How to Apply for UK Citizenship

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.

Location
Application Postal Address
Within the UK
UKVI
Department 1
The Capital
New Hall Place
Liverpool
L3 9PP
All Other Countries
Department 1
UK Visas and Immigration
PO BOX 306
Liverpool
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.

 

How to Set Up a Charity

How to Set Up a Charity

If you are looking to set up a charity in England or Wales, here is the important information you need to know. If you have further questions, then call the Charity Commission on 0844 248 2658.

How do I set up a charity?

There are 6 steps you need to follow if you intend to set up a charity which is legal and functional.

Trustees

Find at least three trustees for the charity. These are the people who lead and run the charity, making all the important decisions. Trustees might call themselves directors, board members, governors, or committee members instead. Not everyone working for a charity will be a trustee with the responsibilities of controlling the charity operations.

Charitable Purposes

You must decide on the purpose of your charity and how it benefits the public. This could be protecting the environment, animal welfare, or human rights, contributing to public health and education services, relieving poverty, promoting religious or racial harmony, or developing the community through the arts or sport. You can’t help one specific person.

Charity Name

Choosing the name of your charity is very important. It must be original, not similar to an existing charity name or including trademarks. Search the Charities Register to check if the name is taken already. The charity name can’t contain acronyms or any offensive words, or be misleading. You can use an additional name, such as an abbreviation or working name.

Structure

You must choose the legal structure for your charity. The structure affects who runs the charity and how they do this. It also affects what the charity can do. The four common structures you can choose to set up include a charitable company, a charitable incorporated organization (CIO), a charitable trust, or an unincorporated charitable association.

Governing Document

You will need to create a governing document or rulebook which explains how your charity is run. This document explains the aims of the charity, who runs it, and how they run it. The governing document contains rules about appointing trustees and payments and expenses for trustees. It will also explain how to close the charity if this becomes necessary.

Registration

Apply to register your charity if it is a CIO or if your annual income is £5,000 or more. This applies to charities in England and Wales. You must provide supporting documents and information. This includes bank details, financial accounts, contact details, a copy of the governing document, and proof of income such as bank statements or formal funding offers.

How much does it cost to set up a charity?

The start-up costs for your charity will vary depending on its size and aims. There will be costs for recruiting trustees and volunteers, and renting premises and providing materials if applicable. If you are registering as a charitable company, it will cost £40 to apply. There are no registration fees listed for other charity structures. You can fundraise without registering to help you start up.

Whenever you fundraise, you must do it according to legal regulations. Make it clear to the public if you are not registered with the Charity Commission and why. You can still register with HMRC for charitable tax relief, as this will help to gain trust in your charity. Aside from donations, you can receive funding from central or local governing bodies, or grants from private organizations.

How do I set up a charity fund account?

In order to start fundraising, you will need to open a bank account for your charity funds. Some banks require a registration number from HMRC to open a charity account. However, plenty of banks offer accounts for small charities not registered with HMRC or the Charity Commission.

Many banks offer specialist accounts like “not for profit” or “community” accounts. Do research to find the right one for your charity. If you can’t register a bank account in your charity’s name, the Treasurer can use a dedicated personal account. They must clarify this for the charity’s records.

How do I set up Gift Aid for my charity?

You can raise more money for your charity through Gift Aid. To do this you have to register with HMRC for charitable recognition. This will also give you other tax breaks. As a charity, you will only have to pay taxes on any income which you do not use for charitable expenses. You will need to complete an annual tax return for any such income. If your charity’s overall income is more than £10,000 in a year, you must submit an annual return to the Charity Commission. Charitable tax relief is only available for charities with a base in the UK, EU, Iceland, Norway, or Liechtenstein.

Gift Aid enables you to claim back 25p for every £1 you receive in donations. However, the donor must have paid as much in tax as you are claiming in that year. They also have to sign a Gift Aid declaration form allowing you to claim it. Without a declaration, you can only claim Gift Aid on cash or contactless card donations of £20 or lower under the Small Donations Scheme. There are rules for which kinds of donations you can claim Gift Aid on. For example, you cannot claim Gift Aid on Payroll Giving scheme donations. You have to keep records of Gift Aid declarations.

Understanding the Environment Agency Flood Map

flood map 2

Whether you live in a rural or built up area, your housing or accommodation can still be at risk of flooding. Below are some tips and advice on how to understand and use the Environment Agency Flood Risk Map. You will also find information on the different types of flood risk, and help on what to do after a flood, should the worst happen to you.

By definition, a flood risk combines both potential and probable influences of flooding for all sources in one area. These include the sea, rivers, via rainfall and via drainage systems. .

Environment Agency Flood Risk Map

The flood risk map was set up by the UK government in order to find the flood risk of your current location, or any location you wish to research. When using this service, you will first need to type in your postcode, or the postcode of an area you would like to check. Don’t worry if you don’t the location exactly accurate, you can move a marker to your desired location on the next page. Once you have done this, you will be able to see what “flood zone” your location falls under.

flood map for planning
How to use the Environment Agency Flood Map

If you live in an area which falls under Flood Map Zone 1, you will be happy to know that the chances of flooding within one year is 1 in 1000. Areas in zone 1 are shown as white or clear on the flood zone map. These areas are more likely to be approved for building and are advisable areas to move to.

