1. Check if you can apply
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, for example, 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
- you were in the UK exactly 5 years before the day the Home Office receives your application
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
- had settlement (‘indefinite leave to remain’) in the UK for the last 12 months if you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA)
- had permanent residence status for the last 12 months if you’re a citizen of an EEA country - you need to provide a permanent residence document
- 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 (for example, 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.
There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.
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.