Excerpts from the Law on Justice in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia ((Justizgesetz Nordrhein-Westfalen - JustG NRW), Article 1, Part 2, Chapter 1, Section 2
(1) For the oral and written language mediation for court and prosecution purposes within the territory of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, interpreters are generally sworn in (§ 189 Court Constitutional Law), and translators receive authorization (§ 142 Sect. 3 Civil Procedure Code).
(2) The work of interpreters consists of the oral mediation of languages, and that or translators of the written mediation of languages.
(3) Language in the sense of this law shall also be other recognized communications techniques, in particular the sign language, Braille, deaf-blind or finger alphabet.
(1) For the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the President of the Higher Regional Court shall maintain a common register of generally sworn-in interpreters and authorized translators.
(2) This register shall contain the name, address, telecommunication means, profession, additional qualifications, if any, and the respective language. The necessary data for this register may be assessed and stored, and the directory itself shall be made available for automated access processes as well as the internet.
(3) Anyone may have access to this directory. However, there is no guaranty regarding the dependability of the registered persons or the currency of the information contained therein.
(1) Any person with the personal and professional qualifications may – upon request – be generally sworn in as an interpreter, or may be authorized as a translator to certify the accuracy and completeness of translations. The application shall be submitted in writing, including documentation of the necessary personal and professional qualification.
(2) A person shall not be deemed personally qualified if
1. he/she during the last five years prior the application has been sentenced for crimes or misdemeanors pursuant to Section 9 German Criminal Code (False Statements or Perjury), or a misdemeanor pursuant to Section 15 (Violation of Personal and Privacy Sphere) pursuant to Assistance after the Fact, Assistance in Avoiding Prosecution, Fraud or Forgery, or
2. lives in a disorganized financial situation, specifically if his/her assets have been subjected to insolvency proceedings, or if he/she has been entered into the forced execution directory maintained by the Insolvency Court (§ 26 Sect. 2 Insolvency Code, § 915 Civil Procedure Code), or
3. if he/she is not willing or actually capable of being available for service to the courts and prosecutors offices of North Rhine-Westphalia on short notice.
(3) The professional qualification shall require
1. language skills which enable the applicant to effortlessly understand everything he/she hears or reads, and to spontaneously, fluently and accurately express the detailed nuances, even in more complex situations, both in the German as well as the foreign language, and
2. secure knowledge of German legal terminology.
(4) The applicant shall document the personal and professional qualification through presentation of suitable documents. The documents regarding language skills shall also permit an assessment of language mediation knowledge and skills.
(1) The authorization as translator and the right to claim general sworn-in status shall be issued for a maximum time period of five years. An extension of up to five years each shall be permitted subject to the requirements of § 35.
(2) The authorization as translator and the right to claim general sworn-in status may be rescinded, in particular if the interpreter or translator
1. no longer satisfies the requirements of § 35, or
2. has repeatedly provided faulty language mediation.
(3) The application for a permit shall be heard by the respective government agency within a time period of 3 months, and any decision deadlines other than above may be publicized by the agency in advance (government deadline schedule). § 42a Sect. 2 Sentence 2-4 Administrative Procedure Code shall apply accordingly.
(1) For the general swearing-in, the interpreters shall provide an oath or oath-like affirmation pursuant to § 189 Sect. 1 Court Constitutional Code.
(2) Interpreters and translators shall be obligated to maintain secrecy, and shall be instructed in the directives for maintaining confidentiality in tax matters (§ 30 Fee Ordinance). § 1 Sect. 2 and 3 of the Obligation Code shall apply accordingly.
(3) The swearing-in and obligation procedure shall be documented in a protocol.
(4) For presentation to courts and prosecutors‘offices, the interpreters shall receive a certificate for their generally sworn-in status, and translators shall receive a certificate regarding the authorization received. Furthermore, they shall receive a copy of the protocol for said obligation procedure.
(5) The authorized translator shall be obligated to record their personal signature before the President of the Regional Court (cognizant pursuant to § 40). The President of the Regional Court is then able to certify – upon request – that the signature originated from the translator and that he/she was assigned to generate such translations.
(1) The interpreter and translator shall be obligated
1. to fulfill the assigned tasks diligently and independently, unless significant grounds exist otherwise,
2. to maintain confidentiality and to neither use nor forward to any third parties any information to become aware of during their work;
3. to accept and complete assignments from the courts and prosecutors‘ offices in North Rhine-Westphalia on short notice,
4. To notify the President of the Higher Regional Court promptly of any change in name, address or domicile, communications means, any sentence received pursuant to § 35 Sect. 2 No. 1, or the initiation of insolvency proceedings against him/her, as well as the entry into the registry maintained by the Insolvency Court (§ 26 Sect. 2 Insolvency Code, § 915 Civil Procedure Code).
