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CILS Certification Examinations

Durham University is an accredited centre for the CILS examinations.

The CILS Exam (Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera, Certification of Italian as a Foreign Language) is a proficiency examination to prove competence in the Italian language. The CILS certificates are official recognitions of the attained level of linguistic competence of Italian as a foreign language. As a certificate of proficiency, the exam can be taken at every level of competence, from Beginners to Advanced.

The Università per Stranieri di Siena is responsible for the exam papers, has established the competences standards in accordance to the European Framework for languages, and sets the dates of examination.

The next exams will take place on 5th June 2024 in person in Durham. Registration has now closed for these exams and we will next offer them in June 2025. We will offer the following exam levels for registration:



Resit fee (per unit)










B1 cittadinanza












In addition to the exam fees established by the University of Siena, we charge an administration fee to cover our expenses. The administration fee is included in the exam fees table.


Registration for our 2024 exams has now closed. 

Practice papers

Practice papers are available from the Università per Stranieri di Siena. The Università per Stranieri di Siena has produced a guide (in Italian only) to the language skills tested for each paper. There is also information for candidates on how to prepare.

How does CILS work?

For each level the CILS exams consist of five parts:

  • Listening test
  • Reading comprehension
  • Use of the Italian language
  • Written test
  • Speaking test

Levels - Common European Framework

Each CILS level denotes an ability to communicate which may be used in different contexts and situations.

The Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera covers six levels: Level A1, Level A2, Level ONE-B1, Level TWO-B2, Level THREE-C1 and Level FOUR-C2. Each of these represents a progressively higher level of linguistic - grammar, syntax, vocabulary - and communicative ability.

The examinations are aligned to the common reference levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

Why the CILS

  • CILS Certifications are internationally recognised
  • The CILS is awarded by the University of Siena for Foreigners and is recognised by the Italian State as a certification of proficiency in Italian as a foreign language
  • The CILS certificate is recognised by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the document entitled "Coordinated system of Certificates of Italian for Foreigners", Rome 1998
  • The CILS is used by employers in Italy to select foreign candidates who wish to undertake activities in relation to Italian institutions for professional purposes
  • Most Italian universities adopt the CILS Certificates as an entrance requirement for prospective students, Erasmus students, and year-abroad students
  • The CILS is very useful to those who study Italian, who are planning to or already work and study within an Italian context
  • The CILS is a certified measurement of the attained level of ability in Italian

For further info visit Siena University for Foreigners (CILS).

Who can take the exam?

All learners of Italian as a foreign language, Italian citizens residing abroad (descendants of Italian emigrants), foreign citizens, and foreign immigrants in Italy may request to take the CILS exam. There are no age limits. Applicants are not obliged to possess previous educational certificates or degrees.

For Intermediate and above students it is not necessary to have passed lower levels of the CILS exams in order to attempt the attainment of higher levels. Candidate can prepare individually to sit the CILS exams, and we do not offer CILS preparation courses at Durham.


Mr. Mark Critchley | Email:

Lead Examiner:
Dr. Salvatore Campisi |