New Hampshire

Legal Status of official English in New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s Official English Law (1995)


3-C:1 Official State Language

  • I. The official language of the state of New Hampshire shall be English. English is designated as the language of all official public documents and records, and of all public proceedings and nonpublic sessions.
  • II. For the purposes of this chapter, “official public documents and records” are all documents officially compiled, published, or recorded by the state.
  • III. For the purposes of this chapter, “public proceedings and nonpublic sessions” mean those proceedings and sessions as defined in RSA 91-A, and includes the information recorded at such proceedings and sessions.

3-C:2 Exceptions
The provisions of this chapter shall not apply:

  • I. To all public proceedings between the state of New Hampshire and the province of Quebec when, in the opinion of the state administrator involved in such proceedings, it may be necessary to conduct such proceedings between Quebec and New Hampshire wholly or partially in French, and to use official public documents and records during the public proceedings, which are written wholly or partially in French.
  • II. To instruction in foreign language courses, or other requirements of the state university system.
  • III. To instruction designed to aid students with limited English in a timely transition and integration into the general education system.
  • IV. To the promotion of international commerce, tourism, and sporting events.
  • V. When deemed to interfere with needs of the justice system.
  • VI. When the public good, public safety, health, or emergency services require the use of other languages.
  • VII. When expert testimony or witnesses may require a language other than English; provided, however, that for purposes of deliberation, decision making, or recordkeeping, the official version of such testimony or commentary shall be the officially translated English-language version.

3-C:3 Employment
No person shall be denied employment with the state or with any political subdivision of the state based solely upon the person’s lack of facility in a foreign language, except when related to bona fide job needs reflected in the exceptions listed in RSA 3-C:2.

3-C:4 Construction
This chapter shall not be construed in any way to infringe on the rights of citizens under the state constitution or the constitution of the United States in the use of language in activities or functions conducted in the private sector. No agency or officer of the state shall place any restrictions or requirements regarding language usage for businesses operating in the private sector other than in official documents, forms, submissions, or other communications directed to governmental agencies and officers, which communications shall be in English as recognized in this chapter.


1,064,252 English
96,088 All languages other than English combined
39,551 French (incl. Patois, Cajun)
18,647 Spanish or Spanish Creole
4,788 German
3,411 Greek
3,268 Chinese
2,649 Italian
2,394 Portuguese or Portuguese Creole
2,094 Polish
1,462 Arabic
1,449 Vietnamese
1,228 Korean
1,182 Serbo-Croatian
1,009 Russian
886 Scandinavian languages
791 Japanese
758 Tagalog
598 African languages
523 Gujarathi
509 Hindi
502 French Creole
394 Laotian
383 Hungarian
379 Armenian
357 Hebrew
345 Persian
318 Urdu
219 Thai
186 Mon-Khmer, Cambodian
172 Other Native North American languages
109 Yiddish
30 Navajo
0 Miao, Hmong