How To Get UK Citizenship
If you’ve been living in the UK for a while, you might decide you want to become a British citizen. This process is called naturalisation, and it’s available to people who meet certain citizenship criteria.
In the year ending June 2022, more than 194,000 people were granted British citizenship. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to get UK citizenship, including:
- Who is eligible to apply for UK citizenship
- How long it takes to get citizenship in the UK
- How to apply for UK citizenship.
Who can apply for British citizenship?
To successfully apply for UK citizenship, you must fall into one of the following categories:
- People born in the UK to non-UK parents
- Spouses or civil partners of British citizens
- Those who have indefinite leave to remain in the UK
- Those with settled status under the EU settlement scheme
- People eligible under the Windrush Compensation Scheme.
You may also be eligible to apply for citizenship if:
- One of your parents is British
- One of your parents has citizenship with a British overseas territory
- You’re stateless, or have previously given up your citizenship.
The 5 basic requirements for becoming a British citizen
None of the above criteria make you automatically eligible for UK citizenship. There are also some basic requirements you need to meet, and tests you must pass to apply successfully.
To apply for British citizenship, you must:
- Be age 18 or over (parents can apply on a child’s behalf)
- Be of good character — that means you haven’t committed any serious crimes
- Live in the UK
- Prove you meet the English language requirements
- Pass the Life in the UK test.
How long does it take to become a citizen in the UK?
It takes approximately 6 months for UK Visas and Immigration to issue a decision for your citizenship application. But you’ll need to have lived in the UK for longer than this before you can apply.
The length of time you need to have lived in the UK before applying for citizenship depends on your eligibility route:
- EU settled status: 12 months
- Spouse or civil partner: 3 years
- Indefinite leave to remain: 5 years (plus 1 year after getting ILTR before you can apply for citizenship)
- Windrush Scheme: must have lived in the UK since you/your parents arrived.
You should also allow time for passing the Life in the UK test and collecting other evidence.
Does UK citizenship last forever?
Yes. When you’re granted citizenship, you’ll be a UK citizen for life. Unlike indefinite leave to remain, you’ll be able to leave the UK for as long as you like without losing citizenship.
The UK government has the power to strip people of citizenship if they use fraudulent methods to become a citizen, or are convicted of a serious crime.
How much does UK citizenship cost?
It costs £1,330 for an adult to apply for UK citizenship. For children, the cost is £1,012.
Adults must also pay for:
- Life in the UK test: £50
- Sending fingerprints and photographs to the Home Office: £19.20
- English proficiency test (if needed): £150.
You might also choose to seek advice from an immigration lawyer. Legal fees aren't included in the above estimates.
Does the UK allow dual citizenship?
Yes. You won’t need to give up your existing citizenship to become a UK citizen.
However, some other countries (including China, India, and Ukraine) don’t recognise or allow dual citizenship. So check if you will endanger your existing nationality by becoming a British citizen.
What do you need to apply for UK citizenship?
You’ll need lots of evidence to support your citizenship application. This may include:
- Biometric information — your fingerprints and a photograph
- Identity documents — usually your passport or Home Office travel document
- Evidence of your lawful permanent UK address
- Employment documents — your contract, a letter confirming employment dates, and/or your P60 (to prove length of residence in the UK)
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate (if applying as a spouse/civil partner)
- Proof of your knowledge of the English language
- Life in the UK test results
- Letters from two referees.
Not everyone needs to supply all of these documents. It depends which eligibility route you’re taking. For example, you may not need employment documents if you’re applying as a spouse or civil partner.
What is the Life In The UK test?
The Life in the UK test is designed to prove your knowledge of British customs, values, traditions, and laws, so you can live comfortably in the UK. You have 45 minutes to answer 24 questions about life in the UK under test conditions.
You can prepare for the test by studying the official handbook, which is available as a book, ebook, or audiobook.
UK citizenship referee requirements
You must choose two people to provide references for your application. These are your referees, and they should:
- Have known you for at least 3 years
- Be a British citizen themselves
- Be older than 25
- Not be a family member
- At least one referee must be a professional person.
How to prove your English language knowledge
If you’re not from a native English speaking country, you must be able to prove you can communicate in English. Acceptable evidence includes:
- An English qualification at CEFR level B1 or above
- A degree taught in English.
Some people are exempt due to age (over 65 years old) or a health condition. In these instances, you need to supply evidence of your exemption.
How to apply for UK citizenship
There are 2 ways of applying for UK citizenship: fill in the online application form yourself, or apply through an agency or solicitor.
Using an agency may be more expensive, but you’ll have support and guidance on-hand throughout the process, which can be helpful. If you decide to use an agency, make sure they’re registered with the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner.
Learn more about immigration and visas in the UK
At Bloom, we aim to help UK newcomers settle into their new home quickly and easily. Find out more about getting a visa and settling in the UK in our series: