Do IELTS Certificates Expire? | Including FAQs

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There is a wide variety of the qualifications you can get, both abroad and in the UK. Due to the vast range of them, people often have a lot of questions and concerns regarding both the limitations and benefits of such qualifications. One of these is the IELTS – this qualification is important to those who aren’t native English speakers but want to work, study, or get a visa for an English-speaking country. A common concern among those looking to apply for such a certificate is this: do IELTS certificates expire? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to understand what exactly an IELTS certificate is and does; read on to find out more!

To put it briefly – and officially – your IELTS certificate is valid for up to two years, with the exact date being worked out from the IELTS test report form (ITRF) you would have received. If the date on the certificate is from the 14th of October 2022, for example, it will be valid until the 13th of October in 2024. It is only considered valid for two years because it’s possible for peoples’ English-speaking skills to deteriorate after periods of disuse.

While this may have given you a surface level overview of if IELTS certificates expire, it may be helpful to check out the rest of this article for a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding!

What is an IELTS certificate?

The IELTS certificate is a qualification from an organisation known as the International English Language Testing System. As you might have already guessed from the name, it is a measure of someone’s English speaking ability! The organisation is run by the British Council, IDP Education and Cambridge Assessment English.

The qualification is an English proficiency test. This means that it just measures someone’s ability in using the language.

It is internationally recognised; therefore, it’s regarded as a valuable qualification to have if you’re a non-native English speaker who wants to work, study, or get a visa in an English-speaking country.

If you would like to learn more about what this qualification is, as well as the examination for the IELTS, check out this helpful guide from Think Student!

What does the IELTS exam test?

However, this isn’t as simple as merely applying to receive a certificate. Rather, the IELTS certificate is only awarded after you take an exam to measure your ability. It was designed to fully test out the range of skills needed to study or work successfully in an English-speaking country.

Below are some of the criteria a candidate will be assessed on:

  • Listening: looking at how well you receive and understand ideas and concepts communicated to you audibly, as well as how well you follow the development of an argument, and opinions
  • Reading: looking at how well you can read for general sense, details, ideas, as well as seeing how well you can infer the author’s ideas and opinions from their language and tone
  • Speaking: looking at how you can communicate your own ideas and opinions, not only on important topics but trivial and everyday ones as well. This also looks at how well you can explain and justify your opinion
  • Writing: looking at how accurately and well you can write a response, using a range of vocabulary and grammar in order to illustrate your point and organise your ideas

It is used in over 140 countries, being the standard for more than 30 years. When you take the IELTS test, you can be assured that it will be recognised by the educational bodies, governments and employers that need to verify your proficiency in the English language.

In fact, the governments in the UK, Australia, and Canada rely on and trust the IELTS when processing immigration applications!

To read more about the IELTS, check out the British Council’s guide on the qualification, by clicking here.

In conclusion, the IELTS exam is an English proficiency exam that’s universally recognised as the standard, and it’s used to prove your proficiency with employers, educational bodies and governments.

Do IELTS certificates expire?

So, you’ve got your certificate – brilliant. It’s all fine and dandy, until it isn’t, and your qualification expires! Unfortunately, the IELTS certificate does have an expiration date. This can be seen as a negative by a lot of people, especially considering the length of time it is valid for.

Officially, the IELTS certificate is recognised as being valid for two years. For example, if you were awarded your certificate on the 30th of October 2023, it will be valid (officially!) until the 29th of October 2025.

Now, you may be wondering: why? Why two years?

A time validity is placed on the IELTS certificate and qualification as over this period, it’s easy for English abilities to get worse over time with less use for a few months. This, in turn, can give employers and other people who check the IELTS a false impression of your ability.

Of course, there are always exceptions. The validity period is determined by the IELTS official organisation. However, it’s not lawfully enforced or anything like that, but merely it’s a guideline for those who rely on the qualification to hire people.

You can write to whoever requires your score if they accept longer validities. Additionally, if you may have been working in an English-speaking country for a longer time and have higher proficiency in English. In this case, it’s possible that the expired qualification can still be accepted.

To read more about the validity period of an IELTS certificate, check out this article from IELTS Buddy.

How much do IELTS certificates cost?

Actually, the cost varies with each type of IELTS exam – that’s right, there isn’t just one exam! This element of the IELTS certification is an important logistics issue to consider when applying for the exam; for some, the cost can be a deal-breaker.

Before we look at the cost, below is a breakdown on the types of exams available, because they are all tailored for something different:

  • IELTS general training exam: this is for a range of different candidates, but is generally geared towards those who are looking to work in an English-speaking country, and those who want to move to an English-speaking country
  • IELTS academic exam: this is aimed particularly at students, who wish to study at an undergraduate or post-graduate level in English-speaking universities
  • IELTS life skills exam: this exam is for candidates that need to prove their speaking and listening abilities in English, with one of its main purposes being to get some type of visas in the UK
  • IELTS for UKVI exam: this is where a candidate specifically takes the IELTS General or Academic exam for the purpose of getting a visa

Now that you know more about the specific types of IELTS, let’s see how this can affect pricing for this multifaceted qualification!

Name of test Type of test Fee
IELTS Academic and General Training Assessment of listening, speaking, reading and writing abilities £180-210 (depending on location)
IELTS for UKVI Academic and General Training *SELT test for visa and immigration. Tests listening, speaking, reading and writing £205
IELTS Life Skills A1, A2, B1 SELT test for UK visas and immigration, assessment of speaking and listening abilities £155

*SELT: Secure English Language Test for UK visas

Please note these figures are true at time of writing (November 2023) and may change after this. To read more about them, check out the guide by the British Council here.

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