Apply for UK Citizenship

How to Apply for UK Citizenship

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How to Apply for UK Citizenship

Successfully applying for UK citizenship will grant you British nationality. This will entitle you to the right to live in the UK, among many other benefits. You will be able to seek diplomatic help from the British government in other countries. If you have further questions after reading this guide, then call the Naturalisation helpline on 0843 178 6665. They can answer your enquiries about applying for UK citizenship. If you are only staying in the UK for a limited period of time, you will need a Visa instead. Apply for a Visa if you intend to study, work, or live in the UK temporarily.

UK Citizenship by Naturalisation

This is the most common way to become a UK citizen. You must meet the criteria below in order to apply for British citizenship by naturalisation. Adults can apply for British citizenship for their children under 18 years old if they meet the eligibility criteria. Children do not have to pass the Life in the UK Test. Adults will have to pass this test and provide proof of their ability to speak English before applying. You can find more information about this and the relevant costs further down the page in the Fees section. You can only apply for UK citizenship by naturalisation if you:

  • are 18 years old or above
  • are of good character (no serious criminal record or offences against the Home Office)
  • meet the requirements for knowledge of English and Life in the UK
  • have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before the Home Office gets your application
  • have not spent more than 450 days outside the UK in those 5 years
  • did not spend more than 90 days outside the UK in the last year
  • intend to continue living in the UK
  • have not broken any immigration laws while living in the UK

You can also apply for UK citizenship this way if the UK government granted you settlement or permanent resident status in the last year. Refugees or those under humanitarian protection can apply for settlement before applying for citizenship. Citizens of EEA (European Economic Area) countries must have a document as proof of permanent residence to apply for UK citizenship. There is currently no change to the status of EU citizens living in the UK, or UK citizens living in the EU. These statuses and rights will change when the UK leaves the EU on 29th March 2019.

UK Citizenship by Registration

Registering as a British citizen is usually easier than naturalisation, but you have to be eligible. It is an alternative route to UK citizenship, so you should not try to apply by naturalisation as well. The eligibility criteria are different, in any case. To register as a British citizen, you must usually have been born in the UK or within UK territories. For example, you must be a British overseas citizen or overseas territories citizen. Generally, you must have been born to a British father, born to a British mother before 1st January 1983, or born in the UK after 1st January 1983. There are other circumstances which may allow you to register as a British citizen, such as being stateless. There are different rules depending on your citizenship situation, so read through them all carefully.

UK Citizenship for Spouses of British Citizens

If you are married to a British citizen, you may be able to apply for UK citizenship for yourself. In general, the eligibility criteria for this is more or less the same as it is for anyone applying for UK citizenship by naturalisation. The main difference is that you only have to have lived in the UK for three years before applying for citizenship. The rules about time spent outside of the UK also do not apply if your spouse works abroad for the UK government or an organization close to the UK government. Other than this, you must meet the following criteria to apply for British citizenship:

  • married to or the civil partner of a British citizen
  • of sound mind (able to think and make decisions for yourself)
  • of good character (no serious criminal record)
  • meet the requirements for knowledge of English and Life in the UK
  • granted leave to stay in the UK indefinitely or permanent residence
  • lived in the UK for 3 years
  • have not spent more than 270 days outside the UK in these 3 years
  • did not spend more than 90 days outside the UK in the last year
  • have not broken any immigration laws while living in the UK

Dual Citizenship

Dual citizenship means being a citizen of the UK while retaining nationality in another country. You do not need to apply for dual citizenship. If you are a British citizen, you can apply for a foreign citizenship and keep your UK citizenship. However, some countries do not accept dual citizenship. You will have to check the country’s laws on dual nationality before trying to apply for multiple citizenships. If you are a dual citizen, this means that you cannot seek diplomatic help from the UK government whenever you are visiting the other country where you are a national.

Some countries count a married person as automatically gaining their partner’s nationality. This is not the case in the UK. To become a British citizen, the married person would have to apply for citizenship as the spouse of a British citizen. Children might gain the nationality of their parent even if they are born outside of that country. Again, you will have to check that country’s laws on dual citizenship. You can look into this by contacting the country’s embassy or consulate within the UK. They will be able to provide information about their country’s laws on dual nationality.

Applying for UK Citizenship

To apply for British citizenship by naturalisation, you have three options. The first is an individual application. If you are living in the UK, you can apply online. You can also download, print, and fill out the form to send in the post. If you live outside of the UK (including the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, and overseas territories) then you cannot apply online. You must use the paper form.

Before you apply, you must have all the relevant documents ready. This includes two referees, your Life in the UK Test pass reference number, proof that you know the English language, and proof of your right to live in the UK. There are online guidance booklets to help you with your application and these requirements. A second option is using the Nationality Checking Service.

