British Citizenship

1. What is British Citizenship

Those who have British Citizenship  can live and work in the UK free of any immigration controls and participate in political life, such as voting in elections. British Citizenship entitles you to live and work in the UK free of any immigration controls and qualifies you to participate in political life, such as voting in elections. The various other states of residency include right to abode, limited leave to remain and indefinite leave to remain, which is just short of citizenship.

2. Who can qualify?

Those who want to apply for British Citizenship with permanent residency must have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting permanent residence document. Those who lived in UK for 5 years can apply for permanent residence status and if the 5 year period was more than 12 months ago, they can apply for citizenship as soon as they get their permanent residence document. One can apply for UK citizenship by naturalisation after 5 years of residence, or 3 years of residence if he/she is married to or in a civil partnership with a UK citizen. One should meet the UK citizenship requirements and should have had UK indefinite leave to remain for the last 12 months.

3. What are the different routes?

There are  different routes to obtain British Citizenship. It can be through ancestry or descent. The majority of applicants apply for Naturalisation through either of the following two routes – naturalise after 6 years in the UK,  naturalise after living for 3 years with a UK spouse. An individual will be eligible for citizenship if he/she has been resident in the UK for 5 years, and have had ILR for at least one year. Normally, it will take 6 years for an individual to become eligible for British Citizenship. To meet the citizenship requirements an applicant must not be absent from the UK for more than 450 days in the 5 year qualifying period, and for not more than 90 days in the final 12 months of that 5 year period.

If applicant for British Citizenship is married to a British Citizen or is in a civil partnership with a British citizen, then he/she will be eligible to apply for citizenship once he/she has been resident in the UK for 3 years, and have ILR. Normally, it will  take 5 years for an individual to be considered eligible to become a British citizen.


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4. Document checklist

Those who apply for British Citizenship are required to submit the following documents along with their application.

1. Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or Permanent Residence Card to prove that the applicant is settled in UK.

2. Certificate to prove that the applicant meets the knowledge of life as well as English language requirements.

3. Proof of Identity such as valid passport, valid travel document or birth certificate.

4. Proof of residence in UK for the relevant period – either 3 years or 5 years, as the case is.

Those who apply for British Citizenship on the basis of their marriage with a British Citizen will be required to submit additional documents.

5. Application form

Those who have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, EU settled status or permanent residence are eligible to apply for naturalisation as a British Citizen. They may fill in the naturalisation application form and also submit the supporting documents. They may also satisfy the other two criteria – language proficiency and life in the UK knowledge.


Normally, for naturalisation one can use the Form AN. One can either submit application form and supplementary original documents in the post or can complete the naturalisation form online.


The applicant can register his child under 18 as a British Citizen if the child qualifies through birth or adoption. Those who want to register their child have to  use Form MN1.

6. Cost of applying

The fee prescribed for British naturalisation for adults is £1,330. For children, the British naturalisation fee is £1012. The fee for British Naturalisation is to be paid to the Home Office in order to process the AN1 or MN1 application.


For adults there will be no increase in the nationality registration fee in 2020 to get registered as a British citizen for adults. Accordingly, the British Citizenship Fees for adults is £1,206. This includes citizenship ceremony fee of £80 also.

7. Processing time

The processing time for naturalization application will be 4 weeks.  Another 16 to 24 weeks are required to complete the registration. So, It will take about 5 to 7 months for an applicant to become a British Citizen from the date on which he/she makes the application for British Citizenship.

8. Applying on the basis of descent

A person can be British Citizen by descent if he/she was born outside UK and is acquired if one or both his/her parents are British citizens. One cannot automatically pass on British Citizenship to a child who is born abroad. It will be on the basis of a parent’s or a grandparent’s birth and legal adoption. Under UK nationality rules, there are two types of citizenship – British citizenship by descent’ or ‘British citizenship otherwise than by descent’. British citizenship by descent allows individuals who were not born in the UK to become British citizens on the basis of the British status of the parent or in some cases grandparent.

If one was born before 1 January 1983 to a British mother he/she can apply for British Citizenship under section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981. However, he/she will be regarded as a British Citizen by descent.


9. Applying on the basis of birth

Even if a child is born in UK he/she will not automatically receive British Citizenship by birth. The child will be registered as a British Citizen at birth, only if either or both parents hold British Citizenship or ‘settled status’. One cannot apply for settled status after living in UK continuously for five years.


