We provide British Citizenship application services and advice. For our fees and applicable Government charges please see our Fees Scale page.
On 1st November 2005 the Home Office issued notice that all applicants for British Citizenship have to sit an exam, taken on a computer, in English which will be an examination of the candidates knowledge of life in the UK. Special courses are run at some 100 Learn Direct and similar centres throughout the country. The test fee is in addition to the other fees payable.
Since 2nd April 2007 this test needs to have been passed at the Indefinite Leave to Remain application stage and applicants for Citizenship who have already passed the test will not need to do another test.
Applicants who are not up to TESOL 3 may join an English with Citizenship course and if they have made progress by one level up they can get a letter and official certificate from their school/college which will exempt them from the need to take the test, contact Learn Direct for details in your area.
British Citizenship and Naturalisation if you are not claiming based on Ancestry are normally claimed after a qualifying periond in the UK.
PERMANENT RESIDENCY (INDEFINITE LEAVE TO REMAIN) IN THE UK
In ALL cases you will need to have permanent residency (indefinite leave to remain) in the UK before you can apply for UK citizenship.
APPLYING FOR CITIZENSHIP/NATURALISATION
If you are the SPOUSE of a UK citizen you can apply after you have been resident in the UK for the qualifying period.
You must meet the following conditions:
1. That you were living in the UK at the start of the qualifying period. This means that you must have been physically present in the UK on the date 'X' years before the date the Home Office receive your application, if you were abroad on this date your application will be refused. 'X' = 3 or 5 years depending which route you are on.
2. You must have permanent residence in the UK when your application is sent to the Home Office.
3. You must not have spent over the permitted number of days outside of the UK.
4. You must not have been in breach of any UK immigration rules throughout the whole period of your residency
5. You must not have a criminal record or pending case.
For ALL UK citizenship applications the following conditions must be met:
1. Your minimum age must be 18 years.
2. Since 1st November 2005 you must have passed the Citizenship exam or have attended an approved course.
3. You must have character references.
4. You should be intending to live in the UK.
Children under 18 can apply for British Citizenship and it is up to the discretion of the Secretary of State as to whether it will be granted. A fee is payable for a child.
It takes about six months to process an application. After the Citizenship has been granted you will receive notification of this and your nearest designated registry office will contact you to arrange for you to attend a citizenship ceremony at which you will receive your official certificate. You are normally allowed to invite guests to your ceremony. After you have the certificate you can immediately apply for a UK passport if you wish.
NATIONALITY CHECKING SERVICE (NCS)
Some local councils have teamed up with the UKBA in order that all original documents and passports can be submitted to the Council who will check and copy them and then forward the copies to the Home Office for processing. This saves applicants having to part with valuable documents. This service is highly suggested as you get to keep your passports and other documents and it reduces the processing time by 3-4 months.
The Councils charge various fees for this as the fees are set by the individual councils. Full details and a list of participating councils and the appropriate contact details can be found at http://www.ind.homeoffice.gov.uk/applying/nationality/ncs
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE CEREMONY
When your application is approved you will be sent a letter stating this fact and inviting you to attend a ceremony at an address that will be given in the letter. You will be asked to telephone a given number to make an appointment. Generally the number will be an answering machine which will ask you for your name, reference number and your telephone number. The local authority will call you back with an appointment which is normally within 14 days.
When you arrive for the ceremony, you will be asked to show your letter of invitation.
You will then receive your pledge card with the words to the oath or affirmation and pledge that you have to say during the ceremony.
When you attend the ceremony, it will be usual to do so together with a group of other new citizens. The Superintendent Registrar or Deputy will host the ceremony. Local dignitaries will attend.
After a speech of welcome, the Superintendent Registrar will invite you to swear the Oath of allegiance or, if you prefer, to speak the affirmation of allegiance.
Oath of allegiance
I (name) swear by Almighty God that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law.
(If you wish you can swear the above oath on your own Holy Book which you are free to take with you and substitute the name 'God' with your own deity.)
Affirmation of allegiance
I (name) do solemnly and sincerely affirm that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her Heirs and Successors, according to law.
After the Oath or affirmation, you will take the citizenship Pledge
I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.
The Superintendent Registrar will then present you with your citizenship certificate and an information pack. There may be an informal celebration with light refreshments.
Correcting mistakes on your citizenship certificate:
If the personal details you gave do not appear correctly on your certificate, you should return it to:
The Home Office,
Citizenship Ceremonies Support Team,
3rd Floor, India Buildings,
Liverpool, L2 0QN.
You should explain the mistake and enclose evidence to support what you say. The Home Office usually wants to see official documents as evidence. If the mistake is yours, you may not be able to change it.
Citizenship ceremonies will normally be conducted in groups to reinforce the community nature of citizenship. You can, however, make an arrangement with your local authority for an individual ceremony. This may mean paying an additional fee.
You may wish to bring guests to your ceremony. You should discuss this when you make your ceremony appointment because the space for guests may be limited.
The Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act (Chapter 11) received Royal Assent on 21st July 2009. In addition to making changes to Customs and Passport control arrangements changes to the path to British Citizenship have been introduced which became effective in July 2011 two years after the Act was passed. It is intended that indefinite leave to remain in the UK will be replaced by a probationary citizenship category of leave to remain.
Briefly these changes are that:
The applicant must have been in the UK at the start of the qualifying period.
The applicant must not have been absent from the UK for more than 90 days in each year of the qualifying period.
The applicant must have had qualifying immigration status for the whole of the qualifying period without a break.
On the date of application the applicant must have either probationary citizenship leave, permanent residency, a qualifying common travel area entitlement, a Commonwealth right of abode or a permanent EEA entitlement to remain in the UK.
An applicant who on the date of application has probationary citizenship status granted for the purposes of employment within the UK and has been in continuous employment since the granting of this leave.
An applicant must not at any time in the qualifying period have been in the UK in breach of the immigration laws.
For people with a relevant family association to a British national (for example the wife of a British national) the qualifying period before Citizenship can be applied for is raised from three to five years.
For people with no relevant family association the qualifying period is eight years.
All applicants will be required to be of good character.
All applicants must have sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic.
All applicants must have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK.
All applicants must intend to make the UK their homeland.
The Secretary of State will have some powers of discretion in deciding Citizenship applications.
Please contact us for help in making your application.
For current fees payable please see our Fees Scale page.