(2) The authorization as translator shall also include the right to certify the accuracy and completeness of translations. This shall also apply to any previously written translations which are presented for a review of accuracy and completeness. The translator shall be obligated to carefully safeguard the documents entrusted to him/her, and not to disclose the contents of same to any unauthorized persons.
(3) Following receipt of the certificate pursuant to § 37 Sect. 4, the interpreter may carry the title “Generally sworn interpreter for (specification of language the document refers to)” and the translator the title “From the President of the Higher Regional Court in (location) authorized translator for (specification of language the document refers to)”
(1) The accuracy and completeness of written language mediation shall be certified by the translator. The wording of the certification note shall be:
„This is to certify the accuracy and completeness of the above translation from the ... language.
City, date, signature.
From the President of the Higher Regional Court in (location) authorized translator for …”
(2) The certification shall be placed on the translation itself and shall be signed. The certification shall identify whether or not the translated document is an original and if only parts of the document have been translated. It shall identify all particulars of the translated document, especially any illegible words, changes or omissions unless they are already included in the translation itself. The certification may also be provided in electronic form (§ 126a German Civil Code, § 3a Administrative Procedure Code for the State of North Rhine-Westphalia).
(3) Sections (1) and (2) shall apply accordingly if any translation prepared by someone else is presented for a review of accuracy and completeness.
(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of Sect. 2, the office responsible for handling the tasks pursuant to this law is the President of the Higher Regional Court in whose district the applicant is domiciled, or – if this is not warranted - the district in which the applicant resides. If the applicant neither is domiciled nor resides in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the responsible entity shall be the President of the Higher Regional Court in whose district the applicant wishes to practice his/her profession primarily. This process may be handled by one uniform agency.
(2) The tasks pursuant to § 37 shall be handled by the President of the Regional Court. Local responsibility shall be governed by Sect. 1 accordingly.
(1) Any person shall commit an administrative offence
1. who describes himself/herself as a generally sworn-in interpreter or authorized translator for a language without being authorized to do so, or
2. carries a title which can easily be confused with the one described under Item (1).
(2) The administrative offence may be subject to a penalty or monetary fine up to EUR 5,000.
(3) The administrative authority in the sense of § 35 Sect. 1 No. 1 of the Law on Administrative Offences shall be the State Attorney’s Office.
Any administrative acts pursuant to this law shall be subject to justice administrative costs pursuant to the Law on Costs, Part 4, Chapter 2.
(1) Interpreters and translators who are authorized and permitted to perform the duties of an activity specified in § 33 Sect. 1 (or comparable activity) in another member state of the European Union, in another contract state of the Agreement on the European Economic Zone, may temporarily and occasionally exercise the same services (temporary services) in North Rhine-Westphalia as those persons entered into the registry pursuant to § 34 Sect. 1. If neither the professional activity nor the education toward same is regulated in the state of domicile of the applicant, the above shall apply only if the person has exercised the profession for a minimum of two years of the past ten years.
(2) Temporary services shall be permitted only if the person, prior to initially providing these services, has notified in writing the cognizant government agency pursuant to § 40 Sect. 1 in writing of starting up this business activity. In addition to the information to be recorded in the registry pursuant to § 34 Sect. 2, the following documents shall be included with the notification:
1. a certificate reflecting the fact that the applicant is legally authorized and permitted to perform the duties specified in § 33 Sect. 1 in another member state of the European Union, in another contract state of the Agreement on the European Economic Zone, and that said activity has not been banned, even temporarily, at the time the certificate has been submitted;
2. verification of professional qualification,
3. If the profession is not regulated in the state of domicile, verification of the fact that the person has legally provided said activity for a minimum of two years during the past 10 years, and
4. verification of the job description under which the activity is listed in the state of domicile.
(3) Said notification shall be repeated annually if the person intends to continue providing temporary services domestically during the year in question.
(4) As soon as the notification pursuant to Sect. 2 is complete and the process pursuant to § 37 has been concluded, the respective government authority shall record a temporary registration or extension by one year by entering the applicant into the registry pursuant to 34 Sect. 1.
(5) The temporary services by the interpreter or translator shall be rendered under the job description and title in the language of the state of domicile for this activity. Any confusion with the professional titles in § 38 Sect. 3 must be avoided.
Any full or partial rejection of the application by the President of the Higher Regional Court in North Rhine-Westphalia may be appealed before the respective Administrative Court within one month following the notification (§ 74 VwGO).
Additional information on requirements and application forms may be downloaded from www.justiz.nrw.de (Addresses & Links > Interpreters and Translators).