UK Citizenship Requirements

The United Kingdom, which is often referred to as Britain, consists of the four countries of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Those who wish to become naturalised citizens of the UK must apply for British citizenship. If the application is approved, the applicant automatically becomes a citizen of the four countries. The UK Border Agency controls border security and immigration and customs regulation.

Age and Character

People who wish to apply for British citizenship must be at least 18 years old, of sound mind and good character. The UK Border Agency will check with the police and government agencies for reports on your background (see Reference 2, paragraph 3).


Applicants for British citizenship must have lived in the UK for at least the last five years before applying. If the applicant is married to a British citizen then the residency requirement is reduced to three years. According to the UK Border Agency, applicants cannot have spent more than 450 days out the UK in the last five years or 90 days in the last 12 months. For spouses or civil partners of British citizens, this requirement is reduced to no more than 270 days out of the UK in the last three years and no more than 90 days in the last 12 months. All applicants must have observed all immigration laws during their residency and plan to continue living in the UK after obtaining citizenship.

Language and Civics

Candidates for UK citizenship must be able to speak English, Scottish Gaelic or Welsh. They should also have a good knowledge of life in the United Kingdom. Applicants who can speak one of the three main languages will take a “Life in the UK test.” Applicants who cannot speak any of these languages must pass an “English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) course in English and citizenship (see Reference 3).


Candidates for British citizenship must complete Form AN, Application for naturalisation as a British citizen. They can file their application directly with the Border Agency (see Resources). They can also file through the Nationality Checking Service (NCS) or through a representative registered with the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (see Resources).

Citizenship Ceremony

Applicants who have been approved for British citizenship must attend a citizenship ceremony. They will receive a Certificate of Naturalisation at the end of the ceremony (see Reference 4, "If your application for Citizenship has been successful").

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