Apply for British Citizenship by Naturalisation

Naturalisation as a British citizen is a significant life decision, and it is best that you consult an immigration specialist before proceeding with your application. As a niche law firm specialising in UK immigration and nationality law, our lawyers are uniquely qualified to provide all the help you require to ensure your application is successful.

What does naturalisation involve?

Naturalisation is the process most adult applicants must undergo to become British citizens. If your application is successful (see the required criteria below) you will gain the full range of rights enjoyed by nationals of the UK. Our solicitors can assist you through this journey and maximise your chances for a successful naturalisation application.

Who can apply for naturalisation for British citizenship?

Once you have settled in the UK and lived here legally for five years, or three years if you are married to a British citizen, you may be eligible to naturalise as British. Before you begin your British naturalisation application, you must also meet the following requirements:

  • You must be aged 18 or over
  • You must be able to communicate in English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic to an acceptable level
  • You must be of good character. For example, you must not have a recent criminal record
  • You must possess a full understanding of the step you are taking and the legal implications of becoming a British citizen
  • You must have sufficient knowledge about life in the UK
  • You must intend to continue to live in the UK or to continue in Crown service, following the acceptance of your naturalisation application

What documents do I need to apply for British Citizenship?

The list of documents you must have to apply for British Citizenship is not very long, but making sure you have the correct certification and proof is vital. On this page, we have listed everything you need for a successful application.

Learn more about applying for British citizenship by reading our dedicated guide, here.

British Nationality Act – Rules for Children

In line with the British Nationality Act 1981, children must undergo a registration process before they can be awarded British nationality. The appropriate approach will be determined by factors such as where and when the child was born and the status of the parents.

Latitude Law can advise you on the best route available for your child. Our lawyers have particular expertise in complex cases involving adoption and surrogacy. For an application form and guidance, contact one of our expert solicitors.

FAQs About British Citizenship

What are the requirements for British citizenship?

To be eligible for British citizenship, you must meet a number of requirements. Firstly, you must have been living or working in the UK for a minimum of five years (three if you are married to a British citizen). On top of this, you must have held indefinite leave to remain or the settled status for a minimum of 12 months – this does not apply if you are married to a British citizen.

If you meet all relevant requirements, you must then pass an English language knowledge test and a Life in the UK test.

Finally, you will need to provide the correct documentation, including proof of your visa, residence, finances, biometric information and identity.

You will need to provide all of this information in your citizenship application, which you will need to submit without any errors. This might seem like a lot to consider; to avoid making any mistakes or feeling overwhelmed by the process, speak to one of our expert immigration lawyers today.

What are the English language requirements for passing a British citizenship application?

As part of your application process, you must pass a Level B1 English speaking and listening test. Alternatively, you can also take a test in Welsh or Scottish Gaelic. You must take the test at an approved UK test centre.

However, if you have a degree qualification for a course that was taught or researched in English, you may be able to present this as evidence of your language skills instead.

If you are a national of any of the counties listed here, you will not need to take the language test.

What is the Life in the UK test?

When applying for British citizenship, it is mostly likely that you will need to take a Life in the UK test. The test costs a fee of £50 and you must make sure to book it three days in advance, so make sure to book it well in advance of your application deadline. To book the test, you will be required to provide identification, such as your passport, travel document, or biometric residence permit or card.

Those who do not need to take the test as part of their British citizenship application include children, those over the age of 64 or people with long-term physical or mental conditions.

You must take the test at one of the test centres in the UK – you can choose which one when you book your test.

During the test, you will be required to answer 24 questions in 45 minutes on the information contained within the Life in the UK handbook. To pass, you will need to get at least 75% of the questions correct. If you fail the test, you can attempt it as many times as you need, but you will be required to pay the £50 booking fee each time you do. Failing the test prior to passing it does not prejudice your citizenship application.

Am I eligible for British Citizenship by naturalisation?

Yes, if you have held indefinite leave to remain in the UK for at least 12 months (unless you’re married to a British citizen), have lived in the UK for the last five years (three years if you are married to a British citizen), have not been out of the country for more than a certain number of days, and are of “good character”.

What are the different routes to British citizenship?

There are a number of ways to become a British national:

  • Naturalisation for adults with indefinite leave to remain or settled status
  • Registration for children, those who hold another form of British nationality, or who have an entitlement to register due to British parentage
  • Being born in the UK – this requires one parent to be a British national or hold settled status
  • Being born outside of the UK to British parents who are citizens other than by descent
  • Adoption by a British court before reaching the age of 18

What are the 'good character' requirements for UK naturalisation?

Before you can become a UK citizen, you must fulfil good character requirements. To assess this, the Home Office will assess your background to understand whether you have taken any actions that could be deemed as ‘anti-UK’ or dangerous to other people who live in the country.

Aspects of your background that will be investigated include your immigration history, financial stability and criminal record. If you are found to have had a criminal conviction that resulted in a prison sentence of four years or more, you will not be eligible to apply for British citizenship at any time. There is a sliding scale of waiting times for those who were convicted of lesser offences.

Your finances will be checked against HMRC and court records; if you have been declared bankrupt, this may prevent you from naturalising. Seek specialist advice from out legal team if this affects you.

As part of your application, you must disclose this information – failure to do so will normally lead to your application being refused.

Do convictions abroad affect your good character?

If you have been convicted of a crime and it has gone on your criminal record, you may not be eligible for British citizenship, either at any time, or until a certain period of time has elapsed. Broadly, the crime for which you were convicted must constitute a crime in UK law for it to count against you. You should seek specialist advice about the impact of overseas convictions on your British citizenship application.

How long does it take to apply for British naturalisation?

The Home Office states that they aim to complete naturalisation applications within six months of submission. Of course, this period is not set in stone and applications can sometimes be met with delays. There is no priority processing option for naturalisation.

What documents are required before I start the British naturalisation process?

Before beginning the process, you will need to pass a Life in the UK test and, if you do not meet the English language requirement in another way (e.g. by being a national of a majority-speaking English country or by having a degree taught in English), an English language test to level B1 CEFR in speaking and listening.

Can I apply for British Citizenship as an EEA national?

Yes, if you have been granted ILR, also known as settled status, under the EU Settlement Scheme and can meet the other requirements you will be eligible for British citizenship.

How do I apply for a British passport?

You can apply for a British passport once your naturalisation application has been approved and you have been granted a certificate of naturalisation. Note that most applicants for a first passport may be required to attend an interview.

How long can I stay outside of the UK and still be eligible for British citizenship?

Depending how long you have been in the UK, your absence allowance will vary:

  • If you are married to a British citizen and are relying on a three-year period of residence, you will have an absence allowance of 270 days in the three years, 90 days in the year immediately before the date of your application
  • If you are relying on a five-year period of residence, you will have an absence allowance of 450 days, 90 days in the year immediately before the date of your application

The Home Office can exercise discretion where there are excess absences for good reason; you should seek specialist advice about this before proceeding with a citizenship application.

Contact Latitude Law

If you have any questions regarding any of the above criteria, your eligibility to apply for British citizenship or simply require legal advice on UK naturalisation or registration of children, feel free to contact the experienced immigration and nationality lawyers at Latitude Law.

Call 0044 161 234 6800 (Manchester) or 0044 207 046 7185 (London), or complete our online enquiry form and make an appointment with an immigration solicitor to discuss your naturalisation application. We can arrange appointments in our London, Liverpool, or Manchester offices, or we can take your instructions via email or phone.

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All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 19/12/2022