The third option is to apply through a representative or agent. This is an individual or company who can give you advice and assist you with your application. You should check that they are registered with the OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner). Some barristers or solicitors are not actually registered with the OISC but are still safe for you to use. This includes:

  • Law Society of England and Wales
  • General Council of the Bar
  • Chartered Institute of Legal Executives
  • Law Society of Scotland
  • Faculty of Advocates
  • Law Society of Northern Ireland
  • General Council of the Bar of Northern Ireland

UK Citizenship Application Address

If you are applying yourself using the paper form, you must send it to the correct postal address.

Application Postal Address
Within the UK
Department 1
The Capital
New Hall Place
L3 9PP
All Other Countries
Department 1
UK Visas and Immigration
PO BOX 306
L2 0QN

Please note that there is a different process for certain locations. If you live on the Isle of Man or in the Channel Islands, send citizenship applications to the Lieutenant Governor. For those living in British overseas territories, you should send your application to the Governor of the territory.

How to Apply for British Citizenship

UK Citizenship Test

Before you can apply for UK citizenship, you must pass the Life in the UK Test. There are 60 test centres throughout the UK where you can take this test. You have to book a place online at least 3 days in advance. It will cost £50 to sit the Life in the UK Test. You must bring proof of identity and address or you will not be able to take the test. The Life in the UK Test includes 24 questions on information from the official handbook. You will have 45 minutes to answer these questions.

After taking the test, you must wait at the test centre for your results. If you achieve 75% or more, this is a pass, and you will receive a pass notification letter. In the event that you fail the test, you will not get a refund, but you can try again after 7 days. You can take the test as many times as you need to, but you must book and pay again every time. Refunds are available if you cancel more than 3 days in advance, or the centre cancels your test. Find out more about the test here.

Proof of Knowledge of English

Another thing you will need before applying is proof that you can speak English. You will not have to prove your knowledge of English if you are over 65 years old. You are also exempt from this if you cannot prove your knowledge of English due to a long-term medical condition. Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the USA do not have to prove this either. However, anyone else 18 years old or above and applying for UK citizenship will have to prove this first.

You can prove your knowledge of the English language if you have an English qualification from an approved test centre. This includes a certificate at B1, B2, C1 or C2 level. You must provide the certificate to prove that you have the qualification. You can find a list of approved English tests and test providers here. Other than this, you can prove your knowledge if you passed a degree taught or researched in English. If the degree is from a UK university, you only need the degree certificate. If it isn’t, you will need the degree certificate plus additional proof, such as a letter from UK NARIC and a letter from your university confirming the degree was taught in English.

British Citizenship Fees 2018

One of the most significant parts of the UK citizenship application process is the financial costs. The fees cover handling and processing, plus the citizenship ceremony for applicants who are over 18. The cost for an adult applying for UK citizenship by naturalisation is £1282. For an adult applying for UK citizenship by registration, this costs £1163. Adults must also pay an £80 fee to attend their citizenship ceremony. A child under 18 registering as a UK citizen will incur a charge of £973. If the child turns 18 during the application process, the additional £80 fee must be paid.

There are other costs for other circumstances. You should call 0843 178 6665 if you are not sure which fees apply to you. Application fees can be paid by cheque or credit or debit card. There are other costs to consider besides these fees. The Home Office may ask you to provide biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo of your face). This process will cost £19.20. Before you even apply, you must take the Life in the UK Test. The test itself costs £50 and the handbook to study from is £12.99. You should also consider the costs of obtaining any other documentation.

What Happens Next With My UK Citizenship?

It can take up to 4 weeks after you apply for you to receive a letter confirming your application. This is not confirmation of your citizenship. It is only an acknowledgement that your application has been received and is being processed. After this, it can take up to 6 months or longer to receive a decision. The Home Office might contact you to request further information which will help with your application. If your circumstances change before you receive a decision, you should contact the Visa and Immigration helpline on 0843 596 3601. This includes marriage, arrests, or change of address. You might have to attend an interview to prove you speak English.

If your application is successful, you can book a place at a citizenship ceremony. You can usually bring 2 guests to the ceremony with you. The ceremonies are normally done in groups, but you can request a private ceremony. Contact your local council to book your citizenship ceremony. If you are not living in the UK, ask to have the ceremony at your country’s UK embassy or consulate. You may have to postpone your ceremony until you return to the UK. At the ceremony, you must make an oath of allegiance and a pledge to respect the laws and freedoms of the UK before you receive your certificate of British citizenship. Your council may offer photos or videos of the event.