How to apply for British Citizenship

How to apply for British Citizenship

Check if you can become a UK citizen

There are different ways to apply for British citizenship (or ‘naturalisation’) based on your circumstances. If you’re eligible in more than one way you can choose which way to apply.

If you’ve applied for citizenship, you’ll need permission to stay in the UK until you’re granted citizenship. Your permission needs to last until you have had your citizenship ceremony. If you have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, this counts as permission to stay.

If you were born in the UK

You do not automatically get British citizenship if you were born in the UK. It depends on when you were born and your parents’ circumstances. You need to check if you’re a British citizen. You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if you were born in the UK and are not automatically a British citizen.

 

If you’re married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen

To apply as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen you must have lived in the UK for the last 3 years.

You’ll also need to have either:

  • indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

If you do, you’ll be eligible to apply for citizenship immediately.

 

If you have indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

You can usually apply for ILR after you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years.

To apply for citizenship with ILR you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it.

 

If you have ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme

To apply for citizenship with settled status you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it.

 

If you had permanent residence status before you got settled status

You can no longer apply for citizenship based on your permanent residence status. If you had permanent residence status, you can count the time that you had it towards the 12 months you need to wait before applying for citizenship with your settled status.

If you have ‘permanent residence’ status

You can no longer apply for British citizenship with ‘permanent residence’ status. You might still be able to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, if you have not already. You can then use this to apply for citizenship.

Other ways you can be eligible

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if:

  • you have a British parent
  • you have another type of British nationality
  • you’re stateless
  • you previously gave up (renounced) your citizenship

If you’re a Commonwealth citizen

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship under the Windrush Scheme if both:

  • you or one of your parents arrived in the UK before 1973
  • you’ve lived in the UK and not been away from it for more than 2 years

If your parent arrived in the UK before 1973, you must have either:

  • been born in the UK
  • arrived in the UK before you were 18

Some Commonwealth citizens have ‘right of abode’ in the UK. This means you can live or work in the UK without immigration restrictions. Check if you can apply to prove you have right of abode in the UK.

Dual citizenship

Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This means you can be a British citizen and also a citizen of other countries. You do not need to apply for dual citizenship. You can apply for foreign citizenship and keep your British citizenship.

Many countries do not accept dual citizenship. Check with the country’s consulate or embassy in the UK to find out about that country’s laws on dual nationality.

 

Apply for British citizenship

To get British citizenship in the UK, check how to apply in your situation.

Travelling abroad

As a dual national you cannot get diplomatic help from the British government when you are in the other country where you hold citizenship.

For example, if you hold both British and Chinese citizenship you cannot get diplomatic help from the UK when you’re in China.

Dual citizenship, marriage and children

You do not automatically become a British citizen when you marry a person from the UK. You need to apply as the spouse of a British citizen. In some countries, a married person is automatically counted as having their partner’s nationality. Children may also automatically have a parent’s nationality even if they were born abroad. Check with the country’s consulate or high commission in the UK to find out about that country’s laws on dual nationality.

Citizenship ceremonies

You need to attend a citizenship ceremony if you’re 18 or over and have successfully applied to become a citizen. If you become a citizen under the Windrush scheme you can choose if you want to attend a citizenship ceremony. You will not have to pay the fee.

Booking your ceremony

Your local authority will organise your citizenship ceremony. They are usually done in groups but you can ask for a private ceremony if you prefer. Book your citizenship ceremony with your local authority. You must take your invitation when you go to your ceremony. You’re usually allowed to take 2 guests.

 

How much it costs

The cost of your ceremony is included in your application fee. You might need to pay more for a private ceremony – check how much with your local authority.

If you’re not living in the UK

You can ask the embassy or consulate in the country you’re living in if you can have the ceremony there instead, or if they can provide a virtual ceremony. If you’re only abroad for a short time, you might be asked to postpone the ceremony until you return to the UK. You must still book your ceremony within 6 months of getting an invitation.

 

You might have to prove you’re planning to live in the UK permanently if you’re going to be abroad for more than a few months. If you applied for citizenship in the UK, you cannot have your ceremony abroad.

 

During the ceremony

You’ll have to make 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.

At the end of the ceremony you’ll be presented with your certificate of British citizenship and a welcome pack. If you attend a virtual ceremony, you’ll be sent a copy of the certificate afterwards. Some local authorities sell photographs or videos of the event.

When you do not need to attend a ceremony

You will not need to attend a citizenship ceremony if you’re registering to become a:

  • British overseas territories citizen
  • British overseas citizen
  • British subject

You’ll still need to make an oath or affirmation of allegiance – you’ll be sent details of how to do this.

British passport eligibility

You can apply for a British passport if you have British nationality. But there are some circumstances where your application can be refused or your existing passport can be retained.

When you can get or hold a British passport

You must have British nationality to apply for or hold a British passport.

