British Citizenship Requirements

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The British citizenship requirements will vary depending on your individual circumstances. There are two processes you can go through to become a British citizen: registration and naturalisation. Registration is the most common route for children under 18 where naturalisation is more common for adults.

Once you have determined which process you need to apply through, you will need to meet the requirements related to it. These can include residence, English language ability, Life in the UK test and the good character requirement.

How can IAS help?

With IAS, your personal lawyer will advise you on the best route to apply for British Citizenship before managing your application for you. Your lawyer will inform you of the necessary documents and evidence to prove you meet the requirements.

To find out more, or to start your application for British Citizenship, call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online.


How do I register as a British citizen?

To meet the British Citizenship requirements, you usually need to have been born to a mother or father with British Citizenship or settled status.

For this route, you must have:

  • been born to a British mother, before January 1st, 1983;
  • have been born to a British father;
  • a connection with Gibralter (e.g if you are a British overseas territories citizen);
  • a connection with Hong Kong (you have been ordinarily resident since February 3rd, 1997); or
  • a British grandparent (in certain circumstances).

If you were born in the UK, and one or more of your parents has British Citizenship or Settled Status, you are automatically a British citizen.

This means that you do not have to register as a British citizen.

Registration cost:

  • Per adult: £1,206 application fee
  • Per child: £1,012 application fee
  • Adult from Gibraltar or Hong Kong: £1,163 application fee
  • Child from Gibraltar or Hong Kong: £973

For all registration applications, you need to pay an extra fee of £19.20 for your biometric residence card.

How do I naturalise as a British citizen?

The process of naturalising as a British citizen is generally more complex than the registration process. There are various factors involved when trying to meet the British citizenship requirements.

You can apply to naturalise as a British citizen if:

  • you are at least 18 years old;
  • you are of ‘good character’ (this means you have no serious/recent criminal record and no immigration offences from the last 10 years);
  • you plan to continue living in the UK once you are a citizen;
  • you have passed the Life in the UK test;
  • you have passed your English language requirements (if applicable);
  • you meet the residency requirements; and
  • you were in the UK at least 5 years before the day you made the application.

Residency requirements

the residency requirements for naturalisation vary depending on your circumstances.

If you are applying via a Spouse Visa, the British Citizenship requirements usually include:

  • living in the UK for a continuous period, for a minimum of three years;
  • spending a maximum of 270 days outside the UK during this time;
  • spending a maximum of 90 days outside the UK in the last year; and
  • not breaking any immigration laws during your time on your Spouse Visa

If you are applying from any other immigration route or visa category, you must have:

  • lived in the UK for a continuous period, for a minimum of five years;
  • spent a maximum of 450 days outside the UK during this time;
  • spent a maximum of 90 days outside the UK in the last year;
  • had Indefinite Leave to Remain for the past year (if you are a non-EEA national);
  • had Permanent Residence for the past year (if you are an EEA national); and
  • not committed any crimes or broken any immigration laws during your time in the UK.

Naturalisation cost: 

  • Per adult: £1330
  • Per child: £1012

Read our Form AN guide for more information on naturalisation.

What documents do I need to apply for British Citizenship?

If you are applying for British Citizenship as a spouse, you will need the following documents:

  • A passed Life in the UK test;
  • evidence of competence in English (qualification or British degree certificate);
  • passport or travel documents which cover the last three years;
  • (if your passport does not cover the past three years) you need to show sufficient evidence of living in the UK, such as study records, P60’s, wage slips, benefit letters;
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate; and
  • completed application form (AN).

If you are applying to become a British citizen through a different route, you will need the same documents. However, you will need to prove you have spent the last five years as a resident in the UK rather than three.

What are the English language requirements for citizenship?

To meet the British Citizenship requirements, you need to show you are competent in English. You can do this with either:

  • a degree qualification which was taught or research in English; or
  • an English test qualification of a minimum of ‘C2’.

Not every nationality of person needs to demonstrate that they meet English language requirements to become a citizen. For example, if your first language is English, you do not need to pass a test. The countries who are exempt from the tests are as followings:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • The USA

There are other circumstances in which you will not need to pass the English test in order to meet the British citizenship requirements. These are:

  • If you are aged 65 or older when you submit your application;
  • if you are not in the right physical or mental condition to sit the test; or
  • exceptional compassionate circumstances.

What is the Life in the UK test?

Passing the Life in the UK test is a necessity for anyone who wants to meet the British Citizenship requirements.

during the test, you are asked 24 multiple-choice questions. These questions are about a range of topics: including British history, custom, tradition, geography, and culture.

You are given 45 minutes to answer these and you need a 75% pass-rate to succeed.

For more information on what to expect in the Life in the UK test

How long does it take to get British Citizenship?

The British Citizenship application process usually takes around three months. However, this is the top estimate. Citizenship applications take significantly longer than many other visa applications because it is a far more complex procedure. When you become a British citizen, you are free from all immigration boundaries and gain full rights in the UK. As a result, UKVI are particularly cautious with which applications they choose to accept.

Do I qualify for a British passport?

Once you have met the British Citizenship requirements and received your Certificate of Naturalisation or registered citizenship status at your citizenship ceremony, you can apply for a passport.

This process should usually take a maximum of six weeks, and the UKVI may invite you to a separate interview for this.

For more information on how to apply for a British passport

What services does IAS offer?

Applying for British Citizenship is one of the most important processes you will undertake. Our service will ensure you are in the best position to meet the British Citizenship requirements before you apply.

Our services include:

  • identifying the best route for your circumstances.
  • Ensuring that your documents are sufficient before your application is submitted.
  • Completing all application forms to a professional standard.
  • Submitting a Letter of Representation with your application, referring to the merits of your case and relevant case law.
  • Liaising with the Home Office until a decision is reached.

For more information on whether you meet the British Citizenship requirements, contact us online or by calling 0333 363 8577 today.

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