The language requirements for obtaining an Italian passport

Becoming an Italian citizen has a number of benefits. Whether you are applying through marriage, naturalisation, or descent, you will enjoy a rich culture, access to a wonderful educational system, and freedom of movement throughout Italy and EU Member States. You will also be able to contribute to your new community with the right to work and vote. The B1 Italian language test is an essential requirement of the application. Knowing how well you will need to speak Italian and what you can expect from the test will help to make the process more straightforward. Here, we explain the process to make it easier to understand.

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How well should I speak Italian to pass the B1 test?

To meet the B1 requirement, you do not need to speak fluent Italian but must have sufficient knowledge of the Italian language to be able to navigate through daily life successfully to integrate into your new community.

You will need to display an understanding of the interactions with others that may occur on a daily basis, whether you work or study. You need to be able to describe events, experiences, and everyday events such as travel.

What does the Italian B1 language test consist of?

The Italian B1 language can take several hours, covering several components of the Italian language, including:

  • Listening - You will be expected to display an understanding of the main points raised in daily speech. This includes, but is not limited to, conversations about school, work, social settings, and listening to and understanding the radio and television.
  • Reading - You will need to prove that you can understand texts, mainly relating to employment settings, and you will have to show that you can also grasp descriptions of events and feelings on a personal level.
  • Speaking - The aural (speaking) of your exam must show your ability to communicate when travelling and that you are able to converse on unexpected, unprepared topics that are relevant in daily life. You will also need to express more abstract concepts - such as your plans for the future, and you should be able to describe both the content of and your reactions to fictional dramatic plots on television or books.
  • Writing - You will be required to display the ability to write personal letters on familiar topics.

Where can I take the exam?

The most well-known version of the B1 test is the Certification of Italian as a Foreign Language (CILS) exam. This can be taken in several locations across the world and maybe taken several times a year. It is carried out simultaneously on various dates. In Italy, you can take the exam at the University of Siena and also at the Scuola Leonardo da Vinci. If you are still based in the UK, there are several affiliated centres, often at local universities - however, these must be certified by an approved institution. Ensure that it has been approved by the Ministry of Education (“MIUR”) or the Ministry of Foreign affairs (“MAECI”). Find out more about where you can take the Italian B1 language test here.

Getting help with the application process

Giambrone’s expert immigration lawyers can help you throughout the entire process of applying for Italian citizenship. Our Italian immigration experts can support you by making sure that your application is correctly completed.

Get in touch via our contact page to talk about your options, or find out more about our immigration services here.

Frequently asked questions – preparing for the B1 language test

Where is the best place to learn Italian in Italy?

There are several recommended programmes where you can learn Italian in Italy, including Il Sasso in Tuscany, Terramare in Orbetello, and the Accademia Studioitalia in Rome.

What is the pass mark for the B1 test?

To pass, you need to achieve at least 11 points in each of the five tests.

What happens in a B1 test?

The B1 test will take several hours and will cover Listening, Reading Comprehension, Grammar, Writing and Speaking.

What are the most recognised Italian language certifications?

CILS and CELI (Italian Certification as a Foreign Language) are usually considered the most recognised language certifications in Italian.

What do you need to learn to reach the B1 level?

To reach the B1 level, you will need to learn conversational Italian, how to read and write in Italian, and grammatical concepts.

What documents do you need to apply for Italian citizenship through marriage?

You will require your B1 language proficiency certificate, as well as a marriage certificate. You also need a criminal record check that has no record of criminal activity, your Italian spouse’s ID card, and a certified copy of your birth certificate. You will also need to show proof of the bank transfer when you paid the Italian consulate for your Italian citizenship application.

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