Citizenship. Simplified.

We can help you apply for British citizenship. Here we tell you how

  • What are the eligibility requirements to apply British citizenship by naturalisation?

    Settled/ILR status

    The majority of applications for British citizenship (referred to as “naturalisation” applications) are made by individuals who have made their lives in the UK, and have held either Indefinite Leave to Remain or Settled Status for a 12 month period.

    Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is a type of immigration status given to individuals by the Home Office meaning that – broadly – they can stay in the UK indefinitely. It is also referred to as “settled status”

    The most common exception to the requirement to have held ILR/settled status for 12 months is if you are married to a British national at the time of making the application. If you are, you don’t need to wait for 12 months after obtaining ILR/settled status before applying.

    Residency

    You must have lived in the UK for at least 5 years for individuals who are not married to British citizens, without exceeding the maximum number of permitted absences.

    Note that there is a reduced residency period of 3 years if you are married to a British citizen at the point of application.

    See the FAQs (below) for the types of evidence the Home Office would expect individuals to provide with their applications to confirm a period of residency.

    Good character

    You must be of “good character” to successfully apply to naturalise as a British citizen.

    This a broad requirement, and it is possible for individuals to fall foul of it even where they don’t have a criminal record or other formal interaction with the UK (or another country’s) civil or criminal justice system.

    See the FAQs below for further details on how you can check whether you meet this requirement.

    Knowledge of Life in the UK

    You need to pass a test which tests your knowledge of “life in the UK”. There are books and other resources you can get to help you prepare.

    English language requirement

    You need to demonstrate that you can speak English to a particular level.

    There are exemptions available, for example for individuals from particular countries, or who have been educated to a certain level in English (and have provided specified evidence), or who have previously passed a qualifying test in a previous visa application.

    Otherwise you will need to take a test.

    Age requirement

    Individuals applying for naturalisation must be over 18 years of age.

    There are other options available for children based in the UK to become British citizens, and the correct application will depend on a number of factors, including for example, the place of birth of the child, or the immigration status of the parents etc.

    These applications are generally referred to as “registration” applications.

    Referees

    All applicants for British citizenship must provide the details of two referees to establish their identity.

    One referee should be a person of any nationality who has professional standing (see list below).  The other referee must normally be the holder of a British citizen passport and either a professional person or over the age of 25.

    The requirements are set out in our detailed explainer here. See our FAQs (below) if you are struggling to find a referee for your application.

  • How do I apply for British citizenship?

    To apply for British citizenship, you must complete an online form and pay the application fee.

    After this, applicants must upload supporting documents via a separate portal (details of how to access this portal are provided after you submit the application).

    Finally, in order for the application to be considered by the Home Office, applicants will usually be required to attend a biometrics appointment. The appointment is booked via the same portal where your documents are uploaded.

    We have created a walk-through-talk-through video of the online form, below.

  • How much does it cost to apply for British citizenship?

    An application for British citizenship is £1,330. The Home Office adds a biometric enrolment fee of £19.20 in each application, so in reality the fee is £1349.20.

    You may also have to pay to book your biometrics appointment. These can cost up to £199 per applicant for prime slots, although cheaper (and, occasionally, free) appointments are sometimes available.

    In a naturalisation application (based on residence in the UK), there is currently no process to request a waiver of the fees.

  • What information do I need to provide in the online application form?

    The online form is where you enter all of the information required for a decision-maker at the Home Office to make a decision in your application.

    The exact information you will need to provide depends on your circumstances, and will relate to how you meet the eligibility criteria (above).

    We have prepared a walk-through-talk-through of the online form if you want a preview of the kinds of questions you will be asked, and which is available in the video below.

  • What supporting documents do I need to provide?

    Exactly which documents you need to submit will vary depending on the individual circumstances of your case.

    We have put together a walk-through-talk-through video which covers the evidence the Home Office would normally expect to see, and how we would normally present this in digital format as a part of the application. You can find this below.

  • Can you review my application before it is submitted?

    British citizenship law can be extremely complex in some cases. Working out whether you are eligible for citizenship is usually the hard part, although gathering evidence to support applications (in complex cases) can also be a challenge.

    We recommend our one-off consultation service to resolve any questions regarding eligibility.

    If you are sure that you meet the requirements and are comfortable completing online forms and uploading documents, then a lawyer is only really necessary where you are looking for additional assurance, to reduce stress, and/or to save time,

    See our information on "Do you actually need an immigration lawyer?" and "How to choose your immigration lawyer" for further information

Completing the British Citizenship online application form?

Those applying to naturalise as a British citizen need to complete an online form. In the following video we go through an application form to give you an idea of what questions you will need to answer, and the information you will need to provide.

Please note that the information provided in this video is not legal advice, and is intended to give those applying for citizenship some insight into the process in a general way. If you would like us to review your application and consider your particular circumstances then please book a consultation.

Providing your British Citizenship application supporting documents

Once you have submitted your online application form, and before you attend your biometric enrolment appointment, you will need to upload your supporting documents. In this video we look at what evidence can be provided in support of a naturalisation application.

Please note that the information provided in this video is not legal advice, and is intended to give those applying for citizenship some insight into the process in a general way. If you would like us to review your application and consider your particular circumstances then please book a consultation.

How Can We Help With Your British Citizenship Application?

