For many people, passing the A2 exam – a requirement to obtain Portuguese citizenship and for non-EU citizens permanent residency too – can seem overwhelming, particularly if you suffer from something like dyslexia or hearing problems. What about cases where you cannot read or write? Is it possible to get an exemption?
There isn’t much (if any) information about this online. However, after several enquiries to language schools in Portugal, the Instituto Camões in London were kind enough to refer me to the frequently asked questions section of the CAPLE section of the University of Lisbon’s website.
The following is a translation of the answer with the most important bits highlighted (at the time of writing, the information wasn’t available in the English FAQs). In short, a complete exemption seems unlikely and it’s more likely that the testing centre will adjust the test to suit your abilities.
Of course, all of this is assuming you have a condition of some kind, such as dyslexia or hearing problems. While many websites imply that there may be instances where you don’t need to take the A2 exam to obtain citizenship, they never go into any specific detail and it seems like you can’t get an exemption just because.
Unfortunately, if you don’t meet the requirements to get an exemption, you’ll need to study and get at least 55% in the exam if you want to pass. Thankfully, though, there are some great courses that cover A1 and A2 European Portuguese, free resources like podcasts and flashcard apps, and information about the A2 exam itself.
Alternatively, rather than sit the A2 exam (or higher), which is the most common way to show you have an A2 level of Portuguese, another option, according to Justica.gov.pt, would be to show “a certificate of qualification from a Portuguese public, private or cooperative educational establishment.” According to acm.gov.pt, the certificate obtained at “Level A2 – Elementary User” (and above) can be used when applying for Portuguese nationality.
Dyslexia, Hearing, and Mobility Problems
If the candidate needs to benefit from justifiably special conditions to take the exam, when registering, he must inform LAPE of his specific needs.
LAPE will be able to provide support for physical mobility issues and CAPLE-ULisboa helps to resolve issues related to difficulty or absence of hearing and vision.
If the candidate has a diagnosis of dyslexia, he must present a medical certificate proving his condition (see: dyslexia test for adults, from the Portuguese Dyslexia Association). In English, see: The Bangor Dyslexia Test developed by the Miles Dyslexia Centre, and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test – Third UK Edition (WIAT-III UK).
In confirmed cases of dyslexia, CAPLE recommends that LAPE adopt the following procedures:
CO —> repeat each audio track one more time;
CL —> allow the candidate to spend an additional 1/3 of the time (rounded to the highest integer) on each task;
PIE —> allow the candidate to spend an additional 1/3 of the time (rounded to the highest integer) on each task and indicate the candidate’s special conditions in the season report;
PIO —> allow the candidate to spend an additional 1/3 of the time (rounded to the highest integer) on each task.
Support for other special conditions may not be available at the time of exams or at the LAPE where the candidate intends to take the exam. This may imply that the candidate has to wait for the next exam period or to go to a LAPE where the required conditions can be made available.
CAPLE-ULisboa and the LAPE where you are enrolled will do their best to ensure that the candidate has the conditions he needs to take the exam.
Disabled or Over 60 Years Old And Cannot Read or Write
Before registering, you must contact the LAPE where you would like to take the exam and send the documents proving your special condition (multipurpose certificate in case of disability) and identification document. Depending on your special condition, you will be informed whether or not you can take the exam and, if so, under what conditions the exam can be performed.
According to the Portuguese Nationality Regulation, art. 25, point 6, of DL no. 26/2022, of 18 March, on the proof of knowledge of the Portuguese language,
“In the case of people with serious health problems or disabilities with a degree of incapacity duly proven by a multipurpose medical certificate issued in accordance with Portuguese legislation, or people aged 60 or over who cannot read or write, the proof of knowledge of the Portuguese language must be adequate to your ability to demonstrate knowledge of this language.”
and Ordinance 176/2014, point 3,
“Proof of knowledge of the Portuguese language is carried out exclusively through an oral test, in the following situations:
a) candidates aged 60 or over who cannot read or write;
b) candidates with serious health problems or disabilities of different degrees that make it impossible to take the test provided for in paragraph 2.
4 — When it is not possible to carry out any of the tests provided for in numbers 2 and 3, the Portuguese language test will be adapted, on a case-by-case basis, to the specific needs of the candidates.”
Are you From a Portuguese Speaking Country?
One way in which you can get a complete exemption is if you’re from a Portuguese-speaking country like Brazil and Mozambique. However, there are three requirements you must meet, according to Justica.Gov.Pt:
“You do not need to present documents to prove your knowledge of Portuguese when you meet all the following conditions:
- Was born in a Portuguese-speaking country
- Has nationality of a Portuguese-speaking country for more than 10 years
- Lives in Portugal for more than 5 years”