British Citizenship

If you’re looking to become a British Citizen, there are a few requirements that you must meet before you’re able to apply. Here, Trinity helps you to understand what you must do to apply for British Citizenship in the UK.

Read more to learn about applying for British Citizenship.

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What is British Citizenship?

British Citizenship is a legal status that says you are a member of the country, and should therefore be exempt from immigration laws that govern a person’s right to live and work in the UK. It also means that you have a legal right to a British passport too.

You’re naturally a British Citizen if you were born here and have parents who are British Citizens - if you’re unsure whether you are a British Citizen, you can check your citizenship status. You may also have a different type of British Citizenship, such as:

  • British overseas territories citizen
  • British overseas citizen 
  • British national (overseas)
  • British protected person

How do I apply for British Citizenship?

If you are looking to become a British Citizen, then you will need to apply for citizenship through the UK Home Office. There are some requirements that will affect whether you are eligible to apply. 

British Citizenship requirements

If you are not naturally a UK citizen, then there may be specific routes that you’ll need to take to be eligible to apply. Your route to apply for British Citizenship will depend on your personal circumstances, such as:

You're married to or in a civil partnership with a British Citizen

If you’re legally married or in a civil partnership with someone who is a registered British Citizen, then you may be able to apply for British Citizenship if you’ve lived in the UK for the past 3 years (presumably on a spouse visa). At the point of application, you will need to have either settled status or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).

You have Indefinite Leave to Remain

To be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, you usually have to have lived in the UK for 5 years - after you have Indefinite Leave to Remain, you'll be able to apply for citizenship in the UK 12 months after getting it.

You have ‘settled status’ 

If you have settled status as part of the EU settlement scheme, you must have lived in the UK for at least 12 months after getting it.

The UK Government suggests that you can automatically apply for citizenship if:

  • You have a British parent
  • You have another type of British nationality
  • You have a parent with British overseas territories citizenship
  • You’re stateless
  • You previously gave up (renounced) your citizenship
  • Other special circumstances apply to you

British Citizenship test

To be able to apply for British Citizenship, you’ll need to take and pass a Life in the UK test via the UK Government website. Within this test, you’ll answer questions about various aspects of living in the UK, such as customs, traditions, history and lifestyle. You won’t need to take the Life in the UK test if: 

  • You’re under 18 years of age
  • You’re over 65 years of age
  • You’ve passed it before (perhaps as part of a settlement application such as Indefinite Leave to Remain 
  • You have a long term physical or mental health condition that can be proven by a medical professional

What is naturalisation?

Naturalisation means that you become a legal citizen of a country that you weren’t born in. If you don’t have a British parent and you weren’t born in the UK, then naturalisation is the most common route to gaining British Citizenship.

To become a naturalised citizen of the UK, you’ll need to apply to the Home Office and meet the criteria found within the British Nationality Act 1981. If you meet the criteria, then the application will be granted and you can attend a ceremony to become a British Citizen and obtain a Certificate of Naturalisation.

How to apply for naturalisation

Applying for naturalisation in the UK involves filling out an application form and paying a fee on the UK Government website. However, before you do so, you should check that you have met the following requirements:

  • A proven legal residence for a set period in the UK
  • A permanent immigration status (eg. Indefinite Leave to Remain)
  • A pass on the “good character” test
  • A pass on the Life in the UK test

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British Citizenship frequently asked questions

Many countries don’t accept dual citizenship, but the UK does. This means that while you’re legally a British Citizen, you’re also a legal citizen of another country. You don’t need to apply for dual citizenship - for example, if you’re a British Citizen, you maintain this status even if you apply for citizenship in another country. Dual citizenship does come with its own restrictions, so it's worth checking these on the UK government website.

If you've successfully applied to become a British Citizen, then you’ll be invited along to a British Citizenship ceremony - usually within 3 months of being accepted. Here, you’ll take an oath of allegiance (or an affirmation if you prefer not to swear by God) and a pledge. This means you promise to respect the rights, freedoms and laws of the UK.

The cost of applying to become a British Citizen varies, so it’s best to check the UK government website before applying - check the latest British Citizenship application costs.

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