Official or co-official languages


Brief description of linguistic diversity

Russian is a widely used language in Estonia. Vöro is used in some areas of southeast Estonia.



Current legislative mandates for LIT and certification

Dialogue/liaison interpreting areas are completely unregulated. There currently exists no official unified certification or qualification system for court or police interpreting. All court sessions take place in Estonian. Interpreting mainly takes place between Estonian and Russian. At different court levels there are in-house interpreters whose tasks include interpreting in both directions and providing written translations when needed. If there is a need for an interpreter speaking another language, one will be found ad hoc.

Responsible parties:


Current accrediting bodies

Tartu and Tallin Universities provide Masters degrees in Translation and Interpreting Studies. They do not offer programs specifically geared at legal interpreting, although interpreting techniques applied in legal interviews and hearings in court (consecutive and simultaneous interpreting) are included. Sign language interpreters do have professional certification approved by the Estonian Qualifications Authority ( and a professional union: the Estonian Sign-Language Interpreters (Eesti Viipekeele Tõlkide Liit, EVKTÜ) formed in 1991.  The Estonian Ministry of Justice certifies sworn translators (vandetõlk). Sworn translators are holders of an office in public law who are empowered by the state to certify, to the extent specified in their professional certificates, the correctness of translations of documents translated by themselves or by other persons, the authenticity of copies of such translations, the authenticity of copies of documents to be translated and printouts from public registers. Interpreting is not contemplated in this certification.

Does register exist?

There is no register of legal interpreters except for sign language interpreters who are entered into the Estonian Qualifications Authority Occupational Qualifications System if they hold the proper certification and credentials.

Who develops certification exams?

The certification tests for sign language interpreters (according to information at EVKTÜ’s home site) follows the standards of

CIT (Conference of Interpreter Trainers 2000) – /; NAD-RID National Interpreter Certification (NIC) in the USA /; Prüfungsordnung für Gehörlosendolmetscher bei Gericht und Behörden (GDPO) and Level 4 Interpreting Standards in the UK -

Who/How many rate performances?



Estonian courts sometimes sponsor short training courses for interpreters focusing on language proficiency, legal interpreting, general interpreting (principles, techniques), etc. Courses offered depend on the financial possibilities of the court and the expressed wishes of interpreters, wo can request that a course be organized if they feel they need some type of specific training. There is, however, no special unified educational system or courses for court interpreters in Estonia at the present time.


Test Format:


T & I in one exam?


Screening exam? Describe.

There is no set format for screening legal interpreters. For instance, in

Test type/format

The sign language interpreter certification examination, apart from tests in translation and interpreting, involves a reflection task. Candidates must provide an analysis of their own interpreting. At the fifth, highest level, this analysis must be done in the form of a written essay.


Domains tested







Website? Dissemination of info about certification

On the home-page of the professional union of Estonian Sign-Language Interpreters ( one can find detailed information about how to apply for professional certification as a sign language interpreter and about the form and content of the test(s). Information is available in Estonian.


Requirements to sit exam

Certification of sign language interpreters is divided into five categories. Minimum requirement to sit the exam for the lowest level is one year of professional practice. For the highest level, the minimum requirement is five years of professional practice.

Sample questions or practice exam available?



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

As there is currently no unified official certification procedure in Estonian court interpreting, there are no specified formal demands as concerns training, experience, etc. Although the last posting for a court interpreter stated that the minimum educational requirement was high school educatio, usually people with a degree in linguistics (e.g. Russian philology, Estonian for foreigners) are employed to work as in-house interpreters. There is no requirement for specialized training. There are both interpreters who speak Estonian as their first language, and those who speak Russian as their first language.

Cost to candidate/#of locations/ frequency

≈ 40€ for the sign language interpreter certification.

Feedback on exam performance


Score grievance procedure available


Maximum nº of sittings


Certification is permanent or renewable Certification as a sworn translator is valid for five years. No certification exists for interpreters.





Revocation of certification possible?


If so, for what reasons?


Performance monitored? If so, how?

See note about “Screening exam” above.