As a part of our one-off consultation service, we regularly review British citizenship application forms and supporting documents prior to their submission to the Home Office. This service is aimed at applicants who are

  • concerned about their eligibility to apply for citizenship
  • unsure about the exact type of supporting documents required in their application, or
  • seeking reassurance/a second pair of eyes to make sure everything has been correctly completed

Your review will be undertaken by Nick Nason, principal at Edgewater Legal, and listed as an expert on the Lexis Nexis immigration experts Q&A panel, and regular commentator and contributor to Free Movement, the best read UK immigration law blog.

We charge a flat fee of £300 + VAT for this service. You can find further details on our one-off consultation page.

We regularly represent individuals making applications for British citizenship to the Home Office. If you instruct us to assist with your application, we will essentially manage the process from end to end. This includes the following

  • ​Clear initial advice regarding eligibility with a detailed letter of advice and guidance on the route, and what is required
  • Very high level of client responsiveness including contact by email, phone or other means
  • Detailed scrutiny of online application and supporting documents prior to submission with collation and preparation of the application on a shared drive
  • Drafting of a covering letter to be filed with application (if required)
  • Uploading documents on the Home Office portal
  • ​Advice and guidance on rights and responsibilities once citizenship obtained
  • Your application will be dealt with exclusively by Nick Nason, principal at Edgewater Legal, and a senior practitioner

We offer our citizenship service for a fixed fee of £1,950 + VAT​​.

This does not include the Home Office application fee, or any other optional Home Office fees. This fee is fixed, and will not vary depending on the number of hours that need to be spent on the application, or if the application becomes more complex than originally envisaged (which often happens): it covers clients from instruction through to advice on the decision

British citizenship: Frequently Asked Questions

  • I don’t have a suitable referee. Will this be an issue in my application?

    Yes. You will need to provide the details of two referees in your online application form. Those details include the following

    • 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
    • They need to have known you for

    Further details about the referee requirement are set out here.

  • I did not have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) during some of my stay in the UK

    For European nationals applying to naturalise in the UK, the current Home Office guidance (updated on 28 June 2022) still states as follows:

    CSI is a legal requirement for EU, EEA and Swiss students, self-sufficient persons and their family members who are residing in the UK with them. The form asks the applicant if they had comprehensive sickness insurance during their time spent in the UK. Those who answer no should have provided an explanation in the box provided. This will include people who previously applied for permanent residence and were refused on the basis of not having CSI.

    You must consider why the applicant did not have comprehensive sickness insurance. Where someone has been granted ILR under the EUSS but has not been resident here in accordance with the EEA regulations (prior to grant of pre-settled status or settled status) due to a lack of comprehensive sickness insurance you should consider whether it is appropriate to exercise discretion in their favour.

    Some applicants will have previously had an application for a document to confirm their permanent residence refused, based on not having CSI. You must assess the reasons given for this, and why they did not then obtain it, and consider whether there are compelling grounds to exercise discretion.

    We understand that, as at February 2022, nobody had in fact been refused as a result of this issue alone

    If you believe that this may be an issue in your application then we would recommend our one-off consultation for a review of your application, and advice on this issue in particular.

  • I have a “good character” issue. Will my application be refused?

    Anyone applying for citizenship with a “good character” issue should read the Home Office Nationality: good character requirement guidance.

    If you are still unsure on whether or not you should proceed with your application, then we would recommend that you book a one-off consultation for advice on whether it will impact your eligibility.

  • Why are British citizenship applications refused?

    See our blog post The 6 most common reasons for refusal in citizenship applications for a detailed look at this.

  • How long does it take to get a decision in a British citizenship application?

    The Home Office service standard (the time which it says is its target to decide applications) is 6 months.

  • I exceed the maximum absences from the UK in order to apply for citizenship. Should I still apply?

    In order to meet the residency requirements, individuals applying for citizenship must not have been absent for more than 450 days during their 5 year qualifying period (or 270 if applying as the spouse of a British citizen under s6(2), and the qualifying period is 3 years). In addition, they must have not been absent for more than 90 days in the 12 months leading up to the submission of the application.

    However, there is some flexibility in the absences requirement, as set out in the guidance (current at 10 November 2021), and discretion can be exercised to waive excess absences in certain circumstances. Those circumstances are as follows:

    • Where the applicant has absences of between 480-900 for applications under section 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981, or 300-540 for applications under section 6(2) and otherwise meets the requirements you must only consider exercising discretion where the applicant has established their home, employment, family and finances in the UK, and one or more of the following applies:

      • at least 2 years residence (for applications under section 6(1)), or 1 year (for applications under section 6(2)), without substantial absences immediately prior to the beginning of the qualifying period. If the period of absence is greater than 730 days (for section 6(1)) or 450 days (for section 6(2)) the period of residence must be at least 3 or 2 years respectively
      • the excess absences are the result of: o postings abroad in Crown service under the UK government or in service designated under section 2(3) of the British Nationality act 1981. o accompanying a British citizen spouse or civil partner on an appointment overseas
      • the excess absences were an unavoidable consequence of the nature of the applicant’s career, such as a merchant seaman or employment with a multinational company based in the UK with frequent travel abroad
      • exceptionally compelling reasons of an occupational or compassionate nature to justify naturalisation now, such as a firm job offer where British citizenship is a statutory or mandatory requirement
      • the excess absences were because the applicant was unable to return to the UK because of global pandemic

    There are similar provisions for excess absences in the 12 month period prior to making the application.

    You would need to explain in your application why discretion should be exercised in your particular case, and provide evidence of this with your supporting documentation.

    If you are still unsure on whether or not you should proceed with your application, then we would recommend that you book a one-off consultation for advice on this issue.

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