Official or co-official languages


Brief description of linguistic diversity

Sizable communities of speakers of Albanian, Turkish, Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian (their distribution varies across Greece); in recent years Pashto and Urdu in urban centres. Athens is the city  with the most linguistic diversity.



Current legislative mandates for LIT and certification

The presence of an interpreter is a legal requirement in all stages of criminal proceedings when the defendant or a witness does not know Greek satisfactorily (article 233 (1), Code of Criminal Procedure). The terms translator and interpreter are used inconsistently (e.g. article 237 talks about written translations and deadlines. but describes the appointed individual as “the interpreter”). There is no reference to qualifications or certification in the legislation: the interpreter takes an oath and swears “to translate with exactness and faithfulness everything that will be said” (article 236).

Specific measures apply to asylum applications: law 3907/2011 (transposing Directive 2005/115/EC) established an Asylum Service and a First Reception Service, a civilian agency that examines applications; Presidential Decree 113/2013 (transposing Directive 2005/85/EC), specifies that asylum applicants “shall be informed in a language which they may reasonably be supposed to understand of the procedure to be followed and of their rights and obligations during the procedure” and “they shall receive the services of an interpreter for submitting their case to the competent authorities whenever necessary” (article 8).

The state pays for interpreting services only in criminal cases. Rates were established by the Ministry of Justice in 2000 and have not been updated since: € 17.60 euros per session and € 11.40 euros during pre-trial proceedings (witness examinations or defendant pleas); moreover, there are considerable delays in payment, especially in Thessaloniki and Athens (up to one year in the former and two years in the latter). Freelance interpreters may be hired as experts by the defendant or in civil cases: their fees are in line with market averages

Responsible parties:


Current accrediting bodies

There is no certification system for translators or interpreters. However, as regards translation, freelance translators who are graduates of the Ionian University (Corfu) are considered certified translators with the right to produce official translations for public and private authorities in Greece and abroad (Presidential Decree 169 of 17.06.2002, Official Gazette 156/2.7.02) (see Panhellenic Association of Professional Translators Graduates of the Ionian University: The only other translators who are authorized to produce legally valid translations are lawyers and the translation service of the Greek Foreign Ministry.

Following legal action from members of the PEEMPIP, translators recruited by Greek ministries as permanent staff are now required to have a translation degree (from the Ionian University at Corfu or a foreign university recognised by the National Academic Recognition Information Centre - Hellenic NARIC).

Does register exist?

There is no public register of interpreters. Each court has its own list of “official interpreters” living or working in the area of the court's jurisdiction. Every year in early September interested individuals apply to the local Public Prosecutor to be placed on the list, which is then made available to the court and police authorities (article 233 (2), Criminal Procedure Code). The authorities are allowed to appoint other individuals if no listed interpreter with the right language combination is available. English is used as a lingua franca when interpreters of certain languages cannot be found.  The interpreters who work in asylum procedures are recruited by an NGO (Metadrasis ) and work as volunteers (unclear terms and conditions). The NGO provides a 10-day training programme to interpreters, but it is unclear whether it receives compensation from the government for the interpreters it provides.

Who develops certification exams?


Who/How many rate performances?



Legal authorities seem unhappy with the current provision of interpreting services and therefore they are fairly interested in collaborating with researchers. Currently, there are two of projects on legal interpreting in Greece. The DIDI project (Legal Interpreting in Greece), launched in October 2012 by the Department of Applied Foreign Languages in Management and Commerce (Technological and Educational Institution of Epirus), is co-funded by Greece and the European Social Fund. It aims at mapping the provision of legal interpreting services in the Prefectures of Thesprotia, Ioannina, Preveza and Corfu, by interviewing foreigners (including prison inmates), police authorities and lawyers. Collected data will be used to better understand users’ needs and define the legal interpreter’s profile, information that will be sent to the Ministry of Justice. In early 2013, the two-year MultiLingLaw project started: the aim is to develop training materials to teach lawyers how to work with LITs.


Test Format:


T & I in one exam?


Screening exam? Describe.


Test type/format



Domains tested







Website? Dissemination of info about certification



Requirements to sit exam



Sample questions or practice exam available?



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

No specific qualification is mandatory for inclusion in the court list of “official interpreters”; applicants only need to declare that they can speak a given foreign language.

Cost to candidate/#of locations/ frequency


Feedback on exam performance


Score grievance procedure available


Maximum nº of sittings


Permanent or renewable certification Inclusion on the court “list” must be renewed every year.





Revocation of certification possible?


If so, for what reasons?


Performance monitored? If so, how?

Interpreter performances in court are not audio/ video-taped and are not reviewed or rated.