The A2 Language Test (CIPLE) for Portuguese Citizenship

/ Last Updated: July 24, 2023 / 21 Comments

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The Portuguese passport is becoming increasingly popular, not least because having it gives you the right to move to any EU country (including Portugal, of course).

Many people have a claim to a Portuguese passport — for example, by having a Portuguese grandparent or having lived in Portugal for more than five years — and are now trying to take advantage of their ability to get a second passport. However, often showing an A2 level of Portuguese is required (also referred to as CIPLE or upper-beginner).

Examples include:

  • Those with a Portuguese grandparent
  • Those applying for citizenship through naturalisation (after living in Portugal for five years or more)
  • Third country nationals (those from outside the EU) applying for permanent residency
  • Those with a Portuguese partner or spouse (this isn’t always asked for in this instance, but seems to be asked for more often than not)

Even if it’s not a requirement, it shows a tie or link to Portugal and Portuguese culture and this is very important to the people who make these decisions. And if you plan to live in Portugal, having at least an A2 level of Portuguese will definitely help.

Courses & Resources

Most European Portuguese courses cover “beginner’s Portuguese,” which typically means A1 and usually A2 as well, but the following courses really highlight that they cover these levels.

You can see a full list of European Portuguese Courses & Textbooks here.

How Hard is the A2 Level?

Ignore all the people who tell you that learning a language is easy or that you can do it in 30 days if you just buy their book. Learning a language takes time and effort. That said, the A2-Level is extremely achievable.

Joel Rendall co-runs Practice Portuguese, one of the largest and most popular websites for learning European Portuguese. He says that students typically take anywhere from a few months to a few years to reach an A2-level of Portuguese, but that it depends on a number of factors. These factors include the number of hours spent learning each day, focusing on the right material according to your individual goals, personality and learning style, and how truly motivated that person is to learn the language.

If your goal is to get a Portuguese passport, then you’ll have a lot more motivation than many other language learners. Having that A2 certificate will give you something to work towards.

Another point worth noting is that you only need to get 55% or higher in order to pass. If it still sounds hard, remember this: Germany, France, and the UK all require a B1-level of their respective languages which would mean an extra 150-200 hours of extra learning.

And you don’t have to live in Portugal to study Portuguese either. In fact, you can learn Portuguese almost entirely online.

Suddenly, Portugal’s language requirement doesn’t sound so bad.

The Exam

The exam itself consists of 3 parts:

  • Reading & Writing (1 hour 15 minutes) – Worth 45% of the total. The questions are mainly multiple choice with one or two short-form written answers
  • Listening (30 minutes) – Worth 30% of the total
  • Speaking (10-15 minutes) – Worth 25% of the total. This is usually done as part of a small group, and varies in format. You’re normally asked at least one question, such as something about yourself, and you’re then supposed to answer that question (in as much length as possible). Because there are other people in the group, you won’t be speaking for the entire time

To pass, you need to get a minimum of 55%.

You can find your nearest CAPLE-certified testing centre here or IEFP centre here. There are around 100 testing centres in more than 35 countries worldwide. Obviously, there are a number of testing centres in Portugal.

A2 (or CIPLE) exams take place every few months and are much more frequent than other levels. You can find the next test date here or register here.

Currently the exam costs €72. Payment is normally made by Multibanco or bank transfer, so it’s a good idea to allow at least a day for the payment to process.

You can normally check your results here. It can take around 4-6 weeks more to receive the certificate.

In total, this can take around 6-8 weeks which can slow down a citizenship application process. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take the exam as soon as you are ready.

Preparing for the exam

It’s recommended that you work through a course or textbook that covers A1 & A2 European Portuguese. Some courses are strong in one area (e.g. listening) so make sure that you are covering all areas of the language including listening, reading, writing, and speaking. It’s also a good idea to spend some time focusing on Portuguese grammar.

