How to Get a UK Citizenship & Passport

Updated July 19, 2017

Winning citizenship in the UK is difficult. Government statistics show the number of people being granted citizenship fell by 21 per cent in 2008 to 129,375. However, the following year a record 200,000 foreign nationals became British citizens according to the news website "Times Online". The same report claims that since 1997 1.5 million immigrants have been given a British passport. If you want citizenship, you'll will need to prove your credentials, pass a special test and take an oath of allegiance at a citizenship ceremony. Only then can you apply for a passport.

Check your eligibility. You are eligible for UK citizenship if you have been living in the UK for the last five years or three years if you are married or are a civil partner of a British citizen.

Apply for naturalisation as a British citizen. You need to fill in a form either online or by mail from the UK Border Agency, which is the government department that deals with all citizenship applications. You will need to prove that you are of good character. This will be checked by the police and you will need to provide credible references. You will also need to state that you are of sound mind, that you understand what you are applying for and that you are able to make your own decisions. You will also need to provide personal documents such as your passport, travel documents, birth certificate and a recent photograph of yourself.

Pass the "Life in the UK Test". This multiple choice test in English will prove that you have an understanding of life in the UK. It can be taken at 65 test centres across the country and you have to pay for it in advance. When you pass the test you will be sent a "pass notification" letter which will need to be included when you submit your citizenship application form. If you don't speak English you will need to take an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) course at an accredited college.* The course will also cover citizenship.

Attend an interview, if necessary. Agents from the UK Border Agency or the police may call you for an interview or visit you at home and they will expect to talk to you in English. You should have the result of your application within six months but complicated cases will take longer.

Take part in a citizenship ceremony at a register office. Once you have received your invitation you have 90 days to attend. At the ceremony you will take an oath of allegiance by either swearing on the Bible or by taking an affirmation if you are not a Christian.

Fill out a form which is available online from the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) or at a post office and pay a fee. You will need to mail your certificate of citizenship and the ID card or passport on which you came into the UK or show them to an official at a post office.

Attend an interview. If you are applying for your first British passport you will need to undergo a 30-minute interview. The interviews take place at various venues around the country.

Expect to wait six weeks for your first passport. If you are renewing your passport, the process should take about three weeks.


You can have your application checked in advance by the Nationality Checking Service (NCS) which is a service run by local government. It will reduce the chances of your form being rejected. If you have a complicated case you can apply through a legal representative who is registered with the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner.

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About the Author

U.K. journalist Jill Sainsbury began writing news for print and broadcast in 1990. Her work has featured on “BBC Online," magazines “The Journalist” and “Charlotte’s Mag,” and the “Hull Free Press." She has a Bachelor of Arts in geography from the University of Hull and a post graduate diploma in broadcast journalism from Falmouth School of Arts.