are appointed by independent judges and specific regulations telling judges how to select LITs could not be found. Indeed, judges are under no obligation to request an interpreter at all in family cases, if they deem themselves competent in both languages concerned (GVG Gerichtsverfassungsgesetz §185). However, the state justice administrations together have created a database of officially authorized, appointed and sworn-in translators and interpreters. Selection of LITs from this database at least seems plausible, but it does not seem obligatory. Besides, exemptions from the authorization requirements can be made in cases of less commonly used languages, which means that in those cases non-qualified LITs are authorized and enter the database.

Responsible parties:


Current accrediting bodies

The official authorization, appointment and swearing-in of translators and interpreters is governed by the laws of the individual federal states and are therefore subject to state-specific requirements.

Does register exist?

State justice administrations have created a database of officially authorized, appointed and sworn-in translators and interpreters. Criteria to be included differ per state. However, all states require the successful passing of the examination for translators before an examination office (in some states state-certified) or through a university or a university of applied sciences. A foreign translator’s qualification exam can be recognized as being equivalent by a state-certified German authority. In some states this requirement may be waived if no such examination is offered for a specific language. In other states it may be waived if the professional qualification can be documented in other ways. In addition to the requirement of  successfully passing the exam for translators, five states (Nordrhein-Westfalen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Schleswig-Holstein, Niedersachsen and Hamburg) require a secure knowledge of German legal terminology. Candidates can verify this knowledge by providing diplomas of specialization courses offered by various institutes (f.i. at Universität Hamburg, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz, etc.). The other states do not specifically require knowledge of German legal terminology.

The state of Hamburg uses its own criteria, requiring that the candidate be capable of not only speaking the German language and the working language in terms of annunciation, grammar, spelling, style and legal terminology, but also of properly conveying in oral and written statements in either language the factual context of government agency and court proceedings. The verification of these professional qualifications is generally provided through the successful participation in a qualification test procedure, consisting of a written and an oral exercise. Whoever lives within the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg or the greater metropolitan area and can document that he possesses the necessary knowledge of the German language and the working language for which the swearing-in is sought  (through certificates and diplomas of the universities and colleges attended, job references, or a report on interpretation services rendered) may be admitted to the qualification test procedure. In those cases where no applicable university degree is available, several years of work as interpreter and/or translator are generally required for admittance to the procedure. Some examinations of other German federal states of EU member states are considered to be equivalent to the Hamburg qualification test procedure. In those cases passing the Hamburg qualification test is not necessary.


For more information regarding the requirements of the individual federal states to be included in the database see: > Zulassungsvoraussetzungen und Rechtsbehelfe (there is an English site).

Who develops certification exams?

There is no central certifying body. Universities, universities of applied sciences, state certified examination offices and institutes offering specialization courses for LITs with respect to knowledge of the German legal system all play a role in the certification process. As for Hamburg, no specific information could be found with respect to the institute which develops the Hamburg qualification test.  

Who/How many rate performances?





Test Format:


T & I in one exam?

Given the complex situation in Germany, no specific information can be provided on this topic.

Screening exam? Describe.


Test type/format



Domains tested







Website? Dissemination of info about certification

The website provides information on the requirements of each federal states as regards criteria for inclusion on the database of the state justice administrations.


Requirements to sit exam

Given the complex situation in Germany, no further information can be provided on this topic.

Sample questions or practice exam available?



Additional qualifications for certification (experience, training, educational level, nationality)


Cost to candidate/#of locations/ frequency


Feedback on exam performance


Score grievance procedure available


Maximum nº of sittings


Permanent or renewable certification  





Revocation of certification possible?


If so, for what reasons?


Performance monitored? If so, how?