How to apply for CIMEA to study in Italy: cost, process, duration

If you’re a foreign student looking to apply to an Italian university, you might not know that your high school diploma (or any qualification of a previous course of studies) needs to be recognized by competent bodies in Italy for it to be accepted by the university you’re applying for.

For some institutions, a copy of your diploma might be enough, while others might need documents of comparability and verification. This is where CIMEA comes into play. 

What is CIMEA?  

CIMEA is the Centre for Information on Mobility and Academic Equivalences.

This organization provides information and advice on degree recognition procedures and issues related to Italian and international higher education and training.

It aims to foster academic mobility in all fields and facilitate the understanding of elements of Italian and foreign higher education and training systems.

More specifically, CIMEA holds databases specializing in foreign higher education systems, the types of degrees in each country, and foreign education legislation.

For this reason, it’s an incredibly useful tool for any student planning to study abroad in Italy: it aims to answer any questions that a student, researcher or professor might have on the recognition and evaluation of qualifications to Italian and foreign universities. 

The Lisbon Recognition Convention

The Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC) is legislation that aims to ensure that holders of a qualification from a signatory country can have adequate access to an assessment of the qualification in another country in a fair, flexible, and transparent way.

The LRC, adopted in 1997, is the key legal instrument regulating the recognition of higher education qualifications from abroad across Europe and North American regions. It ensures that the many years you spent studying in a country are not thrown in the trash when you move abroad! 

The Lisbon Convention is upheld internationally by the ENIC-NARIC Networks: a worldwide group of national information centres, of which CIMEA is the Italian representative. 

Recognition of a foreign high school title in Italy

CIMEA can be a useful tool when applying to Italian universities since it can provide a service for students requesting the evaluation of their degree obtained abroad.

CIMEA works on academic recognition of many kinds of titles:

  1. Foreign upper secondary school leaving qualifications for access to first cycle programmes (Laurea or Diploma Accademico di primo livello).
  2. Evaluation of foreign first- and second-cycle final qualifications for access to second- (e.g. Master’s Degree) and third-cycle (e.g. PhD) courses respectively.
  3. Evaluation of foreign first-, second- and third-cycle final qualifications to obtain a corresponding Italian first-, second- and third-cycle final qualification respectively. This is for those who want an Italian final title, i.e. having legal value in our system.

Since we’re mainly speaking to those looking to study Medicine and Surgery in Italy after completing high school in a foreign country, we’ll focus on the first point: the procedure for evaluating final foreign upper secondary school leaving qualifications for access to first cycle programs (Laurea or Diploma Accademico di primo livello).

The service involves the issue of a Certificate of Verification and a Certificate of Comparability by CIMEA, which must be presented to the university at the time of enrolment (more on these two documents later).

These certificates are accepted as an alternative to legalizing the foreign qualification certificate and the “Dichiarazione di Valore” issued by the Italian Embassy or Consulate, following current national regulations and procedures.

Such a procedure does not transform a foreign upper secondary school qualification into an Italian qualification but allows entry to first-cycle programs if the foreign qualification manifests all the following characteristics:

  1. Official final secondary school leaving certificate from the relevant foreign system;
  2. Qualification that allows entry to comparable first cycle programme (ex. academic) in the relevant foreign system; 
  3. Qualification obtained after an itinerary of at least 12 years of schooling (if the country of origin has a schooling system 10 or 11 years long, the accepting university can require extra “foundational courses” to be frequented by the student);
  4. If a national test or final exam is necessary to enter a higher education institution, such a request is also mandatory for entry into the Italian programme.

For certain final foreign upper secondary school qualifications, specific requirements are needed:

  • American High School Diplomas (HSD): students in possession of a High School Diploma (HSD) who have passed at least three US “Advanced Placements” (APs) with a score of 3 to 5, in three different subjects relevant to the university course they’re applying to, can enrol in the first academic year. Alternatively, students in possession of a High School Diploma followed and integrated by two complete years of a further “College” course (Associate degree), or by a complete year of the further “College” course with the achieved suitability, can also be enrolled. For the transition to the second year and the passing of four different “Advanced Placements” (APs) as long as they are achieved in subjects relevant to the required university course of study.
  • UK secondary school diploma: British qualifications allow enrollment if they certify the passing of at least three advanced level subjects (A level) relevant to the required course of study. A combination of 3 different subjects between A level and Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects can also be assessed. The Cambridge Pre-U Diploma, made up of 3 Principal Subjects + Global Perspective and Research, can be assessed by higher education institutions as an alternative to the 3 “A levels” for access to the first cycle.
  • Greek “Apolityrion” titles: these qualifications allow enrollment only if obtained starting from a minimum sufficient average score of 10 out of 20 points Candidates must also have obtained the academic suitability certificate called “VEVEOSSI PROSVASSIS”.

All information on the special requirements can be found here. A language certification is needed for application to University degree courses taught in Italian, while it is not required for application to degree courses taught fully in English (such as Medicine and Surgery). 

Information on enrollment in courses and on the documents to be presented is directly supplied by Italian higher education institutions.

What are the Statement of Comparability and Statement of Verification?

The Statement of Comparability is a document containing the information relating to the qualification, such as the recognition/accreditation of the institution that issued it in the national education system, the level of the qualification according to the Bologna Process and the European Qualifications Framework, in addition to the specifications of the comparability of your degree with an Italian qualification, the nature of the course (academic or professionally-oriented) and any other useful element to let it be evaluated by the competent bodies.

This comparison does not establish nor guarantee the formal recognition of your qualification, but it is a useful indication for institutions that evaluate qualifications during different recognition procedures: the Statement of Comparability fulfills the function of a non-binding opinion, and it does, therefore, not bind the institutions in any way during their assessment and recognition procedures.

