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A Helpful Guide to Applying for UK Citizenship by Naturalisation

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.

As things are changing (due 2020 events) with UKVCAS service please keep up to date with UKVI latest information and UKVAS.

Disclaimer: Hi! this post may contain affiliate links which will take you to online retailers that sell products and services. If you click on one and buy something, I may earn a commission, see my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.

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:

  • Pass your ‘Life in the UK Test’ also known as the citizenship test
  • Have two referees – one needs to be on the list of professional standing and can be of any nationality (see document section for more details)
  • Prove your English language ability (unless exempt)

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’.

Documents You Should Read

Here are all the documents I found useful when applying and explaining some of the rules and requirements. They are also linked in the sections where I used them as a guide to apply or meet a certain requirement.

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.

This AN form guide will also give you information on evidence to provide as a part of your application and super helpful!

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.

When you went for the test in the past your were issued with a pass letter, however, they now just issue you with a number that you enter into your application. This should be emailed to you roughly 10 minutes after you have passed the test.

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 get asked this a lot and no you cannot provide these as evidence.

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. This is the same letter HMRC will provide you if you have lost your P60’s so if you have any gaps do this as soon as you can. It takes roughly a week to arrive.

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 Nationality Policy: general information – all British nationals stated that:

  • One referee should be a person of any nationality who has professional standing.
  • One referee must normally be the holder of a British citizen passport and either a professional person or 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 and Process

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.

The form states that you need to put DOB and name on the back of the photo but if you are applying online and uploading to UKVCAS portal then you just need to upload the form with a photo and no need to fill in the back of the photo. Hopefully this will be corrected on the form in the future.

As a part of the application process, your referee will need to provide you:

  • Full name
  • Address(es) for last 3 years
  • Date of birth
  • Profession
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • British passport number (if British)
  • How they know you

These details need to be entered by you in the online application form.

Frequently Asked Questions on Referees

On my YouTube channel I get asked a lot of the same questions so I thought I would encorporate my answers into this post to.

  • Who fills in the form: the referee fills in the form.
  • Where do I put my referee details: You add the information in the online application. I show an example somewhere in this video around the 5:40 mark: https://youtu.be/RfIxdedOZJE
  • Why do I need to have 3 years of addresses and passport number of my referee? The online application form asks for this so I provided as requested.
  • Where do I upload my referee form: I uploaded this with my other documents on the UKVCAS portal. You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/MRIchfmFW64
  • Can xyz professional be included: Contact UKVI if you are unsure if your referee meets the requirements.

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.

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Kim

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Do you know how to enter a fixed fine traffic ticket (i.e. parking ticket etc), when the date is unknown as it is from about 20 years ago.

Nick

Monday 1st of February 2021

Hi Kat,

I have a question regarding document upload. Incase of P60s or payslips where there are multiple documents do I put them together in 1 pdf or leave them separate?

And for the passport copy do I only scan pages with stamp on them or the complete passport from start to finish.

Thanks Nick

Sarah

Tuesday 19th of January 2021

Hi Kat,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It can feel like a pretty daunting process but your posts/ videos make it feel simple and do-able.

I'd love your POV on a couple of things.

1. Do you think employer letters are necessary, if I'm submitting an HMRC employment history letter for the last 5 years, ILR evidence, all of my P60s except for the past 10 months - for which I'll provide P45s? I could also include JSA letters and payslips as that surely proves what an employer letter would indicate. I'm confident that my ILR documents cover most of the evidence but I'm feeling anxious about proving the last year - the pandemic has meant that I've not had steady employment.

2. The HMRC employment letter will be dated 2-weeks before my application eligible date, due to the time it takes to arrive in post. If they're very strict on proving residence, this leaves 2 weeks unaccounted for. Is this where a current employer letter would come in handy, even if I've only been employed with them for a few weeks?

Thanks, Sarah

Kat

Tuesday 26th of January 2021

When I applied for ILR I had only been with my current company for a month and they just said I was employed from x date/my details. I just added extra things on this application as I wanted to be sure, it says for: 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. As there were a few gaps in my stamps I added these documents.

Judit

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

Hi Kat,

Thank you for pulling al this information together. Im just about to start the whole process and a bit confused.Im an EEA nationality anf have a settled status and a perm resident card already. Do i still need to have BRP? or this has been attached to my passport already? Also - i know this was mentioned before but still not 100% sure- about the referees.If i submit my application online how do i get the photo on to the application?And shall i ask the 2 referees to fill up the form themselves by hand and scan it or they should do it online? Many thanks, Judit

Kat

Wednesday 13th of January 2021

No you just need to provide documents to support you have EEA settled status. BRP card is just what they issue visa holders and there is a different process EEA.

There is a form you download, linked in this article that your referee fills in but the application will give you a form like steps 4/5 in the screens. Then you upload that to the UKVCAS portal.

Lauren Risbey

Friday 8th of January 2021

Hi Kat, thanks for putting together this really helpful guide. I followed your ILR last year and that was approved in Dec 2019 so I'm now able to apply for citizenship. I basically have everything together from ILR application however had a couple of questions and would be interested to know your thoughts. Appreciate that any responses are not official advice but if you can help that would be great.

1, I would like to apply in the next week especially whilst we are locked down however am moving in 6 weeks time. Do you think there is any issue with moving address whilst your application is being processed. Do they send anything to you? I know with ILR they couriered our BRP's.

2, Proof of Address - we have plenty of evidence for having lived in the UK however for our current poof of address we only have bank statements and payslips as we are just staying here inbetween moving in 6 weeks so not on any official bills.

3, Referees - we have a few people I believe we can use though the list isn't overly helpful because it doesn't specifically mention that professions but surely being part of professional institute would constitute? We have various friends who are part of the following Chartered Insurance Institute, Certified Institute of Marketing, Chartered Institute of Building. These aren't specifically mentioned on the list but are professionals. Also I have read that you can have one British referee and another of any nationality. We have Irish friends who are Accountants and Physio and so they tick the professionals box. They have apparently done it before.

4, How long did your application take? I know it says up to 6 months and obviously covid/lockdowns will be delaying things however just curious. I'd be tempted to wait until we move to make it easier but then 6 months basically takes away all of summer which I am optimistic might be open for travel this year.

Any thoughts you have on the above would be most appreciated.

Thank you, Lauren

Kat

Monday 11th of January 2021

1. Yes, the address you use on the application drives where your citizenship ceremony is held and the invitation letter. 2. They don't accept bills or bank statements so it's your payslips in this case. 3. I went with what was stated on the list, you would have to confirm with UKVI if they accept other professionals. It sounds like your Irish friend meets the professional requirements. 4. I applied before COVID times and it was like 2 months from applying to getting my certificate. Most people seem to be waiting for their ceremonies which can be a couple of months.

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