Environment Agency Flood Map Zones 2 and 3

When looking at the Floop Map, zones 2 and 3 are shown respectively as light and dark blue in colour. Areas on the flood map that fall within zone 2 will have a 1 in 100 chance of flooding throughout the calendar year. Flooding can occur from rivers or sea, and planning permission will need to be reviewed by the government before being approved.

Zone 3 is split into 3a and 3b. Living in 3a means that you are at a higher risk of annual flooding, and is known as the High Probability section of zone 3. 3b of Zone 3 is known as a Functional Floodplain area. This means that during times of flooding, this area will allow water to flow freely and be stored safely until flooding has ceased.

Although zones 3a and 3b are not distinguished on the map, you will be able to see which area you fall under via the information shown besides the map.

flood map for planning 2

If an area of land is within flood zone 2 or 3, a flood risk activity permit will be needed in order to acquire planning permission. These can be obtained from the government website. If you do not carry out a flood risk assessment on an area of land that falls within zone 3, any planning permission you put forward may not be granted.

If you live in flood zone 2 or 3, it might be a good idea to sign up for flood warnings. This service is free and means you will be notified of a potential flood if and when it ever happens. If you’re moving home, and your new house sits within a flood zone, you can check its flooding history by emailing enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk with the following details:

  • Your phone number
  • A map of your area (this can be via the flood map government website, or via Google Maps – whichever you prefer)
  • Over what time you want the report to cover (i.e within the last year)
  • The address of the property

Environment Agency Wales Flood Maps

If you live in Wales, you can still use the government flood risk services above, or visit the Natural Resources Wales dedicated website. On this site, you can check the water levels, see if there are any flood warnings in your area, receive information on long-term flood risks, and find local information for what to do during a flood.

flood map for planning 3 wales

Getting help after a flood

No matter the zone or area you live in, you can find that flooding can happen at any time. If you find yourself in the middle of a flood, you can ask for advice and help via The National Flood Forum. Via this website you can also report a flood as it happens, report an electrical hazard (such as power cuts, or broken lines), report gas leaks as a result of a flood, or report an overflowing sewer.

If you need temporary accommodation, you can contact your local council.

If you have prepared of a flood accordingly, you will need to dispose of sandbags at your local rubbish site, and must put non-pollutable items directly in the bin. You can also find more help on the government website on what to do after a flood.

The DVLA could fine you £1,000 for having the wrong address on your driving licence

The DVLA could fine you £1,000 for having the wrong address on your driving licenseMillions of motorists across the UK could face surprise charges if they have the wrong address on their driving licence. With a rule that seemingly millions of drivers around the UK are unaware of, anyone with a driving licence has to let the DVLA know if they will be changing address, or risk facing a £1,000 fine if they’re stopped by the police and have an incorrect address on the licence.

The rule applies to all kinds of moves, including temporary relocations for situations like term-time for university students. It is free to change your address with the DVLA, so there shouldn’t any reason not to change your address, yet it seems that many people weren’t aware that the need to change your address immediately was as vital as it is. If you need to update your address you can easily do it online via Gov.uk website, where you can fill out a simple form and your new licence will be sent to you within three weeks.

Other reasons for updating your licence would be for name-changes and making sure that your photo is kept up-to-date. If you’re not sure whether your picture is out of date, you can simply check the 4b photo on your licence, where you will find the date that your photo expires. Your photo lasts around 10 years, so keep an eye over the years to ensure that your licence is always up-to-date, unless you want to face the £1,000 fine.

Comparethemarket.com released research that says around 1.5 million registered drivers have the wrong address on their driving licence, meaning that if all of the drivers were stopped and fined the DVLA could claim around £1.5 billion from motorists with incorrect details. 35% of the motorists who were interviewed by the website didn’t know that having incorrect details on your driving licence was illegal, showing that it is a more common problem than many would realise. Over 2.6 million motorists haven’t updated their licences in time, including 3% of married women who have the wrong name on their licences after changing it legally. If you find that you need to renew your licence, then it only costs £20, or £24.50 if you do it at your local post office, and can be useful if you find your licence is out of date, as an out of date licence can cause you more problems than it’s worth.

If you find yourself as a person who needs to change their address on their licence and need to know more about how to change your licence, then this simple guide can help you:

  1. Visit Gov.uk and find the ‘Driving and transport’ section.
  2. Here you can select the ‘Driving licences’ section and choose to tell the DVLA you’ve changed your address.
  3. Clicking on this will lead you to a Gov.uk page that gives you the chance to update your address on your driving licence, as well as in your vehicle’s log book (V5C) and you can have the chance to update your details with the DVLA if you pay by Direct Debit for your vehicle tax.
  4. By choosing to apply online for your licence update, you will be directed to a DVLA website that will require your Government Gateway User ID – if you don’t have a Government Gateway account you will need to create one before changing any of your details online
  5. From here you will need to have your current driving licence, any addresses you’ve lived in in the past three years and, if you need to change your photo as well, your passport number so that they can use your passport photo for your licence.

Always make sure that you’re up to date with all of the details for your driving licence, as it could cost you a surprising amount if you’re not completely accurate with all of your details, and isn’t worth the hassle that it can cause for a free and quick update online.