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

46 thoughts on “A Helpful Guide to Applying for UK Citizenship by Naturalisation”

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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?

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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?

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

  11. Hi Kat, which documents do you upload and which do you take to the biometric appointment please?

  12. I am not sure what you mean by original. Your referees need to sign the form and add your details to the passport photo. You submit with your other documents via the UKVCAS process.

  13. Hi Kat,
    This blog is very helpful. Thank you.
    You mention that the referees need to be “willing to provide passport info and 3 years addresses etc”. Where is this used or entered, as the form that referees fill in doesn’t require this information?

  14. Hi Kat

    Thank you for the detailed explanation of the process. I have two queries.

    My Ilr was granted on 1st March 2019. Am I to only submit the application for citizenship on 1st March 2020 or can I submit earlier ( 28 days earlier say first week of February) .

    And once we receive the approval letter , how long do we have to book the ceremony? Or is the period within which you need to book?

  15. Hi, there is no 28-day rule like ILR. I applied for mine on my 12 month anniversary. The ceremony process depends on your council, some will just automatically book you and others will want you to call. You have 3 months to attend a ceremony after the approval letter. Kat

  16. Thank you for that clarification and quick response,Kat . In your biometric blog you mentioned appointments could be available the very next week. Suppose I submit on 1st March would I be able to see slots the following -first week of March ? I mean will there immediate appointment slots available?

  17. If you submit your application on the 1st of March then you would see the appointments available for the next 28 days. If you want a free appointment then you may need to wait, these are only offered at the 7 core centres. If you’re willing to pay then there generally is quite a few appointments. It all depends on where you’re applying, centre size etc. etc.

  18. Thank you Kat . It’s just that I have travel plans . So was hoping to find a slot soon, probably the following week itself .

    Thanks again

  19. Hi Kate
    I’m European and I have e child under age. We have permanent residence card and sattlment status as well. Now I want to online apply for naturalisation only for my 3 child. Which forms I heve to fill? Form AN or MN1 please give me advice thanks.

  20. Hi Kat! I’m trying to get British nationality through my mother.
    I’ve never been to the UK, so I don’t have any referee with British passport. What could I do?

  21. I reply to myself. I found this: “where the applicant is living outside the UK and does not know a British citizen passport holder who is a professional or over the age of 25, a commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the country in wich they are residing may complete and sign the form providing they meet the other requirements and the consul considers their signature to be acceptable”

  22. Hi Kat,
    Firstly thanks for the post. Really helpful.
    I had a question around photographs please. Other than uploading a recent passport size copy on both the referee declaration forms and then scanning it, are there requirements to have digital photos as well? If not, I can perhaps use the two passport photos for my british passport application later? Or do I need to arrange for not just physical but digital photos as well? Additionally, I believe there is no point putting name and DOB at the back of the photos given it’s all now done online? Many thanks,Rimli

  23. A digital photo is a part of the biometric process but you will need passport photos to get the referees to fill out. If you get them done at snappy snaps then they will give you an electronic copy but the passport application says they can’t be older than 30 days.

    The referee form still needs to be filled out. This isn’t digital, nor are the photos for this part.

    Kat

  24. Hi Kat,
    Thank you for loads of useful information!
    There is one detail regarding referees I still cannot get; is that list like minmum requirement for professional standing? My potential referee might be a course leader but not exactly a teacher or lecturer; would PhD degree of that person play any role here?
    Many thanks

  25. Quick question on payment methods for online applications, is there flexibility in terms of card type (prepaid, debit credit)? In particular, is AMEX accepted?

  26. Hi Kat,

    Such a lovely body of information. I’m a bit stuck though – the section where it asks for first time of arrival into the UK.

    A little background – first came to the UK in 2006 on a student visa, carried on with an international graduates scheme visa then post-study visa and left in Jan 2010. I returned in August 2010 on a Tier 4 dependent visa. I then moved on to a Tier 2(general) visa in 2013 and since then been on route to Britain citizenship.

    It is confusing because in the ILR application the question is more straightforward,
    When did you (the main applicant) first enter the UK? This refers to the date of your first entry into the UK at the beginning of the period of stay on which this application is based – i put Sep 2013

    In the Nationality Forms guide (April 2019) it says “Enter the day you first arrived with a view to staying in the UK on a long-term basis, and the airport or seaport through which you then entered.” (Bear in mind I was already in the UK, hence no airport or seaport to indicate here).

    When I first entered as a student I was not certain i was going to be here on a long term basis.

    please what are your thoughts, what date should i use?

    Thanks kindly,
    Stella

  27. Hi Kat,
    Thank you so much for such a helpful post. I was just wondering whether the UKVCAS scanned every page of your old and new passports when you went to get your biometrics done for your naturalisation. They scanned mine when I applied for my ILR and I’m just wondering whether this is still part of the the process at the appointment, seeing UKVCAS now charges much higher fees and the wait time for a free appointment at a core centre such as Croydon is at least a month now.

  28. Hi Kat,

    Many thanks for another useful blog (having used your one on ILR last year!).
    Was just wondering if you know if you can start filling out the application form online 70 days in advance of applying as with the ILR?

  29. Hi Roy,
    Glad to hear that it was helpful! You can start your application early, just submit on your 1 year anniversary :).
    Kat

  30. I filled in the form and see the below in the list of required documents:

    <>

    I had the understanding that EU nationals with setteld status of a year or more do not need a permament residence card to apply?

  31. I filled in the form and see the below in the list of required documents:

    ”You must have a permanent residence card before you can apply for citizenship Apply for a permanent residence card.”

    I had the understanding that EU nationals with setteld status of a year or more do not need a permament residence card to apply?

  32. Hi kat, I would like to ask you if I can use an solicitor that I have had helped me in the past to be one of my referees?
    Hope you can help me to clarify this little question. Many thanks

  33. I am not sure. There is nothing in the requirements other than “not be a solicitor or agent representing you on this application”.

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