Portuguese Language Test for Citizenship: Everything You Need to Know

If you fulfill the correct requirements in order to obtain Portuguese nationality, you will need to take the Portuguese language test. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the test, including what to expect, how difficult it is, and where to take it.

What is the CIPLE Portuguese language test?

The CIPLE Portuguese proficiency test is a mandatory Portuguese language exam for those who want to become Portuguese citizens. It is one of the Portuguese citizenship requirements. The simple A2 Portuguese (CIPLE – Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira) test ensures that those who obtain citizenship in the country have a basic understanding of Portuguese. Even if you are not seeking citizenship, it is a great way to test your knowledge if you are planning on relocating to Portugal or a Portuguese speaking country. 

Who has to take the Portuguese citizenship language test?

Anyone who is eligible for Portuguese nationality must take the CIPLE exam, with a few exceptions. Some people become eligible for citizenship through marriage to a Portuguese national, some through naturalization, and others through the residency-by-investment program (ARI – Autorização de Residência para Atividade de Investimento), commonly known as the Portugal Golden Visa.

Portuguese Golden Visa applicants do not have to take a language test in order to obtain a residency permit, although they must complete the test in order to gain citizenship and a Portuguese passport. 

The test can be adapted for those under the age of ten and those with learning difficulties.

Portuguese citizenship language test requirements

CIPLE exam structure

The A2 CIPLE language test is two hours long, and is composed of three parts:

CIPLE listening test

30%: Candidates are required to demonstrate an ability to understand simple, short sentences, and basic everyday conversation.

CIPLE reading and writing test

40%: In the reading test, candidates are expected to understand simple written texts, usually in the form of informal dialogue, informative texts, news, or short stories, and answer questions relating to these texts to demonstrate comprehension. In the written exam, candidates are expected to compose a short text using everyday phrases and expressions of frequent use. This is usually a short text about yourself or about other people and what you feel and think.

CIPLE oral test

25%: A 10-15 minute oral exam is usually done with two candidates at once. The oral expression test requires candidates to use simple everyday phrases with basic structures, and also interact on topics and images.

How to prepare for the Portuguese citizenship language test

Although the language test for Portuguese nationality is relatively simple, it is a sensible idea to prepare for the test to build confidence and familiarize yourself with the format in order to ensure that you pass the exam.

One of the most useful resources for learning Portuguese is the Instituto Camões, which promotes the learning of the Portuguese language internationally. Its website has a variety of useful online resources and runs a number of courses in universities and other learning centers all over the world.

Where to take the CIPLE exam

The CIPLE exam is officiated by the CAPLE (Centro de Avaliação e Certificação de Português Língua Estrangeira) and can be taken in a number of different CAPLE-certified language testing centers all over the world. In international test centers, the A2 CIPLE exam dates are in November, July, and May, with more dates available (CIPLE-P) within Portuguese test centers in October, September, June, and March.

Required documents for the CIPLE exam

You must take a passport, ID card, or residence permit to the exam.

How much does the CIPLE exam cost?

The CIPLE exam costs €72, which can be paid via MULTIBANCO (only within Portugal), or via bank transfer, and must be completed at least 24 hours before the exam.

How is the CIPLE test graded?

Candidates will pass the exam if they obtain a mark of 55% or higher.

CIPLE test grades

How long do you have to wait for your CIPLE exam results?

You usually have to wait about two weeks to receive A2 CIPLE exam results, which can be accessed through the CAPLE website.

Find out more about residency and citizenship solutions in Portugal in our ultimate guide to the Portuguese Golden Visa, where you can learn how to get a residence permit and, ultimately, become a permanent resident and apply for citizenship. 

Frequently asked questions about the Portuguese citizenship language test

What is meant by “basic Portuguese”?

The CIPLE test for citizenship is to test that applicants have a level of “basic” Portuguese, which is to say that you understand and are able to use simple everyday phrases, as well as give simple explanations of yourself and others.

Do I have to take a language test to get Portuguese citizenship?

A basic A2 language test is required to become a Portuguese national in most cases, although there are some exceptions, in which Portuguese proficiency can be proved via other methods.

Who has to take the Portuguese language test?

Apart from specific circumstances, everyone must take a CIPLE test in order to get Portuguese citizenship.

Do children have to take a Portuguese language test?

Under-18s do not necessarily have to take the A2 language test if they attend a Portuguese school a declaration of proficiency can be provided instead. For children younger than 10, the test can be adapted.

Is the Portuguese language test difficult?

The A2 CIPLE language test for Portuguese proficiency is not particularly difficult and can be passed relatively easily with some prior preparation. It is designed to test candidates’ ability to use and comprehend everyday Portuguese expressions. It is best to do some Portuguese citizenship test practice beforehand to ensure that you are confident when you sit the exam. As with learning any foreign language, practice is key. We recommend doing a Portuguese language test online to prepare. 

Find out more about residency and citizenship solutions in Portugal in our ultimate guide to the Portuguese Golden Visa.

Do I have to take a language test to get Portuguese citizenship?

Yes, apart from in specific circumstances everyone must take a Portuguese language proficiency test in order to get Portuguese citizenship.

Is the Portuguese citizenship language test difficult?

The language test to become a Portuguese national is relatively easy. It tests applicants’ ability to use and understand everyday language and expressions, such as talking about yourself and basic phrases you might use on a daily basis.

You can find a Portuguese A2 test example online so that you know what to expect.

How long is the Portuguese citizenship language test?

The Portuguese language test is two hours long.

When do I take the Portuguese citizenship language test?

You must be a resident in Portugal for at least five years in order to obtain citizenship, you can take the Portuguese citizenship language test at any point during this period.

What is A2 level Portuguese?

According to CEFR standards (The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), A2 Portuguese is the elementary level. For A2 level Portuguese, skills will correspond to a basic understanding of the language. 

How much Portuguese do you need to know for citizenship?

For the CIPLE test for citizenship, you will need to show that you have a basic knowledge of the language, corresponding to A2 level.