A Helpful Guide to Applying for UK Citizenship by Naturalisation

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The time has finally come where I can apply for my UK Citizenship and I thought I would document my process so you know what to expect when applying. The Indefinite Leave to Remain application prepared me for this phase of the process and I used some of the evidence I gathered for that in this application.

Disclaimer: This is based on my experience (I’m not a lawyer or immigration advisor) and you should seek professional legal advice if you are unsure. Go to GOV UK to check if there have been any changes to the visa rule & fees.

How Long Does It Take to Get British Citizenship?

As the routes to citizenship vary this can either be a few years to over 10 years. For me to become a British citizen I have spent five years living here on a UK Ancestry Visa and one year living here on Indefinite Leave to Remain before I could apply for citizenship and now I am waiting for my application to be approved. The whole process will be about six and a half years.

How Can I Apply for UK Citizenship?

There are several ways to apply for British citizenship, the most common ways are:

  • If you were born in the UK
  • You have a British parent
  • You have indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • You have ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • You have ‘permanent residence’ status
  • You’re married to or are in a civil partnership with, a British citizen
  • A few other exceptions  

If you are applying for UK citizenship through indefinite leave to remain (ILR), settled status, permanent residence or married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen then the information in this article will be applicable.

Before You Start Applying

There are a few steps you should complete before starting the application, they are:

Make sure that you get the Life in the UK test and English language requirement done as soon as possible, these can take a bit of time to prepare for. I was lucky, I did my Life in the UK Test as a part of my ILR and Australia is exempt from the English language requirement. All I had to do was find two willing people to be my referees and find the confirmation that I have passed the ‘Life in the UK Test’.

Applying Yourself or Using a Company For Your UK Citizenship?

For this application, I applied by myself as it was pretty straight forward. If you feel more comfortable going via a company then definitely do it. If you have a complicated application you should look to getting advice from a lawyer or immigration advisor to help the success of your application.

If at any point you are unsure do read the documents issued by the Home Office, contact the UKVI or hire an immigration lawyer.

British Citizenship Application Form

Prerequisite Information

Before commencing the application there are several details I suggest you gather ahead of time. This will make the application a lot quicker than digging around that document’s cabinet each time a lengthy question pops up.

Here is the evidence I gathered before filling out the application form (not in order):

  • Previous addresses for the past 5 years including the dates that you lived there from and to
  • National Insurance Number
  • Passport
  • Parent’s details like DOB and place of birth
  • Referee details which includes full name, addresses for the past 3 years, DOB, job title, phone number, email address and passport number
  • Tax reference which will be on your recent payslip
  • Work History (UK only) – 10 years – including start/end dates and address. This will be different if you run your own company
  • Previous application details – date applied, reference number, date of fingerprints
  • Time outside the UK (that was more than two days) with country, reason, entry and exit dates (holiday or work trips and I needed to provide 5 years)
  • Identity card (if you have one)
  • Degree information (if you have one)
  • English test information (if required)
  • Biometric details

Filling in the Application

To fill in the online application here.

The paper version is for people applying from the Channel Islands, Isle of Man or a British Overseas Territory or you can use this form if you wish to post your application and documents.

There is digital support for anyone needing help filling out the application (this is not for advice or questions).

You should also read:

The form itself is relatively simple to fill out once you have the information to hand. My fingers did get a little sore entering in all my holidays!

One thing to note; my friend made a mistake when he was filling in his application in that he accidentally put an unrealistic date, say 2035 or similar, meaning the form showed that he had over 4,000 days outside of the country. There is no verification so if I put 1990 it still allows me to enter that date. Just make sure that you check that it’s the right date and year in your application. Otherwise, it will show you that you’ve had way too many days outside, but his application was still approved even though he did that.

Here Is The Video Guide on Filling Out The Online Form

In this video, I go into all the questions and answer that pop up in the form.

Original or Copies?

Let’s start with a question I get asked a lot! Do you need originals or can they be copies? It states in the application (copied directly from the document section):

You must provide your documents after you submit your application, these can be originals or copies. Any passports provided must be originals.

You will be able to upload copies of your documents on our commercial partner’s website, or you can take your documents to your biometrics appointment to be scanned and uploaded by our commercial partner for a fee.

Your application may be rejected if you do not provide all mandatory documents. If your application is rejected due to documents not being provided, it will not be considered and an administration fee for each person included in the application will be deducted from your refund.

Documentation Required

Once you have filled in all the questions you will reach the documentation screen. The checklist will cover all of the information you need to provide based on your answers. For the most part it will be similar to mine, but they may ask you to provide other documents if you’re applying via marriage or civil partnership.

All the titles and italics in this section of the article are the documents required by the Home Office for my application and what I have provided to meet these.

