Services for Non-English Speaking or Residents with a Reading Disability (Branch Offices)

> Interpreter & translating services
Foreign language interpreters
Providing interpreter services
> Requirements for documents
> Properly translated documents
> Present a translated document
> Translation services
> Note

Interpreter and translating services

Interpreter and translating services are available to assist customers who do not speak English or may have limited reading skills.

Foreign language interpreters may be used at a Secretary of State office visit or during an administrative hearing. They may also assist with translating the driver's license written knowledge and mechanic's tests. 

Foreign language interpreters

Secretary of State office visit: Customers whose native language is not English are welcome to bring a qualified foreign language interpreter to a Secretary of State office for the purpose of communicating with staff at the office. Customers requiring assistance from a foreign language interpreter for the purpose of test taking must use a foreign language interpreter that has been approved by the department.

A list of volunteer interpreters who provide services at no cost is available from the department. The list is broken down by geographic region and languages. It is up to you to contact the interpreter and make the arrangements for the interpreting services.

Administrative hearings: If you have an administrative hearing scheduled and do not have an interpreter, you may contact the department for a list of interpreters. Unless the interpreter is volunteering his or her services, you are responsible for the cost.

For the list of interpreters, call the Department of State Information Center at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).

Testing

Contact the department ahead of time at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424) if you need an interpreter or wish to use any of the alternative testing formats listed below.

Driver's license written knowledge test: A foreign language interpreter approved by the Michigan Department of State may assist in translating written knowledge tests. These volunteer interpreters cannot charge for their services. The test is available in many foreign languages. English and Spanish versions are available on audiotape.

Commercial Driver License tests: All CDL tests, except the hazardous materials and school bus endorsement exams, are available in English on audiocassette for those with limited reading skills.

Mechanic's tests: You are allowed to bring an interpreter to assist in translating the test material. You are responsible for paying the interpreter. The interpreter should never have been involved in automotive repair or related fields. The "Automotive Service Excellence Spanish-to-English" glossary is available for Spanish speakers, and clerks who know Spanish may also be available to assist.

Oral testing with a tape recorder and audiocassette in English is available if you have a reading disability.

Providing foreign language interpreter services

If you are interested in volunteering as a foreign language interpreter, you must submit an application and meet the criminal history and driving record standards set by the department.

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Requirements for translating foreign documents

A passport, driver's license, birth certificate, marriage license or divorce decree from another country may be accepted as an identity document when applying for a Michigan driver's license or state identification card. If the information on the document is not in English, a translation must be provided.

  • Passport - All information including your full name, date of birth and the name of the country that issued the passport. Passports with English subheadings do not need to be translated.
  • Driver's license - Your full name, date of birth, the country that issued the license, the date it was issued, the type of license and expiration date.
  • Birth certificate, marriage license or divorce decree - All items that provide information in the document, including anything printed in the seal as well as the name of the country that issued the document.

Properly translated documents

Certain conditions must be met for a translated document to be accepted by the department. When having a document translated:

  • The translation must be prepared using the original document (faxes and photocopies should not be used).
  • The translation must be printed on the translation agency's official letterhead. The letterhead must also include the agency's address. If the letterhead is produced in a language other than English, it too, must be accompanied by a translation.
  • It does not need to be notarized. Anyone who suggests that a translated document must be notarized to be valid is misinformed.

The translation must include the following:

  • The legibly printed name and signature of the person who prepared the translation.
  • A daytime telephone number of the translator.
  • The date the translation was prepared.

Presenting a translated document

Both original and translated documents must be presented to the department to be accepted.

Translation services

There is no requirement that a translation must be prepared by an agency in Michigan or the United States. Translations prepared in other countries that meet the department's requirements are acceptable.

When having a document translated, choose someone who is fluent in your native language and English. Translation services and translators who work in related fields, such as a community or government agency, in the law, or at a college or university, are all good sources. The department also has a Translator Resource List of acceptable translators.

Please remember that:

  • Translation-related businesses may charge a fee for their service.
  • A translation-related business translates foreign documents as one of its core business functions.
  • Businesses that provide translating services on the side, such as travel agencies, grocery stores or dry cleaners, do not meet the definition of translation-related businesses.
  • Translation companies are not certified by the Department of State.

Note: Check the Yellow Pages of your local telephone directory under "Translations" or "Translators" for resources available in your area.



Related Documents
Application to Provide Volunteer Interpreter Services PDF icon
Translator Resource List PDF icon