Obtaining British citizenship provides a number of advantages such as the right to obtain a British passport, the right to vote, and the right to access healthcare.

There is a different process to apply for citizenship depending on whether you are an adult or a child.

Adults – over 18 years old

Naturalisation is the important final step for people who come to the UK with the intention of settling here as a British citizen. British naturalisation is the process that allows people with foreign citizenship to become a British citizen. They will then have all the rights as anyone who was born in the UK as a British citizen.


To be eligible, you must be 18 years old or over and satisfy certain conditions:


Settlement in the UK


You must first be settled in the UK and have been free from immigration control for at least 12 months unless married to a British citizen.




You must meet the residence requirement in order to qualify for naturalisation. The number of years you must have lived in the UK and the number of days of permitted absences differs if you are married to a British citizen. See table below:



Married to British citizen

Not married to British citizen

Residence in the UK

3 years

5 years

Permitted absence

270 days, no more than 90 days in the 12 months prior to application

450 days, no more than 90 days in the 12 months prior to application

Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK


You must demonstrate that you have knowledge of language and life in the UK. In order to demonstrate this you will need to pass an English test and a Life In the UK test unless you are exempt.


Good character


You will need to be of good character which means you must observe UK laws and show respect for the rights and freedoms of its citizens.


If your application is approved, you will receive an invitation to attend a Citizenship ceremony to obtain your Certificate of Naturalisation. At that point, you will be free to apply for a British passport.


Children – under 18 years old


Not all children who are born in the UK are automatically born British.

A child under 18 who was not “born British” will have to follow a different process to naturalisation  in order to become  a British citizen. The process is called registration.


There are a number provisions under the British Nationality Act 1981 which allow for registration as a British citizen including in the following circumstances:

  • Children born in the UK and their parents have become settled or obtained citizenship
  • Children born in the UK and have lived in the UK for 10 years
  • Children born outside the UK and one or both parents are applying for citizenship at the same time

There are also many other circumstances in which a child can apply to register as a British citizen, generally on a discretionary basis.


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