If the child was born in UK to non-British parents who remained in the UK for at least the first 10 years of their life, the child can be registered as a British Citizen. Also, the child should not spend more than 90 days out of UK in each year they lived in UK.


If a child was born in UK and at the time of their birth either of the parents were British Citizens or settled in the UK, then the child was automatically born a British Citizen otherwise than by descent.

10. Applying on the basis of marriage

A person can apply for British citizenship by marriage if he/she is aged 18 or above and is married to a British Citizen or is in a civil partnership with a British citizen. The applicant must have lived in UK for at least 3 years before the date of  application.

Eligibility for British Citizenship by marriage

  1. Be aged 18 or over.
  2. Be married to, or in a civil partnership with, a British Citizen.
  3. Have lived in the UK for a minimum of three years before applying and meeting residence requirements.
  4. Have passed the life in the UK test.
  5. Be of good character.

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11. Applying for your children

Parents can apply for  British Citizenship for their children using the application form MN1. The process is rather simple. The child must be registered as a British Citizen before applying for a British passport. They must also be registered before they enter the country.

A child will be automatically entitled to British Citizenship if he/she is born in UK to a mother or father either of whom is either a British Citizen or settled in UK at the time of the child’s birth.

Parents must apply separately for their children and they cannot include children in their own application. They can apply to ‘register’ their children for citizenship if they were born either outside UK or in UK before the parents got permanent residence status.

12. British citizenship test

Those who apply for British Citizenship are required to take the British Citizenship test as part of their application for British citizenship.

The applicant has to book his Life in the UK Test online at least 3 days in advance. He/she has to pay £50 as the test fee.

There are over 30 test centers all over UK. One can choose the center while booking the test.

There will be 24 questions about British traditions and customs that are to be answered in 45 minutes.

While booking the test the applicant should provide his email address, debit/credit card and an accepted form of ID.:

Applicants can use the official Handbook for the Life in the UK Test to prepare for the test.

13. Fees

There will be no increase in  registration fee as a British citizen for adults for the year 2020. Accordingly, the British Citizenship Fees for adults is £1,206, inclusive of citizenship ceremony fee of £80

The Home Office administrative cost for processing the British Citizenship application in 2020 is £372. In case an application is unsuccessful or withdrawn then the fees are refunded after deducting £25.

14. Applying for child born abroad

The British Citizens who are living outside the UK and have children out-of-country, the children will not automatically get British Citizenship by descent. These  children who were born outside the UK can get British Citizenship through adoption, naturalisation or registration. Using the application form MN1 they can register their children as British Citizens. It is a simple process.

15. Applying for over 65

Those who want to obtain UK Indefinite Leave to Remain as well as UK Citizenship are required to clear the official Life in the UK test. But those who are aged under 18 or over 65 or have a physical or mental condition are not required to take the test.


Also those who apply for UK Citizenship or ILR in UK are required to meet the knowledge of English language requirement. If the applicant is aged 65 or over he/she is not required to meet the knowledge of English language requirement. There are no other exemptions for applying for British Citizenship.


16. What is British citizenship ceremony

During the British Citizenship ceremony, the applicant has to make an oath of allegiance (or an affirmation if you prefer not to swear by God) and a pledge. This means that the applicant promises to respect the rights, freedoms and laws of the UK. At the end of the ceremony the applicant will be presented with his certificate of British citizenship and a welcome pack.

The ceremony usually lasts for about 45 minutes. The applicant is asked to arrive at least 30 minutes in advance so that he will get sufficient time to complete the registration formalities and also enjoy the refreshments.

Usually there is no dress code for a citizenship ceremony. However, if it takes place at a High Commission, the High Commission may have a dress code. The applicant should check with the office of the High Commission.

17. What are the character requirements

Following are the “Good Character” Requirements For British Citizenship:

  • The applicant is 18 or over.
  • Applicant will continue to live in UK.
  • Applicant has met the knowledge of language and life in the UK requirements.
  • Applicant meets the residency requirement.
  • Applicant is of good character.

Anybody over the age of ten who applies for registration or naturalisation as a British citizen needs to meet the so-called “good character requirement”. This is a mandatory requirement set out in the British Nationality Act 1981. If a person is deemed by the Home Office not to be “of good character” then his or her application for citizenship will be rejected.


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