There are different ways to become a British citizen. The most common is called ‘naturalisation’.
You can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation if:
- you’re 18 or over
- you’re of good character, eg you don’t have a serious or recent criminal record, and you haven’t tried to deceive the Home Office or been involved in immigration offences in the last 10 years
- you’ll continue to live in the UK
- you’ve met the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements
- you meet the residency requirement
And you must usually have:
- lived in the UK for at least the 5 years before the date of your application
- spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years
- spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
- been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK (this means there’s no specific date that you have to leave) or permanent residence if you’re an EEA national (and you have a permanent residence card or document that shows you have permanent residence)
- had indefinite leave to stay in the UK for the last 12 months (or permanent residence if you’re an EEA national with a permanent residence card or document that shows you have permanent residence)
- not broken any immigration laws while in the UK
There are different requirements if your spouse or civil partner is a British citizen.
You can’t include any time spent in the UK when you’re exempt from immigration control (eg as a diplomat or member of visiting armed forces) as part of the 5 years.
You may be able to apply to become a British citizen by ‘registration’ in certain circumstances.
Children under 18
You can apply on behalf of a child under 18 if they meet the eligibility criteria. They don’t have to pass the Life in the UK Test.
Read more about citizenship for children under 18 in Guide MN1.
Read about the different fees for citizenship applications.