The Statement of Comparability neither verifies nor certifies the authenticity of the qualification on which the assessment is based.

Please note that CIMEA has activated the Automatic Recognition Database Italia (ARDI) for the qualifications issued in the education systems of the countries that are signatories to the Lisbon Recognition Convention.

For these countries, the system can automatically generate a Statement of Correspondence for each qualification instantly and free of charge and is immediately available for download. In these instances, a Statement of Comparability is not required. 

The Statement of Verification is issued when CIMEA experts are positive of the authenticity of the qualification. The verification procedure consists of confirming whether a foreign qualification from the higher education system or upper secondary school has indeed been awarded to the holder by an official institution within the reference system. This verification does not establish the formal recognition of the qualification within a different national system but is a useful indication for the institutions that evaluate the qualification during the different recognition procedures.

In cases where it is impossible to produce the Statement of Verification, CIMEA will issue a Statement of Denial for reasons such as the non-official status of the institution, the degree course or the qualification in the system of reference;  lack of certification of the quality of the institution and the course of studies by the competent national authorities, counterfeiting or alteration of documents; documentary insufficiency linked to the request that prevented an evaluation/verification.

How do I apply to get my diploma verified by Italian institutions?

By registering on the DiploMe platform, you can digitally provide your foreign credentials and apply for their evaluation and/or verification following just a few simple steps.

The platform will also allow you to follow the status of your application and receive an alert once the Statement has been published.

Once a CIMEA Statement is issued to you, it is saved in blockchain, enabling you to access it from anywhere, download it, and share it directly from the platform with institutions and employers in a simple, secure, and certified way.

Your Statements of Comparability and/or Verification, together with your educational documents, can be used as a basis when applying for higher education courses.

The steps are simple: 

  1. Determine which service is available for your qualification using the DiploMe website’s handy “Service Finder” tool, which is located at the bottom of the home page.
  1. Review the list of documents that you need to apply and be sure you can provide them: the required documentation changes from country to country, so check carefully on the website’s “RequiredDocs Navigator which ones you need to provide. 
  1. Create a DiploMe account and apply online.

CIMEA: Process and costs

How long does it take and how much does it cost? 

CIMEA’s times of processing and costs are the following:

  • ARDI Correspondence & Verification service: this service is dedicated to qualifications issued in the countries’ educational systems that are signatories to the Lisbon Recognition Convention. This includes:
    • The ARDI Statement of Correspondence can be downloaded directly and freely through ARDI—Automatic Recognition Database Italia. Only the authenticity verification certificate will be required for these qualifications.
    • The CIMEA Statement of Verification: requested through the DiploMe platform for 150€.
  • Comparability & Verification Service: dedicated to the qualifications issued in most countries’ education systems that are not signatories to the Lisbon Recognition Convention. It includes:
    • The CIMEA Statement of Comparability: requested through the DiploMe platform, for 150€.
    • The CIMEA Statement of Verification: requested through the DiploMe platform, for the cost of 150€.
  • Comparability Service: This service evaluates foreign credentials from countries where the verification procedure is (almost) impossible due to the current particular geopolitical situation within the relevant country. Therefore, the service does not include a Statement of Verification but only a Statement of Comparability, for the cost of 150€.

The times required vary depending on the documents issued by CIMEA/ARDI:

  • ARDI STATEMENT OF CORRESPONDENCE (for signatory countries of the Lisbon convention): instant download from the ARDI website
  • STATEMENT OF VERIFICATION: 60 working days (Monday to Friday) from paying the related costs and delivering all the required documentation. The process of verifying documents often depends on the responsiveness of third parties in other countries, which can significantly delay the preparation of CIMEA’s Statement. No urgent procedure is available for the verification statement issue, so you should apply in advance. 
  • STATEMENT OF COMPARABILITY: 60 working days (Monday to Friday) from delivering all the required documentation and paying the related costs. There’s also the option of an urgent procedure, which takes 30 working days and costs 100€ for each qualification and the related documents.

Be careful not to underestimate the time needed to complete the documentation for your application. Additional costs/times can be related to:

  • Translations of the documents. Generally, CIMEA does not require translation for documents issued in Italian or English (or in a bilingual format that includes Italian or English as an official language). Translations from the original language can be translated into Italian or English.  Different types of translations are available (certified, sworn, etc.). CIMEA does not require a particular, pre-defined type of translation to apply for its services as long as it is accurate, complete and performed by a qualified translator. Finally, please note that CIMEA itself does not translate documents, nor does it offer any translation services.
  • The necessity for Original Documents: you will have to send originals or have official documents in sealed envelopes sent to CIMEA by post or courier service only if this is explicitly requested in the Required Documents section of your country or if you are asked to do so during the processing of your application. Original diplomas are usually issued with the letterhead of the issuing Institution, which may require extra time, and they need to be shipped in a specific way (all of which is very clearly stated in the Required Documents section of the DiploMe website)

CIMEA for Refugees

The CIMEA for Refugees service is now active, through which CIMEA issues Statements of Comparability free of charge for foreign study qualifications to holders of international protection who have obtained the status of political asylum or subsidiary protection in Italy, subject to proof of such status.

The service is available exclusively for holders of international protection status obtained in Italy (Protezione Internazionale), in the form of political asylum status (Asilo Politico / Asilo) or Subsidiary Protection status (Protezione Sussidiaria).

Applications for the CIMEA for Refugees service received from holders of forms of protection not included in the above (e.g.: Protezione Speciale, Protezione Temporanea Emergenza Ucraina, etc.) are not acceptable.

All information on CIMEA for Refugees can be found here. To apply for the service, create an account at this link

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