Having British nationality does not guarantee you a passport. For example, you may not get a new passport (or your existing passport may be taken from you) if:

  • you’re suspected of a serious crime and an arrest warrant has been issued
  • a court order stops you having a UK passport or restricts your travel
  • you’re on bail and bail conditions mean you cannot leave the UK
  • you’ve been brought back to the UK before at the government’s expense and have not repaid what you owe
  • you’ve received a European Union or United Nations order which restricts your travel

A passport can also be cancelled or not renewed if it’s for a child and there’s a court order in place stopping the child from leaving the UK. Your eligibility and entitlement to a British passport will be considered when you apply. Passports belong to the government and can be cancelled or withdrawn at any time.

Types of British nationality

You can apply for a British passport if you’re a:

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

Give up (renounce) citizenship or nationality

Overview

You can apply to give up (renounce) your British citizenship or status. If accepted, you’ll get a ‘declaration of renunciation’ that you can use to show that you’re no longer British.

You might do this, for example, if you want to become a citizen of another country that does not allow dual citizenship.

You can renounce your:

  • British citizenship
  • Overseas territories citizenship
  • Overseas citizenship
  • Subject status
  • British national (overseas) status

You can give up more than one at a time.

Giving up your citizenship or status only affects you and not any other members of your family – although it could affect the status of any children you have in future.

Your right to live in the UK will be affected if you give up citizenship.

 

When you can give up your citizenship

You can only give up your British citizenship or status if either of the following apply:

  • you already have another citizenship or nationality
  • you’re going to get another citizenship or nationality after giving up your British citizenship or status

You must also be:

  • aged 18 or over (unless you’re under 18 and married)
  • of sound mind (unless it’s decided that it’s in your best interest)

Apply

Fill in the form online. You’ll usually be able to keep your documents while your application is being processed.

If you live in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or a British overseas territory, you have to apply in person or by post instead. Check which you can do with your governor’s office.

If you live elsewhere, you can apply by post. This will take much longer than applying online because of coronavirus (COVID-19). Avoid applying by post, especially if you need your documents back by a specific date.

It is taking longer than usual to process applications because of coronavirus. This will not affect the decision.

Get help to apply online

You can get help with completing the online form if you:

  • do not feel confident using a computer or mobile device
  • do not have internet access

You can only use this service if you’re applying in the UK.

 

After you’ve applied

You’ll get a ‘declaration of renunciation’ if your application is successful. This will be your application form, officially signed and stamped. The date your citizenship or status stops will be on the form. They will return your supporting documents to you whether you’re successful or not.

Time limits if you’re getting another citizenship

You’ll have 6 months from when you received your declaration to get another citizenship – otherwise the declaration will no longer be valid and you’ll keep your British citizenship or status.

Resume your British nationality

In some cases it’s possible to resume your British nationality after renouncing it. Read the guidance to check if you can apply.

How to apply

Fill in the form online. You’ll usually be able to keep your documents while your application is being processed.

If you live in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or a British overseas territory, you have to apply in person or by post instead. Check which you can do with your governor’s office.

If you live elsewhere, you can apply by post. This will take much longer than applying online because of coronavirus. Avoid applying by post, especially if you need your documents back by a specific date.

 

Get help to apply online

You can get help with completing the online form if you:

  • do not feel confident using a computer or mobile device
  • do not have internet access

You can only use this service if you’re applying in the UK.

You cannot get immigration advice through this service.

Fee

Pay the current fee for registration.

Your fee will not be refunded if your application is refused.

 

Supporting documents

You’ll need to provide:

  • your copy of your declaration of renunciation (either form RN1 or R6)
  • your passport, or certificate of naturalisation or registration for your current citizenship or nationality
  • an official letter or statement from the country you’re currently a citizen or national of saying that if you had not given up your UK citizenship you’d have lost or failed to get your current citizenship or nationality

 

If you gave up United Kingdom and Colonies citizenship you’ll also need to provide:

  • the birth, naturalisation or registration certificate of the person you have the connection to the UK with, and evidence of your relationship to that person, for example a birth, marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • evidence that you gave up citizenship because you believed you’d be deprived of your citizenship of a Commonwealth country unless you did so – this should be a separate letter explaining this plus any supporting documents

You may have to provide different documents if you originally gave up citizenship for a reason other than you’d have lost or failed to get citizenship of another country.

Providing biometric information and supporting documents

When you apply, you’ll be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo).

You’ll also need to submit your supporting documents. You can:

  • upload them into the online service
  • have them scanned at your UKVCAS appointment

You must not travel outside of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man until you get a decision. Your application will be withdrawn if you do.

 

If you’re applying from the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or a British overseas territory

You’ll be told how to provide your biometric information and supporting documents when you apply.

Read also: How to apply for a UK Student Visa

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