On the application it states that you should tick each document to confirm that you have read the requirement, even if you cannot send it. If you are unsure about any of the evidence, read the guidance.

The passport issued by Australia

Easy, I will provide my passport.

The Australian passport, identity card or official letter to prove the level of English language required

Again, I will be providing my passport for this as Australia is exempt.

Interestingly I have had a few comments from other people saying when they submit their degree information and are from an exempted country it is still prompting them to provide evidence. The advice is to click ‘NO’ to the degree to get around the NARIC prompt on the document list and then write a covering letter with the application to explain why this had been selected (glitch). Please check with UKVI beforehand.

If you are someone that needs to prove this requirement, then UKVI will only accept English language qualifications from the Home Office approved list of acceptable qualifications.

You can find more about the information here:

Proof of freedom from immigration time restrictions

  • Your passport showing permission to remain permanently in the UK
  • The Home Office letter by which you were given permission to remain permanently in the UK

For this one, I have my passport and Home Office letter when I was granted ILR.

Just to note, the information in the checklist isn’t updated to reflect the BRP cards, here is a statement from UKVI:

You’ll usually have applied for indefinite leave to enter or remain. You’ll have a stamp in your passport or a letter from the Home Office. You could also have a ‘vignette’ (sticker) or a biometric residence permit.

Source: Gov.UK

Therefore it was really my BRP card that I needed to provide for my application, at least it was included already!

Life in the UK Test pass notification

Previously completed as a part of my ILR so thankfully didn’t have to do the test again and just provided my pass notification.

Current Biometric Residence Permit

Easy, I have one this time!

Proof of living in the UK

  • If you are married to, or in a civil partnership with, a British citizen, you must have been in the UK for the past 3 years.
  • If you are not married, or in a civil partnership with, a British citizen, you must have been in the UK for the past 5 years.
  • If you are an EEA National, you need to include letters from employers, educational establishments or other government departments, indicating your presence in the UK during the relevant 3- or 5-year period.
  • If you are a Non-EEA National, you need to include your passport to prove you have lived in the UK for the relevant 3- or 5-year period.
  • If you do not have your passport or it was not stamped when you entered the UK, you need to include letters (for example, from your employer or government department) as proof.
  • Bank statements or household bills are not suitable proof you have been living in the UK.

I went a little over re the evidence for this one. I do have both my passports that were mainly stamped on all my entry and exits but I was worried that this wouldn’t be enough, so I included:

  • All my P60’s since living in the UK (6 in total). If you do not pay tax through Pay As You Earn (PAYE) arrangements, then provide your most recent HM Revenue & Customs Self-Assessment Statement of Account.
  • HMRC Letter stating the tax I paid from my ILR application.
  • Two employment letters, one from my ILR and a new one.

To get an HMRC letter is really easy just 0300 200 3300, ask for 5 years’ worth of employment history to be sent to you in a letter.

All of these documents prove that I have been living here, paying taxes and working. Plus, they are not bank statements or household bills.

Two referee declarations

The part of the application, in my opinion, is more difficult, before we get to the detail, I have two wonderful friends to be referees and they met certain criteria. I provided two signed forms and passport photos with my name/DOB on the back of the photo. 

Details of Good Character requirement can be found here.

Who can be a referee for British citizenship?

At the time of applying the AN Guidebook stated that:

  • One referee should be a person of any nationality who has professional standing.
  • A British citizen passport.
  • Over the age of 25.
  • Known you for over 3 years. (To read more about the 3-year requirement, read page 10 of this document.
  • Willing to give their information such as passport, three years of addresses etc.

The referee must also:

  • not be a relative.
  • not be a solicitor or agent representing you on this application.
  • not be related to the other referee.
  • not be employed by the Home Office.
  • not have been convicted of an imprisonable offence during the last 10 years (unless that conviction can be disregarded in line with the table shown in the Guide).
  • advise the Home Office of any reason why the applicant should not be registered.

British Citizenship Referee Professional Standing

Here is the Professional Standing list that one of your referees must be.

British Citizenship Referee Form

I was searching for this form for ages, turns out even though documents page requests you tick the box the form will only be given to you in the next part of the application. You can also search online as well, here is a copy.

Evidence of identity

You must include one of the following:

  • your passport
  • your national identity card
  • your Home Office travel document
  • your Home Office entitlement card
  • your Home Office ARC letter
  • your BRP card
  • your birth certificate
  • your driving licence

You must include evidence you have legally changed your name if it is now different to the one on your supporting document.

If you took the Life in the UK Test and used one of the above documents as evidence, you should use the same one here.

I used my old passport as my proof of identity when I took my Life in the UK test, so I included that plus my most recent passport. Additionally, they need my BRP card to support another requirement so that should meet everything.

