Italian certificates / CILS

Certificate Italian: CILS

The CILS certificate for Italian as a foreign language is the official certificate for Italian language proficiency. The CILS certificates are issued by the University For Foreigners of Siena and are recognised by the Italian state due to a convention with the foreign office.

CILS target group

The CILS exams are open to all foreigners and Italians with residence abroad (descendants of Italian emigrants) as well as foreign immigrants in Italy. There is no age limit nor is it necessary to have a certain educational level or the previous CILS certificate level. The CILS exams are not bound to any teaching methods or language courses. Each candidate can prepare themselves in the most appropriate way for each level.

The CILS certification serves those who are learning Italian, work in an Italian context, are studying or would like to evaluate their knowledge. Each CILS level demonstrates communication abilities in varying situations and surroundings. If you are looking to study or work with Italian institutes you will find more information on the individual levels of the CILS certificate for foreigners in a document produced by the Foreign Ministry in Rome in 1988 “Sistema coordinator delle Certificazioni dell’italiano per Stranieri”.

Exam locations and dates

In Germany, the exams take place at Italian cultural institutions and recognised institutes. In Italy they take place at the University For Foreigners of Siena or at other recognised institutes (Centri Territoriali di Educazione Permanente, Centri Linguistici of some universities, etc.). The CILS exams take place twice a year, across the world at the same time at the beginning of June and December.

CILS levels

The CILS certificates have six levels: Level A1, level A2, level one – B1, level two – B2, level three – C1 and level four – C2. The levels confirm a increasing linguistic and communicative ability. Each CILS level is independent and complete. The certificate at each level demonstrates communication abilities which equate to the equivalent specific social, professional or educational environment.

To obtain a certificate in one of the six levels an exam must be passed in which listening comprehension, reading comprehension, analysis of communication structure and written and oral expression are tested.

Exams and exam assessment

All exams are prepared and assessed at the centre for certification at the University For Foreigners of Siena, these are supported by the guiding principals which are detailed in the Council of Europe’s documents. To obtain a CILS certificate a candidate must achieve a minimum score in each of the tested sections. Should you only achieve the minimum score in some of the sections then these may be credited, this means a candidate only has to retake those parts of the exam he/she failed. The credits are valid for one year as of the date of the passed exam.



Emma Lomax

Diploma in English Language Teaching Acquisition (Cambridge University)
Director of Studies

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