A sworn interpreter may interpret for courts, civil-law notaries, the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), and the police, among other audiences. Non-certified interpreters may not. Specifically, there is a Dutch law which prescribes that criminal and immigration law proceedings may only be handled by interpreters who are currently registered in the Register of Sworn Interpreters and Translators (Rbtv). Civil-law notaries, as well, are required — on the basis of Article 42, paragraph 1 of the Civil-Law Notaries Act — to make use of a civil-law notary interpreter if one of the parties at an execution appointment has no or insufficient mastery of the Dutch language. A civil-law notary interpreter must always be a sworn interpreter.
Entry to the Rbtv is possible if an interpreter has a diploma or certificate from an interpreter degree programme which is at least at the bachelor’s level, from an Rbtv interpreter test, or from the Association of SIGV Court Interpreters and Legal Translators (SIVG) course ‘Court Interpreter in Criminal Proceeding’”. By registering with the Sworn Court Interpreters and Translators (Wbtv) Agency, therefore, a sworn interpreter has a special competence.
What precisely does the Wbtv Agency do?
The Wbtv Agency checks whether an interpreter has met certain requirements with respect to quality and integrity. This is important if sensitive information is discussed in court proceedings. Moreover, an interpreter must take an oath or make a solemn affirmation:
‘I swear/affirm that I will perform my work as a sworn interpreter honestly, accurately and impartially and that, in the practice of interpretation work, I will behave as befits a proper sworn interpreter.’
If the interpreter satisfies the requirements and has taken the oath or made the solemn affirmation, he/she may then call themselves a sworn interpreter. Is a sworn interpreter better than one who is not sworn, a non-certified interpreter? No, that is not the case. A sworn interpreter must meet requirements with respect to diplomas, certificates and work experience. A non-certified interpreter does not have to meet these qualifications but is nevertheless evaluated by us for quality and integrity.
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