Official or co-official languages

Swedish, Swedish sign language

Brief description of linguistic diversity

Since 2000, Sami, Finish, Tornedal Finnish (Meänkieli) Yiddish and Romani occupy a distinctive position in Sweden as minority languages. more than 150 immigrant languages including Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, Croatian, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Kurdish, Farsi, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Spanish and Turkish.



Current legislative mandates for LIT and certification

As a matter of routine, interpreters are appointed at all steps in legal procedures, when witnesses, suspects and accused persons who don’t speak Swedish are heard. Current law, in force since 1986, stipulates that those who are engaged as interpreters must be suitable for the task. During the latest five or six years, there is a raised awareness of the need for quality requirements for interpreting services in courts of law.  A recent report, written by the Inquiry on interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings (SOU 2012:49), initiated by the Swedish government in December 2011, proposes to introduce, in the Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure, a new provision stating that if possible, an authorized court interpreter or other authorized interpreter is to be appointed in legal processes. Only if an interpreter with these qualifications is not available may another suitable person be engaged.

Responsible parties:


Current accrediting bodies

Authorization of interpreters and translators are provided by a governmental agency – Kammarkollegiet. The title of authorized interpreter is a protected professional title granted upon passing a qualifying exam. In 2013, accreditation is available between Swedish and 40 other languages, including Swedish sign language. Once authorized, interpreters may take another test for a specialist qualification as court interpreter and/or health care interpreter. In 2012, of the 1068 authorizations registered at Kammarkollegiet, 211 were for court interpreters.  The exam is given in a restricted number (10 – 20) of language combinations each time. Examination periods are announced and organized twice a year.

Does register exist?

Since 1976  the Kammarkollegiet has published directories of authorized interpreters. In the 1990s, an internet register of authorized interpreters was created and is managed by the accrediting agency. The register includes only the authorized interpreters who have permitted publication of their details. The register is broadly recognized and accepted by stakeholders and easily available at the website of the accrediting agency (http://www.kammarkollegiet.se).

Since 2012, Kammarkollegiet also manages a register of interpreters certain interpreter courses, organised by vocational colleges. These interpreters are not tested by the Kammarkollegiet, and they do not work under the supervision of this or any other authority.

Who develops certification exams?

The  Kammarkollegiet in collaboration with an expert panel including interpreter educators, representatives of legal and medical authorities, professional interpreter organizations, interpreter services providers and The Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education. Recently, Kammarkollegiet has initiated a review of the current test.  Exams used in interpreter courses given by vocational colleges are modeled on the certification exams of Kammarkollegiet.

Who/How many rate performances?

Language experts and administrators from Kammarkollegiet  (who have also taken part in constructing the test). The oral test is held before an assessment panel involving an expert in the non-Swedish language responsible for rating the non-Swedish language proficiency, a language assistant (a native speaker of the language in question) who plays the layperson’s role in the role play and also rates interpreting skills, and an administrator from the accrediting agency who rates the Swedish language proficiency. A professional actor plays the role of expert (lawyer, practitioner, etc.) in the role-plays.


Many non-Swedish language experts are recruited, e.g. from universities and other educational units. Administrators from Kammarkollegiet visit seminars organized by The Institute for Interpretation and Translation Studies at Stockholm University. and organize training. Representatives of professional associations are often invited to these seminars. The accrediting agency has its own legal experts.


Test Format:


T & I in one exam?

No. Interpreting candidates take a written and oral exam. Translating candidates take a written translation exam.

Screening exam? Describe.

There is no screening exam as such. Anyone can sign up for a proficiency test. In practice, the written part of the test functions as a kind of screening, since only those who meet the standards required for authorization in the written test are called to the oral exam.

Test type/format

The written test (5 hours) includes:

1.      General background knowledge test: 40 questions concerning language use in the subject areas medical care, migration, social matters, the labour market, and general social insurance, as well as everyday law. Words and expressions from a text written in Swedish must be translated into the other language.

2.      Terminology test: 100 specialist terms to be translated into Swedish and 60 specialist terms to be translated from Swedish. These terms are taken from the above subject areas.

No dictionaries or other aids are allowed.

The oral test (2 hours) includes:

1.      Active interpreting test (at most four role plays).

2.      Oral examination on interpreting techniques and professional ethics.

Candidates may use aids such as writing materials and dictionaries.


Domains tested

Medical care, migration, social matters, basics of law, the Swedish labour market and social insurance system. Interpreting ability, interpreting techniques, interpreting ethics.



Criteria = acceptable or not acceptable performance.

Holistic evaluation, based on a combination of scoring units, including (successful) transfer of information, use of (correct) terminology, articulation, prosody, linguistic proficiency and fluency. Interpretation techniques are also tested, including techniques for checking possible mishearing and interrupting in cases of mishearing and parallel talk. The general impression of the performance (correctness, security, impartiality) is also taken into account.



Website? Dissemination of info about certification

Detailed information about the certification is available. It is provided in Swedish and English at http://www.kammarkollegiet.se.


Requirements to sit exam

18 years of age; not under legal guardianship; be known to have personal integrity; and be otherwise suitable to work as an interpreter. There are no formal requirements regarding educational background or nationality.


Sample questions or practice exam available?

Sample tests are available at http://www.kammarkollegiet.se

(The same holds true for the tests for translators.)


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

In practice, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to pass the exams for authorization without some experience and training in interpreting, but such experience or training are not formally required.

Cost to candidate/#of locations/ frequency

In 2013, the fee to sit the tests is 2300 SEK (≈270 Euro)

Feedback on exam performance

All candidates are given a copy of their marked written test with the reviewers’ written comments.

Detailed oral feedback is provided directly after the oral examination.

Candidates also receive a copy of the role play assessment protocol, in which they can see on what basis decisions on rejection or acceptance are taken.

Score grievance procedure available

Candidates can appeal a negative decision if authorization is not awarded with reference to the applicant’s criminal record, but not on any other grounds.

Maximum nº of sittings


Permanent or renewable certification Renewal every 5 years.





Revocation of certification possible?

Authorized interpreters work under the supervision of Kammarkollegiet, to whom clients can report complaints obout interpreters who act unsatisfactorily or dishonestly. The agency decides on revocation.

If so, for what reasons?


Performance monitored? If so, how?

Performance is not monitored.