How long does it take to reach B1 in Italian?

In case you missed our latest update on the new linguistic requirement for Italian citizenship by naturalization, you may want to read our article entitled, A New Linguistic Requir

How long does it take to reach B1 in Italian?

In case you missed our latest update on the new linguistic requirement for Italian citizenship by naturalization, you may want to read our article entitled, A New Linguistic Requirement for Italian Citizenship by Marriage.
In light of the new requirement to obtain a B1 level (or higher) Italian language certificate for those interested in applying for Italian citizenship through marriage or residency, there has been a lot of confusion about what this requirement is and what it entails. Weve received a number of emails with questions such as, What is a B1 certificate?, How fluent in Italian does one need to be in order to get B1 level certification?, What do I need to do to get a B1? and so on.

In this article, we will address these questions and more.

Part 1: What is a B1 Certificate?
The Italian B1 level language certificate is a document which shows Italian linguistic competency according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (also known as CEFR or CEF or CEFRL). This certificate will demonstrate to the Italian government that you will be able to function with day to day tasks in Italian as a potential Italian citizen. The B1 certificate can also be useful to people who may be interested in studying in Italy since many courses/programs require a certificate in order to see that the prospective student will be able to understand the course material. (Please note that some schools may require a higher C1 or C2 level. It would be advisable to first check with your educational institution of choice. Nonetheless, a B1 certificate can help you prepare for a higher level of certification if necessary.) The levels are in alphabetical order with A levels being the most basic, B levels being intermediate and C levels considered to be advanced.

Those of you who may be interested in finding work in Italy or another European nation where the Italian language may be necessary, you may be required to present a B1 level certificate (or above) for consideration as a potential candidate. Fortunately, by acquiring Italian citizenship, Italian nationality gives you the option to reside and legally work in Italy without restriction and also gives you much more accessibility to jobs and education across the European Union.

To see additional benefits of Italian citizenship, you can visit our page going through more benefits, CLICK HERE for more info.

Part 2: How much Italian do I need to know for a B1 Certificate?
The B1 level certificate shows that you have a basic ability to use the Italian language. At this level total perfection in comprehension and communication is not required. Some errors are allowed, but in summary, a B1 certificate shows that you have demonstrated that you

  • Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • Can deal with most situations likely to arise while traveling in an area where the language is spoken.
  • Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
  • Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. ¹

The CEFRL is divided into 6 levels, as follows:

  • A1 (Beginner)
  • A2 (Elementary)
  • B1 (Intermediate)
  • B2 (Upper intermediate)
  • C1 (Advanced)
  • C2 (Mastery)

Which are further broken down into 3 main skill categories:

  • Understanding
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Each main skill is further divided in sub-skills, namely:


1) Listening

I can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. I can understand the main point of many radio or TV programmes on current affairs or topics of personal or professional interest when the delivery is relatively slow and clear. ²

2) Reading

I can understand texts that consist mainly of high-frequency every day or job-related language. I can understand the description of events, feelings and wishes in personal letters. ²


3) Spoken Interaction

I can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst traveling in an area where the language is spoken. I can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current events). ²

4) Spoken Production

I can connect phrases in a simple way in order to describe experiences and events, my dreams, hopes and ambitions. I can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. I can narrate a story or relate the plot of a book or film and describe my reactions. ²


5) Writing

I can write simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. I can write personal letters describing experiences and impressions. ²

Part 3: Examples of what you might find on a B1 level exam and what to study.
The exams and testing time can vary slightly depending on the institution. The various sections of the exam, in total, should take a few hours. Rather than going into detail in this overview of the vast scope of what the exam covers, we would recommend visiting the following free online resource which may help you to understand the linguistic requirements:

We would also recommend contacting the educational institution you have chosen where you will actually be taking the exam for more details about their specific tests and what their exam entails so that you can be well prepared. The exams may vary somewhat but the basic required knowledge is generally the same. Some schools may also offer courses to help you prepare for the exam. For a list of institutions please see the list below

Each person has his or her own unique learning style and aptitude for learning a language. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly how many hours of study will be required. It is possible to study in a classroom or with a private tutor, but it is estimated that the amount of time to get from A 1.1 through B1.4 in a classroom setting would be roughly 200 hours. Of course, it can vary depending on the individual and ones learning style and ability. The levels are A1.1, A1.2, A2.1, A2.2, B1.1, B1.2, B1.3 and B1,4. An estimated 25 hours per level(note some schools may count hours as academic hours which can be 50 minutes each).

Part 4: How can I take the exam?
Below you will find a list of schools which offer the B1 certification.

Directly through programs organized by institutions in Italy:

Università per Stranieri di Siena  aka CILS certification

Università per Stranieri di Perugia  aka CELI certification

Società Dante Alighieri  aka PLIDA certification

Università Degli Studi Roma Tre

The Italian government is updating the list of certifying institutions abroad.

The ministry of external affairs published a new tool on its website to check the nearest certification center worldwide:

In the USA you can also consult the current list published by the Embassy of Italy organized by consulate jurisdiction:

When contacting the schools it is best to mention you are interested in a B1 certificate for the purposes of citizenship.

Part 5: A little background and context
In 1991 the Swiss Federal Authorities held a symposium entitled Transparency and Coherence in Language Learning in Europe: Objectives, Evaluation, Certification. Due to the multilingual needs of Europe as a whole with the continent moving closer with increasing migration, a need was recognized. Because language is such an important part of business, trading, intergovernmental communication and cultural exchange, it was decided to create a European framework for languages to help employers, governmental bodies and even schools to be able to recognize how qualified a potential future employee or student is to be able to work or to be able to study. A project followed this symposium to help define and structure language-level classifications to be recognized around Europe.

After 20 years of research, The Council of Europe had the final framework put into place
a framework of reference. It was designed to provide a transparent, coherent and comprehensive basis for the elaboration of language syllabuses and curriculum guidelines, the design of teaching and learning materials, and the assessment of foreign language proficiency. ³

We hope this article has been helpful to you. If you know anyone else who might find this information of interest be sure to share the link to this article with them or on your social media.

If you have any questions about anything covered in this article or any other questions, feel free to get in contact with us at ICA HERE and well do our best to help and we may even base an upcoming article on your question.

¹ Source:

² Source:

³ Source:
April 1, 2019By Rafael DiFuriaItalian Citizenship By Marriage Italian citizenship tips

About the author

Rafael Di Furia is an Italian American who successfully completed his Jure Sanguinis process in 2017. He devotes his spare time to a video project talking about life as a dual citizen in Italy creating informational content to help others with the transition and processes involved with dual citizenship, life in Italy and sharing Italy with his viewers. Rafael is our Media Advisor5 Most Common Ways to Acquire Italian CitizenshipWhat is the AIRE?

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