City, town and village > Citizenship > How to Get British Citizen by Naturalisation


British citizenship by naturalisation: steps to obtain it

People decide to apply for naturalization for different reasons; some may want to show their gratitude to their new homeland, whereas others may only see it as a necessary step to access services currently unavailable to them. However, no matter the reasons, becoming a citizen in the UK will certainly grant you a number of benefits. For example, the right to live and work in the UK without any restrictions, enjoy the freedom of movement, and even apply for a British passport.

How to apply for British citizenship by naturalisation

What is the difference between citizenship and naturalisation?

In a few words, citizenship is a status. If you’re not entitled to automatic citizenship, there are a number of circumstances that could allow you to become a British citizen. For example, if you are married to a British citizen, or have ILR. This process of voluntarily becoming the citizen of one country is called naturalisation. Find out more about the possible routes to become a UK citizen, the requirements, the necessary steps, the processing times, and the cost of this procedure here.

If you were a child born in the UK, you need to know that does not necessarily mean you were automatically given British citizenship. Being born in British soil does not grant citizenship. To receive automatic citizenship, it’s important that at the time of your birth at least one of your parents:

  • • Was a British citizen
  • • Was an Irish citizen living in the UK
  • • Had permission to settle in the UK permanently

You are also entitled to automatic British citizenship if the above conditions are met, and you lived in the UK until you were 10 years old. If you don’t qualify for automatic British citizenship, you may still register to become one depending on when you were born and your parents’ circumstances. You can check the conditions here.

If you were adopted by a British citizen in a UK court, you’re automatically granted citizenship. Note that if you were adopted abroad, your adoption needs to have been certified as having been made in accordance with the Hague to qualify.

If neither of your parents had settled status or British citizenship when you were born in the UK, you may still qualify to apply for naturalisation. You need to be under 18 and one of your parents must have become a British citizen or acquired settled status at some point after your birth by the time you apply. This includes indefinite leave to remain (ILR), indefinite leave to enter the UK, or ‘settled status’ under the EU settled scheme.

Learn more about the types of visas currently available in the UK.

Note: if your child was born in the UK after Brexit, but one of the parents was born in an EU country and lived in the UK under ILR, settled status, or right to abode, they could still be entitled to British citizen automatically. We suggest you visit the official UK webpage to check if they are already a British citizen or see if you can register them as one.

If one of your parents is British but you were born outside the UK, you’ll automatically be considered a British citizen. However, British citizenship can be passed down to only the first generation of children born outside the UK. This means that although as the child of a British parent you are entitled to citizenship, your children will not if they are born outside the UK.

To apply you must:

  • • Be at least 18 years old and of good character
  • • Be married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen
  • • Have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or settled status if you’re under the EU settlement scheme
  • • Have lived in the UK for at least 5 years to get ILR or wait a year after you got ‘settled status’ as a European living in the UK
  • • Prove your level of English (at least a B1) by means of an approved English Language Test or have a degree that was taught/researched in English
  • • Have sat for and passed a British citizenship test about British traditions and customs called Life in the UK Test. You’ll need to book a test and pay the £50 fee.
Note: You can’t have lived outside the UK for more than 270 days on the last 3 years before your application. If you have, your application will be rejected.

You can get naturalised after having the ILR. In this case, you must:

  • • Be over 18 and of good character
  • • Prove you have lived in the UK for 5 years. You’ll need to have lived an additional 12 months after you’ve received ILR
  • • Prove your level of English (at least a B1) by means of an approved English Language Test (SELT) or have a degree that was taught/researched in English
  • • Have sat for and passed the Life in the UK Test about British traditions and customs. You’ll need to book a test and pay the £50 fee.
  • • Prove you intend to continue living in the UK

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if:

  • You have another type of British nationality. This applies if you lived in the UK for five years as a Crown servant (or worked as one overseas) and if you have a connection with Gibraltar or Hong Kong.
  • • You're stateless
  • • You previously gave up (renounced) your citizenship
  • • You are a commonwealth citizen and:
    • - Your parents arrived in the UK before 1973
    • - You were under 18 or born in the UK
    • - You’ve lived in the UK and not been away from it for more than 2 years

This is known as the Windrush Scheme.


To apply you’ll need to be living in the UK under a valid permit that extends until your citizenship ceremony. This could be an indefinite leave to remain (ILR), or a pre-settle or settle status if you are from the EU. What you need to provide depends on the grounds you choose to apply:

  • If you are under 18 and were born in the UK, fill in the following online form
  • If you were born on or after 1983 in the UK or lived there until you were 10, you must complete this form online
  • If your spouse is a British citizen, fill in this form online
  • For all routes, you’ll need to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) to submit copies of the required documentation and provide your biometric information (fingerprints and photo). You can use the online service to upload your documents or have them scanned for you on the day of your appointment. You’ll have to pay £19.20 for your UKVCAS appointment.
  • Pay an application fee. How much you’ll pay depends on the route you choose, but you can expect to pay between £900 and £1330. Find out exactly how much you’ll need to pay here.
  • Pay the £80 fee for your citizenship ceremony if you are over 18

You can choose to apply:

  • Online
  • By post. You can download and complete the corresponding form to the route you chose. You must send it by mail to the address indicated on each form. Know that this may delay your application process. If you were born in the UK and lived there until you were 10 years old, you’ll need to complete and send form t. If you are married to a British spouse, you must complete form AN.

Processing times and cost

You will usually get a decision within 6 months. If your application is successful, you’ll need to book and attend a citizenship ceremony within 3 months of receiving an invite from the Home Office. Don’t forget to take your invitation with you on the day of your ceremony. At 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. You can come accompanied by two guests.

Note: Due to the ongoing effects of the Pandemic, waiting times can be affected. This will not affect the decision in any way.
Becoming a UK citizen