When you are exploring how to apply for an Italian citizenship, don’t forget that people seeking naturalization or citizenship through marriage must meet a language requirement that is beyond the level of beginner. As of December 5, 2018 Italy,adopted the guidelines set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which you will see abbreviated as CEFRL, CEFR or CEF, and requires that applicants provide a B1 level certificate in Italian. Without this certificate, your citizenship package is rejected.

What is the Common European Reference for Languages?

The CEFRL is a set of guidelines for the learning, teaching and assessment of languages that was developed for use across Europe. The system names six levels of proficiency in language, with two levels each at A, B and C. Beginners are at the A1 level, and the C2 level is for those who are thoroughly proficient in the language.

People who wish to become Italian citizens through the naturalization process or by marriage to an Italian citizen must present a CILS certificate, or Certification of Italian as a Foreign Language. This certificate must show that you meet the B1 level of Italian as set by the guidelines set in the CEFRL.

What Is the B1 Level of Language Certification?

In order to receive a Certificate of Italian as a Foreign Language at the B1 level, people must know the language well enough to carry on a conversation that, for example, describes events happening around them or expresses their opinions on a topic. B1 is the first intermediate level of the CEFRL, so just knowing a little Italian isn’t going to be enough. Be sure that you have studied proper Italian grammar, as the test does cover this area. If necessary, take an Italian language course to brush up on things covered in the B1 test. The conversations you have with friends and family in Italian may not prepare you for an Italian grammar and reading test.

If you need certification at the B1 level in Italian in order to successfully apply for an Italian citizenship, you must sit for an exam at an approved institution. It is important that you find out early which approved institutions offer these exams, as the closest may be quite a distance away.  Check the dates for the exam carefully, as it may only be offered a few times a year.

Gaining Italian citizenship can be a long process but learning enough Italian to pass an exam at the B1 level can be the fun part whether you are already in Italy or preparing to go.