Here’s The Video Guide Covering The Documents You Need For Your Application

Declarations

The next step of the application is the referee declaration which are the downloadable forms I mention above and confirming the information you provided is correct. Once you are happy, tick the boxes and you will be taken to the payments screen.

Pay (British Citizenship Application Fee)

Unlike ILR you will not get the option to speed up the process and it will be the standard service you choose. To become a British citizen by naturalisation will come to a total of £1,349.20 which is £1,330 for the application and £19.20 for the biometrics.

You will get a warning/ bold statement at this point saying that once you pay there is no going back on the application.

Next Steps

The biometric appointment is the next phase of the application process, you can read more about it here. There will be future articles covering Citizenship Ceremony and applying from your British passport.

Disclaimer: This is based on my experience (I’m not a lawyer or immigration advisor) and you should seek professional legal advice if you are unsure. Go to GOV UK to check if there have been any changes to the visa rule & fees.

More UK Visa Articles

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This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Hi Kat, any advice on what documents to put under ‘residence’

  2. Hi Kat,

    I was granted ILR last December under BC partner route 5 years and approved in a letter dated 4th sept for the naturalisation (end of July application). Ceremony will be at the end of November. Your posts have been really useful to people like me and I bet most people visited your blog!

    Anyway to Chrystelle’s question, I provided my bank statement (any date for past 6 months) and payslips with your address on them. As the system is live online now, you’ll be given opportunity to upload all the relevant documents for the application and they’ll double check again when you’re attending the biometric enrolment thingy.

    Regards

  3. Hello.

    First, I would like to thank you for sharing your experience with us, that help’s a lot.
    I have a question, if you don’t mind, please: on the online application, can I save the process at certain point and then continue the application on different days?

    Thank you

  4. Hi Rares,
    Yes you can save the application and come back to it 😊.
    Kat

  5. Hi Kat,

    Thank you for your very helpful blog. I am planning to apply for the British Citizenship soon and as part of the application, do I have to hand in my passport and the Biometric Resident Permit card that I got as part of the ILR? Or, is the process the same as the ILR that we need to scan and upload the documents only? The reason I am asking is that the application could take between 2-6 months and if we hand in our passport, then that means we cannot travel outside UK?

  6. Hi Sayed,
    It’s the same process as ILR with uploading and submitting documents. You only take the documents to the biometric appointment (and yes you need to do another biometric appointment). My approval took a total of 16 days, not everyone is as quick but you should allow 2 to 6 months as you say. It actually taking me longer to get my certificate then the process (which is crazy).
    Kat

  7. Thank you.

  8. Hi Kat,

    I am applying for citizenship at the moment and need to know if my main referee has to be a professional – can that be my GP and what address do they provide for themselves as are my GP? Question 2: One of my other referees is a family friend but is living in France would this be a problem as she does have a british passport? Question 3: Do all referees have to have valid passports as in they havent expired? Your advice will be greatly appreciated!

  9. Hi Kat, for evidence of Proof of Freedom from Immigration Time Restrictions you state that either a passport showing freedom from the restriction OR the Home Office letter granting permission to remain permanently can be provided. My wife has just obtained ILR but the Home Office does not put a stamp in the passport confirming this, and the letter sent out after the grant does not even state that the application was for ILR and says that the biometrics card is the only proof of status. The Biometrics Card is therefore the only proof that she has permission to remain permanently but strangely this is not stated as one of the acceptable forms of evidence in the naturalisation guides. Then I noticed in the relevant screenshot of the online application guide that you provided, it states that you must provide either your passport or ” other – letter from Home Office, Biometrics Residents Permit, or other proof of exemption from immigration control”. This is important because for many the BRP card is the only evidence of freedom from time restriction that they have, and this is only stated on the online form.

  10. Hi Kat, thanks for the very useful guides that you have kindly provided. You state above that the paper form is only for people living in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and British Overseas Territories. The guidance also states ”or for people living elsewhere who want to use the form”. This does not make absolutely clear that UK residents can use the paper form instead of applying online so I called UKVI helpline and they did confirm that UK residents can apply using the form and post their evidence if they want to. This should be reconfirmed by anyone thinking of doing so because things can change. I think it is good that this option has been retained for all, because some either cannot use or are daunted by the online application process.

  11. Hi Mark, I copied what was on the checklist provided in my application which was on the online process and then provided evidence based on that so it’s good to have the extra information. Luckily the BRP needs to be provided anyway! Kat

  12. Thanks for the additional information Mike, I have updated the post to reflect this.

  13. Hi Kat, thanks for the link to the Referees form provided above. The logistics of getting two Referee forms signed can be time consuming so it is good to have these all ready before starting the application rather than having to do it during the online process. Can you confirm that the form that is linked is the exact same form that you download during the online application and can be used for this application?

  14. Hi Mike, This was the form I used for my application and the form that was available in the checklist to fill out. Kat

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