Past exam papers can be hard to find, but there is one example on the University of Lisbon website:

There’s also a book of past papers, which, unfortunately, only includes one per level, available from Lidel.


Will I need to take an exam?

Yes, you will need a certificate to show you have an A2-level of Portuguese (or higher) unless you’re from a Portuguese-speaking country like Brazil or Mozambique.

Do I need to take an exam if I already have a higher level of Portuguese?

If you have a certificate to show you have a higher level of Portuguese (e.g. B1, B2, C1, or C2) then you do not need to sit the A2 exam.

Is Portugal getting rid of the language requirement?

In December 2019, the Portuguese Parliament discussed the possibility of removing the language requirement. It didn’t happen. There are always discussions about this, but it seems unlikely that it’ll happen and you’re better off just learning enough Portuguese to pass the exam.

Do people applying for citizenship via the Golden Visa need to take the test?

You don’t need to take the test to get temporary residency in Portugal, but you do need a certificate to show you have A2 Portuguese or higher if you’re applying for citizenship[1] or permanent residency[2]

Do I need to take the A1 AND the A2 exam?

No, you only need to take the A2 exam.

Do under 18s need to show an A2-level of Portuguese?

If they are attending a Portuguese school, a declaration of proficiency from the school may be enough.

Who else is exempt from taking the language requirement?

People over 60 who are mentally-handicapped, illiterate, or seriously ill may be exempt from the requirement. Under 10s and anyone with special needs can request to have the test adapted to their needs.

Written by

James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

You can contact James by emailing or via the site's contact form.

Originally published: June 2020 & Last Updated: July 24, 2023.

There are 21 comments on this article. Join the conversation and add your own thoughts, reviews, and stories of life in Portugal. However, please remember to be civil.


  1. I'm not sure they are.

    Anyway, I think you need at least an A2 level of Portuguese to survive in Portugal, even in somewhere like the Algarve. Without this you're really not going to be able to have any kind of conversation with people.

    Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  2. is there any online language course available program that can help me to get the certificate for getting passport?

  3. What if you pass at an equal or higher level under the Brazilian CELPE-BRAS standard? Would that be acceptable if you have language capability for Brazilian Portuguese rather than Portuguese Portuguese?

  4. My grandaughter was born in Portugal to English parents.
    She is 6 years old & has lived in Portugal all her life.
    Is she eligable for a Portuguese passport?

  5. It is not correct that the results take 2 weeks to post. I took the exam on 10 November and must wait until late January for the results.

  6. I heard that people over 60 only have to take the speaking section of the CIPLE exam. Is that true and if so, do the administrators of the exam tell you this before you take the exam or do they require you to sit for the entire exam?

  7. Look at the bottom of these comments and there were people that "heard" that the language exam was being done away with. Now it's that you can get an exemption if you're over 60. The reality is that you gotta get studying and pass that exam if you want PT citizenship.

  8. I don't hear well so understanding foreign languages is difficult for me even though I quickly learn to read and speak. Can allowance be made for my hearing on the Portuguese A2 test? Or can I pass by acing the non-hearing portions of the test? Thanks.

  9. If one applied for citizenship and does not pass the A2 test (at 55%), is there another chance (or chances) to take it?
    Is there a risk the government might make the test requirement more difficult in the future?

  10. Hi Maya,

    You take the test before applying for citizenship. It's one of the documents you need to show. You can take the test as many times as you want, but be aware that you usually have to book the tests in advance and there are so many options per year. It's best not to leave it until year 5 of living in Portugal because of this.

    Anything is possible 🙂 The requirements in some other European countries are higher, and Portugal may follow suit but there has been no indication that they will.

    Get the book Moving to Portugal Made Simple on Amazon now

  11. Thanks so much, James. Follow up question here - I don't plan to live in Portugal, but rather apply for the golden visa (in the very short timeframe remaining). Can I learn Portuguese and take the test anytime before applying for citizenship? For example, even two years after start of residency, which is approximately three years prior to citizenship application?

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