There are 6 levels of Portuguese proficiency in three categories A (Beginner, Basic), B (Intermediate, User), and C (Professional, Free). When applying for citizenship, all certifications are required except ACESSO – A1. Most applicants provide a “crust” A2. What is the reason for their choice and other nuances of obtaining a certificate for citizenship application? Read the review from Good Portugal.

What document will ensure permanent residency status

The issuance of a permanent residence or a Portuguese passport requires at least basic knowledge of the local language speaking skills. In the CEFR pan-European scale, this corresponds to level A2. The proof of the necessary knowledge of Portuguese is the certificate issued by:

– passing the CAPLE exam;

– language courses;

– a diploma from a public or private educational institution in a country where Portuguese is the official language.

In the latter two cases, the training organization must be accredited. A distinctive feature of CAPLE testing is that there is no need for current course attendance. It is an option for individuals who have studied the language independently or in classes in the past. We will return to the subject of CAPLE later. Now let’s look at the most “economical” way to get a certificate.

Free public IEFP courses

The program is organized by the National Institute for Employment and Training (IEFP). Courses are held mainly in the evenings (after 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.). It is much harder to find morning classes from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The training program is intensive:

– volume – 150 hours;

– session duration – 3 hours;

– intensity – from 3 to 5 times a week;

– duration – from 3 months.

The advantage of public courses is the ease of obtaining a certificate. One condition is 100% attendance and completion of all homework. The certificate of level A2 costs 7 euros and does not require an exam or even testing. The course itself does not cost a euro cent for the student. The fee of 7 euros is related to the reimbursement of the certificate production.

CAPLE exam

The Portuguese language assessment and certification center tests in all six categories. For citizenship, proficiency, at least at the primary level, is mandatory. The requirement effectively eliminates the initial ACESSO test (A1). The CAPLE (Center for Assessment and Certification of Portuguese as a Foreign Language) option is suitable for two categories of persons:

– self-studied language learners;

– have previously taken courses but do not have a certificate.

As a standard, applicants for a Portuguese passport choose to take the CIPLE exam (which corresponds to level A2). This is the best option in terms of cost and duration of testing. A comparative analysis of all CAPLE examination options is shown in the table below.

Exam typeLevelDuration, minNumber of testsPrice, euros

The number of tests and the score required for a certificate remain the same. The local grading scale requires a score of 55 – 100%. CIPLE (Certificado Inicial de Português Língua Estrangeira) test categories include:

1.        Reading Comprehension and Writing Skills. These are two separate tests with a total duration of 75 minutes. In the first unit, the candidate conveys the essence of what they have read – announcements, short notes, and other things. The second unit is composing a letter, greeting card, or another message. The contribution to the overall score from the tests is 45%.

2.        Listening speech perception. Based on played audio texts, you should determine where you can hear it (school, hospital, store). Duration – 30 min, contribution to the final score – 30%.

3. Communication. They are conducted in a conversation format: the teacher and two examinees. It is necessary to tell briefly about yourself and participate in a cross-discussion. Time for the test – 15 minutes, the share in the total score – 25%.

How to sign up for CAPLE

Just visit the organization’s website and select any exam; you can do this at the link.

Online enrollment is activated by clicking on “Register” to take the exam.

Next you need to read the notification about the bank card requirements to pay for the test and click OK.

The following steps involve filling out a form divided into 5 stages:

1.        Choose the type of exam and the country where the testing will take place. When the certification is done outside of Portugal, there is an additional payment for the local organization.

2.        Specify the city and center. By the time this review was published, there were no available dates for CIPLE. Therefore, the choice is made under DEPLE only for clarity.

Determine the season. In our example, the only option is available.

4.        Fill in the form with personal information. All fields are required.

5.        Make payment.

While filling out the form, you can see the upcoming exam date. In the above example, it is November 9. Additionally, the certificate applicant is informed about the date of publishing the test results. At the same time, the documents needed when taking the exam are displayed during the application process. These are the passport and the national Temporary Resident ID.

PFOL language courses

Finally, a certificate can be obtained by studying at one of the institutions accredited for this purpose. Among the free options, PFOL (Português para Falantes de Outras Línguas) is one of them. This is the name given to Portuguese courses for speakers of other languages. Courses are offered at the A1/A2 and B1/B2 levels. Classes take place in the evening and are based in mainstream schools.

How to enroll. Choose a school called, find online registration (if available), and sign up for a course. You can find a list of places that offer such training at this link.

Alternatively, for a convenient online search, you can enter the query: PFOL and the name of your city in the search engine.

The PFOL system is attractive because of its accessibility. Courses can be found in nearly every city in the country — documents required for training – passport, residency card, NIF.

Registration for language courses is usually made in advance of the new school year, usually before mid-October. Groups are recruited quickly; some consist of 4 to 10 people. It is essential to be on time to enroll. Alternatively, you can arrange to attend classes with a free listener. You will not receive a certificate, but if you work hard enough, you can achieve sufficient proficiency to pass the CIPLE exam.